July 19, 2018

Busy Summer:

It has been quite the busy summer, and I don’t think I’ve been away from campus for more than a day!  Read below for more information regarding bell times (just a repeat of the June email), morning drop off and breakfast, reduced rates for after school care services, campus safety plans, recess for 6th-8th grade students, new science and Spanish materials, donated school furniture, strategic planning for Scott County Catholic schools, and more.  There’s been so much going on that I haven’t had time to write about it!

Bell Times:

JFK will have new bell times this year:  7:25 a.m. – 2:40 p.m.  Wednesdays’ early dismissals are at 1:40.  There will be bus transportation.  See below for a complete list of the new times.

After the Davenport Community School District changed its bell times and bus transportation schedule, JFK’s board of education looked at several models for providing bus transportation for the faith-based schools without the direct involvement of the DCSD, and, each time, it seemed that the cost was more than what we think our families can bear, especially when compared to “free” bus transportation but at slightly different times.  It was even more challenging when those slightly different times were actually times that a couple of the faith-based schools really like, and they would not receive those times if we ran our own buses.

Thinking from a long-range perspective, I do not believe the bus transportation issue is finished.  Bus transportation, especially how the DCSD provides better transportation than is required by law and provides each faith-based school with bus transportation from one end of the district to the other end, is costly.  The DCSD will likely continue to examine transportation costs in the future.  Several of the DCSD board members want to have follow up next year, for example, so they can know if this decision to change bell times and disrupt everyone’s routine was worth the anticipated savings.

Here, again, are JFK’s bell times:


  • MTThF:     7:25 – 2:40
  • W:             7:25 – 1:40

3 yr old PS:

  • 7:25 – 9:55

4/5 yr old morning PS:

  • MTThF:     7:25 – 10:25
  • W:              7:25 – 9:55

4/5 yr old afternoon PS:

  • MTThF:     11:40 – 2:40
  • W:              11:10 – 1:40

After school care:  2:40 (or the end of the school day) – 5:30

ECLC:  7:00 – 5:30

Morning Drop Off and Breakfast:

As in the past, regular supervision on the blacktop will begin 15 minutes before school begins:  7:10 a.m.  If the weather is inclement, students will be let into the building and wait in designated areas until classes begin.

Students who ride the bus will be allowed to enter the building and wait in the cafeteria until 7:10, when they will join their other arriving classmates either on the blacktop or in other supervised locations.

New this year is a light breakfast program.  Students arriving between 7:00 and 7:10 will be served a light breakfast of a fruit, milk, and cereal, bagel, muffin, or the like in the cafeteria.  Cost of breakfast is $1.50 and will be deducted from the funds in a student’s lunch account.  Although the time for purchasing breakfast is only ten minutes, students can remain in the cafeteria and finish eating until classes begin.  This new breakfast program is intended to be a service for those early morning bus riders who may be dropped off before 7:10 and those who may have used our previously paid for before school care program.  Other students may also take advantage of the program by arriving before 7:10.  There may be some adjustments to the breakfast program as we see how it progresses.

Reduced Rate for After School Care Program:

With after school care beginning 20 minutes earlier, the board decided to change the rates it had just passed in the winter to try and make our program more affordable for families.  Rather than $1.65 for a quarter hour for the first child in a family, and $1.35 for the second child, etc., the rate has been changed to $1.50 for a quarter hour per student.  After school care operates from the end of the school day until 5:30.

Campus Safety Parking Lot Recommendations

Expect changes to our campus this fall in response to our work to enhance campus safety.

When JFK was built in 1963 and opened its doors in 1964, campus safety was not as close to the forefront of people’s minds as it is today.  Beginning in 2001, explicit steps were taken to improve campus security.  By 2011, new offices were built at the front of the building, and, after tragedy in Sandy Hook in December 2012, another $80,000 or more was spent to increase building security and protocols.  The focus in these earlier stages tended to be on how to keep students safe within the building and keep a potentially unwanted person out of the school.  In the fall of 2017, we began another major safety review.  Meeting with our alderman, city staff, and multiple police officers to discuss the neighborhood and safety protocols, it was determined that there did NOT seem to be a higher probability of danger to our students now than at any other time, and our safety protocols are still strong.  We also conducted a survey of staff and parents to determine what people’s concerns were today.  While the survey was intended to elicit today’s concerns, there were some who responded that they did not have any concerns:

  • “I am currently not worried about the safety of my children while they are at JFK.”
  • “I do feel that JFK does a great job at keeping the school safe as well as keeping us well informed. Obviously it’s a little harder to keep the same amount of security when the kids are on the playground, but their outdoor time is important, and I feel JFK has a vigilant staff. There are just some things that are out of our control, but I feel my child is safe.”
  • “We are very pleased with the safe guards are that already in place, such as the doorbell for ECLC/Preschool, traffic directing cones, sign-in/out process, etc.”
  • “I really do not have any specific concerns regarding safety since the building entrances have been locked and free access to the school from multiple points of entry have been eliminated.”
  • “The plan for dropping off and picking up is very good if the drivers would pay attention.”

