Elementary Parent-Student Handbook

Contents

Student assignment to elementary schools

Our mission is to provide a safe, positive and stimulating environment — and for our elementary students, their most fundamental environment is usually their individual classroom. Class sizes have long been a focus area as our Board of Education, our school community members, our families, and our staff members have discussed and prioritized district goals and objectives.

Having equalized class sizes across each elementary grade level optimizes the use of our facilities and staff, and balances teacher attention to student educational needs. When elementary class sizes are not within our desired range, the superintendent has occasionally assigned incoming families to the building and classroom with the fewest students. This flexibility in initial student assignment is designed to provide the best balance in class size for ALL district children.

The superintendent has authority to assign incoming students to specific elementary buildings so that class sizes will be as balanced as possible across the district. Key parameters in this policy include the following:

  • Generally speaking, if a family lives within a mile of two elementary schools, the Superintendent may assign that family to either school upon registration.
  • Once a student/family is assigned to an elementary school, they will stay in that school through fourth grade (i.e. they would not be re-assigned after their initial entry).
  • If older siblings in a family are already attending an elementary school, the incoming student will be assigned to the same school. Assignments will not change for established students & families.
  • Students/families will not generally be assigned to an elementary school more than one mile away from their residence.

We take great pride in our high-quality, consistent educational program from building to building. Whether your family enrolls in Big Cross, Jackson Heights or Kensington Road elementary school, you will find the same great educational experience that has defined Glens Falls through the years.

Please feel free to call Superintendent Paul Jenkins at 792-1212 or email him at pjenkins@gfsd.org with any questions on this placement policy. We look forward to being partners with you in your child’s academic success.

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Attendance

Regular attendance is important to the progress of each student. The only legal excuses for a pupil’s absences are:

1. Illness on the part of the student
2. Illness or death in the family
3. Religious observance
4. Impassable roads or weather
5. Court appearances

All other excuses are considered illegal by the New York State Education Department and must be noted on the students attendance record.

If your child is going to be absent from school, PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE BETWEEN 8:00 AND 9:00 A.M. If we don’t hear from you by 9:00 a.m., we will call you at home. When your child returns to school, he/she should have a written excuse.

It is extremely important that your child arrives at school on time. Their day begins promptly at 8:30 a.m., however, if a student is tardy (after 8:30 a.m.) he/she should report to the office and sign in with the office staff before reporting to their classroom.

In light of recent changes in public education and state-wide emphasis on core curriculum and NYS testing, the importance of good school attendance has become more significant than ever before. We would like to partner with families to strengthen school attendance, family participation, and build a supportive, positive school community.

Many research studies point to the importance of good attendance, including arriving on time for school, as a basis for academic and social success. Students that come to school consistently and on time are more likely to develop positive relationships, have a positive self-image, and perform better in the classroom.

Below you will find the attendance procedures that will be in place for the 2014-15 school year:

  • Students with a minimum of 10 absences, days tardy, or a combination of both will receive a LEVEL 1 attendance letter. This letter will inform you of the number of days your child has been absent or tardy.
  • Students with a minimum of 15 absences, days tardy, or a combination of both will receive a LEVEL 2 attendance letter. A mandatory meeting will be scheduled with you and school personnel to create a plan for improved attendance.
  • Students with a minimum of 20 absences, days tardy, or a combination of both will receive a LEVEL 3 attendance letter. This will be the last notice before further action is taken and the Warren County District Attorney’s Office is notified.
  • Any student with more than 20 absences, days tardy, or a combination of both, will result in a NYS Hotline report being filed for EDUCATIONAL NEGLECT and will be referred to the Warren County District Attorney’s Office for review and possible prosecution. It is NYS law that children attend school regularly. After receiving this letter a meeting will be scheduled with school personnel, parents, and a representative from the District Attorney’s Office. Also, persistently poor attendance may result in the Glens Falls Police Department coming to the home upon school request.
  • It will be important to provide documentation for any absence or tardy after 10, including notes from doctors. A note from a parent will not necessarily suffice as documentation of a legal absence.

