Sunday, March 22, 2009

Response to Questions and Concerns

I hope this posting addresses many of the questions and concerns that have emerged during Yahoo Parent Group meetings. Firstly, I am happy to say that acceptance letters are in the mail and families should be receiving them very soon. That means we will soon know for sure who the children and families are that will form Spruce Street's inaugural kindergarten class!

Now that the admissions process is nearing its final phase, I am heavily focused on the next important decisions in Spruce Street's opening, namely hiring, space planning, and curriculum development. Here is a summary of the status of my planning:

Teachers and Curriculum: All teaching positions will be formally posted next week via the DOE website. I will be conducting additional outreach via school and university connections. I have already received an outpouring of interest in working at Spruce Street, and will soon be proceeding with the formal recruitment and hiring processes. I plan on holding some information sessions for folks interested in applying for positions, so they can meet me and learn more about the school before formally proceeding. These sessions will be similar to the family information sessions I held - one step in finding educators who are both talented in their own right and aligned to the mission and vision of Spruce Street. After that, there will be formal interviews with the hiring committee, comprised of myself, and representatives from both the DOE and UFT - as per UFT guidelines. Once I receive our operating budget, I'll know more about exactly how many positions I can fill, including any specialist/cluster positions. I will work closely with the teachers in creating the curriculum, and am currently researching many of the best practices happening at 234, 89, and 150. I am also in touch with the nursery school directors, and hope to meet with them soon, so we can be sensitive to the foundation that has been built for many of our incoming students.

Space and Facilities: I am in contact with several folks within the DOE to conduct a more formal walkthrough of the space at Tweed. This should answer many of my questions and solidify planning for the space as we'll be using it beginning this summer. I will certainly bring any questions/concerns parents have raised to my meeting, as well as any others that emerge in the coming weeks. At the same time, I am in touch with The School Construction Authority to begin conversations about The Spruce Street School's eventual home in Beekman Tower. Again, I will bring the questions parents have raised to the table, as well as others that may emerge.

Unfortunately, the questions around Pre-K and zoning are not really answerable at this point. Pre-kindergarten programs rely on separate funding, so I am unsure how this will play out in the future. Similarly, zoning is a process that will happen eventually, but I don't really have any others details about the timeline/process. I very much appreciate the time Elda has devoted to organizing this group, as well as to the time and effort put forth by all of the members. I am confident that the adults in the community are well on their way to actualizing the vision of another amazing public school downtown! Thank you again, and I look forward to continuing the conversation

Best, Nancy