CSMS FAQs

We know you have questions. We have the answers!

INFORMATION FOR NEW STUDENTS

Q: Are tours available at Small Middle School?

A: Yes! Contact Rachael Steyaert at rachael.steyeart@austinisd.org or 512-841-6734.

Q: Does Small have orientation or transition events for new students?

A: Every summer leading up to the start of the new school year, we have several activities for new incoming students. Dates and information will be posted on the CSMS website as soon as they are available. These events are mainly geared toward incoming 6th graders; new-to-Small 7th or 8th graders may also attend.

If you have questions about these events, please contact the front office at 512-841-6700.

If you are unable to attend any of these events, do not worry! During the first week of school, the staff is always ready to help each child find their way, learn their schedules, and get used to the way things work.

Q: Is the Passport to Success necessary for kids attending Cougar Camp?

A: It is helpful to most 6th graders to attend both, but if you have a confident, easy-going kid who handles transition easily, it is up to you if you think they need them both.

Q: What can my new student expect on the first day of school? (a.k.a. What if s/he gets lost, can’t find a class, isn’t sure where to go, etc.)

A: There will be people to help, and with Principal Nelson, the first day is all about the fun! We love this school and we want your child to love it, too. On the first day, we post a list of the assigned PRIDE classes (this is like an advisory or homeroom class). First thing when students arrive on the first day of school, they need to find their name on the list and report directly to their assigned PRIDE classroom. Their PRIDE Teacher will guide them through their entire first day, and they will have a chance to visit each classroom and meet each teacher they’ll have for the first semester.

Q: What is PRIDE?

A: PRIDE is like an advisory class. Students attend PRIDE daily and participate in various activities on assigned days of each week: reading, SEL, outside time, free time, and grade check. Think of it like their homeroom.

Q: When will my student receive a class schedule?

A: All students will be given a paper copy of their complete class schedules on the first day of school during PRIDE class. (We encourage students to take a picture of their schedule with their phone, if they have one, for easy reference later.) Sometimes students’ schedules may appear on the TEAMS page/app prior to the first day of school, and 6th graders will typically receive a paper copy of their schedules at Passport to Success. However, please note that these schedules are still subject to last-minute changes.

Q: How do I request a schedule change?

A: We begin accepting schedule changes via an online request form shortly after school begins (usually during the first week). This is the most efficient way to request changes. Please check the school newsletter for the dates that this form will be available.

Q: Is there a summer reading list?

A: At Small, there are no mandatory summer reading assignments, but we encourage lots of summer reading for all grades. Check the CSMS website and watch our newsletter for links to recommended reading lists. Here are a few to start with: Must-read books for middle schoolers, 7th Grade Reading Suggestions.

Q: Where is the school supply list?

A: Teachers will give out supply lists AFTER school starts because needs vary widely by subject and classroom. If you would like to stock up on basics before school starts, here the most recent list of recommended basics.

Q: What does my student need for PE?

A: For regular PE class (not athletics) each student needs three things: black athletic shorts, ANY Clint Small Middle School t-shirt (including shirts from summer Cougar Camp or STEAM Camp), and a combination lock for their gym locker.

Q: When can students buy PE shirts?

A: They can buy PE shirts for $10 one of several ways:

  1. During or immediately after Cougar Camp sessions
  2. During Passport to Success (6th graders only)
  3. In PE class

PARENT INVOLVEMENT

Q: How do parents get regular news/updates about school activities and events?

A: As soon as you enroll your student, we recommend signing up to receive the Cougar News, our weekly e-newsletter. Visit the www.smallmiddleschool.org home page and scroll down to the left to sign up.

Also check out the following additional communication channels:

Q: How do I get involved with the PTA?

A: Visit https://sites.google.com/site/smallpta/ for more information.

Q: What are the volunteer opportunities for parents at Small?

A: We love our volunteers and appreciate the help! Please contact Bridget Brown at 512-841-6700 if you are interested in volunteering. Regular volunteer opportunities include the “cougar cage” school store and the front office, and there are many other ways to get involved. Please sign up at our Get Involved form.

TRANSPORTATION

Q How do I know what bus my student will take?