Please understand that this is a cooperative effort to ensure all students attend school regularly; we all aim for the same goal — happy, well-adjusted, and successful children.

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Civility

The Glens Falls City School District believes that all schools should be places where mutual respect is practiced and reinforced by all who enter them. The Glens Falls City School District will treat students, parents, and other members of the public with respect and expect the same in return. The district is committed to keeping schools free from disruptions and prevents all activities that threaten the educational process. This practice promotes mutual respect, civility, and orderly conduct by and among board members, teachers, administrators, staff, students, parents, and the general public. Civility should permeate the entire organization. The best way to ensure an environment of civility is to constantly practice it. Modeling the behavior we wish will send a sound message that people need to be treated with respect. 

Dignity for All Students (DASA)

The Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) went into effect on July 1, 2012. Its intent is to create more nurturing school environments free of discrimination and harassment. Identified in the legislation are those who are subject to intimidation or abuse based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.

The Dignity Act defines harassment as “creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being.” Both students and school staff members are covered under the Act, and its protections apply to all school properties.

Dignity Act coordinators include:

  • Debbie Hall, Big Cross Street Elementary School: 792-2619
  • Carrie Mauro, Jackson Heights Elementary School: 792-1071
  • Jennifer Hayes, Kensington Road Elementary School: 793-5151
  • Trent Clay, Director of Curriculum & Instruction: 792-0107

Child Find Program

The district has an obligation to offer a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities who are residents of the district. With parental consent, district staff evaluates students who may require specialized instruction and/or other accommodations to access and benefit from the educational services and programs our schools offer. If you believe your child has a disability that requires specialized instruction or accommodations, you are encouraged to contact your child’s building principal or the Office of Special Education at 793-7395 to discuss whether a referral to the Committee on Special Education or the 504 Team is appropriate.

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Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

The Parent-Teacher Association is a very active organization of parents and teachers dedicated to promoting school programs and activities. Participation in the PTA is a wonderful way to become involved in your child’s school pro-gram. It is also a great way to meet other parents and become active participants in our community.

Big Cross PTA Facebook page

Building Site Team

Our Site Team is committed to working together to improve education at our elementary schools. We are a group of three parents, three teachers, a school staff representative, the school principal, and a business community representative. We join together as a shared decision making team to make decisions about ways to improve and enhance the education of the students at our school. We welcome everyone’s input and invite you to attend our meetings.

Universal Pre-Kindergarten

The classroom is located at Jackson Heights Elementary School. The morning session will run from 9:00 a.m.—11:30 a.m. and the afternoon session runs from 12:30 p.m.—3:00 p.m. The program is filled through a lottery system. For further information on Universal Pre-K, please contact Mr. Trent Clay, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at 518-792-0107.

More information: Universal Pre-Kindergarten page

Use of School Facilities

The school facilities are available for public use during times that do not interfere with educational programs. Inquiries should be made at the office.

More information: Facilities Use page

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Breakfast/Lunch Program

Breakfast and lunch are available for all students. Prices are found in the school calendar and on the menus sent home with students each month. The Free or Reduced Lunch Program, a federal and state supported program, is available for those who qualify. Application forms are sent home in the summer mailing in August, or can be picked up in the office.

Breakfast is served every morning from 8:00 to 8:15 a.m. Do not send your child prior to 8:00 a.m. or expect them to receive breakfast after 8:15 a.m. Students may purchase a school lunch or bring their lunch from home. Milk may be purchased separately. The time of your child’s lunch period depends on their grade level.

More information: Food Services page

Arrival and Dismissal

Students should arrive at school no earlier than 8:15 a.m. unless they are having breakfast in school. Those students coming for breakfast should arrive no earlier than 8:00 a.m. Depending on the time that students finish breakfast, they will be sent to either their outside entrance door or directly to their classroom. Please follow the parking signs and yellow lines around the building.

