Rattlesnake Parent Boundary Study Meeting Summary

Rattlesnake Parent Boundary Study Meeting
5:30pm-6:30pm 2/20/2019
PTA representative notes (taken by Leigh G, PTA Co-President)

Attendance: 32 parents (best estimate from a quick count), 5 teachers, Principal Wright
Presentation and Q&A leader: Hatton Littman, MCPS Communications Director

The meeting was a full hour long, plus an additional 30 minutes of one-on-one questions, and therefore full minutes were not feasible. Below is a summary of some of the more important facts that were presented, the dominant themes, and particularly relevant questions, according to our abilities and best judgement.

Background as discussed and presented:

The demographic data already available shows that the population of the district will keep growing at least through 2023, at which time it may level out. It is currently thought that the district is likely to add 1000 elementary kids in the 10 year period from 2013-2023. The new demographic study to be released next week (2/25+/2019) should have more accurate and in depth information.

There are several reasons that Rattlesnake didn’t add lots more classrooms during the renovation from the 2015 bond, but the most simple explanation is that the best school capacity from the student, teacher, and district perspective is just under 500 students. This takes into account things like state accreditation standards, state based limits on individual classroom sizes, and the communities’ stated values in the 2013-2015 process to maintain friendly neighborhood schools, not mega schools.

How to get involved (see also our list on https://rattlesnakepta.org/2019/02/19/boundary-study-meeting-and-parent-representative-update/ ):

The meeting schedule is available on the district site (https://www.mcpsmt.org/elementaryschoolboundarystudy specifically page  https://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/13831) and is also posted on the PTA update from our school’s parent rep, here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/2019/02/19/boundary-study-meeting-and-parent-representative-update/ towards the bottom. The next Open House will be Monday, March 4; 6-8 pm at Russell School.

Anyone can comment on the Social Map, which is available here: https://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/13835 and you can comment more than once if you’d like. The “pins” are put where you want them- they don’t automatically show up on your house or anything. Anyone can see the comments, but only the district employees can see the emails that are entered as part of the commenting process.

Reach out to principal Pam Wright (pcwright@mcpsmt.org) and/or our parent representative (kristie.scheel@gmail.com) if you’d prefer to comment that way.

Next steps in the process, in general:

The new demographic data should be released next week (2/25+/2019) and will be put onto the district’s website along with all the other documents.

The next Advisory Committee meeting is 2/28/2019 and our representative Kristie Scheel will be there, as well as our librarian Robyn Nygren (she is also on the committee). At the end of the Advisory Committee meeting there is an opportunity for public comment, if desired, and anyone can attend as an observer and then use that opportunity to make their voice heard.

The next Open House will be Monday, March 4; 6-8 pm at Russell School. You do NOT need to attend for the full two hours, you can just come and look at the posters and talk to people on your own time frame.

After these three things are completed, the various options for the boundaries, and how those boundaries will be rolled out, will be considered by the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will also dive into questions like how long currently enrolled kids will be grandfathered into their current schools. For a short list of how these decisions will be formed and framed, see the information from our school’s rep Kristie https://rattlesnakepta.org/2019/02/19/boundary-study-meeting-and-parent-representative-update/. For the full Framework as written by the district, find that information here: https://www.mcpsmt.org/cms/lib/MT01001940/Centricity/Domain/3808/Framework%20for%20Selecting%20Boundaries.pdf

Towards the end of the process, likely in early to mid April, the Advisory Committee will whittle down all the options and ideas to likely three choices, which they will then work through to produce a final recommendation. They will then present the final recommendation to the elected School Board of Trustees. To learn about the Trustees, please visit: https://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/34

Comments and Questions by Parents and Teachers at the meeting:

There was a question about what grades at Rattlesnake had the most leveling (which is when later enrolling kids have to go to a different school due to high numbers). Hatton and Pam answered that right now, at Rattlesnake, that is grades 1, 3, and 4. Hatton explained that 1st grade is often a pinch point for schools due to kids that go to private kindergartens, and families moving to new homes while the kids are younger. As a whole, Rattlesnake is one of 4 elementary schools at 95% capacity.