A: Visit www.austinisd.org, go to the Department tab, select Transportation and click on the Bus Stop Utility Finder on the Transportation Homepage. The phone number to the Transportation Department is 512-414-6500. You may also go to www.austinisd.org and click on the Quicklinks drop-down menu and select Bus Transportation.

Q: What is the “late bus” and how does my student get on it?

A: Unfortunately due to budget cuts, we have to discontinue the late bus for the 2018-2019 school year

Q: My student doesn’t/can’t take the bus. How do I find other parents looking to carpool?

A: Contact Rachael Steyaert, our Green Tech Academy assistant, for more information at 512-841-6734 or email is rachael.steyaert@austinisd.org.

Q: What happens if I am late picking up my student?

A: Students are not allowed to be unsupervised on campus after school ends at 3:40 pm. If you are unable to pick up your child on a particular day, please find an alternative (such as walking home, riding with a friend, or asking a relative to pick them up). If picking up your child on time is a challenge, consider signing them up for Cougar Club.

Q. What if I need my child to take a different bus to go home with a friend?

A: Bus seats are assigned for eligible riders. Students can not ride a different bus they are not assigned to. If you have special circumstances, contact the front office and we can contact the Bus Barn if you need a temporary solution.

Q: Where do I drop off/pick up my student?

A: Bus drop-off/pick-up on southside of school by gymnasium. Do not enter this area during arrival and dismissal. If you do, plan on staying for a while :)

ALL ABOUT THE SCHOOL DAY

Q: What time does school start and end? 

A: Students are allowed in the building beginning at 7:10 am daily. Students eating breakfast on campus should go directly to the cafeteria first, then to their designated grade-level waiting area. All 6th and 7th grade students arriving before 8:10 should wait in the gym; 8th graders should wait in the cafeteria. Students may enter the hallways at the sound of the bell at 8:10 am. The first period bell rings at 8:15 am to signal the beginning of class; students should be in their seats at that time.

Q: How long are classes?

A: Each class period is 90 minutes. We operate on an A-B schedule, which means each day students have 4 full-length classes (90 minutes each) and a 30-minute PRIDE class.

Q: Can the students carry backpacks to classrooms? Do they use lockers?

A: Students are allowed to carry backpacks. Lockers were not issued for the 2017-18 school year.

Q: Do the kids get breaks during class?

A: This depends on the teacher. The way most teachers structure their classes, there are different activities happening during that 90 minutes so children have a chance to move around and refocus.

Q: How do I deliver something (a message, forgotten items, lunch) to my student during the school day?

A: Call the office to deliver a message to your student. Parents may deliver lunches or forgotten items to the office, fill out a green form, and we will deliver the item(s) to the student in class.

Q: Can I have lunch with my student?

A: Approved visitors are allowed to eat lunch with students. Be aware, and don’t take it personally, most middle schoolers prefer to eat with their friends, but you can try ;) Visitors should report to the front office to secure a visitor badge. Visitors will not be allowed on campus on state-mandated testing days.

Q: How long is lunch?

A: Lunch is 30 minutes. If the kids are behaving well and cleaning up after themselves, we allow them to go outside or play foosball, air hockey, or ping pong after they eat.

Q: How do I find out what is being served at lunch each day?

A: AISD breakfast/lunch menus can be found at https://www.austinisd.org/nutritionfoodservices/menus.

Q: How do I know if my child has A, B or C lunch?

A: Typically all 6th graders have A lunch. Most 7th graders have B lunch and most 8th graders have C lunch. If your student is in a 5th/6th period class that has both 7th and 8th graders, then check with the teacher or office to find out which lunch they have. It is possible that your child may have a different lunch on A days than on B days. Don’t worry, their teachers will tell them at the beginning of the year.

Q: When can my student have a snack?

A: Snacks are per teacher discretion.

Q: What if I have a problem? Who do I take my concerns to?

A: It depends on the problem. If it is academic about your students grades or behavior in class I would start with the teacher of the class in question. If it is regarding concerns about your students schedule or mental wellbeing contact their Counselor. If you have an incident to report, you or your student can fill out the incident report form found on our website. This form goes directly to our assistant principals and they check it everyday.

Q: How often do the kids get to go outside?

A: All students have outside time once a week during PRIDE class. Students may earn outside lunch for good behavior. Some classes will meet outside in the outdoor classroom or around the campus. Students in Green Academy or Green Tech Academy or STEM classes usually will spend some time outside during their green class periods. Sometimes PE class is held outside.