Between 8:15 – 8:25 a.m. the teacher(s) on duty will monitor the pupils’ entrance into school.

  • ALL STUDENTS WILL ENTER AT 8:20 A.M.
  • Students will be directed by their teacher as to what door they will enter the building.
  • The following summarizes the arrival procedure for our students:
    1. Arrive at school no earlier than 8:15 a.m. and go to designated door.
    2. Line up according to grade level and class.
    3. Keep backpacks on back.
    4. Be courteous to others – no fighting, pushing, running, etc.
    5. Stay in line and visit quietly with friends until entering school.

A child who arrives at 8:30 a.m. is tardy and should stop first in the main office. A parental excuse is required for all tardy arrivals.

Daily dismissal will begin at 2:45 p.m. Arrival and dismissal times are busy times of day, and our children’s safety is of utmost importance to us all. In order to avoid traffic problems, please deliver and pick up your children in a timely fashion.

Teachers will be available from 2:45 p.m. until 3:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for those students who will benefit from extra help or need to make up work.

We have a crossing guard for the safety of the children. Children must walk to the crossing guard to cross the street. Please stay on sidewalks and walk (no running) when entering or exiting the school.

Early Dismissal

Please come to the office when you wish to take your child out of the building before the 2:45 p.m. dismissal time. Once the office is notified, the classroom teacher will send your child to the office. We ask that you send a note to the teacher on the day your child is leaving early. Whenever possible, try to avoid scheduling appointments during the school day. 

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Visitation/Locked Door Policy

In order to have a consistent district-wide elementary program concerning visitors entering the school building, the elementary schools’ doors are locked. As a reminder, all visitors must be “buzzed” into the building, report to the office to sign in, and pick up a Visitor badge to be worn during the visit.

Bicycle Guidelines

Fourth grade students are permitted to ride bicycles to school throughout the year. Third graders may ride bicycles to school in the spring after they have completed the bicycle program sponsored by the school.

The school does not assume responsibility for theft or damage to bicycles. Therefore, it is important that bicycles be secured to the bike rack with locks. Bicycle racks are located at each school.

Students must obey all New York state bicycle rules, including the provision relating to helmets. Additionally, for safety reasons, students must walk the bicycle once they are on school property. School property includes all walk and drive areas surrounding the school.

How to Contact a Teacher

If you wish to communicate by telephone with teaching personnel, we would ask that upon reaching the school office, please leave your name, phone number and a message to be delivered to the teacher to return your call as soon as possible. It is not always possible for a teacher to be reached during instructional time. It is also possible to access the district website at www.gfsd.org to obtain your child’s teacher’s school email address.

Registration and Transfer Policy

All students entering school must have the required immunizations. If they do not have them, they must receive them within a reasonable length of time or they may be excluded from school. Registration for all Glens Falls City Schools will be at the Central Registration Office in the Glens Falls High School. Call for an appointment – 832-4453. If you are moving, you must notify the school office. This will facilitate a smooth transition of academic/health records to your child’s new school.

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Emergency School Closing/Snow Days

When school must be closed, the official announcement will be broadcast over local stations WWSC (1450-AM), WMML (1230-AM), WNYQ (101.7 FM), WKBE (100.3-FM), WCKM (590-AM), WCKM (98.5-FM), and WGY(810-AM) and TV stations 6, 10, and 13. This will be announced as a closing for the Glens Falls City School District and not for a particular elementary school.

Closings will also be posted on the district website and e-mailed to any parent subscribed to the Glens Falls School News Notifier (SNN) system. (Sign up for SNN by visiting https://snn.neric.org/gf)

Lost and Found

All lost items will be kept for one month. If they remain unclaimed beyond that time they will be given to Goodwill. Please check the lost and found promptly if you find your child has misplaced something. We suggest that you mark coats, lunch boxes, etc. with your child’s name so that these items can be returned if found.

