Parent/Student Handbook

Guidelines & School Policies

Arrivals and Departures:

Arrivals – School begins at 8:15 am for PreK and elementary and at 8:30 am for both lower and upper middle school.  Elementary teachers are in their classrooms by 8:00 am and middle school teachers by 8:15 am. Elementary students arriving before 8:00 am need to check into Before Care in the library and middle school students arriving before 8:15 am should check into the cafetorium.

If you drop off at the front of the building, please move as far forward as you can until you reach the end of the new sidewalk. Your student can still safely walk back along the path to the front door. This allows other cars to be able to drop-off without causing congestion in the parking lot. It is also important that your vehicle does not obstruct the striped yellow crosswalk from the street sidewalk to the front door. This crosswalk will must be used by parents who are parked at the soccer field and walking their students into school. Please cross Huntland Drive only at the lighted crossing. For those parents who drop-off at the back of the building, please stop only in the yellow striped area, adjacent to the school. The outside lane is for through traffic only.

The east and west doors will be locked at all times and we respectfully request that you do not knock for entry.  Teachers and students have been instructed not to open the door.  The has been done for security reasons and, with this in mind, we ask for your cooperation.

Classes begin promptly and we cannot emphasize enough the importance of having your child in school on time.

PreK families should ask the PreK teachers for arrival and departure information personally.

Departures – School dismisses at 3:15 pm for PreK through fourth grade and at 3:30 pm for fifth through eighth grades.  Students who do not go to After Care will await their rides by the playground area.  A supervising staff member will escort students to their rides. We endeavor to have all classes dismissed on time but please understand if, occasionally your child is slightly delayed. Students who have not been picked up within fifteen minutes of their dismissal time will be checked into After Care.

3:15 – 3:25

1st grade through 4th grade will be dismissed from the playground. Two teachers will be on duty. Please follow their instructions in moving your vehicle.

3:30 – 3:45 Lower Middle School

5th and 6th grades will be dismissed from the playground. If you are picking up at student in these grades, please do not get into the carpool lane until 3:25 at the earliest. Again, please follow traffic directions given to you by the two teachers on duty.

3:30 – 3:45 Upper Middle School

7th and 8th grades will leave from the front door of the school. It is important for all vehicles to move as forward as possible. Again, two teachers will be on duty, so please follow their instructions.

It is extremely important that the school office be notified if anyone other than parents or those listed on the release form is to pick up a student.  During school hours, all students must sign in or out before leaving or upon returning.

Before & After Care:

St. Francis School has Before and After Care programs that allow students to be at St. Francis from 7:00 am until the beginning of school and from dismissal time until 6:00 pm.  The After Care program includes snack, free time, games, sports, and a study hall period.  The charge for Before and/or After Care will be stated on your signed enrollment contract.  Please pick up students no later than 6:00 pm.  A surcharge of $10 per minute will be made for any child remaining in After Care after 6:00 pm on any day.

Birthdays:

Birthdays may be celebrated at school.  Please check with your child’s teacher regarding arrangements. Love and consideration for others is one of the basic teachings at St. Francis School.  Therefore, birthday invitations for parties outside the school may not be distributed at school unless the whole class is invited.  An exception is made if your child is having a boy or girl only party.  As it is sometimes impossible to invite the entire class, we ask that you encourage your child not to discuss the party at school.

Bullying:

St. Francis does not tolerate bullying of any kind.  This includes verbal and emotional bullying as well as physical.  We are a community of individuals, and we all have the right to feel safe in the school environment.  If we feel a student is involved in any form of bullying, we will immediately sit down with that student and address the issue.  If the problem continues, parents will be asked to become involved and disciplinary measures will be taken accordingly.  All our staff have received anti-bullying training.

Chapel:

The Chapel service at St. Francis is very much values based and does not impart any particular religious philosophy.  It is designed to be welcoming and acceptable to all religious viewpoints.

Chapel is held weekly every Friday at 8:30 am in the Barnes Gymnasium.  Parents, family, and friends are encouraged to attend.  Outside speakers are always welcome so please inform the Head of School if you have suggestions.

Blessing of the Pets—In honor of St. Francis of Assisi, after whom our school is named.  This year’s “Blessing of the Pets” Chapel will be held on Friday, October 7.  Students and parents assemble, along with their pets, for a service which may be conducted by a visiting clergyman.  Small animals, such as hamsters, birds, and fish may spend the day in classrooms at our discretion.

Awards—Students who receive a 97% average in 3rd grade through 6th grades and the A/B Honor Roll in Upper Middle School will be honored each 9 weeks during an awards ceremony at Chapel.  Awards will be given for Character Education once a month at Chapel.  Parents will be notified prior to the awards ceremony if their child is to receive any award.

