Domain 3

Safe, Efficient, Effective learning Environment

 

Capacity Building

Developing potential and tapping existing internal expertise to promote learning and improve practice

Responsibility Charts: P. 177Q is a very large, complex and very diverse school organization which encompasses a wide range of student and parent/guardian needs and expectations. We service over 500 severely disabled students from the ages of 5 thru 21, both remotely and in person at this current juncture.

This expansive group of students, along with their dedicated staff members, require a correspondingly diverse administrative team who are able to carry out the school’s mission statement with a single-minded focus, as well as a varied skill set. Our Assistant Principal team members, each coming from diverse backgrounds and experiences have nonetheless melded into one cohesive unit. Working in tandem with the school’s Principal, each AP team member has a defined set of responsibilities. However, it should be noted that these defined roles do not preclude a member from filling in for another, when say an emergency arises or we are experiencing a staff shortage. A.P. member specific roles were not assigned randomly, or for convenience reasons, but rather after an evaluation of each A.P’s area of strength and individual proclivities.

Responsibilities charts have ben created to designate roles and responsibilities for members of our school's cabinet as well. Responsibility charts have been used for Chapter 683, during the COVID school closure, and throughout the school year. 

The positive impacts of a delineated Assistant Principal responsibility system are numerous and encompass a wide range of school organizational functions. From a staff supervisory standpoint, they are now able to have a specific “go to” Administrator that will be familiar with their specific situation or need for support. This is all the more important for different sites in our school organization, who may not have regular contact with the entire Administrative team for extended periods of time. Also, the myriad support personnel that all work together to support our schools’ day to day functioning can now work seamlessly with each other knowing who to contact with various issues.

 

Having an administrative team with defined duties is something that our student’s parents/guardians have been requesting as well. A parent feels much more supported when they can deal with an administrator who has followed  their specific,  and often unique situations with their children from beginning to end.

 

An A.P. responsibility chart with everyone’s roles carefully delineated, ultimately leads to a more coherent, organized and efficiently run school. The biggest beneficiaries of this efficiency are our students.

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safety protocol reference guide
PPE snapshot

School Safety Video: Upon entering the 2020-21 Blended School year, the traditional paradigm of Safety in our school organization had dramatically changed during this era of Covid-19. Safety and health became inexorably intertwined, necessitating a changing mindset in how to best keep everyone in our school organization safe. A key component of this change was an expansion of the traditional roles within the BRT. With assistance from our Borough Safety Director we accomplished this task. A key component of this BRT realignment was an emphasis on procedural readiness and preparation for the safe entry, internal movement and dismissal procedures for the hundreds of students, staff and various support personnel that come through our doors daily. Health and Safety precautions related to Covid 19 were preeminent in all of this preparation and planning. An internally created P.177Q Safety Video was put together by BRT members with input from our instructional staff, custodial members, school safety, nursing department, food service and Parent Association.

Data from our weekly random testing program for students and staff, shows a school-wide internal cumulative positivity rate of 0.00 %, and 0.0048 respectively through April 7, 2021.

 

Students and their feel more secure and safe coming back into the school building for instruction. Several classes have transitioned from blended to full time instruction as evidence of a safe school building are demonstrated.

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School Budget: Purchasing and per-session funding are directly aligned to the vision and mission of our school. Staff members are asked to interview for team positions and per-session activities. During interviews for team positions and per-session activities, interviewees are expected to communicate how their understanding of our school's vision, mission, and instructional focus impacts their practices and how they can apply this understanding to the betterment of our school.

School purchases are strategically aligned to our vision and mission for the improvement of instructional and student outcomes. Regularly scheduled meetings are held between the school's administration, secretaries and purchasing manager. Surveys regarding instructional programs and supplies have been distributed to teachers and related service providers to ascertain their needs to identify instructional resources for our school. In June 2020, time was allocated during a clerical day for staff to provide curriculum feedback. Additional surveys have been distributed to staff as we learn about new programs that may be of interest. Requests to purchase many of these new programs were initiated by staff members in our school. 

This year, funding was allocated for a teacher leader. The teacher leader is part of our school's ILT and curriculum committee and has an active role in the purchasing of instructional resources. The teacher leader supports instructional staff and teacher teams through classroom intervisitations, information conversations, and targeted support. 

Covid funding was used to ensure the safe reopening of our school. Funding was used to develop reopening plans, identify instructional initiatives, and to plan for successful student outcomes. The ways in which these finds were utilized was communicated with school staff and parents to ensure a transparent, comfortable and safe reopening. 

