Investing for Strong Instruction

What a boring title–Investing for Strong Instruction–I will be shocked if anyone chooses to read this post, but the topic is so important. What goes into deciding how to invest fundraised money to make sure our kids get great instruction? Is there a one-size fits all answer? Will full-time TAs make things better for our kids? What about smaller class sizes? What about more field trips?

In an ideal situation we would be so flush with resources no one would have to choose one type of support over another. We’d have it all! Unfortunately, we don’t have a bottomless bag of cash to pay for all of the above. We do know one thing, though: research has shown that it is the quality of the teacher that make the biggest difference for all kids when it comes to achievement.

Armed with that research and her own experience, Principal Wang is always looking for ways to make our teachers better. She makes grade-level meetings, mentoring, using data to guide and evaluate instruction, and a hands-on administrative team (Principal Wang, Assistant Principal Mrs. McErlean, and Instructional Coach, Mrs. Garmon) a priority for Broadway. She knows a strong teacher who is mentored and encouraged to grow will be strong year after year. The investments in professional support and development made in our teachers this year will reap benefits for years to come.

So what about the rest? Our TAs, STAR PE, field trips, etc. are great, but they aren’t the same as professional development and support. To use all of those additional supports effectively, the teachers need to have the coordination, the support and the mentoring that our administrative team strives so hard to provide. They need to know how to best utilize a TA, differentiate instruction for the specific group of students they have this year, to coordinate with their team and grade-level partners, and integrate field trip opportunities that reinforce the California standards that our kids are expected to meet.

Principal Wang looks at every investment she asks Friends of Broadway to make in terms attending to that “how.” As our programs continue to grow and evolve, and as our funding landscape also changes every year, she regularly re-evaluates what is the best use of funds to elevate and support our teachers’ effectiveness. We are so lucky to have her at the helm of this amazing school.

Posted by Suzy Hughes, Secretary

 

The Silver-Lining of Paying for it Ourselves

Let’s be honest, fundraising isn’t on anyone’s top-ten list of favorite things to do. Unfortunately in today’s world, fundraising is part of almost everyone’s life. Whether you are a regular and generous donor to any cause or a person with a passion for anything from trees to cat rescue, organizations everywhere need help getting the bills paid.

The silver-lining of this reality is that we have more control over where our money goes when philanthropy is so big a piece of the funding pie. At Broadway, for example, we get to decide if STAR PE is more needed than something else, or if the classroom libraries need more books, or if Spirit Series is an enrichment that our 5th graders should continue to get. We’re not at the mercy of someone far away cutting the line on the budget because he or she doesn’t understand the impact those “extras” have on our kids.

Of course, the burden is on us to find the money to do those things. Or to pay for bigger things when our tax money doesn’t flow back to our school for things that we really can’t imagine our kids going without. For example, can you imagine if our principal was the only administrator on campus? Broadway’s operating budget only covers her–our other two members of the administrative team, our Assistant Principal and our Instructional Coach, aren’t covered. As if that isn’t shocking enough, Teaching Assistants aren’t part of the school’s operating budget, either. That means the plan is for the principal supervise the yard at lunch recess, by herself–every day. (If you’re thinking “what’s wrong with that?” have you seen the yard at recess?)

Even all of our teaching positions aren’t guaranteed to avoid split-grade classes and/or self-contained language instruction. (Split level means students from two grades levels being taught together. Self-contained language instruction is when the same teacher teaches both English and the Target Language to the same group of students, the Broadway model is team-teaching with a different teacher for each language.)

This is the time of year when we really look to see what we’ll need next year and what we’ll have the money to pay for–crunch time in a way. Unfortunately, we are short of our goals. We need $150k more in parent gifts before the end of 2017 just to be on track with last year and another $100k by April. Ideally, we’d raise $150k more than last year. (That’ $400k we still need in donations!)

If you’ve already given, thank you! If you haven’t yet, please give today. Please also participate in our other fundraising programs and events. If we pull together, we can do this!

Thank you!

Suzy Hughes, Recording Secretary

The Power of Together

When it comes to fundraising, the power of “together” is too often underestimated. When we recognize that our small contributions add up to create something big, amazing things are possible.

