Sunday, May 29, 2016

Washington Charter School  
45-768 Portola Avenue
Palm Desert , CA  92260
760-862-4350
Allan Lehmann, Principal 

WCS Chatter
May 23, 2016

The school year is quickly coming to a close. I want to thank our families for their continued support of Washington Charter School. We see each day through your actions how important a balanced educational program is for your child and how much we are valued. WCS is a committed team that cares deeply about the welfare of every child who attends the school. We always try to do what is best for our students. As the final day approaches I can already see our staff not yet ready to say goodbye for the summer. I appreciate the thousands of volunteer hours that come our way each year. As I visit classrooms and talk with students on campus they share how hard their parents work with them at home, reinforcing concepts that we teach in school. 

I will deeply miss our promoting 5th graders. They added so much to our school and I know they will be successful as they go into middle school.

Enjoy the summer with your kids but try to include some reading, math, and writing with them  during the next few months. This will keep their minds sharp and ready for the following school year. Meanwhile, be safe and I look forward to seeing you on August 25 when we kick off the 2016-17 school year.

Volunteer Applications
This year we had more than 300 parents who were approved as school volunteers. Many of these volunteers were also fingerprinted. Your volunteer application has to be renewed yearly, although annual fingerprinting is not required. After July 4, 2016 we will be able to accept applications for the 2016-17 school year. To view the application, log on to the Desert Sands website www.dsusd.us  or the Washington Charter school website (WashingtonCharterSchool.org). Once again you will need to complete the application, view the mandated reporter video and pass the quiz. After this is done you receive a certificate of completion. Please e-mail or bring the certificate to Mrs. Espinosa in the front office. We hope that by having families fill out the applications in July we will have a host of volunteer-approved parents ready to go on the first day of school. 

Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten
Recently you may have read an article in The Desert Sun informing the community that all schools in Desert Sands with the exception of Washington Charter School will offer full-day Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten (K) beginning in August 2016. After the article appeared, I spoke with a few parents who asked why WCS wasn’t participating. I also shared my thoughts at the last Parent Club Foundation meeting. The Governing Board had this item on its May 12th board agenda and our staff had a lengthy discussion. 

I would like to share why WCS will not offer a full-day transitional kindergarten or kindergarten program next year. With the inception of transitional kindergarten in the fall of 2012 we have fewer spots for incoming kindergarten students. For the past three years as the school year approaches we have not been able to enroll all of our preferred attendance-area kindergarten students. Typically all of our kindergarten spots are filled by August 1st. After that date a family who moves into our preferred attendance area often is unable to secure a space because we are filled up. 

Current capacity in our TK program is 40 students (20 students in the morning and 20 students in the afternoon) and capacity in Kindergarten is 120 students (60 students in the morning and 60 students in the afternoon). If the school were to offer a full day program in TK and K, the capacity in TK would be 25 students, and K would be 75 students.  This would further compound our challenge of getting all students who reside in our preferred attendance area into the school. For those that want it stated simply: WCS does not have facilities to house full-day TK and K programs. In fact, we would need 3-4 additional classrooms to house TK and K students in a full-day program. 

If a school offers full-day kindergarten by law it must also offer a full-day transitional kindergarten program. The length of our K and TK school day would mirror that of first grade. For five-year-olds, six hours and 50 minutes is taxing and, in my opinion, excessive. 

Many of our parents welcome the opportunity to spend the morning or afternoon with their children engaged in enriching activities. Parents share that it is their last opportunity to spend an extended period of time with their children; they don’t want to lose that. 

There are certainly reasons why a lengthened day does benefit students. Studies have shown that students who enter kindergarten performing below grade level and/or are second-language learners, do benefit from a longer school day. Teachers also have additional time to present and reinforce what has been taught. What I did find interesting is that, while there is not a lot of research in this area, what has been discovered is that, although students who are enrolled in a full-day program initially show more growth academically those who were in a half-day program caught up by the end of second grade. 

Summer Vacation
The last day of school is on Wednesday, June 8. We are sending a 2016-17 calendar home and there is a link on our website, but for those who like to plan, the first day of school will be Thursday, August 25.

Upcoming Events
Wednesday May 25-Final Patriot of the Month Assembly
Monday May 30-No School Memorial Day
Tuesday May 31-No School. Teacher Work Day
Wednesday June 1-Reading Carnival (TK-2  8:30-10:00 3rd-5th 10:15-12:00)
Thursday June 2-Governing Board Meeting 3:30 p.m.
Friday June 3-Summer Birthday Free Dress Day
Monday June 6-End Of Year Awards Assembly and 5th Grade Honor Roll
Tuesday June 7-5th Grade Promotion TK and K Graduation
Wednesday June 8-Last day of School