The most common theme in the survey for today’s concerns was related to keeping students safe when outside the building but on campus property.  Three key recommendations were made by a safety committee:

  • Separate students from the parking lot. Students should be away from the apartment buildings and from moving cars and parking areas, particularly during recess times.
  • Use something other than cones for making the “safety” area at drop off/pick up times. Cones will not protect students from a car.
  • Add security cameras to both the external and internal school campus, with external cameras being the first priority. Security cameras can help staff monitor the entire campus.  They can serve as a deterrent, provide an early warning to potential suspicious or dangerous situations, be used by first responders should an event be in progress, and help with after the fact investigations.  We received a Scott County Regional Authority grant for this project, and this work will begin in August.  Some additional cameras will be installed to monitor key church and rectory entrances.

When looking at the parking lot, multiple options were discussed, three parish/school listening sessions were conducted, and multiple detailed plans were reviewed and critiqued by the board of education, finance council, and parish council.  The final plan was also submitted to the diocese.

Factors considered included the following, and trying to strike a balance of many interests was challenging:

  • Recess location and student safety
  • Student safety at drop-off/pick-up times
  • Protection of students and the building itself from cars
  • Traffic flow
  • Where students should line up and enter the building
  • Green space
  • Size of a hard surface play area and how often students have to use it for recesses
  • Cost
  • Permanent loss (or gain) of parking spaces
  • Loss of parking spaces on week days
  • Student access to building entrances should there be an emergency for which they need to enter the building quickly
  • Aesthetics
  • Visitor and handicapped parking for the school
  • Access to parking lot entrances
  • Access to the parish center entrance
  • Flexibility of parking in the lot for funerals
  • Snow removal

The final parking lot plan has three phases, and phases I and II are proceeding this summer.  Phase I provides a permanent, safe barrier on the northeast side of the parking lot behind which students can stand at drop off and pick up times.  Phase II moves recesses on the blacktop (when the grass is too wet or covered in snow to be out back) to the south end of the parking lot and utilizes fences, gates, and portable barriers to keep students safe while also allowing for the flexibility needed for funerals and parish center usage.  Phase III, which has not yet been funded, would create a new visitor and handicapped parking area off of 42nd Street level with the office entrances.

Below is a photo showing these campus enhancements:


Recess for 6th – 8th Graders?
With changes to our bell times, we believe we can adjust our schedule enough to give a late morning break to 6th-8th graders.  This recess break will make up for the loss of a 6th – 8th grade lunch time recess that was necessary when we decided to follow the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics recommendation that there be 60 minutes of math instruction each day in grades kindergarten through 12th grade.  By adjusting morning homeroom times and tweaking some transition time around the 6th-8th grade lunches, we should be able to add a late morning recess break while retaining the 60 minutes of math each day and not negatively impacting other instructional time.
General Music and Choir for 7th and 8th Graders
Look for an upcoming email from Mrs. VanSpeybroeck that will explain the music options for 7th and 8th graders.  As long as the numbers are fairly even, we will be able to offer students the option of a general music class or a choir class.  Both will include public performances.
New Science and Spanish Exploratory Materials and Expanded 6th Grade Spanish Exploratory
New K-5 science materials are currently arriving for this school year.  Sixth through 8th grade materials may depend upon final registration numbers.  (We still have families for about 20 students who have indicated they are coming to JFK but have not yet returned tuition contracts.)  Our 6th-8th graders will be utilizing a new Spanish I textbook in their foreign language exploratory classes.  Sixth graders will now have their Spanish exploratory class twice per week rather than once.  By the time students finish the 8th grade at JFK, they should have a general overview of all of a Spanish I class.
Used Furniture Donated to JFK
Students in K-2 have benefited the most from this summer’s donation of incredibly high quality used furniture.  Many of the students will have both new chairs and new desks.  Here’s a quick question for you:  how many different sizes of chairs, desks, and tables are needed in a school that serves 3 year olds through 8th graders?
Meitler Hired for Scott County Catholic School Strategic Planning
Strategic planning for Catholic school education in Scott County is moving ahead.  Meitler has been hired to lead the process.  Meitler has extensive experience both across the nation and in Iowa.  Data gathering will begin this summer, and meetings, focus groups, and surveys will begin in late August.
Strategic planning for Scott County Catholic schools was born out of the diocesan strategic plan for Catholic school education which called for separate strategic planning to be done for Scott and Johnson Counties.  Gone are the days of dramatically falling enrollment and widespread school closures and consolidations.  It’s time to plan for how Catholic schools can be strong and prosper in the future.
School Policies Highlighted
I would like to thank the following parents and staff members who helped review parent/student handbook policies this spring:  Jody Mucciarone, Lucas Roth, Tom Poston, Ashley Neumiller, Mike Kane, Tammy Nagle, Meredith Ash, Kitty Temming, Dianne Siefers, Julie Bauer, Noelle Myers, Rachael Whelchel, Kim Burken, and Kristina Rose.  Each year we review about 1/3 of the policies in our handbook.  Every year the four dress code related policies are reviewed.  Below are highlights to the changes:
  • Added as examples of Level II misbehaviors:  Targeting others on social media or electronic devices, which then affects the school environment; taking a photograph or video/audio recording without permission; unauthorized use of a cell phone
  • Specifically stated that smart watches are in the same category as “cell phones and other electronic devices” and prohibited from use between 7:00 a.m. and until students leave the building
  • Emphasized that there are only two approved vendors for uniform jumpers/skirts:  Religious Supply on Jersey Ridge and Denis Uniform Supply (online)
  • Applied the 2″ logo guideline to nearly all apparel and limited logos/words to one per item  (Shirts with logos/words on the front and back, front and sleeve, or front and shoulder, etc. are not allowed under the policy, but socks can now have a 2″ maximum size logo)
  • Changed the belt requirement to grades 4-8 only
  • Defined more specific consequences for issues with hair, particularly for unnatural coloring.  Do not color your child’s hair now.  It may not come out by the time school starts
  • Defined tardies, 1/2 day absences, and full day absences
  • Changed when athletic eligibility is checked
  • Added language regarding student records and video
I always find the annual dress code review to be interesting.  It’s difficult to have 8-12 adults develop common understandings in even 30 minutes of discussion time.  Then, implementing the dress code with 250 families and 50+ staff members trying to have common understandings just by reading the code makes it even more challenging.  At the committee level, for example, our discussion of “true red” probably took us five minutes alone and another ten minutes at the board meeting.  (UnderArmour red is OK.  But watch out for the number of logos/words and locations of the logos on their shirts!)

