NCS Parent Handbook (2-21-20) View/download the pdf
Novato Charter School Parent Handbook
We believe our students will positively impact the world. Our mission is to guide students to discover their individual gifts, build connections with others, and foster a love of learning.
- Creativity and the Art of Teaching
- Holistic/Developmental Approach
Novato Charter School is a nonprofit public benefit corporation organized to manage, operate, guide, direct, and promote the school. We are chartered by the Novato Unified School District and we operate as our own local educational agency (LEA). Our charter is renewed every five years.
ALLIANCE FOR PUBLIC WALDORF℠ EDUCATION
Novato Charter School is a member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf℠ Education, a national organization that promotes and supports the development of high-quality Public Waldorf℠ education. It established the Core Principles of Public Waldorf℠ Education which guide the work done in each member school.
The NCS Board of Directors is comprised of five members who form the exclusive governing body of the charter school. They are dedicated to our mission, vision, and core values, and to ensuring ongoing educational success and fiscal responsibility of the school. Board members are voted in by the community and serve a term of three years. Elections are held in the spring when vacancies occur. The Board delegates operation of the school to the NCS Administration.
8:35 – 12:45 Monday – Friday
8:35 – 11:00 First week of school
Grades 1 – 8
8:30 – 3:00 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
8:30 – 1:00 Thursdays and other minimum days
8:30-10:40 Main Lesson
11:15-11:55 1st Period
12:00-12:40 2nd Period
1:20-2:00 3rd Period
2:05-2:45 4th Period
All admission forms and annual paperwork are submitted to the school online using SchoolMint (https://novatocharterschool.schoolmint.net/). If you have any questions regarding any of the forms, contact our Office Manager. If you have questions regarding your SchoolMint login, contact our Operations Manager. The office phone number is (415) 883-4254.
BEFORE-AND-AFTER SCHOOL CHILD CARE
We contract with a private licensed child care provider, Nettie’s School Age Childcare, which offers these services to our community. Information and registration packets are available in the Office or you can contact Nettie directly at (415)328-4576. Please DO NOT call the Office with childcare inquiries.
Novato Charter School receives state funding based on our Average Daily Attendance (ADA). We also rely on parent fundraising to close the gap between state funding and the cost of our program.
Novato Charter School Foundation
The Novato Charter School Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public benefit, nonprofit organization operated exclusively for the benefit of Novato Charter School. The Foundation supports all of our fundraising efforts, including the annual parent pledge campaign, the Enchanted Garden auction, Grandparents Day, corporate solicitations, grants, and facility pledge campaigns. All Foundation pledges and donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Tax ID #68-0470644.
Class Fund and Annual Fund Pledges
The Foundation requests parents make a voluntary annual contribution to both the Class Fund and the Annual Fund and to participate in the annual school auction party, the Enchanted Garden. Class Funds are used to purchase classroom supplies unique to our program, to cover the cost of overnight field trips, and to purchase and maintain musical instruments for the school. Contributions to the Annual Fund are used to close the gap between State funding and the cost of our unique program.
Parent involvement is essential to the success of our school. There are a number of ways to stay involved in the life of the school.
Class Teacher Support
Classroom support both in and out of school is necessary and may include assisting in specialty classes, making crafts, special classroom cleaning, doing laundry, bringing flowers, sewing and making costumes, organizing and chaperoning field trips, participating in class projects, phone tree communication, and more.
Site Beautification and Maintenance
Playground, garden, and site development and beautification are important elements of building our school and maintaining quality classrooms and school environments. Help is always needed in these areas, as the school campus is a long-term, evolving project.
Board of Directors and Committees
Parent participation is needed on the NCS Board of Directors, the NCS Foundation Board, and on school committees.
Commitment to Parent Education
Parents who embrace and support our educational philosophy at home enhance their studetn’s experience. Parent Education events are held throughout the school year. Parents are encouraged to support and attend these events.
