Letter from Principal Franks - 3/10/2020
Monday, March 9, 2020 9:20 PM

Dear Armatage Families,

“No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important.”  - Mary Kay Ash

 

As the snow begins to melt, the birds are chirping and there are puddles everywhere, these are clear signs that spring is upon us. The kiddos are beginning to get excited about their spring break plans and of course, this too is an indication that time is quickly flying by.  There will be no school on Friday, March 27th through Friday, April 3rd for Spring Break.

 

Comprehensive District Design

This Tuesday, March 10th, the MPS School Board will have the opportunity to receive feedback from staff and parents across the district regarding the Comprehensive District Design (CDD).  This will be an opportunity for MPS families to listen to feedback and garner more information about the impact it will have on our students and their schools.  

If you are not familiar with this issue, the district has a link on the front page of the MPS website that provides the key components, videos and updates, boundaries and information.

I encourage you to either attend the meeting (Although parking will be difficult as they are expecting a huge crowd), or listen to the meeting livestream.  There will be a parent from Armatage who will read a condensed version of a letter that was emailed to you last week by a parent group.  

In April, the School Board will vote on this issue.   

Many parents have been asking what will happen to Armatage if the School Board moves forward with the CDD plan.  

  1.  Armatage would lose its Magnet status.  This means we would become a community school with specific boundaries.  Please check the district website to see the exact streets as projected in the plan.

  2. We would apply to become a “Montessori Specialty” school.  This means we would retain our Montessori philosophy, materials and instruction; however, we would no longer serve students outside the designated boundaries.  

  3. Whether families could continue on at Armatage if they live outside the projected boundaries but are willing to provide transportation is still in discussion.  Much of this has to do with how many students are assigned to Armatage and the capacity rate.  

If you have any questions, please contact me at 612-668-3180 and I will be more than happy to talk with you and try to get answers in an expeditious manner.

 

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

As you know, last week Minnesota had its first confirmed COVID-19  case. As expected, it heightened the anxiety of everyone. Our school district has provided a link on the website that provides up to date information.  

Per the Minnesota Department of Health, it is recommended to take the same precautions for avoiding colds and flu to protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water 

  • Stay home when you are sick 

  • Cover your cough.

The staff and I had a discussion regarding ways to keep the learning environments sterilized.  It was determined that classrooms are woefully low on Clorox Disinfectant Wipes.  If you are willing and able, it would be greatly appreciated if you could provide one container to your child’s classroom.  This will help keep the tables and materials as clean as possible.  

The district is monitoring the situation. MPS is in frequent communication with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.  At this time there are no plans to close schools, but updates will be provided as necessary. Again, please use the district website as a reference for information regarding the COVID-19.

 

 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment

Today, is the beginning of the window for MCA testing across the state of Minnesota.  Many students will begin by taking a practice test to get comfortable with the testing regimen as they prepare for the “official tests.”  Third – fifth grade students will be tested in reading, math and science (5th grade only).

The purpose of the test are to help districts measure student progress toward Minnesota’s academic standards and also meet federal and state legislative requirements.  

It is important your child/ren is ready for these tests by ensuring they have had plenty of sleep and a good breakfast.  

If you have any questions about the testing environment or would like additional information about the testing protocols, please feel free to contact Carey Seeley, A.P. & assessment coordinator.

 

Budget

Several weeks ago when we received the budget, it was noted that Armatage was asked to cut $42,384 from the compensatory education dollars and $96,475 from the Basic Per Pupil fund. My number one priority was to minimize impact on staffing to allow Armatage to continue to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of our students. The decrease in funding was significant enough that we can no longer maintain all of the positions we currently have at Armatage. As we prioritized positions and the needs of the school, it was determined that we would have to eliminate three positions; one tutor, one English language teacher (due to a reduction in ELL students), and the band position.  This was a gut wrenching decision and one that caused sleepless nights for many of us. It is never easy to take away support from school programming.  

Given the focus on maintaining staff, our non-personnel budget for items like paper, classrooms supplies, and other materials will be tighter next year than it has in the past. This makes fundraising for our school more important than ever. I hope you will join me at our Fundraising for Foster event on Sunday, March 15th from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. and take part in our online auction beginning on Tuesday, March 10th.     

Like you, I am incredibly disappointed we have to eliminate positions that have supported many of our students.  As always, if you have questions or would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you to all the parents, grandparents, extended family and community members who support our school on a daily basis.  We know how fortunate we are to have you involved in the school and appreciate your support as we continue to strive at making Armatage Montessori School an awesome place for children to learn and grow.

Sincerely,

Joan S. Franks, Principal