Monday, November 28, 2011

Window update

The window project is moving along successfully. The driveway around the side of the building near the dumpsters is going to be blocked along with the courtyard. The "dumpster" side of the building is the last area with classrooms to be completed. Following those rooms, construction will return to the courtyard to replace windows in the gymnasium.

If you have questions about the schedule please don't hesitate to contact me. Here are a few more pictures of the work being done. More pictures are available on our shutterfly page.

Pat Schettini Library

On Thursday November 17, I had the opportunity to attend the naming ceremony of the library/media center at RMHS in honor of former superintendent Patrick A. Schettini. Sharon Burke, library media specialist at the high school, was the host for the evening. Tributes to Pat were done by Lisa Gibbs, Peter Hechenbleikner, Dr. Doherty, and Ellie Freedman. The high school chorus sang a wonderful rendition of the song Let the River Run.

It was truly an amazing tribute to a wonderful man and superintendent. Here is the link to my blog post honoring the superintendent the week following Pat's passing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gift policy to staff

Room parents and parents are often generous to staff around the holidays. This generosity is certainly appreciated. Please review this policy if you choose to offer your appreciation to teachers during the holiday season.

Gifts to Public School Teachers and Staff
In general, a public employee may not accept any gift worth $50 or more that is given because of the position he or she holds. Public employees may accept gifts that are worth less than $50, but they have to disclose in writing that they have done so if, based on the specific circumstances, a reasonable person would think that the public employee might unduly show favor to the giver or the giver's child, or be influenced by the giver.

The law prohibits gifts to public employees, not gifts to public agencies. You may give gifts to a public school, or a particular classroom, and the $50 limit does not apply. Your school district may have its own additional rules about gifts, which you should follow.

Example: A Parent-Teacher Organization wants to give $75 gift cards to teachers to buy classroom supplies. The teachers may accept the gift cards but must use them to buy classroom supplies, and should keep receipts to show that they did so. Supplies bought with the gift cards are the property of the school, not the teachers.

New Exemption

The Ethics Commission recently created an exemption to permit class gifts to teachers. A teacher may accept a gift, or several gifts during the school year, from public school students and/or their parents and guardians, with an aggregated value of up to $150, if the gift is identified only as being from the class, and the identity of the givers and the individual amounts given are not identified to the recipient. Gifts received pursuant to this exemption are not required to be disclosed. The donor is unknown, so a reasonable person would not conclude that the gift would influence the teacher's conduct with regard to any individual or would cause the teacher to favor any individual.

Example: A teacher has a class with 23 students. Parents of 20 of the students collect money and give the teacher a $150 gift certificate to a book store, indicating that it is a class gift. The teacher may accept the $150 class gift certificate and no disclosure is required. The teacher may not knowingly accept any additional gift from any of the parents who participated in the class gift.

A teacher may accept a class gift and also individual gifts from persons who did not contribute to the class gift. Unlike class gifts, which are not required to be disclosed, individual gifts must be disclosed if, based on the specific circumstances, a reasonable person might think that the teacher's actions would be influenced by the gift.

Example: A child who did not participate in the class gift gives a plate of homemade cookies to the teacher. The teacher may accept the cookies, and no disclosure is required, because a reasonable person would not think that the teacher would be influenced by a gift that has no retail value. Similarly, a teacher would not be required to disclose acceptance of other homemade food items, hand-picked (not purchased) bouquets of flowers, and handmade gifts, candy, or other gift items worth less than $10, because a reasonable person would not think that the teacher might unduly show favor to the giver of such gifts or the giver's child, or be influenced by the giver.

Example: Parents of a child who did not contribute to a class gift and whose child is awaiting a college recommendation gives the teacher who is writing the recommendation a bottle of wine worth $40. The teacher must disclose the gift in writing to her appointing authority, because a reasonable person might think that such a gift might influence the teacher to write a better recommendation for the student.

Birch Meadow Music Teacher

Enjoy this feature article about Birch Meadow music teacher Melissa Steiger

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Window Project Update

The Window Project is underway.
The first group of rooms will be completed in the next week. The cafeteria windows and the rooms in the courtyard are the next set of rooms which will be impacted by the window project. See the message below related to student safety.

Parents are asked to closely monitor children near the construction areas marked by yellow caution tape. Children should be kept at least 30 feet away from the tape. Part of the construction may result in broken glass and other items which impact student safety. Please help keep your children safe and stay at least 30 feet from the construction area.

The Birch Meadow courtyard is going to be blocked from foot traffic starting this Monday, November 14. This will impact many classrooms along with drop off and pick up procedures. Ms. Simon, Mrs. Tucker, and Mrs. Piazza will have their classes enter and exit the building via the doors at the end of their hallway.

Parents should drop off children at these doors before school and pick up their students at these doors at the end of the school day.

Please contact your child’s teacher or Mr. Sprung if you have questions.

Thank you.

Pictures of the temporary gym classrooms and new windows are see below and available on the Birch Meadow Shutterfly page.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Respect is our character trait this month

Dear Birch Meadow Parents,

As you know, Birch Meadow’s behavior program is focusing on 6 themes of character this year: Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Sportsmanship, Cooperation, and Caring.

Respect is the character trait we will be focusing on this month. A special thank you goes to our 4th graders who introduced our guest speaker, parent and school committee member Lisa Gibbs. Lisa talked about respect and allowed students to share how they will be respectful at home and school. Teachers and staff will be rewarding students showing respect and we are encouraging parents to do the same at home. Your child will be bringing home a bear this week. Please reward your child when you see him/her showing respect by filling out the bear with your child’s name, room number and what they did to show respect. The bear will be added to the other bears in a container in the office and posted in the lobby. Mr. Sprung will read one bear from each grade level at our next assembly.

The bear will be returned to you at the end of the month. Thank you for your cooperation with this program, and we look forward to reading how your child has shown respect at home!