We are dedicated to nurturing each child’s capacity for creative imagination, independent thinking, and positive action. The school strives to foster students’ healthy emotional development and meaningful relationships. These experiences are undermined by encounters with media that separate children from direct authentic experience. Students best learn to use electronic media as a resource when these media are introduced after children have developed a rich experiential foundation. Media thus becomes a supplement to, not a substitute for, the richness of direct experience.
As educators and parents, we are unified by the idea of protecting the sanctity of childhood. The goal of our Media Policy is to help guide and support families as they mindfully navigate the world of media and technology and to support the objectives of Waldorf-methods education. Each family’s respect for the Media Policy has a positive effect on the students’ educational and social experience at school, which is important for the health of the entire NCS community.
The younger the child, the more vitally important it is to protect the sanctity of childhood. The young child needs to maximize opportunities for movement, social interaction, and experiences in nature in order to actively engage in the world. As a child progresses through the grades, it is important to introduce media usage slowly and judiciously. Additionally, we ask that families consider supporting the Wait Until 8th movement to delay student acquisition of a smartphone until Eighth Grade or after (www.waituntil8th.org).
For detailed age-appropriate suggestions, please read the NCS Media Guidelines, which can be found on our website or picked up in the office.
In addition to mindful exposure to screens, we ask that families support the school by providing children with a sustainable and rhythmical home life including maintaining a healthy diet and supporting ecological practices such as recycling and using reusable materials.
School Assemblies: Most of our school assemblies feature class performances. Parents are encouraged to attend (unless otherwise noted).
Back-to-School Night: Our annual all-school parent gathering to welcome everyone back to school and present highlights of the coming year followed by an all-school open house. (September)
Fall Festival: Our annual harvest festival. Class performances on the outdoor stage, followed by a community picnic.
Grandparents Day: Grandparents and special guests are invited to spend a day at school during which they attend an all-school assembly followed by classroom visits. (November)
Winter Spiral: Grades Kindergarten through Second. Each student walks along a beautifully decorated spiral while carrying a candle. (December)
Enchanted Garden: Our annual school auction party (adults only). (Spring)
Spring Festival: Students present Maypole dances, followed by a community picnic. (May)
All visitors are required to check in at the Office and obtain a visitor’s pass. If you are dropping off items, lunches, etc., or picking up your child early for an appointment, please go to the Office and the Office will help you. We ask that parents do not interrupt the classrooms during school hours.
ATTENDANCE AND TARDIES
Regular attendance and punctuality at school are very important in helping your child derive full benefit from the instructional program. Our school is primarily supported by state funding which is based on Average Daily Attendance (ADA), not enrollment. Every day a child is absent (without being on Independent Study) costs the school approximately $53. Therefore, it is essential that your child attend school on a regular basis. Please plan your family vacations, holidays, etc., during school breaks. If your child is ill, call the school office to report the absence. Inform the office staff of the date(s) of absence, reasons for absence, and grade. If your child will be tardy to school due to pre-scheduled appointments, please notify the school office so he/she is not marked absent. Children who arrive late should report to the Office first before going to class.
Please call (415)883-1719 to report an absence.
If your child is absent, we can make arrangements for an Independent Study contract which will enable your child to stay abreast of schoolwork and allow the school to continue to receive necessary state funding. If at any time your plans require that your child be out of school for five or more days, please call us to obtain the necessary forms to initiate this process. All Independent Study forms must be signed and dated before the absence occurs, and completed assignments must be turned in to the Office at the conclusion of the absence. Both of these conditions must be met in order to receive state ADA funding. In order for the teacher to have time to develop a meaningful Independent Study program for your child during his/her absence, and for completion of the required paperwork, we suggest that you notify your child’s teacher at least two weeks prior to the anticipated absence.
EARLY MORNING ARRIVALS
Please do not drop off your child before 8:15 A.M!
Students in grades One-Eight may wait for the morning bell on their classroom ramps. There is no before-school supervision (except for children enrolled in the Before Care Program with Nettie’s School Age Childcare.) Students are not allowed in the fields or play areas before school begins. There is no ball play or running around before school.