College and Career Readiness funding was used to support our transition programs through staffing and supplies. Eighteen Chrome Books were ordered for our transition-aged students. Per-session funds were allocated for transition support and family outreach. 

$5,000 Sustainability Grant: Promotes The Green Team to understands the importance of leadership and building capacity for change within the school and commmunity. 

In the fall of 2020, funding for students in temporary housing was used to purchase schoolbags with supplies, health and safety items, clothing, and hygienic supplies for students in need. After receiving those supplies, an increase in STH attendance was observed. 

Thirty ChromeBooks were purchased for student use. Half of these ChromeBooks have been allocated for ur transition-aged students for career development. 

Curriculum and resource surveys have resulted in the purchase of Boom Cards, Freckle, iXL and Social Express licenses for our school. Staff who have provided their feedback on instructional programs have included teachers, deans, guidance counselors and speech therapists. 

Our use of COVID funding allowed for a safe school reopening. Students, staff and parents felt at ease in sending their children into our school, as evidenced by parent feedback during our monthly "Bright Side" parent town hall meetings. COVID funding also provided digital instructional resources and programs such as Boom Cards for use by our remote and blended classes.

CCR funding allocations for human capital have allowed our Transition Team Leader (TTL) and a worksite teacher to provide family outreach to over 55 P177Q families of students who are transitioning out of our school at the end of this school year as well as others who aged-out at the end of the 2019-20 school year but are still in need of support. The TTL also provides support for the transition planning of an additional 40 students over the age of fifteen. Due to the challenges many of our students and their families have experienced during COVID and the COVID-related obstacles faced when exploring post-secondary programs, these one-on-one conversations and support has provided families with the support needed to navigate the 'aging out' and transition process. 

Sustainability Grant:  The Green Team advocated for outdoor learning to by applying for the Sustainability Grant.  The Green Team proposed allocating space in the school courtyard to better facilitate socially distanced and sensory-based learning for all.  The space will include sensory components including bleacher seating for a performing arts center around the gazebo, sensory greenery for the school garden.

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Environmental Survey:  Utilizing the resources and guidance available, floor plan and building layout are implemented to support socially distant and safe practices for learning.

Environmental Survey:  Based on the feedback from environmental survey and student needs within the buidling, the floor plan has been modified throughout the year to accommodate changes to prepare for Fall 2020 school opening.  Classes had furniture removed to accommodate social distancing.  Capacity was determined per room based on square feet and placed outside each room.

In November 2020, classes were revisited for blended learning opt-in and class capacity was revisited.  Further shifts in staffing needs were adjusted to accommodate social distancing.

In December 2020, classes were revisited and teacher feedback was considered with parent opt-in to determine capacity for re-opening with full-in model.  Additional rooms were opened for Staff Resources and to accommodate social distancing.

 

Culture

Attitudes, knowledge, behaviors and beliefs that characterize the school environment and are shared by its stakeholders.

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STARS Programming & Encounter Attendance:  High expectations are implemented regarding the importance of mandates for student leanring.  Students are programmed accurately to reflect their required learning ratios and special education needs.  Students are  receiving their mandated services and encounter attendance is entered to reflect these services.

IEP Compliance Report:  IEP compliance is implemented by our IEP Team and Special Eudcation Coordinator to ensure that all IEPs are held within one year and follow SOPM Guidelines.

STARS Programming & Encounter Attendance:  Our IEP Team and Special Education Coordinator work hard to ensire all students are receiving their services.  The team frequently checks the reports on SESIS, STARS, and Power BI to ensure all mandates are being met. 

 

Currently, data shows students are at 99% mandates fully matched and special education program meets student needs.  Students are at 100% for valid SESIS subject.

Additionally, as of April 2021 encounter attendance has improved in Related Services  by 27% in OT, 26.3% in PT, 23.5% in Speech, and 42.8% in Counseling. 

staff ID

The design and dispersal of these badges has had an immediate positive impact on our school community. Most students have noticed them and are eager to get one of their own. It is also very reassuring to any parents/guardians/caretakers to see each staff member wearing identification. This is especially important for the parents of our more challenged students, who are rightfully concerned about a safe drop-off, especially if their child is functionally nonverbal. The pandemic has brought extensive changes to our day to day staffing, there are several new staff members, and a number of those that are there on a part time basis. From a building safety standpoint, being able to identify who is authorized to be in our building is vital component of keeping our students and all stakeholders safe and secure.