Awards will also be given, based on Howard Gardner’s Seven Intelligences, which encourages recognition for outstanding achievement in linguistic, logical, musical, intra-personal, inter-personal, kinesthetic, and spatial areas.

Communication:

School-wide—Families are kept abreast of news and events at St. Francis via a variety of communication tools. A hard-copy of our yearly calendar is given to every family at the beginning of the school year. In addition, the calendar can be accessed on our school’s website www.stfrancis-school.org Changes to the calendar DO occur, thus it is critical that parents read all email communication sent from the school office. Similarly parents MUST keep us informed of new email addresses.

Parent/Teacher—Close communication between parents and teachers is essential to the smooth running of our school.  Therefore, all teachers have e-mail, voice mail, and home telephone numbers listed in the school directory.  Please do not hesitate to contact a teacher if you have any questions or concerns.

Every parent should be hearing from their child’s Elementary teacher on a weekly basis either via email, written weekly report or, in the case of lower middle school, Edline.  Upper middle school will post to Edline on a bi-weekly basis. Please make sure you have current Edline user-names and passwords or have contacted technology coordinator Wendy LaBarre.

Conferences may be scheduled before school, during teachers’ free periods, or on scheduled conference days.  On the occasion that a conference is imperative and these times are inconvenient, please let the Head of School know so that other arrangements may be made.

Discipline & Guidance:

Respect and dignity are of the utmost importance at St. Francis School.  The following guidelines are mandated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.  Therefore, discipline will be:

(1) Individualized and consistent for each child.

(2) Appropriate to the child’s level of understanding.

(3) Directed toward teaching the child acceptable behavior and self-control.  A caregiver may only use positive methods of discipline and guidance that encourage self-esteem, self-control, and self-direction, which include the following:  (1) Using praise and encouragement of good behavior instead of focusing only upon unacceptable behavior.  (2) Reminding a child of behavior expectations daily by using clear, positive statements.  (3) Redirecting behavior using positive statements.  (4) Using brief supervised separation or timeout from the group, when appropriate, for the child’s age and development, which is limited to no more than one minute per year of the child’s age.

There must be no harsh, cruel, or unusual treatment of any child.  The following types of discipline are prohibited:

(1) Corporal punishment or threats of corporal punishment.

(2) Punishment associated with food, naps, or toilet training.

(3) Pinching, shaking, or biting a child.

(4) Hitting a child with a hand or instrument.

(5) Putting anything in or on a child’s mouth.

(6) Humiliating, ridiculing, rejecting, or yelling at a child.

(7) Subjecting a child to harsh, abusive, or profane language.

(8) Placing a child in a locked or dark room, bathroom, or closet with door closed.

(9) Requiring a child to remain silent or inactive for long periods of time inappropriate for the child’s age.

In addition, St. Francis teachers have their own strategies for redirecting inappropriate behavior.  All strategies are designed to be respectful of all students.  These individual teachers will communicate with you on their specific guidelines.

Dress Code:

While we don’t have a specific “dress code,” we ask that students dress in a manner that projects self-respect and respect for those around them.  Shorts, skirts, or shirts deemed too revealing are not allowed and students will be given additional clothing to “cover up,” or they will be asked to return home and change.  All athletic wear worn for middle school PE that is not appropriate for the classroom (i.e. volleyball shorts) needs to be changed before coming back to the main building.  T-shirts with inappropriate symbols or messages are not allowed.  Shoes with wheels and skateboards are not allowed in the school for safety reasons.

Field Trips:

A permission slip for all field trips will be kept on file in the school  office.  Parents are notified prior to field trips with transportation being provided, usually by parents and teachers.  A driving record and copy of insurance is required by the school’s insurance on all who drive for field trips.  Each child is required to wear a seat belt.

Children under the age of 4 and less than 34 pounds must be seated in a car seat.  The St. Francis rule is that no child may travel in the front seat.  St. Francis t-shirts are available for purchase at the school store and we encourage that they be worn on field trips.

Driving Records:

Our insurance company requires us to have an annually updated copy of driving licenses, driving records from the last 3 years, and certificates of insurance, if you will be driving on class field trips. Driving records need to be ordered online at www.txdps.state.tx.us/driverlicense/driverrecords.htm. Please remember to select the 3 year record.

Holiday Care:

There is no childcare during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break or summer vacations.  Childcare is available for an additional charge during the two parent/teacher conference days.