Q: Picture day takes 2 days. How do I know which day is for my student?

A: Pictures are taken during Social Studies class. So of the 2 days pictures are offered, make sure your student combs their hair on Social Studies day. :)

REGISTRATION & ATTENDANCE

Q: My student attended Small last year. Do I need to register again this year?

A: Every year ALL students at ALL AISD schools must be registered again via the AISD Parent Cloud (https://my.austinisd.org/). You will need to create a Parent Cloud account at www.my.austinisd.org, if you do not already have one. Please contact Diane Ewing at 512-841-6710 for questions regarding registration.

Q: How do I notify the school of our new address?

A: Parents/guardians will need to visit the office to complete a Clint Small Middle School Student Data Change Form. A valid ID and proof of new residence will need to be provided. Proof of residence can include a current utility bill, lease, or mortgage statement.

Q: My student is missing school due to an illness. What do I do?

A: Within two days of the student returning to school, submit an attendance note online at http://www.smallmiddleschool.org/parents/attendance, or deliver a handwritten note to the CSMS office with the following information: student's name, ID number, grade level, dates missed, reason for absence.

Q: What if my student needs to leave during the school day?

A: You may check your student out from the front office. Please bring a valid ID. CSMS Insider Tip: Send a note with your child in the morning. The student may bring the note to the office before school starts and exchange that note for a permit to leave campus. Then your child will be able to leave class at the time specified. This speeds the process up and you will not have to wait as long in the office.

Q: How can I check the number of absences my student has?

A: This information is updated regularly on the AISD Parent Cloud (https://my.austinisd.org/).

Q: Why does my student have so many unexcused absences? How do I fix them? 

A: Please make sure all doctor visit or sick notes are turned in. If you still have questions or concerns, please call your friendly neighborhood attendance specialist Julio Guerra at 512-841-6702.

Q: My student was on a field trip. Why were they marked absent?

A: Most likely the teacher that marked them absent did not realize the student was on a field trip. For instance, a student went on a field trip with their science class, but their art or math teacher may not know it, so they mark the student absent. The teacher facilitating the field trip will submit a field trip roster of all the students on the trip, and our attendance specialist, Julio Guerra, will update all attendance within 48 hours. If it has been more than 48 hours (or two school days) and this has not been fixed, please contact Mr. Guerra at 512-841-6702.

Q: When does my student’s absence affect grades? 

A: If your child is absent for any reason, including extracurricular activities, be sure the assigned make-up work is completed. Students should check with each individual teacher to make sure all missed academic obligations are met. Submitting missed assignments will also help maintain eligibility for extracurricular activities. Students must meet the “90% rule” to earn credit for all middle school courses.

Q: What is the 90% rule?

A: To earn credit for all middle school courses, a student must be present and meet the 90% attendance requirement by the end of the year. Activities that do not count against the 90% attendance law include, but are not limited to:

Some examples of absences that count against the 90% attendance law include, but are not limited to:

ACADEMICS

Q: Is there a lot of homework?

A: There is not much homework at Small compared to other schools, though as with everything, student’s may have different perspectives on this. The teachers aim to complete assignments during class, including special projects. Average homework will be 30-60 minutes, if any. But kids are always encouraged to study!

Q: What if my child needs help with homework? Is tutoring available?

A: Yes, Tutoring is available and the schedule will be posted on our website in the 2nd or 3rd week of school

Q. When is the STAAR test?

A: Visit the District Website to find the latest AISD testing schedule for middle school.

Q: How do I find STAAR test results online?

A: Visit https://www.texasassessment.com/ to find your child’s test results.

Q: Is there an NJHS chapter at Small?

A: Yes. Contact our counselor, Carmen Castaneda, at 512-841-6715.

Q: Whom do we contact for special needs support?

A: For SCORES kids, contact Rhonda Cuellar at 512-841-6782. For Life Skills, you can contact Kimberly Sampson at 512-841-6750. For 504 questions, please call Ms. De’sean Roby at 512-841-7005.

VISITING THE LIBRARY 

Q: What are the hours of the library?

A: The library is typically open from 7:15 - 4:30; however, we have a new librarian, so this may be subject to change.

