Saturday, August 29, 2015

Washington Charter School  
45-768 Portola Avenue
Palm Desert , CA  92260
Allan Lehmann, Principal 

WCS Chatter
August 4, 2015

I hope that you and your family are having an enjoyable summer. In a few weeks we will welcome you back and also greet our new WCS families. Last year, as you know, we enjoyed a very successful school term and we know, as we enter another academic year at WCS, that this year will be great, too.

We continue to provide the best educational programs and opportunities for our 825 students, rooted in your commitment and hard work and by all that is done by our staff, community volunteers, and students. We are poised to reach new heights this school year. The goal is to enhance programs that are successful and introduce new programs that meet the needs of your children. All of this, of course, would not be possible without your continued support. 

Please enjoy the remainder of your summer. I do want to give another gentle reminder that this year the first day of school will be on Wednesday August 26. It’s a mid-week beginning and this year school begins before Labor Day.

As the excitement of the first day nears, the butterflies begin to move about in our stomachs. This may be true especially for those who are new members of the WCS family. This year we welcome 160 students to our kindergarten and transitional kindergarten classrooms. We also have new students/families in grades 1-5. For many of these new families, it may be their first experience with a public charter school. Let me be one of the first at WCS to say, “Welcome.” 

Our goal is to make each of your years at WCS memorable. The doors of our staff and my office are always open. If you have a question, comment, concern and/or commendation, please share it. Our organization improves with open dialogue. 

I also want to encourage all of our new families to join our returning families and become active members of the school. There are a number of ways to be involved at WCS. We rely on and embrace parent involvement and volunteering. For the past 20 years, parents and community members have volunteered thousands of hours at WCS. When you meet your child’s teacher, share with him/her how you plan to be actively involved in your child’s education. Numerous research studies conclude that when home and school work together as a team and parents are actively involved in their child’s education, everybody benefits and students’ performances increase. 

On another topic: I encourage every parent to be fingerprinted. This adds an additional layer of safety for WCS stakeholders. It also enables you to be eligible to serve as a chaperone on field trips. We have a school policy that those who are selected to chaperone on fieldtrips must be fingerprinted and WCS Governing Board approved. Forms are available at WCS.

Students #1
We are here to meet the needs of our students. At Washington Charter we are passionate about providing a balanced educational program for every child. Time, effort and resources are allocated to enable each child to reach his/her potential. We strive to establish and nurture a positive and collaborative relationship with your child. Decisions by school personnel and the Washington Charter School Governing Board are rooted in the belief that all decisions are in the best interest of the children. We have expectations for your son/daughter and engage them so they can do their personal best. 

Parent Club Foundation
The WCS Parent Club Foundation supports numerous programs at Washington Charter School. Each year the Foundation raises a significant amount of money. This past year, for example, the WCSPCF provided more than $200,000 of direct financial support. The Foundation receives support from the City of Palm Desert, other foundations and supportive community members, but the majority of the funds raised comes from WCS families. Each year the foundation has two to three major fundraisers in addition to smaller ones. Our school’s operational costs have increased each year. Even with a forward thinking Governing Board and staff that has implemented a number of cost containment recommendations, without the support of the Parent Club Foundation many of our exemplary programs would need to be scaled back or eliminated. 

In the 2014-15 school year the PCF supported our after school, end of the year carnival, participation in the McCallum  Theatre Institute, Reading Lab, attendance incentives just to name a few. I appreciate your support of the Foundation. The first week of school we will launch our first “major” fundraiser. Our students will be selling cookie dough. I know we promote about healthy eating a lot but a treat now and then is ok, too.

The Parent Club Foundation welcomes your support and involvement. If you have additional questions or want to volunteer, please call one of the foundations co presidents: Shelly Bricker or Michelle Stansfield. Shelly or Michelle can be reached at the school: 862-4350. You can also meet the PCF at our Back to School Night 

Waiting List
Oh, how things have changed since our school was first granted its charter in 1994. Our waiting list continues to grow. With the enactment of certain legislation over the past nine years, placement on the waiting list is now clearly defined. At each grade level we have many lists. Congratulations on your having one of the coveted spots at WCS. We still have a number of families who have a child or children on our waiting lists, and they are anxiously awaiting a call that their children can be enrolled for the upcoming school year. Many of us have been in a similar situation and we know how stressful this can be. If you know of any families who have moved over the summer and whose children are not be returning to WCS, please let us know so we can call and confirm the opening. This year our in-area waiting lists are long at all grade levels. 

