Rainy River District School Board

Departments

J.W. Walker School Transition

Contact

Bill Daley,  System Principal / Transition Co-ordinator
Email:  william.daley@mail.rrdsb.com
Phone: (807) 275-4998

Parent Meeting Dates

April 19, 2016, Fort Frances High School, Room 162, 6:30 p.m.
February 23, 2016, Fort Frances High School, Room 162, 6:30 p.m.

Background

At the February 2016 regular Board meeting, trustees passed a resolution to move the Grade 7 and 8 students from J. W. Walker School into Fort Frances High School, effective for the 2016-17 school year. To assist parents of J. W. Walker School students, this web page has been created to provide updates on this transition and to address questions as they arise from sessions with parents, students, and staff.

Opportunities

  • The opportunity to take part in full school assemblies, special events, and school spirit days.
  • Access to many resources that a secondary school can offer, music and drama rooms, computer and science labs, full size gymnasium, tech facilities
  • An easier transition to Grade 9 due to familiarity with environment, staff and programs.
  • Increased collaboration between elementary and secondary staff regarding curriculum and student concerns.
  • A homeroom teacher as well as lead teachers for certain components of their curriculum.
  • A chance to experience a partial rotary timetable.
  • The opportunity to participate in leadership activities.
  • The opportunity to observe and work with senior students who will be peer leaders, tutors, and positive role models.

General Questions

Why are the Grade 7 and 8 students being moved into Fort Frances High School?
Presently, J. W. Walker School is at 110% capacity with three portables on site.  With the introduction of Primary Class Size caps in the early 2000s, the School began to experience accommodation pressures. 

Why didn’t the Board expand the School when it added more space in 2013/14?
The funding for expansion was provided by the Ministry of Education to renovate and expand the Early Years classrooms; the capital funding could not be used for anything other than Early Years.

What other options did the Board consider to address the overcrowding issue at JW Walker?
The issue was addressed by installing portables to accommodate 3 classes.  However, parents have continually expressed their concerns about having their children in the portables.  The portables also pose challenges to scheduling, supervision, and accessibility. 

Other options explored include an attendance zone review.  However in the end, based on the underutilization of the high school and the fact that the J. W. Walker School intermediate students already have been using the high school for programming throughout the week, this option was recommended.

Why did the Board choose not to consult before making this decision?
Board Policy 6.50, Student Accommodation, does not require that the Board conduct a student accommodation review process when the Board relocates (in any school year or over a number of school years) grades or programs, in which the enrolment constitutes less than 50% of the school’s enrolment.  As well, the school attendance zone remains the same.

The Board is focusing on the transition and how to do this well. Parent/guardians are important and their input is key in helping to make the transition successful for all students. 

Grade 7 and 8 Programming Questions

Will the Grade 7 and 8 students still be considered JW Walker students or are they FFHS students?
The Grade 7 and 8 students will be considered FFHS elementary students.

Will the Grade 7 and 8 students follow the Balanced Day or the High School schedule?
The Grade 7/8 students will likely follow the same schedule as the rest of the High School to reduce the disruptions on the classes. Students will have four 75 minute periods, with a 7 minute break between periods 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and a 60 minute lunch break.

Will the 75 minute periods be broken up into sub-periods? 
Although the day will have 4-75 minute periods, that does not mean that every subject will be taught for that length of time. The schedule will look similar to the current schedules with some subjects taught for longer periods of time.

How will you ensure that 7/8 students receive access to resources at the high school?
All students will have access to the necessary resources, regardless of grade.   Current resources used at J. W. Walker School, such as reference materials, math manipulatives, and other learning materials will transfer with the students. 

Will the Grade 7 and 8 students have access to a Hot Lunch program?
The High School has been investigating ways to provide a cafeteria service or some meal service to students. Currently, there are no plans in place. If in the future there is an opportunity for a hot lunch program, the students would still eat in their rooms with either the lunches delivered or selected students going to the cafeteria to pick them up.

Will there be breakfast trays in classrooms?
As mentioned above, the High School administration has been investigating ways to provide a cafeteria service or some meal service to students. Options will be explored on how to continue with this program.

Will the Grade 7 and 8 students take part in the Nutrition Breaks on J. W. Walker School property?
The nutrition breaks will have an outdoor and an indoor portion. Students will eat in their classrooms as they currently do. An area of the FFHS grounds is being considered for students to use during breaks. Please note, that students will be supervised at all times.