Student & Staff Identifications:Upon our return to the school building after the entire system was shut down, many parents were uncomfortable putting their children on a school bus for transportation. They were concerned about a lack of cleanliness, as well as the dearth of available social distance spacing on the vehicles. Instead these parents/guardians/ caretakers decided to drive their children to and from school each day. Our school devised a very organized and efficient procedure for parent drop off, with cars lining up as each child has their screening and temperature checked before being escorted to the classroom by a staff member. However, an issue arose when some parents were not familiar with the staff member who was taking their child into the building. This was particularly troubling for students and parents who were new to our school and did not recognize any staff members at all. With input from these parents, and advised by our student council, official school, personal identification badges have been designed and are being distributed to all staff members. ID tags will also be given to our students in a form that is consistent with their sensory needs, (necklace, bracelet, bookbag or wallet depending on the student’s and parents/guardian’s preference).

A color-coded, date-specific substitute ID card is used to maintain school safety and to identify unfamiliar staff. 

 

Sustainability

A focus on continuance and meaning beyond the present moment, contextualizing today’s successes and improvements as the legacy of the future

PRINCIPAL CHECKLIST

Organization & Time Management Systems: Part of maintaining the organizational practice of a school is to use a Principal checklist, Power BI for Compliance calendars, and conduct regular meetings with administration and extended cabinet. Additional organizational measures include maintaining organizational folders at the office/computer/email and logging into DOE workspace systems on a regular basis. This ensures that all Central, District and School wide items are taken care of. During the week, additional items from the Chancellor's Digest and Superintendent's Digest are deciphered by me and another AP to ensure timely completion of all items. Items and tasks of importance are  clearly articulated in all job postings and through meetings with APs, extended cabinet members, teachers, paras, RS, secretaries and school aides. All aforementioned stakeholders understand that it is their role and responsibility to complete action items before the due date.

 

All APs have a clear job responsibilities list with stakeholders they supervise. Each AP understands the high expectations that are set forth for them and all stakeholders they supervise. 

Effective organizational structures are important to the daily and long-term operations of our school. By planning ahead, adhering to deadlines, and organizing structures, the school is run effectively and time is well managed.

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Current CDC guidelines states that 15 or more minutes of close contact with a Covid19 infected individual is enough to spread infection. Our AM and PM arrival and dismissal times have consistently averaged approximately 8 minutes in duration since the implementation of this program, well under this cautionary time frame. In addition, the staggering of bus map color code changes, (Yellow for get ready, and green, ready to depart), has also had the effect of mitigating any excessive congestion in the hallways or bus yard. Students and staff are now able to safely navigate their way to the buses without undue delay or safety concerns. Our students, especially those on the Autism spectrum often have difficulty with unclear waiting expectations, so knowing exactly when their bus is departing goes a long way towards lessening any incipient anxiety that they may be experiencing. In addition parents report a great deal of satisfaction knowing more precisely when their children will safely arrive home by Bus.

The major emphasis for all stakeholders at P. 177Q is the health and safety of our students. An area of specific focus are transition times, with morning arrival and afternoon dismissal requiring a meticulous attention to detail to ensure safety for all. Student council members and staff approached administration members and voiced their concern that Social Distancing was difficult to achieve due to the large number of individuals going to and from the buses within a small window of time. With input from the students, staff, busing personnel and our tech team, a live, electronic, color coded bus map was created. The map shows each individual bus on our building perimeter and in the schoolyard, and also what departure or arrival status each bus is currently in. This bus map is available to everyone in the building, and can be downloaded to any computer or smartphone.

Thus far, all scheduled School Safety Meetings have been held. This has been done remotely in the interest of social distancing and safety. Also, certain team members are working remotely, so this remote scheduling allows them to be active participants and decision makers during this unprecedented time in history.

During previous school years, the Committee’s major focus and emphasis have revolved around student safety in the context of safe transitions inside and outside of the school building. Also, tragedies involving intruders, armed or otherwise have demanded an outsized level of preparation in the event of one of these statistically rare, yet potentially devastating incidents.

An administrative decision was made several months earlier to emphasize focus to the health and safety aspect of Covid precautions and preventions. All Safety Committee stakeholders wholeheartedly concurred with the school’s administrative assessment. This is not to say that the above mentioned safety concerns were brushed aside; Lockdown and Evacuation drills are still being performed and  rigorously evaluated on schedule, but our goal at the beginning of this school year was to be able to open our school building for in person instruction as quickly and safely as possible. With input from our parents, staff as well as student council members, we all understood the negative educational  impact of a full time remote learning platform for our students A loss of socialization opportunities, as well as routines that do not correspond with their real world learning experiences were very serious consequences that we had to address. Our 6:1:1 configured learners certainly were the most affected by this loss of personal school-based contact

We have succeeded in preparing and mitigating both Covid related and other safety related risks.