Several parents expressed serious concerns along the theme that the middle school boundaries are not being studied and/or altered simultaneously. The conversation around this included the acknowledgement that it would be a lot more difficult to do these studies all at once because of the tremendous complexity, and that the staff time would be immense if they were undertaken simultaneously.  

The time scale of this process was a concern in several ways. One parent expressed frustration that some documents said the changes could theoretically begin as soon as Fall 2019, but other documents and verbal statements were not as clear and no set timeframe is being discussed right now. There was also concern that the process was too rushed- with the three advisory committee and open houses in three months. At the same time, it was mentioned that as each year goes by, more kids end up attending non-neighborhood schools due to capacity issues (“leveling”), and so keeping the process moving in order to help alleviate that is important.

There was some frustration and confusion regarding one of the older (2013) walk-to-school maps that has been used as a reference in this process (specifically, this map:  https://www.mcpsmt.org/cms/lib/MT01001940/Centricity/Domain/1378/ES%20Walking%20and%20BikingMap.pdf ) as the circles appear to exclude the Lower Rattlesnake. Parents were unhappy with the visual implications of the map. This seemed to be mostly confusion on the actual professional intent of the map (1 mile is the practical limit for walking to school as depicted on that map) vs what the other impressions of the map may be (for instance: that the circles are the priority areas, or represent actual neighborhoods, or guaranteed attendance, etc). Someone joked that due to the shape of the Rattlesnake Valley, we deserved an oval, not a circle. Jokes aside, this map was considered visually misleading and frustrating by several parents, as this map seemed to confirm the feeling that some parts of the Rattlesnake School attendance area, especially in the Lower Rattlesnake, were being left out of the big picture of the neighborhood.

East Missoula was a big topic of discussion. The question of when and how Mount Jumbo will return to use as an elementary school does not have an answer nor estimate at this time. The demographic study to be released 2/25+/2019 may shed some light on this topic, or may not, it is impossible to say without the study in hand.

The commute and relative isolation of East Missoula was discussed, especially as it relates to buses driving around the base of Mt Jumbo. At least seven people from East Missoula were in attendance (exact count unknown). The fact that the East Missoula neighborhood has been busing kids for more than 20 minutes since 2005- which is one of the values sets that this study seeks to reduce- was mentioned as important to remember.

The need to improve outreach to East Missoula families was brought up by more than one person. Suggestions included more flyers in Boom folders, posting flyers in community hotspots (the River of Life coffee shop, the Oles, etc), using the leaderboard that the fire department manages, giving a quick update at neighborhood council meetings, and other community based approaches.

The Mount Jumbo facility itself was discussed. Improvements to the front entry security will be needed, but the facility and grounds in general is in good serviceable condition. Once Mount Jumbo is determined to be a priority, these final renovations would be brought into discussion and budgeting by the district.

Prescott School was mentioned briefly in the context that the district will definitely not be reopening that school as a school facility. The renovation and rehabilitation needs of that historic structure are beyond the scope of what the district will engage in. It is also well known by the general community that Missoula International School intends to move to their future facility (roughly, near Osprey Stadium), out of Prescott School, in the next few years.

The various scenarios that parents have been independently discussing via private texts and emails were listed and mentioned- including the ideas of a K-2 3-5 split for Rattlesnake and Jumbo, adjusting the boundary somewhere into the Lower Rattlesnake to attend at Lowell, and others. These scenarios have not been discussed by the Advisory Committee or Administration at this point. Hatton reminded the group that in general, all ideas are being opened up as part of the information gathering process, which means it is theoretically possible these ideas and scenarios could be considered among all the options. After all options are determined and discussed, the Advisory Group will apply the values and framework to evaluate them each. This will take place in the next two months (late Feb, all of March, early April). To remind yourself of the framework, visit:  https://www.mcpsmt.org/cms/lib/MT01001940/Centricity/Domain/3808/Framework%20for%20Selecting%20Boundaries.pdf

“Grandfathering” of kids into schools was discussed on multiple occasions. There was discussion on how, essentially, the more you grandfather in kids, the slower the transition to new borders and more equal attendance will be. The fact that the Advisory Council has a framework with which to make decisions on this was mentioned.