What will the students’ first day look like?
At this time plans for the first day of school have not been formalized.  However, like any start to the school year, students will meet their teachers, review the classroom expectations, the school day schedule, and the school code of conduct, and participate in classroom/team-building activities.

We have heard that the gym, band room and other areas are fully booked already so how will time be made available to the Gr. 7/8 students?
As we are early in the process, schedules have not been made for the upcoming school year. The schedules will allow for the Grade 7/8 students to access the different teaching areas such as the gym, music and drama rooms, labs and tech. These areas are currently well used, but are not booked throughout the school day or year.

Will their music program change?  Is there a music teacher for next year? Are all the instruments going over to the high school with the 7/8s?
The only change will be that the students will be able to do their instrumental music in a music room as opposed to the school gym. Yes, there are plans to provide music instruction for Grade 7 and 8 students.  All the music instruments will be going to the high school as they were purchased for the intermediate instrumental program.

Will students be accompanied by the necessary number of [Education Support Personnel]?  A Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT)? What supports will be available to 7&8 students? 
All staffing related to the transition will be reflective of elementary school staffing and not secondary staffing. With respect to Education Support Personnel, this is dependent on the needs of the Grade 7 and 8 program, which changes from year to year.

Where will the students with special needs go?  Will they continue to be integrated?
All special needs students will be integrated as per each child’s Individual Education Plan.

What supports are in place for kids who do not make the transition well?
If a student is having difficulty with the transition the school will be in contact with the parents/guardians and supports will be put in place to address the student need.

There are many young adult books in the Walker library; will the J.W. students have a special section of their own?
The Grade 7/8 students will have access to the same reading material they would have access to in an elementary school.

Will they have to share Chromebooks, etc. with FFHS or will they have a set to use on their own?
The Grade 7/8 students will have dedicated Chromebooks or other devices to use within the high school.

Student Safety Questions

Will the Grade 7 and 8 students be allowed to leave the school to visit the fast food restaurants?
The Grade 7 and 8 program will involve a closed campus, and therefore, students will remain at the school for lunch.

Will Safe Arrivals still occur?
Safe Arrivals will be completed by a designated secretary just as they would in an elementary school.

I’m worried that my child will be attending dances with 17 and 18 year olds.
Grade 7/8 students would have their own dances and not be included in the dances for the Grade 9-12 students. There may be times when there is a function at the High School, such as a guest speaker or a special events day when the Grade 7 and 8 students will get to participate. However, please note that they will be under teacher supervision during their participation in these events.

Who will be responsible for discipline? What type of access will the Grade 7 and 8 students have to principals and will their issues be taken seriously in relation to the much more complex/demanding issues of the high school students?
The classroom teachers will be responsible for most of the day to day discipline issues, as classroom teachers in both elementary and secondary are responsible for overall classroom management. More serious issues will be dealt with by the school administration, a practice that is consistent across both elementary and secondary. 

Will they have the same consequences as high school students? Will they be in the detention room with other FFHS students?
Consequences are always based on the incident and the individual students involved.  All behaviour and consequences are in accordance with the school’s code of conduct, which is based on the Board and the provincial codes of conduct, and Board policy.   If students receive an in-school suspension they will serve it in the suspension room with other FFHS students. This room is supervised at all times. Work is assigned to all students in the room.

What steps will be taken to ensure student safety? 
The level of supervision for the Grade 7/8 students will be consistent with the level of supervision at an elementary school. For instance they will not be allowed to leave the school campus for lunch. They will have a designated washroom that is off limits to the rest of the student body. At this time there are no plans to have the Grade 7/8 students move about the high school unsupervised.

How will you minimize the possibility of children wandering throughout the school? 
Students will be supervised, with students moving as a class within the school.  Any issues of students that do not follow procedures will be addressed by the classroom teacher and the school administration, if required.

Is there a security camera system at the high school?
Fort Frances High School has a security camera system.

What additional measures will be taken regarding lockdown procedures for the 7/8 students?
School lockdown procedures, as well as emergency evacuation and fire evacuation procedures, are in place to address all members of the school community. Specific procedures for the Grade 7/8 students are not required.

How will you maintain coverage supervision at outdoor/lunch times?
Supervision will be scheduled to ensure coverage during the lunch break, both indoor and outdoor.