Registration for Summer Programming at JFK Still Available:

Leaps & Bounds:  Does your child need a little boost as we approach the next school year?  Our Iowa certified staff will provide opportunities for your kindergarten through 5th grade child to grow by Leaps and Bounds.  Sign up for one, two or even both sessions.  The program runs from 8:00 – 11:30 each day.  Two hours are for reading, one hour is for math, and 30 minutes is for recess and other fun.  The ratio is kept at 7 to 1 students per teacher or less.  Cost is $180.

Session III:  July 30 – Aug 10

Math Boot Camp: Math Boot Camp will help to kick start your student’s math skills before school begins in August. Students will work with an Iowa certified teacher to review main concepts learned in the previous grade.  Each day will be an intensive  Math Boot Camp is for students of all learning ability levels entering grades 6-8.  The camp is from August 6 – 10.  The cost is $40 per student.

Incoming 6th graders:  8:00-9:30 a.m.         Incoming 7th graders:  9:30-11:00 a.m.          Incoming 8th Graders:  11:00-12:30 p.m.

Jump Start Kindergarten:  Jump Start Kindergarten provides a review of alphabet letters and sounds, basic math concepts, and literacy skills.  This week long review will also include story times and interactive white board activities.  What a great way for your child to practice instructional routines in a fun, enriching atmosphere!  Jump Start Kindergarten is August 6 – 10 from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m.  Cost is $50 or $55, depending upon eligibility for the early bird registration cost.

Summer Tutoring: Interested in a little one-on-one time for your child to have with a teacher?  JFK teachers are available this summer for tutoring students in a variety of areas.  Tutoring is one-on-one for grades K-8 by the hour ($22) or half-hour ($11).  Dates and times are flexible and can be arranged with the teacher.  Please contact Mrs. Motto for K-2 reading/language arts, Mrs. Lundquist for 3-5 reading/language arts/5th grade math, Ms. Burken for 6-8 reading/language arts, Mrs. Burke for reading/language arts, and/or Mrs. Schott for K-8 summer STEAM projects mentoring.

Instrumental Lessons: Need to get the rust off your child’s instrument or his/her playing skills?  Private lessons can be a great help (especially for younger grades) at retaining the current instrument knowledge.  It can also serve as early preparation for SEIBA auditions, marching band with Assumption, 6th-grade band fests and more. There is no minimum or maximum number of lessons that you can sign up for; everything is based on availability.  Lessons can be arranged weekly or bi-weekly, a certain amount over the course of the summer, or sporadically.  Cost is $22 per hour or $11 per half hour.

Registration forms for any summer programming:  Click HERE or use the following link/url:  https://www.olvjfk.com/for-parents/policies-forms/ for registration forms.


Registration and Back to School Sunday
Don’t forget registration and back to school Sunday on July 29th from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on a drop-in basis.  A “forms only” session is from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on July 30th.  Both are in the cafeteria.
Immunization Reminder for Students Entering 7th Grade in 2018-19
The law in the State of Iowa states that the Meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY) is required before your student starts the 2018-2019 school year in 7th grade.
 Students entering 7th grade need proof of 1 dose of meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY).
 Remember Tdap is also required for students entering 7th grade.
Please call your health care provider or the Scott County Health Department at 563-326-8618 to set up an appointment.