Whether or not future Mount Jumbo district residents will be given the same grandfathering options to Rattlesnake was a stated concern as submitted to the PTA email- Hatton indicated that the scenario of opening Mount Jumbo and creating a new attendance boundary between Rattlesnake and East Missoula neighborhoods would be held to the same grandfathering standards as all other boundary decisions, and not a special case or different process.

For more information, see the PTA’s prior post on this subject: https://rattlesnakepta.org/2019/02/19/boundary-study-meeting-and-parent-representative-update/  or the official district clearinghouse for this study at https://www.mcpsmt.org/elementaryschoolboundarystudy 

Boundary Study Meeting and Parent Representative Update

NOTE: This page contains two important items on the MCPS Boundary Study- Upcoming Meeting Information and an overall Parent Representative Update. Please read BOTH SECTIONS so that you’ve got all the information you need! 

Upcoming Meeting Information

The Missoula County Public Schools elementary boundary study is underway, and all parents in the district are encouraged to read the available information online and participate in the process. Rattlesnake’s elementary school boundary is somewhat unique in that the two big parts (Rattlesnake Valley and East Missoula) are both bounded by mountains and highways. To facilitate an open and transparent discussion of how this boundary study will be structured, how parents can participate, and what is currently being discussed, everyone is invited to attend the Rattlesnake School Parent Meeting Wednesday, February 20, 2019, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in our library.

 If you are unable to attend the Wednesday meeting, please note:

MCPS Elementary School Boundary Study Update

This update authored by Kristie Scheel, Rattlesnake School parent representative on February 15, 2019

Background

The goal of the Elementary Attendance Boundary Study is to balance building utilization and reduce overcrowding in Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS). An advisory committee made up of parent representatives and MCPS staff was created to generate ideas and recommendations for achieving the study objective. The advisory committee will also receive guidance from professionals in the planning community. The framework for making the recommendations will be based on goals, guiding principles, and boundary criteria.

The Advisory Committee will listen to all public comment and look at data to vet out possible solutions, and then present some options to the community for feedback. This spring, the Advisory Committee will be making a recommendation to the MCPS Board of Trustees on any required adjustments to elementary school attendance boundaries.

Below are Important Dates, Informational Updates, and How to Get Involved.

Important Dates

  • Rattlesnake School Parent Meeting: Wednesday, February 20; 5:30-6:30 pm, Rattlesnake School Library
  • Advisory Committee Meeting #2: Thursday, February 28; 6-8 pm, MCPS Business Building Boardroom-915 South Ave.
  • Community Open House #2: Monday, March 4; 6-8 pm, Russell School.
  • Advisory Committee Meeting #3: Thursday, March 14; 6-8 pm, MCPS Business Building Boardroom- 915 South Ave.
  • Community Open House #3: Thursday, March 21; 6-8 pm, Location TBD (a flyer will be sent out)
  • Advisory Committee Meeting #4: Thursday, April 4; 6-8 pm, MCPS Business Building Boardroom-915 South Ave.

Informational Updates: what’s happening now?

The first Advisory Council meeting was held on January 30th, 2019. The purpose of this first meeting was to review current enrollment data and agree upon boundary selection criteria. Additional criteria discussed for boundary changes include:

  1. Avoid bussing that takes a student more than 20 minutes one way
  2. Transportation goals/values around bussing logistics and costs
  3. Equity in schools in terms of socioeconomics, student achievement/performance, special programs without excessive bussing or disruption to neighborhood cohesion

In addition, considerations will be given for selection criteria intended to reduce short-term negative effects of boundary changes for special cases that may occur over the next ten years including:

  1. Treatment of grandfathering in current students (and for how long)
  2. Treatment of siblings who haven’t entered school yet (and for how long)
  3. Criteria for access to special programs with a goal of equality of access

It is important to note that specific recommendations have not yet been made. The Committee is currently waiting for more data to come in regarding demographics, population projections, and planned growth + development throughout the district. Any ideas swirling around at this time are not concrete considerations on the table. No official recommendations will be made until the Committee is able to review community feedback and the new data. The public will then have opportunities to comment on the recommendations prior to sending to the Board for review this spring. The elected MCPS school board – not the advisory committee itself- will be responsible for reviewing the findings and making the final decisions.