Library:

The objective of the St. Francis Library program is to help foster a lifelong love of reading and learning in each child. Students may check out books along the following guidelines:

  • Pre-K – Will not check out books.
  • Kindergarten – 1 book due in 1 week. The book will not go home with the child. The children practice keeping up with their books in the classroom.
  • 1st & 2nd – 1 book due in 1 week. Students may return their book early and check out another during their own time.
  • 3rd – 2 books due in 1 week.
  • 4th – 3 books due in 1 week.
  • 5th & 6th – 3 books due in 2 weeks.
  • 7th & 8th – 4 books due in 2 weeks.

Parents may check out books for themselves and their children. Books may be rechecked as often as needed, depending on requests by other patrons. While no fines will be charged for late returns, lost books must be replaced or paid for within 8 weeks of due date or by the last day of school (whichever comes first).  Library clients run the risk of  losing library privileges after repeated loss or late return of library materials. A book 4 weeks overdue will be considered lost and replacement cost will be charged. A book returned in a severly damaged condition will be considered unusable and the replacement cost will be charged. 3 books lost or damages within a 4 month period may result in the loss of the child’s library check-out privileges. A $50.00 deposit will be required to reinstate those privileges.

Lunches:

St. Francis offers a catered hot lunch program.  Menus are sent home monthly and selected meals must be ordered and paid for by the due date.  No late menus will be accepted.  When sending lunches from home, please be sure that your child has eating utensils and napkins.  Microwaves are available for student use.

Medical:

Within the first week of September an updated Health and Immunization record must be on file in the school office.  This form may be sent to your child’s physician and mailed or faxed back to the school by the physician.  In event of an emergency and a parent cannot be reached, school personnel will contact those listed on the Health, Medical, and Emergency form.  Thus, it is imperative that this form is completed prior to the first day of school and updated as needed.

Emergencies—All serious accidents will be reported to the office immediately.  If there is any question as to the severity, EMS (911) will be called  without delay.  An accident report form (available in the office) should be completed and turned into the Head of School before the end of the school day.  Minor scrapes and bumps will be treated with first aid in the office.  While these injuries are not serious, parents will be informed.

All teachers are trained in CPR, First Aid, and defibrillator use.  There is a defibrillator available at all times in both the school and the Barnes Gymnasium.

Illness—Children who become ill at school will be sent home when they are too ill to remain in class.  Please do not send your child to school if he/she has:

(1) A contagious disease.

(2) A fever higher than 99°F within the previous 24 hours.

(3) Vomiting or diarrhea within the previous 24 hours.

(4) An eye infection or discharge that has not been treated by a physician.

Please call the school office if your child is absent as result of illness and check with your child’s teacher regarding make-up work.

Medication—All medications must be dispensed in the school office and the original container must have the student’s name and dosage clearly stated.  Tylenol and Ibuprofen may be given with your signed permission as per your instructions on the health form.

Lice – Current evidence does not support the efficacy and cost effectiveness of classroom or school wide screening for decreasing the incidence of head lice among school children (Centers for Disease Control, 2007) (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010). Teachers or staff will not be checking students on a school wide basis.

Parents/Guardians need to make lice screening a part of their family routine. PARENTS SHOULD CHECK THEIR CHILD’S HEAD AT LEAST WEEKLY. If lice are detected, the hair must be treated with a topical medicine before the student returns to school. If the student is treated with a lice comb only, all nits must be removed since untreated nits will hatch into lice.

Vision, Hearing, & Scoliosis Testing—A vision and hearing test is required for all students who are four years of age or who are in grades kindergarten, first, third, fifth, and seventh or who are in their first year at St. Francis.  A scoliosis test is required for students in grades fifth and eighth.  These tests may be performed privately or through the annual screening provided at a small charge through the school.  The screening results must be on file in the school office.

Volunteers:

Volunteers are an essential part of the school community.   Volunteer opportunities are available in the classroom, lunchroom, library and office, as well as in many other capacities. Please inquire about the opportunities, which are presented at orientation and throughout the year.  If you have a particular interest or project you would like the school to participate in, please feel free to consult the Head of School or your child’s teacher.  Parents are always encouraged to participate in school life.  However, we respectfully ask that parents and/or teachers who wish to chat do so outside the office.  It is impossible to answer the phone and hear when the office is full of talking people.

Report Cards:

Report cards are issued every nine weeks during the school year. For 3rd—8th grades, a grading system based on A through F is used.  In the lower grades, Excellent (E), Satisfactory (S), Improving (I), and Needs Improving (NI) will be used to indicate progress.  Progress reports may be issued to 3rd—8th grade students.

Visitors:

Observation in the classroom may be arranged with the classroom teacher.  All visitors to the classroom, including parents, need to check in at the office in order for us to maintain the security of our school.  We ask that visits last no longer than 20 minutes.