Grab a 5th grader, do some calculations, and you’ll see what I mean.

BoxTops clips are worth a measly 10-cents each. So easy to dismiss, really. But if every student brought in just one this week, that’s $62 for the school. Collecting every week would bring us $3,224 a year! And the Broadway family extends beyond our students–we’re teachers and TAs, grandparents, aunts and uncles and co-workers. Imagine what resources that Power of Together could buy!

The Ralph’s Community Contribution Program is another underestimated program. With just 68 cards registered in support of Friends of Broadway, we are earning  about $2000 per year. That’s with barely 15% of our families registered! Just imagine–if all of our families (and their extended families and friends) registered, that could bring more than $12,000 back to our kids every year–just for registering their cards and shopping as usual.

Last, but most powerful of all, is the Scrip program. By buying gift cards through Friends of Broadway for normal shopping, families could raise TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! Seriously. Without much effort. There are over 750 retailers, from Starbucks to American Airlines and Home Depot to The Chart House. Retailers from just about every category give 2-20% back to our kids when we use scrip. Why is everyone not doing this?!

Beyond the dollars, though, the true Power of Together can’t be quantified. When we all show we care, when we do what we can to support our community, we all feel it in our hearts and our kids are better off because of it.

Posted by Suzy Hughes, Recording Secretary

I do it for the Superheroes

Whenever I think of Broadway and the amazing learning that is going on in the classrooms I don’t first think about my kids. My kids, like all kids, are amazing. Every day our kids astound us with what they know and the ideas that are rattling around in their little heads. Their brains are made of the most excellent raw material which, with time and attention, will grow into spectacular, creative, super-achieving human adult brains.

It is because my kids are so amazing that I don’t worry about supporting them as much as I worry about making sure that the professionals who are shaping them are supported.

In my opinion, teachers are superheroes who are given the increasingly challenging task of preparing students to thrive in the 21st century. Broadway’s 50/50, team teaching model means language development has to happen in half the time compared to monolingual program. It also means teachers have to differentiate learning for twice as many kids and communicate with twice as many parents than teachers in traditional schools.

Our teachers do this expertly, and they don’t get paid any more for the workload.

Add to this startling reality, Broadway’s operating budget doesn’t get any extra allocation from the District to implement the language immersion programs. So, in many ways, Broadway’s professionals are doing twice the work as the teachers in those other schools (the schools we didn’t choose.)

Knowing this, and knowing my kids are excelling academically IN TWO LANGUAGES, and seeing the teachers always with smiles on their faces and enthusiasm for their work day-after-day and year-after-year, I can’t help but want to do everything I can to support Broadway’s Superheroes.

Teaching Assistants make differentiation easier to implement and supervise recess so teachers don’t have to (they get to eat lunch instead). The Instructional Coach looks at student data with them and helps to plan that differentiation, coordinates their professional development, and plans school-wide activities that make sure instruction is aligned horizontally and vertically across programs. STAR PE means grade-level partners can meet during the school day instead of having to meet during their off-hours. Funds for enrichment support mean they have opportunities for more creative and fun enrichments than District basics.

We are so lucky to have these superheroes. I want to make sure their work is supported. I want them to know how much they are valued. I want them to have the tools they need to make sure Broadway’s kids succeed. It is because of them that I give–time, treasure, and any talent I have–to ensure they have the best to give our kids.

Suzy Hughes, Recording Secretary

 

 

New school year stats for data junkies

The school year is off to a great start with a lot of changes and many new faces!

If you’re like me, you love the numbers. Numbers tell a story. Numbers can help us define success and help us focus on areas to improve. Numbers offer context. With numbers come clarity.