How to Get Involved: Be informed. Stay involved. Share your thoughts!

Rattlesnake parents are encouraged to:

 

 

Upcoming Music & Band Performances

There are many upcoming performances by our amazing children and it is tough to keep track of them all! Here’s a “cheat sheet” for your convenience — we’ll add to this as we get more information and update times as needed:

February 13, 2019 | 10:30am (KE, KL, 1D, 1P) & 1:00pm (KT, KR, 1W, 1S)

Kindergarten & 1st – Kindness Concert – Families Invited

February 20, 2019 | 2:30pm

5th Grade – Martin Luther King Concert – Families Invited

March 12, 2019 | 7:00pm

5th grade band students from Paxson, Lewis & Clark, and Rattlesnake Elementary perform at Washington Middle School (New Gym) with the Washington Middle School  Jazz Ensemble- Families Invited

March 19, 2019 | 10:30am (2J, 2D, 3L, 3K) & 12:30pm (2H, 2S, 3M, 3K)

2nd & 3rd Grades – “The Day the Crayons Came Home” Performance – Families Invited

May 10, 2019 | Time TBD

Rattlesnake Elementary Band & Orchestra – 5th Grade Solo Day for band and orchestra at Missoula Alliance Church – Families Invited

May 30, 2019 | 10:30am

Rattlesnake Elementary Band Concert at Rattlesnake Elementary – Families Invited

June 5, 2019 | 11:30am

4th Grade – Musical Theme TBD – Families Invited

Winter 2018

December 19, 2018 | 3:00pm 

5th Grade – Winter Performance of Band and Orchestra – Families Invited

December 21, 2018

All Grades – Winter Sing-a-long – Students & Staff Only**

**the Winter Sing-a-long is for students and staff only! Please respect this request, as the gym cannot safely accommodate all grades, families, and staff at once. Thanks for your understanding.**

 

Direct Donate Drive 2018

The Rattlesnake PTA works with the teachers, staff, and community of our school to provide both funding and in-person support for special events, field trips, students and families in need, classroom materials, and educational enrichment. By donating to the Rattlesnake PTA this holiday season, your dollars directly support the programs that matter most to our students, staff, and community.

  • Donate between November 19th and December 31st 2018 to ensure your donation is counted towards meeting our annual goal. Donations received after the deadline are very much still welcome- it is just harder to keep track of our progress after that!
  • The suggested donation is $50 per child – this amount is approximately how much the PTA needs in donations, per child per year, to support our programs.
  • To donate online, visit: https://www.crowdrise.com/RattlesnakePTA
  • To donate with cash or check over Winter Break: Use the pre-addressed green envelope that came home with your child, or any other envelope if you’ve misplaced that one! Donations over winter break should be mailed to the addresses below. Checks should be made out to “Rattlesnake PTA.”

Mail to: 

Rattlesnake PTA, P.O. Box 7211, Missoula MT 59807

– or –

Rattlesnake PTA, 1220 Pineview Dr, Missoula MT 59802

Track our overall progress on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RattlesnakePTA/

Thank you for considering a donation today!

 


More Details on the Direct Donate Fundraiser

Background: The PTA’s Direct Donate Drive started in 2015 to allow families to give money to the PTA without having to buy or sell items like chocolates and wrapping paper. The Direct Donate fundraiser has since become the 2nd biggest annual fundraiser run by the Rattlesnake PTA.  Learn more about the Rattlesnake PTA’s major fundraising and event schedule here.

Goals: The net funds raised during the Direct Donation event in 2017 were over $8000. The goal for 2018 is $12,000. We’ve raised the goal this year for Direct Donate so that other community events during the year (such as the Spring Fling) can focus more on the fun, and less on the fundraising!

Get the Word Out: We are committed to minimizing waste during this fundraising event by minimizing paper handouts so watch for email and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RattlesnakePTA) reminders that you can share with others. You can also share the Crowdrise link with grandparents, family & friends who might want to support Rattlesnake Elementary.