Transportation Questions

My child is currently attending J. W. Walker School, but is out of zone and I provide the transportation to and from school. Will my child now have access to bussing?
The attendance zone for J. W. Walker Grade 7 and 8 students will not change with the movement of the program into Fort Frances High School. Therefore, students who are in another school attendance zone (e.g., Robert Moore School or Crossroads School), will still not be eligible for bussing.

For the upcoming school year all JWS Gr 7&8's bus students will remain on their current buses and those buses will service FFHS.

Questions related to the location of Grade 7 and 8 Programming

Where will the Grade 7 and 8 students be placed within the High School?
The exact location of the Grade 7 and 8 program is still being determined. However, administration recognizes that the Grade 7/8 classrooms need to be in a part of the school that is as separate as possible from the rest of the school. All classrooms will be together in the same area. They will have an entrance located near the classrooms and washrooms designated for their use only.

Will the students have lockers and where will the lockers be located?
 Students will have their own lockers, located in the same area as their classrooms.  The location of the classrooms is still being determined.

Where will they eat lunch?
The students will eat lunch in their rooms as they do presently.

Where will the bus access be located?
The bus drop off will be at the entry designated for the Grade 7/8 students.

Will the students have access to outdoor space? 
The Grade 7/8 students will have a designated area of the playing field for their recess breaks.

Will funding for the JW Walker playground fund be used to establish an outdoor space for the 7/8 students at FFHS?
A portion of the money designated for JW Walker playground improvements will be used to improve the playground area for the Grade 7/8 students.

Graduation and Student Transition Activities

What will the Board be doing to prepare students for this transition? Will they receive a FFHS orientation program like the Grade 8 students currently do?
The Transition Committee will be reviewing what other high schools currently do in relation to this transition and using this information, as well as important input from parents/guardians, teachers and students to develop an orientation program that will meet the needs of the students. 

Will there be a graduation from JW for the students from Grade 6? From Grade 8? Will the current Grade 7s miss out on a graduation?
As part of the transition the current Grade 6 and 7 students will have a special activity planned to celebrate their time at J.W. Walker. Starting in the 2016-17 school year, the Grade 8 students will have a graduation ceremony at FFHS.

How will you prepare the FFHS population to be in an environment with younger students? How will the culture of FFHS be changed to accommodate the younger kids?
Procedures related to the Grade 7 and 8 students will be shared with secondary students, along with all other school procedures.  Fort Frances High School teachers are dedicated to the success of all students and this support will be enhanced as Grade 7 and 8 students meet their future high school teachers and grow accustom to the overall routines of high school prior to transitioning into Grade 9.  We see opportunities for also enhanced communication between intermediate teachers and high school teachers which will support student success and well-being.

Questions related to student activities and extra-curriculars

Will the Grade 7 and 8 students still be able to go on a Toronto trip?
The Toronto Trip is an optional excursion that, as always, will be considered if supported by parents.

Will they be able to take part in school plays?
We will be looking at what extra-curriculars students may take part in.  As with current extra-curriculars at J. W. Walker School, the activity is specific to the appropriate ages/grades of the students.

Will they still be able to be part of the sports teams? Where will team practices be held?
The Grade 7/8 students will participate in team sports against other elementary schools Grade 7/8 students.  Practices will be held in one of the high school gyms.

Will the Grade 7 and 8 students have an opportunity to have a student council?
The Grade 7/8 students will have a school council and they also will have a representative(s) on the Fort Frances High School student council.

Will Reading Buddies still occur?
Reading buddies can be still be set up between the intermediate teachers and the J. W. Walker primary teachers.

Question Related to Staffing

Which teachers will be moving over to the high school?  What are their thoughts/concerns on the transition?  Will EAs go and how many? Will they share a French/Ojibwe teacher with the HS?  Walker?
All decisions related to staffing will be made by system and school administration as per collective agreements and Board policy.

The Transition Committee

The members of the Transition Committee are:

  • Catherine McGuire- FFHS School Council Chair
  • Jennifer Leishman- FFHS Vice-principal
  • Jessica Ogden- J.W. Walker Co-Chair
  • Kerry Canfield- J.W. Walker Co-Chair
  • Jody Bonner-Vickers- J.W. Walker Teacher
  • Angela Petsnick- J.W. Walker Teacher
  • Kevin Knutsen- J.W. Walker Principal
  • Bill Daley- System Principal, Transition Co-ordinator

How can an interested parent become involved?

If parents have concerns or questions they can direct them to Bill Daley or members of the Transition Committee.