Here are some numbers for 2017-2018:

  • There are 620 students at Broadway, which is 32 more students than we had in May.
  • The Mandarin program (K-5) is eight years old and has 451 students.
  • The Spanish program (K-4) is five years old and has 156 students.
  • Our traditional program, which is entering its last year, has 13 students (5th grade only.)
  • We welcomed nine new teachers to Broadway this year! Five in the Spanish program, and four in the Mandarin program.
  • We have 7 veteran teachers who are changing or adding a grade level.
  • Four of our teachers are taking on the incredible task of teaching two grade levels.
  • Broadway scores a 10/10 on GreatSchools.org and has a 5-star rating.
  • In 2016-2017, overall 76% of Broadway students (grades 3-5) met or exceeded state standards in both English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. (School-wide 2017-2018 results are not yet publicly available.) Comparatively, Broadway scored a 93/100 on the California Office to Reform Education’s (CORE) analysis.

If there are any other numbers you’d like to know, email us at board@friendsofbroadwayschool.org and we’ll try to get them to you!

Posted by Suzy Hughes, Recording Secretary

2017-2018 Funding: What and Why

Although the funding picture for Broadway is complicated, the decisions on what to fund year after year are fairly simple. That’s because the board supports the priorities of Principal Wang, and she brings her requests to the board once she has done the hard work of deciding where resources are needed most.

Another important piece of this puzzle that is often missed when parents talk about funding is that Friends of Broadway is not the only source of money (after the District’s allocation for operations) for our students’ needs. Principal Wang uses other available sources of funding first, and then comes to Friends of Broadway to fill in the gaps.

There are a few categories of spending that originated with the Friends board and/or parents. Instructional Support Funds, beautification, and board expenses are a few areas that did not originate with Principal Wang.

The goal is to ensure all Broadway’s students and teachers are taken care of as needed via all funding sources. We are thankful that donations made to Friends of Broadway are able to go farther because other resources are available to Broadway’s students.

Here is what the board has approved to pay for in part of full for this year:

  • Teaching Assistants
  • Instructional Coach (Mrs. Garmon)
  • STAR PE
  • Mystery Science
  • RAZ Kids
  • Spirit Series
  • School and classroom supplies
  • Classroom libraries
  • Classroom tech equipment
  • Field Trip funding
  • Art in Action supplies
  • Cultural celebrations
  • Kinder Sports Day
  • Program recruitment
  • Community support
  • Teacher conference fees
  • Sport equipment
  • Beautification
  • Board expenses

Looking for ways to help?

I started this post with “looking for ways to volunteer” but quickly deleted “volunteer” because I thought there are so many ways to make an impact that don’t require volunteering. Broadway’s financial picture is so complicated, and it is never the same from year-to-year. The number one way parents can help Friends of Broadway is to learn a little bit about where the school’s money comes from and what are the rules about how it is spent. Once we all understand why there are gaps to be filled it will be easier to have conversations about how to raise the money to fill those gaps and how to prioritize how that money is spent.

If you want to learn more, email us at board@friendsofbroadwayschool.org.

Now, to raising money! Starting with the easiest, here’s what you can do:

  • Sign up for Ralph’s Rewards–you do it once a year and then you don’t have think about it again!
  • Select “Friends of Broadway Elementary School” as your charity of choice on AmazonSmile, then shop via AmazonSmile for all your Amazon purchases.
  • Clip BoxTops and turn them into the box in the Main Office. We raised over $1000–10 cents at a time–thanks to the BoxTop program.
  • Start using Scrip for your regular purchases. Depending on your family’s shopping habits, by using Scrip you can bring upwards of $250 per year back to our kids. Need more info? Email scrip@friendsofbroadwayschool.org.
  • Make a donation to Friends of Broadway–which is very likely the charity that is closest to home for your family. No dollar amount is too big or too small (or too big!) Check our link on the donations page to donate via the PayPal Giving Fund, or email donations@friendsofbroadwayschool.org for more information.
  • Ask your friends and family to help by doing any or all of the above! There is strength in numbers, let’s harness that power.

Last, but not at all least, all of this fundraising work requires the time and talents of as many volunteers as we can wrangle! It might just be a few hours staffing our booth at the Abbot Kinney Festival, or helping coordinate a major fundraising event, or anything in between. Email board@friendsofbroadwayschool.org for more information about volunteering opportunities.

Thanks for your interest in supporting our kids.

Suzy Hughes, Recording Secretary