Please feel free to return any unused green envelopes to your child’s teacher for reuse next year.

Online Fees: Although anyone can donate by check, cash, or online — donations by cash or check “go a little farther” because there are no transaction fees. Donations online via Crowdrise include two fees:

  • a 6% (of total donation) fee to use the online platform
  • separate credit card processing fee of 3- 4%, depending on size of donation

If you wish to maximize every penny of your donation, please consider sending a check. Make the check out to “Rattlesnake PTA” and send to Rattlesnake PTA, 1220 Pineview Dr, Missoula MT 59802.

Tax Info: The PTA’s legal name as defined by the IRS may show up on your receipt for donating on Crowdrise- that name is the “MONTANA CONGRESS OF PARENTS TEACHERS STUDENTS.” We are sorry for any confusion that might cause. Your donation will reach us!

The Rattlesnake PTA is a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit, tax ID #81-0448185.

If you have further questions about this fundraiser, please email the PTA at RattlesnakePTA@gmail.com

Volunteer Needed: Chess Club

We are looking for a parent or grandparent volunteer to lead the Chess Club at Rattlesnake. Chess Club was started last school year (2017-2018) and all the materials are already at school- we just need a new coordinator for Fall 2018!

The Chess Club is open to all ages and abilities and can be held either one day a week (of your choice), or every other week. The club meets during lunch recess in the school atrium (across from the cafeteria). All you need is the available time, some basic chess knowledge, and the willingness to help run this fun and educational opportunity in our school!

Email us to volunteer! rattlesnakepta@gmail.com

Classroom Gift for Mr. Hughes

Our new 2nd grade teacher, Mr. Hughes, has requested gently-used and age-appropriate book donations for his classroom. Let’s give Mr. Hughes a warm welcome to Rattlesnake and help him build his classroom library by donating 2nd-grade (3rd-grade ok, too) books that your kids have outgrown!

To donate, send books to school with your child in a bag or box labeled “Mr. Hughes donation” or “2H donation” and your child’s teacher will pass them on.

Some suggested series:

    • Magic Tree House
    • Henry & Mudge
    • Arthur
    • Humphrey
    • Poppleton
    • Magic School Bus
    • Geronimo Stilton
    • Puppy Place
    • Black Lagoon
    • Flat Stanley
    • Froggy

Some suggested authors:

    • Mercy Watson
    • Cynthia Rylant
    • Junie B Jones
    • Henry Munsch
    • Dr. Seuss

The above lists are only suggestions, please donate any series or authors that your child enjoyed in 2nd grade! Thank you!

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OPEN HOUSE: SEPTEMBER 12, 2018

What: Open House to meet teachers and see classrooms!
When: Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: In your student’s classroom(s)– your kids can show you where to go!

You are invited to our Open House. Stop by and meet your teacher(s), Rattlesnake staff, and our wonderful PTA. Rattlesnake gear will be available for sale during the Open House. We hope to see you there!

Open House lasts one hour and is typically very busy, so your teacher may not have more than a few minutes to talk to you about your child’s progress and/or needs. As suggested on the district’s Rattlesnake School website, “If you feel that you need to spend more time with the teacher, please make an appointment.”

Please note that parking is always very packed for these types of all-school events. The weather forecast is for a sunny afternoon, so if you can walk or bike, please consider it!

sunset with trees

Indoor Air Quality Update, Fall 2018

Great news- the air inside Rattlesnake School will be cleaner and healthier this fall- and here’s why!

This past Spring (2018), Climate Smart Missoula received grant money from the United Way to assess the indoor air quality in Missoula County Schools and make recommendations for improvements. As a result, Rattlesnake Elementary School was the recipient of new Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13 filters throughout the building. MERV 13 filters are the type of filter required to capture the most damaging small smoke particulates from the air when used in settings like a school or other public building (learn more on the Missoula County Air Quality website, scroll way down to the June entries). In addition to installing new filters, Climate Smart Missoula plans to assess the effectiveness of these new filters on the indoor air quality at school this year, to confirm that they are creating a cleaner and safer indoor environment for the teachers and staff at Rattlesnake Elementary. The Rattlesnake Wellness Committee has been working with Climate Smart Missoula on these efforts since 2017 and we are so pleased to see these positive changes implemented in our school that support the health of our students, teachers and staff!