Class Lists
When school was dismissed in June we began the process of forming classes for the upcoming school year. A great deal of time and thought went into the placement of your child. We want this to be a successful year for all stakeholders. 

Class lists will be posted at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, August 21st.   A number of criteria factors into placement and it is done by committee. A tremendous amount of care goes into these decisions and we thank you for your support for our decisions. 

Supply Lists
In response to parent and student requests, when returning students received their report cards in June, we enclosed a general grade-level supply list for the upcoming grade. On our website you can find this supply list as well as a teacher/grade level  “wish list.” In August many stores have back-to-school specials. The supply list makes shopping easier and enables you to shop at your leisure. On the first day of school or at Back-to-School Night your child’s teacher may have a few additional items that students need for the school year.

Back-to-School Night
At WCS we schedule Back-to-School Night soon after school starts. Having Back-to-School Night when the school year begins is beneficial for our students, parents, and staff. At Back-to-School Night your child’s teacher highlights the upcoming school year and features the curriculum and focus areas for the year. The teacher also reviews the school and classroom rules and there will be plenty of time to answer any questions you may have. This is a very important meeting and is one of the required activities in the Shared Support Agreement that you signed. This meeting is for parents only unless your teacher requests your student attend.

Back-to-School Night Schedule
August 27

5:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m.First and Second Grade Families. The session will begin with a general session in the Multipurpose room (MPR) 

6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade Families. The session will begin with a general session in the Multipurpose room (MPR)

August 26
5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.Morning (AM) Transitional Kindergarten (TK) orientation in Room 3104 with Mrs. Swartz

Morning (AM) Kindergarten orientation

Mrs. Ewing and Mrs. Beaty

Ms. Keady 

Ms. Burns

6:15 p.m.-7:15 p.m.Afternoon (PM) Transitional Kindergarten (TK) orientation in Room 3104 with Mrs. Swartz 

Afternoon (PM) Kindergarten orientation

Mrs. Ewing and Mrs. Beaty 

Ms. Keady 

Ms. Burns 

School Hours
AM Kindergarten & TK8:15 a.m.-11:32 a.m.

PM Kindergarten & TK11:48 a.m.-3:05 p.m.

Grades 1-58:15 a.m. -3:05 p.m.

Wednesday’s will continue to be minimum day for the entire school

Grades K-58:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

First day of School Reminder (Wednesday, August 26, 2015)

The first day of school our Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten students bring their parents to school with them. 

Morning kindergarten and morning TK students go to school from 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Afternoon kindergarten and afternoon TK students go to school from 11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

There is no bus transportation for Kindergarten and TK students on the first day of school.

Our first-grade students have a minimum day on their first three days of school. School will dismiss at 12:30 p.m. for first grade on August 26, 27 and 28. Having an early dismissal on the first three days of school for first grade enables staff to focus its efforts on ensuring that our first graders have a successful beginning to school and are reunited with their parents or safely placed on the school bus in a less hectic environment. Monday, August 31 will be the first full day for 1st grade. 

Since our first day of school is on a Wednesday grades 2-5 will have a full day of school. Wednesday is not a minimum day . The first minimum day for grades 2-5 will be on Wednesday September 2. 

Wednesday Minimum Day Reminder
Each Wednesday school dismisses at 12:30 p.m. for all WCS students. For those who are returning to WCS this is old news. The rationale for the early release day each Wednesday is so that our staff can work collaboratively in the afternoon. Without an early release day we are unable to get a grade level team together let alone the entire staff to plan and have meaningful discussions on the progress of students, effective teaching strategies, short and long range planning, and other items that arise throughout the school year. When WCS was granted its charter in 1994 one of the key components of the petition was an early release day on Wednesdays and a lengthened school day the other four days of the week. With a lengthened school day the other four days of the week (WCS students attend school 60-75 additional minutes on our lengthened days) even with a shortened instructional day on Wednesday, our students have more instructional minutes than they had prior to the school going charter or if we had five “normal” elementary school days. Many elementary schools in Desert Sands now have weekly collaboration and either have an early release or late start day.