Q: Is there a book club? How does my student join?

A: We have book clubs for each grade that meet at lunchtime on Tuesdays. Children need to bring a sack lunch that day. We have a new librarian, so this may be subject to change.

Q: Can my student do homework in the library after school?

A: When the library is open, students are welcome to visit. The library has been open after school in the past until about 4:30 or 5:00 pm, dependent on the librarian’s schedule.

SPORTS & ATHLETICS

Q: Will my child have a specific dress code for P.E.?

A: Yes, Students will be required to purchase a standard uniform of shorts and t-shirt. The PE department will provide information regarding the purchase of the items. The student must also provide appropriate shoes and socks. If a student is to be excused from physical education because of illness, he/she must bring a written request from the parent/guardian or physician. Any Small Middle School Shirt will be accepted as PE Uniform.

Q: Can 6th graders try out for any team sports?

A: No. Only 7th and 8th graders try out for teams in middle school. All students in grade 6 are required to take a full year (two semesters) of PE, and are invited to attend all Small team events, to see which sport is right for them. Grades 7 and 8 are required to take at least one semester of PE or athletics.

Q: What are the requirements/medical forms for 7th and 8th graders to try out for a sport?

A: All students must have an up-to-date physical exam and turn in a completed physical form BEFORE tryouts. They also need to complete the entire athletics packet. All athletics forms may be turned in to the CSMS office. Find information, deadlines and download the complete athletics packet here: Physical Forms.

Q: Does my student have to be in athletics to try out for a sport?

A: No. Some sports don’t require athletics, including soccer, track and tennis. They might be moved into an athletics class from PE if they make a team.

Q: Can my student participate in an athletic game if they were absent from school that day?

A: If they were absent the entire school day, they are prohibited from participating.  If they were present for beginning of school day and left early (eg. They had a doctor’s appointment.), they are eligible to participate.

AFTER-SCHOOL & EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Q: What is the Cougar Club?

A: The Cougar Club is a tuition-based, after-school tutorial/activity club for CSMS students. Snack is provided. Register on the Clint Small Middle School website. Contact Samantha Sustaita at 512-841-6700 with questions.

Q: Are students allowed to stay on campus after school?

A: No. Students may only stay on campus if they are attending Cougar Club, an official after-school club, school function, tutoring or athletics.

Q: What after-school clubs are offered at Small?

A: The CSMS website has a list of the most recent clubs. This list is typically updated each year about a month after school starts, once all clubs and activities have been established.

Q: What if my student is interested in forming a new club?

A: After-school clubs require a teacher sponsor. If your student has an idea for a club, they need to find a teacher that is willing to sponsor that club. Go ahead and ask!

HOW TO PAY FOR THINGS - LUNCH MONEY & CLASSROOM FEES

Q: How do I pay online for Cougar Club, a classroom supply, activity or field trip fees?

A: This varies by teacher, but electronic payments are the preferred method for most teachers. Usually you can pay for classroom/lab/field trip fees online via https://schoolcashonline.com/. This is also the easiest way to pay for Cougar Club. It’s a good idea to go ahead and register for an account as soon as you enroll at Small, then teachers can directly request payments from you via School Cash Online.

Q: How does my student pay for lunch?

A: Electronic payments are the preferred method. Parents may create a School Cafe lunch money account at www.schoolcafe.com, load funds directly from a bank account or credit card into the account, then students simply type in their student ID number at the lunchroom register to pay for lunch each day. Students also may pay with cash at the register.

Q: How do I put money in my child’s lunch account?

A: Your School Cafe account allows you to make payments, view purchase history, receive low balance alerts, apply for meal benefits, submit verification paperwork and access school menus. Approved parents/guardians also may visit CSMS to make cash payments in person; go to the office to check in first, then pay in the cafeteria.

Q: What happens if my student does not have lunch money?

A: When an elementary or middle school student exhausts the meal account, they may charge up to three meals (high school may charge up to two meals). They may not charge a la carte items. Charges shall be paid in full before a menu meal is offered. Once the charge limit is reached, if the account is not replenished, the student shall receive a courtesy meal. There is no limit to the number of courtesy meals a student may receive. Food service staff shall not pull a tray from a student who has reached the charge limit.

