NEWS

August Parent Newsletter

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Hello students and families of Central Academy!  Click this link for the attachments: Academy Parent Information FY2019

Thank you to the hundreds of parents and families who participated in our Parent survey this summer!  I must apologize for programming the auto-dialer to text the link at 5:30 in the morning!  That pesky little AM/PM button!  I sincerely appreciate all of you who participated, anyway.  You had some really great ideas!

RESULTS OF PARENT SURVEY

One idea I’m planning to try is increasing our use of webinars.  We did a couple of them last year.  But with some of the suggestions from the survey, I’m going to try some new approaches to address some of the other topics you suggested.

Our parents turn out for conferences!  But there is a lot of wait time for parents. Face-to-face just takes time because it is important. We will continue with face-to-face parent conferences.  Part of the parent urgency for attending conferences is that we’ve wrestled with being clear about our grading practices or giving parents timely information about student progress.

I’m going to make some webinars featuring our teachers with general information that parents are hungry for. For example, explaining how we provide students multiple opportunities to demonstrate growth in the different curricular areas.

I will also schedule a series of parent email messages at the end of the semester with updates on student progress in all classes.  Parents don’t know when the grade books are updated, so it can be confusing about when to check Infinite Campus.

And finally, teachers in every curricular area at Academy have been redesigning courses to increase our clarity and timeliness when reporting on student progress. I’ve been especially proud of our English and Social Studies Departments who have gutted and reorganized curricula and streamlined and improved assignments to create more opportunities for students to dig deep into meaningful work. We have rebuilt many courses upon those approaches that work best with Academy students. My teachers and I are so excited and energized to try out the new improvements!  And we know that even though we’ve spent months deep in this work, there is still more work to do.  That’s why we’re making this a priority for our Program Improvement Plan this year.  Attached is a one-page summary of our Program Improvement Plan goals for this year if you want to know more.

PARENT NIGHT THURSDAY AUGUST 16

Next week we’ll have a parent night. Unlike what we’ve done with our Parent Academy Events before, this night will include a Parent social hour from 6:30 – 7:30 in the Academy Main Lobby.  At 7:00 there will be a short, 30 minute presentation in the Campus Auditorium on our  Program Improvement Plan and our goals to increase the focus on the social-emotional needs of Academy students. If you’d like a preview, I’ve attached our Academic Behaviors for Success. While the focus of this evening is on adults, students and children are always welcome.

STUDENT ORIENTATION AND OPEN HOUSE AUGUST 20

The Academy faculty and staff will be on hand on Monday, August 20th between 5:30 and 7:00 PM.  The purpose of orientation is to give students (and parents) an opportunity to walk the halls, find their classes, and meet their teachers before the first day of school.  There will be a 30-minute new student orientation presentation to address commonly asked questions at 5:30 and repeated at 6:30.  So you can go to the presentation then walk the halls or vice versa. A map of the school is also attached. Download your student schedule from Infinite Campus.

BELL TIMES AND SCHEDULES STARTING AUGUST 23

Classes start Thursday, August 23!  If you’re having trouble seeing your schedule on Infinite Campus, contact Academy scheduler, Jami Powers (jami.powers@dmschools.org or 515-242-8543) she can help you get connected to the parent portal and resolve scheduling problems.  Students may have to reset their passwords to get onto Infinite Campus.  See below.

Next year, Des Moines Public Schools has adopted new bell times to better align with students’ circadian rhythms.  Please find attached Central Academy’s bell times as well as the A/B calendar for high school classes.

Generally speaking, students eat lunch where they take their block 3 or  7 class. So, if your block 3 class is at Central, you’ll have a lunch period at Central (7th graders have lunch at their home school, 8th graders have lunch at Central).  Students who attend Community Eligible Schools or qualify for free or reduced priced meals will have the same benefits extended at Central. One improvement for this year is that students will use their 6-digit ID number as their lunch number!  A map of the Central Cafeteria is also attached. We will not be able to have the satellite lunch station in the Academy Lobby this year.  But cold sandwiches, salads, and a la carte items will still be available in the main cafeteria.  Cafeteria lunches should be eaten in the cafeteria.

PARKING AND BUS TRANSPORTATION

DMPS provides bus transportation between home schools and Central.  Students who attend middle and high schools in Des Moines have free bus transportation to Central and back every day.  On the attached page with bell times are approximate bus times.

Limited parking spaces at the Central Complex have created issues for parents, visitors, clinic patients, and others. To address these ongoing needs and improve our security, DMPS has re-designated available parking space starting in the 2018-2019 school year.

The largest lot across the street at 19th and Grand will be opened to visitor parking this year. Parking for visitors will be easier to find and require all visitors to check in with security before gaining access to the complex. Visitors should sign in their vehicle license plate & description when they enter either Campus or Academy. This lot will also be reserved for those students who do not have DMPS provided bus transportation to the Central Complex. Out of district, home instruction, and Scavo students will be issued special hang tags when they request a parking pass. We hope this change will also encourage more students to use cross walks when crossing Grand.

We will move staff parking to West Lot 1. With the larger lot across the street that was used for staff parking being turned to Visitors & Reserved
students, this smaller lot is needed to accommodate the staff parking that will not fit in the garage or behind Campus. Later this year a new gate system will be installed with badge access for district employees.  A staff hang tag is required to park in this lot starting this year.

West lot 2 will continue to be for DMPS student use. Students who spend more than half their school day in Central Classes are eligible for parking passes for this lot regardless of grade level. Students are encouraged to use DMPS provided buses whenever possible. A map of all the changes in parking is attached.

PASSWORD RESET

The computer, e-mail, and Infinite Campus student accounts use ‘single sign-on’ which means they will use the same username/password for all three of these systems. Usernames for all three systems are set to be the student e-mail address (studentID@student.dmschools.org). The students’ network passwords will be reset to their birth date (mmddyyyy).

After the password reset, the students need to log on to a district computer, using their district e-mail address and their birth date as their password. They will be prompted to change their password immediately and this change will then pass through to e-mail and Infinite Campus.  We will have some computers available at orientation on August 20 for students to reset their passwords.Student passwords have no complexity requirements but must be 8 characters long.

Students must log on to a networked computer (not iPad) to go through the forced password change before they will be able to log in to e-mail or Infinite Campus.

This password reset will affect the following:

  1. Network password – what they use to log on to a computer.
  2. E-mail password.
  3. Infinite Campus password (Also note that student’s username for Infinite Campus is now their e-mail address (just like e-mail and their network).

ACADEMY SUPPLY LIST?

There isn’t a special supply list.  Aside from the set of English texts, students just need paper, pencils, pens, and folders or binders for organization.  Some students like highlighters or sticky notes, but that is completely optional.  If those types of supplies are needed in a class assignment, we usually provide them.  Very few classes might require a sketch book or lab notebook, but the teacher usually explains those unique items in class.

GET SOME ACADEMY SWAG

At Orientation night, Monday August 20, we’ll have some Academy swag to give away!  We’re so excited for this new school year we put together a few items from which to choose!

PRAIRIE PLOT

One of the most endangered ecosystems in the world is the natural prairie that grows in Iowa.  The Iowa DOT and others have been purposely replanting many of the species native to this region along our roadways.  At Central Academy, we have a small plot of dirt right in front of our school which we are going to dedicate to prairie grasses and flowers.  These plants have deep root systems that squeeze out weeds, require little maintenance, and are quite beautiful. Mr. Schoneberg and some of his students will be helping to start the seeds before fall planting.  It is very exciting!

Happy New Year!