This blog was written by Carissa, member of the PTA’s Rattlesnake Wellness Committee, in coordination with Amy Cilimburg, Executive Director of Climate Smart. 

Kindergarten Roundup 2018 FAQ

During the three kindergarten roundup sessions in May 2018, members of the PTA took notes on the most frequently asked questions as heard from parents of incoming kindergartners. We used those notes to create this list of short topics and details – and we hope it proves helpful to everyone! Many thanks to Principal Wright for fact checking this document, and Molly, Leigh, Maggie, Carissa, Matt, Erik, and Lucia for staffing the PTA presence at Roundup!

CLASS ASSIGNMENTS, TEACHER ASSIGNMENTS, AND SIZES

  • All families (K- 5th) should received their class placement by email during the week ending on August 17th 2018. If you do not receive the email by August 20th, please double check your spam folder, and then call Principal Wright (406-542-4050). 
  • Kindergarten classes up to 20 have 1 teacher. If 21 or 22 students are in a class then assistants are in the classroom.
  • The entire kindergarten class is expected to not exceed 88 students (i.e. 4 classes). If by the start of the year, enrollment exceeds 88, then decisions on differing enrollment will be made by Superintendent’s office. This process is referred to as leveling.

START OF SCHOOL 2018 – SPECIAL EVENTS SCHEDULE

  • August 22nd from 5:30- 6:30pm: School tour for new families of 1st to 5th graders. Siblings are welcome but please note this tour is not designed for incoming kindergarten families, unless you missed Kindergarten Roundup in May. Meet at the front main entry.
  • Find the First Three Weeks of events page here.
  • Find our general Calendar page at https://rattlesnakepta.org/calendar/ 

FIRST WEEK OVERALL KINDERGARTEN SCHEDULE

  • NO KINDERGARTEN August 29, 30, 31 (Grades 1-5 are in session)
  • NO SCHOOL September 3rd, Monday. See entry above for NEW Kindergarten Playdate on this day.
  • Tuesday, September 4, K from 8:25- 12:30 (K has a half day, please send your child with a bag lunch or plan to order a bagged lunch as they will eat in the classroom to keep things less stressful). K only busing available *
  • Wednesday, September 5, K from 8:25- 12:30 (K has a half day, please send your child with a bag lunch or plan to order a bagged lunch as they will eat in the classroom to keep things less stressful). K only busing available *
  • Thursday, September 6, K from 8:25- 2:00 (All school, Early Out, Lunch will be however you prefer in main cafeteria). Regular on time K – 3rd busing
  • Friday, September 7, K from 8:25- 3:00 (All school, Full Day, Lunch will be however you prefer in main cafeteria). Regular on time K – 3rd busing
  • * See Bus Schedule First Week Note below *

BUS SCHEDULE

  • Standard schedule and stops can be found at http://www.infofinderi.com/ifi/?cid=MCPS4CVNG54XW
  • Kindergartners often get very excited to ride the bus for the first few weeks. Please remind them to wear their “imaginary seat belt” and stay seated for the whole ride just like in a regular car or like for the city bus. This helps keep them safe, and keeps the bus drivers focused on the road.
  • * Bus Schedule First Week Note * – For the first two days of the first week in 2018 for kindergarten only, the half-day dismissal on Tuesday and Wednesday special kindergarten buses take longer and will bus to more than one route. This extended route can prove stressful to kids that are not very excited about being on the bus. If you think your kid might be upset by this, the PTA suggests sending them on the morning buses all week (those are the consistent and regular route), picking up your child at the school for just the half days (Tuesday and Wednesday), and then having them ride the bus on Thursday and Friday afternoons. This allows them to get used to the normal bus routes while skipping the possible stress of those two days of extended bus routes.