Kindergarten children only: Parents need to bring their child to the Kindergarten yard by 8:35 a.m. Children must not be left unsupervised prior to the start of the school day. Kindergarten children start their school day with a morning circle promptly at 8:35 am. Parents are welcome to join the children in this activity. After the morning gathering children say their goodbyes and line up with their teachers.
We appreciate all parents promptly picking up their children after school at 3:00 pm on regular days (Kindergarten 12:45 pm) and 1:00 pm on minimum days. There is no after-school supervision. All play areas are closed to after school play. Please pick up Kindergartener children in front of the Kindergarten Classrooms. First through Eighth Grade students will wait for parents in the dismissal area near the drop-off/pick-up lane. Parents may utilize the drop-off/pick-up off lane or park to collect their children. At 3:15, any remaining students will be brought to the Office and parents will be contacted. (After-School Child Care is only available to children who enroll with Nettie’s School Age Childcare in advance.)
PARKING LOT SAFETY
Parking lot traffic congestion has been a persistent challenge. Parking or stopping in undesignated parking areas is not allowed and in some instances, is illegal. Parking in fire lanes, the student drop-off areas, or in the middle of the drive-through poses a hazard to the children and adults who must walk through the lot to the school. In order to increase safety at drop-off and pick-up times, it is important that all safety protocols be followed. When entering the parking area to pick up or drop off your child, please enter with caution, stay in your vehicle in the loading/pick-up area, or park in the designated parking spaces. If there are no spaces available in the loading area, cars must drive around the front of the school and line up in a north/south direction in front of North Bay Children’s Center. As the spaces open in the loading area cars may move forward one by one. DO NOT BLOCK THE ENTRANCE!
HEALTH AND SAFETY
All prescription and over-the-counter medications must be current and accompanied by physician and parent authorizations. Please find the authorization form on our website or visit the front office. (Please note that all student medications are discarded at the end of every school year unless picked up by a parent.)
Click here to review the Novato Charter School Suicide Prevention Policy.
For additional wellness and mental health resources please visit nusd.org/wellness/.
Breakfast (served at snack time)
Breakfast order forms are available in the front office. To apply for Free and Reduced Meals visit www.SchoolLunchApp.com. For more program information visit www.novatofans.org.
Hot Lunch Fundraiser
Our school lunch program is administered and run by a parent committee as a fundraiser for school programs. Visit schoolfoodies.com (use the code NCS) to set up an account and learn more.
It is normal for questions to arise about various aspects of your child’s education, as well as other matters that pertain to your family’s involvement as community members. It is important that whenever possible, questions are asked using direct and clear communication. This begins by addressing questions at the point of origin.
If it is ever unclear who could best answer your question please contact the Office for further direction. If you have gone to the point of origin and remain unclear or are dissatisfied with the communication, please contact the Director for further assistance.
Who to Talk to When….
Topic: Pedagogy and unresolved matters
Details: Whole school culture and pedagogy. Details you feel have not been resolved through direct communications.
Who to Talk to: Director
Topic: Business and operations
Details: Communications – website, Facebook, Thread. Emergency preparedness and school safety. Volunteering. Fundraising. Enrollment. Campus improvement projects and maintenance.
Who to Talk to: Operations Manager
Topic: Student information
Details: Student records and health. Attendance. School directory. Field trip chaperone requirements. Hospitality.
Who to Talk to: Office Manager
Details: School finances
Who to Talk to: Board of Directors and Chief Financial Officer
Topic: Class funds, reimbursements, and pledges
Details: Annual and class fund contributions. Expense reimbursements.
Who to Talk to: Bookkeeper
Topic: Student progress
Details: Waldorf pedagogy – what we teach and why. Student overall progress and social experience.
Who to Talk to: Classroom Teacher
Topic: Student progress
Details: Student experience and progress in specialty classes.