Health Services

Your child will receive yearly screening evaluations for sight, hearing, weight, stature and spinal alignment. If any abnormalities are noted you will be notified. If you have a concern about your child’s status in any of these areas, bring it to the nurse’s attention. Physicals are required prior to kindergarten entry and again in second and fourth grades. The child’s physician can complete the physical or the school doctor will perform a physical.

Whenever children are together in large groups, concerns arise regarding the transmission of communicable diseases. The following guidelines have been developed to optimize the health and school attendance of all children.

  • A child is to remain out of school for 24 hours following the last incidence of fever over 100 degrees, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • They should remain out of school if they are actively coughing or sneezing.
  • A child will not be allowed to attend school if any unidentified rash is present.
  • If diagnosed with Strep Throat or Conjunctivitis (pink eye), they must be on medication for 24 hours before returning to school.
  • If a head lice or body lice infestation is identified, all family members must receive treatment and the child must be free of nits (eggs) before the child can return to school.

The nurse evaluates incidents of illness and injury in school. If she deems the child too ill or requiring further medical evaluation, she will notify the parent or other designated responsible party. The parents or other responsible adult is expected to pick the child up in the Health Office promptly. In selecting an individual to act as an emergency contact for your child, please ensure that they live locally, can be available if needed, can arrange transportation, and have the authority to seek medical care for your child in your absence.

NO MEDICATION is given in school (including cough drops, ointments, Tylenol, etc.) unless a physician has determined it is essential during school hours. If your child’s doctor feels a medication is needed in school, NYS Education Law requires:

1. A written doctor’s order
2. A parent/guardian’s written authorization
3. The medication in its pharmacy or Drug Company labeled container
(Your pharmacy will give you a second labeled container if needed for school.)

Under no circumstances should a child bring any medication to school. Parents should bring any authorized medication directly to the nurse.

All health concerns should be discussed with the school nurse so a plan of care or action can be developed. Physical Education and outdoor recess participation may be excused for one session with a parent’s written request. Any additional exclusion requires a written physician’s statement.

More information: Health Services page

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Curriculum

Courses of study in the elementary school shall provide for instruction in mathematics, reading, English language arts, social studies, science, spelling, writing, computer skills, library skills, physical education, art, music, and health and safety education. Specific courses of study have been developed to include content appropriately related to the educational maturity of youngsters at particular grade levels. Remedial and enrichment programs are also provided to accommodate children who may benefit from supplemental instruction. Teacher recommendation and appropriate evaluation determine this. Curriculum areas are an integral part of our school district. Particular details can be obtained from teachers and building principals.

Six-Day Schedule

We are on a six (6) day cycle. The school calendar is printed with appropriate cycle days, in the top left corner of each weekday on the calendar grid. This six-day cycle was adopted in order to provide an equal opportunity for all students to have art, music, physical education and technology. Since we have gone to this schedule, students now have these special subjects on different days of the week. In the event of an emergency closing (snow day, etc.), that day gets skipped. The rotation resumes as marked on the district calendar.

Support Services

Speech: Some students receive Speech and/or Language Therapy. When a student has a speech and language disorder, they have difficulty understanding thoughts, expressing them, or producing correct sounds.

Reading: For students experiencing difficulty with reading, we offer small group instruction for students in grades 1-4.

Math: For students experiencing difficulty in math, additional support is provided by the classroom teachers, assisted by a classroom aide, in grades 1-4.

Resource: Sometimes it is necessary to provide supplemental instruction to students. We have resource rooms to work with individuals or small groups of students. The Resource Program is gradually evolving into a more collaborative push-in model where support is given in the regular classroom.

Psychologist: The services provided by the school psychologist range from individual evaluation to consultations with parents, students, teachers, and other school staff. Referrals to the school psychologist may come from parents or teachers, and may involve questions about academic, behavioral or other concerns.

