4/3/2014 – Principal’s Monthly Message

Apr 3, 2014 by

4/3/2014 – Principal’s Monthly Message

Dear MES families,


Would you believe there are only 45 days of school left? Shocking but true! The year seems to be flying by. Hold on to your hats, and take a look at what’s going on at Montclair Elementary School.



Montclair Elementary School will not conduct traditional STAR testing this April, with the exception of tests for 5th grade science. Rather, our students will be “testing the tests” that will be part of the new Common Core curriculum. Our kids, along with those in all other elementary schools in California, will complete computerized tests on Chromebooks (small laptop computers); however, these practice test results will not be recorded. The endeavor will be used to fine-tune the process, work out any bugs, and determine what changes can help our kids be most successful when the tests do start counting next year.


The only direct impact this transition year has on our school is that a new API (Academic Performance Index) will not be generated. Instead, MES will retain last year’s impressive score of 972.



We’re happy to welcome a wonderful new garden teacher to our ranks! “Farmer Ben” joins us with 14 years’ experience working with Berkeley Unified School District. He’s bringing his deep knowledge and love for all things green to our students three days a week. If you’d like to pitch in by volunteering your time and expertise, please contact or kimthemidwife@yahoo.com.



Don’t forget that the first Friday of every month is the famous Kids Night Out! The intrepid parents of the Dads’ Club supervise your kids in the Multipurpose room, where they’ll enjoy pizza, popcorn, a movie (plus cartoon shorts), and at least one or two dance breaks. This Friday’s movie is the animated feature The Nut Job. Enjoy a quiet night to yourself while your kids go nuts! Best of all? All monthly proceeds are donated directly to various MES needs; this month’s receipts will help build a secure storage area for our AV/performing arts equipment.



  • Drop your kid(s) at 6 p.m., pick up at 9
  • Bring blankets and pillows
  • The cost is $25 for the first child, $15 for siblings (pay at the door)



The cooking kitchen lunch program has been very popular with our students, and we congratulate everyone involved on a successful launch. However, to keep the gourmet meals coming we need to keep up our support. The more we use it, the better! Even if you don’t expect your child to eat there on a daily basis, we encourage you to sign up for once-in-a-while use (and just think of the time you’ll save not having to pack that lunchbox). Meals are $2.25 per student and you can pay in advance. Please see the bottom of this email for more information.



  • 2014 School Start: One year winding down means another is gearing up! Although OUSD has not published its official calendar yet, the first day of school is traditionally the last Monday in August. So mark your calendars just in case, and stay tuned for official confirmation.
  • Moving On? Let Us Know! If your child (other than a promoted fifth grader) will not be returning to MES in the fall, please let Principal Bloom know as soon as possible. This information is critical for determining class size and assignments, and to get an accurate count of seats available for students applying to MES during the options process. Thanks for your consideration!
  • Class Assignments: Our team – including Principal Bloom, your child’s teacher(s), and Dr. Susan – has begun the very thoughtful process of assessing and assigning students to their next teachers and classes. These assignments aren’t based on buddies or parental requests, but rather on what our experts feel will be the best fit for your child academically and socially.

If you have specific concerns, please speak with your current teacher; please do not ask Principal Bloom to place your child with a particular instructor. There are often class dynamics that parents are not aware of that contribute to the placement choices. Rest assured they are working with your child’s very best interests at heart, and that a teacher you may not have considered often turns out to be the perfect fit.

  • Class Sizes: The state of California has launched a new initiative to set a maximum class size of 24 students for grades K through 3. Beginning in the fall, our kindergarten classes will follow this new guideline; grades 1 – 3 will follow suit either in the fall or in subsequent phases (this is still to be determined by the state). Either way, Principal Bloom will be working to reconfigure classes to meet these requirements, and we expect this to be a very positive change for our students.


  • April 7: Our rescheduled date for Class Picture Day
  • April 14-18: Our week-long Spring Recess
  • May 10: We’re thrilled to welcome our annual Variety Show to our new multipurpose space. It’s sure to be an amazing night, and wait until you see the professional-grade stage curtains we’re having installed.
  • May 23 and 26: No school for Lincoln’s Day and Memorial Day – four-day weekend!


To end on a serious note, many of you may have heard about a recent incident in which a young student was lured from the playground at Bella Vista Elementary School and assaulted. Our hearts go out to the student and her family, and we are shocked and saddened at the news. It’s an unfortunate reminder that predators exist and stranger danger is a real threat, even on the grounds of a school.


In light of this incident, we strongly encourage all MES parents to discuss stranger danger and safety tips with their children. Please review the attached tip sheet; this information from the National Crime Prevention Council can also help you with the conversation: http://www.ncpc.org/topics/violent-crime-and-personal-safety/strangers. Remember to keep school gates closed during school hours to help keep our campus safe. Finally, please never leave your child in a situation where he or she is unsupervised, even for a few moments. Asking your child to wait for a late pick-up in the park or in the school parking lot is unsafe; if you or a caregiver is late in picking up a student, please notify the MES office and have your child wait there.



As always, Nancy Bloom maintains an open-door policy and welcomes questions or feedback. Please also feel free to contact PTA Board members (listed below), or the Communications Committee (Lauren Disston, ; CC Holland, ; Melissa Raymond, ; and Libbi Ziegler, ) with questions or comments.




CC Holland

(on behalf of Nancy Bloom and the Communications Committee)


Prepaid and free/reduced lunch students simply swipe their ID cards as they go through the line. No student will be denied food for lack of credits but if you run a negative balance you create a lot of work for our office staff to follow up with you for payment.  ID cards have been provided to all students, are kept at school and are used each day they get lunch from our kitchen.


Please prepay and keep your balance positive throughout the year!

  • Put check (preferred!) or cash in sealed envelope with student’s name and “Prepay Lunch” written on outside.
  • Make check out to OUSD
  • Meals are $2.25 each
  • Turn in envelope with check or cash:
    • in Multipurpose room kitchen, hand to Velvet, Food Service Manager for MES, between 6:30-11:00am or 1:00-2:00pm any school day
    • in MES Main Office, hand to Irene or Yesenia, MES office staff, between 8:00am-4:00pm any school day

You may also apply for free/reduced lunch here: http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us/Page/938


Credit will be applied to the student ID and point of sale “payment” is processed the same as prepaid ID cards (meaning there is no way to tell which students are prepaid and which are free/reduced). We hope to have online payments and accept credit cards soon.

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