PREP FOR THE FIRST DAY

  • It is best to try to stick to talking about drop off and pick up only the night before- don’t build it up too big or with too many fine details.
  • Do your best to get your child to bed at a consistent time for at least a few nights before school starts. Sleep is so important at this age!
  • Kindergartners get Summer home visits to meet their teachers – these will take place in late August or early September. Look for letter from your teacher about this, later in the Summer.
  • If you child will be riding the bus, please review our “Bus Schedule First Week Note” in the paragraph above, so you can make a good choice for your child’s needs.
  • See the Supply List for the 2018-19 school year, organized by grade.
  • Worried you are forgetting something? Try our Back to School short list of reminders.

DROPOFF AND PICKUP GUIDELINES

  • Walk, bike, or bus is best!
  • Kindergartners getting off the bus in the morning will be assisted with finding their classroom meeting spot (marked with a traffic cone and sign) and will meet their teacher outside the school each morning.
  • See https://rattlesnakepta.org/school-map/ for the map that details car dropoff guidelines
  • Kindergartners must have an authorized adult to pick up – they will not be released alone from the school nor off the bus. Kindergartners with no authorized adult at the bus stop at afternoon dismissal will be bussed back to the school to ensure their safety. Please be on time to meet the bus!

DAILY SCHEDULE, REST TIME, SPARE CLOTHING, AND RECESS

  • The basic daily schedule is here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/schedule/
  • The K day includes rest time in Fall for all classrooms. Rest time in Winter and Spring is figured out per classroom, as needed by class dynamics. Typically your teacher will permit a small blanket and a small soft toy, but this may vary depending on the classroom needs.
  • Most classrooms have a space for each child to have a set of spare clothing in case of accidents. It is normal for young children to accidentally pee their pants on occasion. If you are concerned about your child’s needs, please speak to your teacher or the school nurse as soon as possible so they can help.
  • Kindergarten has three recesses per day: First Recess, Pre-Lunch Recess, and Second Recess.
  • Recess is held outdoors in nearly all weather. It is only held indoors in very specific hazardous weather conditions. Learn more here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/snow-and-weather-policies/

AFTERSCHOOL CARE OPTIONS

  • All kindergarten students’ families will be able to indicate how they are dismissed each day in a form from their teacher, to ensure they safely and correctly follow their schedule (i.e. if your child will do Campfire Monday – Thursday, and home on the bus on Fridays, you will indicate that in writing).
  • Changes to your child’s routine must always be communicated prior to 2:30pm (1:30 on Thursdays).
  • Note that during the first week, Clark Fork School aftercare has allowed kindergartners in the past to be dropped off for their regularly registered aftercare schedule (from 3pm onwards) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Talk to the folks at Clark Fork to confirm details!
  • Learn about afterschool programs here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/after-school-programs/

BREAKFAST, LUNCH, AND MENU

  • Breakfast is optional before school and is from 8am to the 8:25am bell.
  • Lunchtime is a 25 minute period, with the exact time dependent on schedule and grade. Hot and cold purchase options are available, or students can bring their own lunch. There is a nut-free table available for students with a nut allergy.
  • Lunch money is put onto an account and each student is assigned a number. Our Menu page includes information on how to add money to your account, as well as the current menu and a few back menus for examples: https://rattlesnakepta.org/menus/

SNACKS, ALLERGIES, AND SCHOOL NURSE

  • Most classrooms have food-free celebrations and birthdays – learn more about this approach at the MCPS page Smart Snack initiative http://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/2749
  • Some K classrooms have group snacks, others do not, your teacher will communicate these expectations in the fall.
  • There is a nut-free table available in the cafeteria for students with a nut allergy.
  • Nut-free or food free classrooms are designated as needed, per classroom.
  • If your child has allergies and you have already submitted a completed medical form, you should have already heard from our assigned nurse. If you have not heard from her, please call or email Lisa Flanagan to discuss your child’s needs and ensure the forms were received: ltflanagan@mcps.k12.mt.us, (406) 728-2400 ext. 4511, or (406) 239-9065

CURRICULUM AND READING EXPECTATIONS

  • Highly detailed curriculum descriptions are available at http://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/1827
  • Kindergarten classrooms at Rattlesnake Elementary begin the year reviewing single letters and their sounds, then they progress to two letter combinations (like “sh” and “st”), then learn to sound out short words and syllables, and finally will work on sight reading short words (such as “the” and “dog”). By the end of kindergarten, some students will have begun to read in full sentences or even books, and some will not- and that’s OK. Please speak directly with your teacher if you have concerns about reading expectations or classroom experiences.