Social Worker: An elementary school social worker is available to assist the teaching staff and the student body in a variety of ways. A priority function of this position is linking families to the school … creating and supporting the home-school connection.

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Library

The Library is open at a variety of times throughout the school day for students to obtain books and materials. Reading is promoted with activities throughout the year relating to classroom subjects, computers, and “people as reading partners.”

Since borrowing books and other materials from the library is a responsibility for our children, we encourage you to stress the importance of returning items on time. Help them find a “safe place” to keep things at home and emphasize the importance of caring for books.

More information: Big Cross Library page

Homework Policy

Homework and study skills are different. Homework is given to practice or extend the skills taught in the class-room on a daily basis. Study skills are tools used to be a successful learner in the classroom and throughout one’s entire educational experience.

Homework is reinforcement, or practice, of the work done at school. In addition to making learning permanent, it will have a positive effect on character development. Homework should become a daily habit. It is a vital link between school and family. Time should be planned daily for this important task. Children in grades K-2 will receive a folder to help organize papers going to and from school. Children in grades 3-4 will receive a daily organizer for homework assignments. The folder or daily organizer is available to each student at the beginning of the school year. Replacements are available in the main office, and cost $5 each.

All students need to apply their learning. Whether or not new work has been brought home, students need to read or reread and review material they have learned. Moving information from short term to long term memory takes daily effort.

Homework has different purposes at different grades. For all students it should foster positive attitudes, habits, and character traits. As the students get older, it also facilitates knowledge and acquisition in specific tools. Homework is required at all grade levels but the type of homework may differ.

The following are outcomes of successfully completing homework:

  • Positive attitudes towards learning and responsibility are fostered.
  • Assignment completion increases skill and knowledge obtainment.
  • Assignment performance and concentration improve with practice.
  • Self-esteem is bolstered as assignments improve and grades rise.

Study skills are taught in grades K-12. They encourage students to work independently, use time wisely, follow directions, and develop responsibility and respect of self, others, and property. Different study skills are introduced at each grade level and continue to be reinforced and applied throughout a student’s education.

Parental involvement in the understanding and practice of these study skills is essential to a student’s education-al success. Parents are expected to learn about these skills by visiting school, attending informational meetings, reading handouts, and encouraging use. After becoming informed, parents are expected to take an active role in monitoring assignments.

If your son or daughter is ill, and you would like to pick up his/her work, please call the school office prior to
9:00 a.m. This will provide us with the time necessary to gather all needed materials so that you can pick up the work in the office at the end of the day.

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Parent-Teacher Conference/Progress Reports

The Glens Falls City School District schedules early dismissal days for parent-teacher conferences during the school year. All parents are urged to participate in these valuable parent-teacher conferences. They provide us with the Best Possible Link for ensuring excellent home-school communications and cooperation.

There are two parent-teacher conference periods scheduled during the school year . . . three days in the fall and one day in the spring. See the district calendar for dates and times. On these conference days, elementary students are dismissed at 11:30 a.m. Please contact your child’s teacher if you feel additional conferences are needed.

Home/School Communication

Folders – Grades K-2

In the left side of the folder are papers that need to be left at home. (They should be cleaned out every night.) In the right side of the folder are papers that need to come right back to school the next day or are very important papers for parents to read right away. This folder is our way of communicating with the parents. The first folder is provided by the school district.

Planners – Grades 3-4

In grades 3-4 students use a Daily Planner to record homework assignments and transport notes between home and school. Third and fourth graders will be given a planner at the beginning of each year. Planners are used to develop organizational skills, responsibility, and to help parents and teachers monitor assignments. Parents can help children establish good work habits and study skills by checking and signing the planner daily.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

FERPA is a federal law that protects students. This law gives students and parents five rights:

  • the right to inspect and review educational records.
  • the right to seek the amendment of education records.
  • the right to consent to the disclosure of education records.
  • the right to obtain a copy of the schools Student Records policy.
  • the right to file a complaint with the FERPA Office in Washington, D.C.