Who to Talk to: Specialty Teacher
To promote timely communication between home and school, we have adopted a Monday Communication System. In order to reduce paper use, most communication is sent every Monday via email from the class teachers. Your child may bring home additional important information such as handouts, circulars, and forms needing parent signatures on Mondays. Please review this information and be sure that your child returns any required forms to school ASAP. For two parent households, we are happy to send weekly information to both. Please be sure that the Office has all email and home addresses for mailings. You are also welcome to come into the Office to pick up information at any time. Our weekly school newsletter, The Thread, goes out on Fridays.
Please note: It is critical that parent/teacher communication take place at appropriately designated times. It is unrealistic to expect that your child’s teacher can give you their full attention at drop-off or pick-up. These are very hectic and busy times for teachers, and their primary responsibility is to the children. In order to honor these transitional periods and each teacher’s daily classroom preparation times, please schedule appointments with your child’s teacher in advance. To make an appointment, you are welcome to communicate directly with the teacher.
Email Communication and Etiquette
Email has become the most common medium to share school information. It allows for time-efficient, paper-saving group communication that parents can keep as a record for future reference. It does, however, have drawbacks and limitations that can lead to unhealthy communication. Topics of a sensitive or emotional nature are best communicated in person, or on the phone. In-person communication includes eye contact, tone of voice and other social cues that allow for optimal clarity. To maximize the healthy use of email communication, we ask that:
- Email is used to share information/notification vs. discussion or conversation.
- Please utilize the “bcc” function when sending emails to a group.
- Please do not utilize the “Reply all” function, but instead send emails only to those directly affected
- Please do not use email when a topic is emotionally charged. Please use email to request a meeting to discuss a sensitive topic.
- Please do not send group emails to promote private business endeavors or out-of-school activities.
Thank you for your support and understanding of healthy email communication.
STUDENT SUPPORT TEAM
Novato Charter School is committed to healthy relationships among students, teachers, and all members of the school community. This value is reflected throughout the curriculum and implicit in the working of the school. To support this work, we have created a Student Support Team, which is comprised of three branches guided by three faculty members.
- Social Inclusion
- Support and Care
- Discipline and Guidance
Oral reports of student progress are given to parents during parent-teacher conference week, which is typically held during the last week of October.
Kindergarten: A narrative progress report is mailed home at the end of the school year.
Notice to Parents: Progress reports are sent out periodically to parents of students in Grades One through Eight to notify them of an area in need of attention in a student’s performance, habits, or attendance.
Grades One through Five: Progress reports are mailed home twice a year: in February and at the end of the school year.
Grades Six through Eight: Progress reports are available online throughout the year using the Aeries Student Information System. End-of-term progress reports are mailed home twice a year: in February, and at the end of the school year.
We participate in the annual Smarter Balanced assessment system, which is based on Common Core State Standards. These assessments are administered to grades Three through Eight towards the end of the school year. Results are mailed to parents the following fall.
This is our school
Let peace dwell here,
Let the rooms be full of contentment.
Let love abide here:
Love of one another.
Love of humankind,
Love of life itself.
Let us remember
That as many hands build a house,
So many hearts make a school.
SCHOOL POLICIES AND OTHER IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
The following documents are available on our website or can be picked up from the Office.
- Academic Integrity Policy
- Dress Code Policy
- Field Trip Policy
- Independent Study Policy
- Internal Complaint Policy
- Novato Charter School Enrollment Policy
- Sexual Harassment Policy
- Suicide Prevention Policy
- Uniform Complaint Policy
(All board approved policies can be found on our website at http://www.novatocharterschool.org/board/board-policies/)
Other Important Documents
- Child Find Notification
- Novato Charter School Lice Protocol and Guidelines
- Media Guidelines (updated June 2014)
- Middle School Student & Parent Guide
- Middle School Technology Use Agreement 2017-18
- NCS Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws
- New Immunization Law
- NCS Non-Discrimination Statement
- School and Family Partnership Agreement
- Title IX: Prohibiting Sex-Based Discrimination