 

Our school has completed all mandated evacuation and lockdown drill protocols. With respect to the former, our average building evacuation time was 3.13 minutes, with a range of---

The “All Clear” lockdown message was given in an average of 2.67 minutes, with a range of 2 to 3.

 

Our Covid19 cumulative positivity rate, as measured by our weekly randomized testing for students and staff currently stands at 0.00 and 0.0047 respectively.

*It should be noted that other cases of Covid19 have been confirmed by the DOH to be community or home acquisitions, and not emanating from the school building itself. 

A team approach of student, staff and parental/guardian input has been instrumental in maintaining an exceptionally low level of student behavioral occurrences. Each of the incidents that do occur are followed up with immediate parental/guardian notification by the teacher, counselor, parent coordinator or Administrator. We look for any changes in routine, setting, family/student situation or illness that may have precipitated any incident. At times there may be a language barrier, with the parents/guardians feeling uncomfortable communicating information in English. If so, our Parent Coordinator or a guidance counselor will reach out in Spanish. We also have utilized the DOE translation unit on several occasions for other languages or dialects that may be required. Being able to communicate in one’s dominant language has the effect of opening up a more forthcoming line of communication with our students and parents/guardians.    

During this past year, our students spent an extraordinarily long period of time at home and away from their traditional brick and mortar school setting. A return to the building could reasonably be expected to engender some social/ emotional upheaval and resultant anxiety among some of the students. It could also be surmised that such a high level of stress could result in an increase in acting out behaviors, especially among our most cognitively challenged students who have difficulty communicating their discomfort.

However our OSYD OORS data shows that this has not been the case. The overall number of Level 1-5 incidents at 177Q began an extreme downward trajectory in the 2019-20 school year, going from 57 in 2018-19 to 16 in 2019-20, a decrease of 72%. This decrease has continued during the current 2020-21 school year to 3 incidents overall, a decrease of more than 81% thus far. (It should also be noted that upon further investigation, two of these three incidents were not found to be validated by the evidence gathered).

 

Instructional Program

Design and delivery of high quality curriculum that produces clear evidence of learning

Dean Intervention and Outreach DataDuring this past year, our students spent an extraordinarily long period of time at home and away from their traditional brick and mortar school setting. A return to the building could reasonably be expected to engender some social/ emotional upheaval and resultant anxiety among a segment of the students. It could also be surmised that such a high level of stress could result in an increase in acting out behaviors, especially among our most cognitively challenged students who have difficulty communicating their discomfort.

However our OSYD OORS data shows that this has not been the case. The overall number of Level 1-5 incidents at 177Q began an extreme downward trajectory in the 2019-20 school year, going from 57 in 2018-19 to 16 in 2019-20, a decrease of 72%. This decrease has continued during the current 2020-21 school year to 3 incidents overall, a decrease of more than 81% thus far. (It should also be noted that upon further investigation, two of these three incidents were not found to be validated by the evidence gathered).

A team approach of student, staff and parental/guardian input has been instrumental in maintaining an exceptionally low level of student behavioral occurrences. Each of the incidents that do occur are followed up with immediate parental/guardian notification by the teacher, counselor, parent coordinator or Administrator. We look for any changes in routine, setting, family/student situation or illness that may have precipitated any incident. At times there may be a language barrier, with the parents/guardians feeling uncomfortable communicating information in English. If so, our Parent Coordinator or a guidance counselor will reach out in Spanish. We also have utilized the DOE translation unit on several occasions for other languages or dialects that may be required. Being able to communicate in one’s dominant language has the effect of opening up a more forthcoming line of communication with our students and parents/guardians.

Substitute Teachers & Paraprofessionals: We created resources for substitute teachers and paraprofessionals to support them through the school day. The Substitute curriculum guide provides an overview of the monthly themes as well as suggested digital resources and books. The Substitute Resource Document provides valuable information about the safety and operational protocols throughout our school. 

A substitute feedback form is sent to staff to collect honest feedback about the individual's performance. Feedback is reviewed and appropriate action is taken, if necessary.

Substitute teachers and paras are provided with the necessary tools to effectively and safely work with our students. They are able to engage students in enriching instructional tasks and provide a safe environment for students to learn it.

Feedback about substitutes is reviewed daily. As a result of this feedback, we have asked substitute teachers and para to return to cover long-term assignments, we have provided instructional or classroom management support to substitutes, and we have also asked some substitutes not to return. By doing this, we develop a sustainable substitute workforce.