TECHNOLOGY AND SCREENTIME IN THE K CLASSROOM

  • Kindergartners have limited use of iPads and computers with educational goals in mind. Teachers also have interactive white boards used for calendar time and story times.
  • Grades 1 through 5 incorporate technology and screentime in different ways that are age appropriate. Please speak with your assigned teacher if you have any additional questions.

CELL PHONES AND “KID PHONES” IN SCHOOL

  • As a general statement, most students at Rattlesnake School do not have cell phones or smart phones, but some students do have specialized kid-type phones (such as the limited calling wrist style phones).
  • MCPS technology policy is that cell phones may only be used before and after school. The teacher recommendation is that students keep phones, wrist phones, and smartwatches turned off or on airplane mode and in their backpacks during the school day.

LICE, FEVERS, VOMITING, AND MORE

  • Rattlesnake Elementary follows the guidance of the Missoula County Public School district for all health and safety issues. Please review these guidelines each year to ensure you understand the basics for when a child must be kept at home, or not! Find our quick reference here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/sickness-and-lice/

IN CLASS VOLUNTEERING

  • For kindergarten, general classroom volunteering typically starts in late October. This helps the classrooms settle into their routines, prior to adding volunteers into the mix.
  • If you want to volunteer your particular knowledge for a self-led lesson or classroom experience, talk to your teacher about how to best schedule and plan. Please keep in mind that scheduling is particularly tight in September, December, just prior to Spring Break (lateMarch), and in May and June. Planning ahead with your child’s teacher will let you work with him or her as a team to ensure your time working in the classroom is a great experience for everyone!
  • In class volunteers (called a Supervised Volunteer) must sign a district volunteer form (see http://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/9033). Volunteers that would be working with students unsupervised are also required to sign more forms plus get a background check- this is less common and isn’t the kind of volunteering that you’d be likely to do with a kindergarten classroom.

STANDARDIZED TESTING

  • There is no standardized testing done in kindergarten at Rattlesnake Elementary.
  • Teachers use a variety of assessments to guide instruction, some of which are standardized in format (i.e. a consistent assessment is applied to all students). Please note these are not standardized tests, but rather they are evaluation tools to help better understand student and classroom progress.
  • Standardized testing within MCPS starts in 3rd grade.

MANY WAYS TO COMMUNICATE!

  • School District:
    • Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) website: https://www.mcpsmt.org/
    • MCPS App: Search in App Store or Google Play Store for “Missoula County Public School” and you should find it!
    • Administration Building: 215 South Sixth Street West, Missoula, MT 59801, 406-728-2400
    • Emergency notifications are robo-called to parent or guardian phone numbers from the district on an as-needed basis.
  • Rattlesnake School:
  • Your child’s teacher:
    • During the school year, teachers can be reached via email or phone (find these on Rattlesnake School Staff Listings, https://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/2287) and will send a weekly newsletter via their school email.
    • You will get handouts and other paper format notes in your child’s “boomerang” (or “boom”) folder. The boomerang folder gets its name because it goes back and forth from school each day with your child.
  • Rattlesnake School PTA:
    • PTA website: you are on the PTA website right now! https://rattlesnakepta.org/
    • PTA facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RattlesnakePTA/
    • PTA specific email list: You MUST sign up separately for PTA emails to receive them! Sign up at any PTA event, or use the Contact Us form and simply write “please add me to the PTA email list” in your note. Thanks!
    • PTA via US Postal Service: Rattlesnake PTA, P.O. Box 7211, Missoula MT 59807

Summer Camp Scholarship Ideas

Summer is just around the corner! If you need ideas for summer camps in and around Missoula, we suggest you visit our Summer Camps page. If you are looking for potential scholarships for camps, here is a list that was provided to us by our FCC coordinator!