Q: How does the free and reduced meal program work?

A: This is a district program with eligibility requirements. Please visit AISD’s website to apply for free or reduced meals. Paper applications are also available in the CSMS office.

First Day of School Tips and Tricks

Where do I go when I get to school?

On the first day of school, all students names will be posted on the windows of the cafeteria and in their academic hallways. Next to each name will be their pride teacher name and room number. On the first day of school, students should find their pride teacher and report to their class when the first bell rings at 8:10. If you get here before 8:10, 6th and 7th graders report to the Gym and 8th graders to the Cafeteria.

How\when do I get my schedule?

Schedules are generated over the summer. 7th and 8th grade students will get their schedules in their pride class on the first day of school. 6th graders can come the Saturday before to pick up their schedule and walk the school so they know where all their classes are. See flyers for passport to success.

What if I need a schedule change?

The first week of school there will be an option on our website to request a schedule change. Note that schedule change requests will not be considered if a student “changed their mind” they change can only be made if there is an error like 2 science classes, or placed in a class that was not put on the choice sheet. By requesting a schedule change be aware that the entire schedule may change to accommodate a request.

Drop off and pick up

Car riders and walkers can be dropped off at the front of the school. Parents are not allowed to come on campus and walk kids in (trust us, your student doesn’t want you to either, they got this!). Follow the traffic flow and pull all the way forward. Do not block the crosswalk. Wave a nice hello to Ms. Holmes who keeps the traffic flow flowing. Get in and out a quickly and smoothly and safely as possible.

Bell Schedule (First Day)

The first and last day of the school year are the only days we will have C days. Meaning students will go to all their classes. Starting in Pride, then go to 1st, 3rd,  5th, 7th, 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th. So they do an A day in the morning and a B day in the afternoon.

Regular Bell Schedule

        Print out a copy of our standard bell schedule here

A/B Calendar

Our A/B Calendar will alternate every day. The only exception would be if we have a weather day. The next day should be a c day then we resume regular A/B pattern. Click here to print this years A/B schedule.

Lunch Tips (the first week of school)

We highly recommend bringing your lunch the first week of school. The reason is the kids are getting used to paying for their lunch and the lines are really long. Once they get a hang of it, the line mellows out and buying lunch is no problem. You can fill your students lunch account online, School Cafe, or they can bring in cash.

No Lockers, Where do I put my stuff?

It’s true, we are not using lockers anymore. Best advice is to bring a backpack that can hold your supplies and lunch. Tip: if you backpack is getting too heavy, clean it out you probably have more than you need in there.

What do I wear?

Whatever you like to show off your cool style. But, we do have some dress code rules you should be aware of, Check out what not to wear here. Note: we recommend closed toed shoes due to all the stairs you will climb.

What bus do I ride and where do I catch it?

If you are an eligible bus rider, you will receive a letter in the mail (and probably an email) from AISD transportation department telling you where and what time to catch your bus. If you are not sure, you can go to the AISD Bus Finder and look up your address. You do not have to sign up to ride the bus. It is based on the address you are registered with. You may only ride the bus you are assigned to and no, you can not have a friend go home with you on the bus. All seats are assigned and the bus driver does not know what days kids will choose to get on the bus. At the end of the day, you will catch the bus on the bus poarch. The will be lined up on the side of the building by the track parking lot.

What do I bring?

On the first day of school bring your lunch, a water bottle, and some basic supplies like a spiral notebook and some pens and pencils. Don’t worry about PE Clothes or Instruments for that first day. Your coaches\teachers will tell you when you need to bring all that and what other supplies you might need. Don’t forget your enthusiasm and great attitude you will need that too! If you want to get a head up on the back to school shopping. Here is a basic list of items you will need to get started.

What if I lose my schedule?

No worries. You can always swing by the main office, or counseling office and we can print you a new one. You will just need it for a few days before you have it memorized. If you have a cell phone, you may want to take a picture of it so you always have it. You can always pull it up off the cloud as well.

Can I call my mom?

Speaking of cellphones (see what I did there?) Please keep your cell phone put away during the school day. You are not to have it out during passing periods or in class unless the teacher gives you permission. Parents: Please refrain from trying to contact your student during school hours. If you need to get some information to your student, the front office will be happy to help you.