School Uniforms
Washington Charter School’s vendor for affixing the school’s logo and/or purchasing uniforms is Chendo’s Screen Printing and Embroidery. In the event anyone needs another copy of the policy and the location of Chendo’s, we are including that information in this issue of the Chatter. Please remember that Chendo’s is only following the uniform policy that was written at WCS. Whenever the owner has a question he calls the school or refers the family to us so clarification can be given. The Uniform Policy has changed a bit this year to better reflect current styles. This information was provided to families when you re-enrolled in the Spring. Additional information about uniforms is on our website. Please also refer to your Shared Support Agreement.

School Volunteer
We appreciate all of the hours that parents and community members volunteer at WCS. Before they can volunteer on campus, however, they must fill out a form and be approved by the WCS Governing Board. The good news is that you can now fill out the volunteer application form from the comfort of your home or at school on a computer that we provide. The process has been streamlined and is user-friendly:

Log onto the Desert Sands webpage at

Find the section titled Schools 

Click on: “Volunteer Application is now Available Online”

 Fill out the form and submit

Renewing your volunteer application or checking the status of an application that has been submitted is also accessed at this location.

School Lunch Applications and Pre-Pay For School Lunch

Log onto the Desert Sands webpage at . 

Find the section  titled Schools

Click on: “Apply for Free & Reduced Price Meals Online”

You can fill out the lunch application from home or on a school computer.  All information is private. It takes only a few minutes. Many parents share that they do not fill out the lunch application for a reduced price meal because their child does not prefer school lunch. It’s entirely up to you on the days your child participates in the program (if at all). 

What is new is that the recently adopted school funding model from the state provides additional dollars to Washington Charter School for any family that qualifies for the free or reduced cost lunch program. Income and family size  determinate eligibility. 

If you prefer to prepay for lunch, again use…go to “Schools” and click on “Pre-pay for Student Meals Online.” You no longer need to send in a check or cash with your child. We hope you find all of the online options beneficial and welcome your feedback

Student Safety
The safety of your children is the top priority at WCS. When students enter our campus, they are supervised by WCS personnel. We have a supervision team that monitors your children before school, at recess, during lunch and after school. Our school day begins at 8:15 a.m. All of our exterior gates remain locked until 8:00 a.m. For the safety of your children please do not drop them off prior to 8:00 a.m. WCS does not provide supervision until 8:00 a.m. We will continue our practice of locking all exterior gates at 8:20 a.m. If you arrive after 8:20 a.m., please escort your child to the front office. The gates will reopen at 3:00 p.m. so that parents can come onto the site or wait for their children when they are dismissed at 3:05 p.m. Our dismissal policy remains the same this year. Staff is on a rotating after-school duty schedule. We have a minimum of two staff members at the designated pick-up area on Lantana. We also have two staff members at the pick-up circle that fronts Chicory. Additionally a staff member is stationed at the bus-loading area. For the first week of school ALL of our staff members will walk their students to the designated parent pick up or bus loading area. Some of the staff will continue this practice throughout the school year. Dismissal for kindergarten and transitional kindergarten is done from the classroom. All TK and K students have to be signed out by an adult. For safety reasons the playground does not open until 4:00 p.m. Students are not permitted to play on the equipment until 4:00 p.m. when the play area becomes a city park. When your child’s teacher has after-school duty they will not be available to meet with you when school concludes. I encourage you to call the school or e-mail your child’s teacher to set up a conference time that is mutually agreeable. We thank you for your continued support.

Student Drop-Off and Pick-Up
I want to remind our families that there is no dropping-off or picking-up students in the staff parking lot or bus lane. Last year we installed speed calming humps to moderate vehicle speed in the traffic lanes. It’s working! There are a limited number of volunteer parking spots. Those usually are filled by 7:45 a.m. Students can be dropped off in the traffic circle that fronts Chicory Street anytime after 8:00 a.m. You are also welcome to park your vehicle at Hope Lutheran Church and the Center for Spiritual Living and walk your son/daughter onto the campus. Another option is to use the angled parking on Lantana Street. As the school year begins some of our students may have forgotten safe practices for crossing the street. Please use extra caution. Traffic officers from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will also patrol in the vicinity of WCS as the school year begins. 

Upcoming Events

August 21Class Lists Post 4:00 p.m.

August 26 First Day of School (modified day for kindergarten and TK and first grade students)

First Grade Students released at 12:30 p.m.

August 27 & 28 First Grade students released at 12:30 p.m.

August 27 Back to School Night Grades 1-5

September 4 Fall Fundraiser Kickoff

September 7 Labor Day No School

September 8 TK/K Back to School Night