More information: Data Privacy and Security page

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YMCA School-Age Child Care

School Age Child Care is licensed by the State Department of Social Services to provide care for children in grades K-6. The program operates for three hours after school dismissal . . . providing minimum enrollment is met. A one month tuition payment is required at sign-up. Vacation and conference day programs are available when school is closed. YMCA membership is a requirement, and there is minimal registration fee.

Contact the YMCA (793-3878) for further information.

New York State Testing Program

New York State assesses student performance at grades three and four. Please check the district website for up-dates: www.gfsd.org. Administration dates and subject areas are as follows:

Grade 3

  • English Language Arts will be administered during the month of March
  • Math Assessment will be administered during the month of May

Grade 4

  • English Language Arts will be administered during the month of March
  • Math Assessment will be administered during the month of May
  • Science will be administered during the months of May and June

Standardized Testing Program

Occasionally other standardized tests are administered to groups of students to determine strengths or areas requiring more intensive instruction in a particular subject area. Individual students may also be evaluated periodically to assist us in determining appropriate grade or group placement. Parents may request information relative to standardized testing results through the Building Principal.

Computer Technology

The Glens Falls City School District offers elementary school students access to a computer network and the Internet. The Internet is a global network, connecting computers to other computers all over the world in order to ex-change text, graphics, sound, and video. The school district provides Internet access for educational uses only and as such may only be used for activities that support and are consistent with the educational objectives of the District.

In the elementary schools, there will be no use of the Internet without adult supervision. All computers that have network capability have Internet filtering installed to protect students from accessing inappropriate sites, as well as free email sites and chat rooms.

Students are responsible for appropriate behavior on the school’s computer network. It is expected that they will comply with District standards and the specific rules set forth. The use of the network is a privilege, and access may be revoked if abused.

With regards to technology, we follow these rules:

  • Students will only access websites that are given to them by a teacher or that they find with a valid search engine.
  • Students will never give out personal information such as their name, address, telephone number, or the name of their school without permission.
  • Students will tell their teacher right away if they come across any information that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Students and parents/guardians are expected to understand that unacceptable use of school computers includes the following:

  • Attempting to access websites or files they are not allowed to access
  • Attempting to harm the computer system or files
  • Destroying the data of another user
  • Using the ideas or copyrights of others and presenting it as their own work
  • Downloading or installing any programs or files without permission
  • Any unlawful activities

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Instrumental Music Programs

INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC: All fourth grade students who wish to take lessons are encouraged to sign up for lessons during early September. Tips for parents:

1. Help the students set up regular practice times.
2. Sign practice charts.
3. Encourage good practice habits and commitment to the instrument on a long-term basis.

There is no charge for the use of the instrument for the first year, or for the lessons themselves. However, students are required to provide their own instruments at the beginning of the second year of study with the exception of some of the larger instruments.

STRING INSTRUMENT: Starting in fourth grade, students have the opportunity to take string lessons. Lessons are held one time per week and concert performances are also part of this program.

BAND INSTRUMENTS: In fourth grade, students may apply for a band instrument. Lessons are once a week and concert performances are also part of this program.

Appropriate Dress

Shoes or sneakers are required and should be worn at all times. Appropriate clothing is necessary. For safety reasons, flip-flops, thong sandals or any other type of backless shoe should not be worn by students. Heels are not appropriate for school. Please no spaghetti strap shirts (two finger strap width) and no midriff showing.

During the cold and snow season, children should have coats, snow pants or snowsuits, hats, mittens or gloves, and boots everyday. Outdoor recess continues through the winter months unless it is a severely cold or stormy day. That decision is made daily at recess time, so please send your child prepared for outdoor recess every day. Also, please label all items with your child’s name.

More information: Student Dress Code page

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