A.G. Bell School Parent/Student Handbook
Updated Summer 2020
BELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL MISSION
BELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL VISION
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
REACH FOR THE RED (Respect Self - Respect Others - Respect Environment)
ATTENDANCE & ABSENCE
REPORT CARD PICKUP
LOST & FOUND
CURRENT CONTACT INFORMATION
SAFETY AND SECURITY
ACADEMICS AND STUDENT SERVICES
BREAKFAST, LUNCH, AND RECESS
STUDENT ACTIVITIES AND RECOGNITION
SPORTS AND EXTRACURRICULAR PROGRAMS
SCHOOL LEADERSHIP AND PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT
FACULTY AND STAFF
SIGN LANGUAGE FOR PARENTS
AG Bell Homework Guidelines
Homework Guidelines: Regional Gifted Centers (Options) Program
Bell School will teach all of its students the foundational academic and social skills they need to achieve their highest ambitions; will help all of its students learn to be respectful, thoughtful, and well-balanced; and will challenge all of its students to excel as engaged citizens of the world.
Bell School values the professionalism and dedication of the faculty and staff; the participation of parents; transparency, creativity, and collaboration in decision-making; mindful communication; its unique community of learners; and the support of outside partners.
Bell School will meet the educational and emotional needs of the diverse population it serves to the fullest extent possible in a safe, nurturing environment. This will be achieved by establishing an educational climate that is based on the attainment of high standards for all students.
Alexander Graham Bell School has three departments: the Neighborhood program (K-8), the Options (Gifted) program (1-8), and the Deaf program (pre-K-8). Admissions are determined as follows:
Students, parents, and teachers of Bell School adhere to the Chicago Public Schools Student Rights and Responsibilities, which is distributed at the beginning of each school year for signature. Parents are encouraged to read and discuss it with their children. Expectation assemblies will be held with the children throughout the school year.
Bell School uses the Responsive Classroom discipline approach. The goals of this approach are to ensure that children:
1. Respect our community and our environment.
2. Be safe in all areas of the school.
3. Do your best work.
Bell School’s PBIS program focuses on teaching proper behaviors in all areas of the school. Staff members acknowledge students that are following expectations with positive reinforcing language.
Students, parents, and staff recognize the importance of appropriate dress and its effect on the learning environment. Bell School has set an acceptable standard for appropriate, safe and respectful clothing.
In addition to following the guidelines set forth in the visual representation of the “no show zone”, clothing which is significantly disruptive to the educational process and/or learning environment will not be tolerated. This includes, but is not limited to, wearing items that:
a. Depict obscene language or pictures
b. Incite hatred or violence
c. Encourage illegal activity
d. Advertise use of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco
All Bell staff members will facilitate this policy with respect and sensitivity to students. Students have a responsibility to be mindful of the policy and follow it, and adults in the building have a responsibility to teach the students about what is appropriate and not appropriate in certain environments when it comes to presenting themselves to others.
If a student is found in violation of the dress guidelines, they will be instructed to go to the office and change into appropriate clothing. If a student does not have a change of clothes, they will have the option of wearing appropriate clothing offered by the school or delivered to the school by their parents/guardians.
For purposes of this policy "Electronic Device" means a privately owned wireless and/or portable electronic handheld equipment that includes, but is not limited to, existing and emerging mobile communication systems and smart technologies (cell phones, smart phones, walkie-talkies, etc.), portable internet devices (mobile Android, Apple devices, etc.), Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) (pocket PCs, etc.), handheld entertainment systems (video games, ebook devices, MP3 players, iPods ©, etc.), and any other convergent communication technologies that do any number of the previously mentioned functions.
Students may possess and use electronic devices at school subject to the following:
Students are expected to be punctual and attend class daily. Attendance guidelines can be found in the Chicago Public Schools’ Code of Conduct Booklet. There are only 4 types of excused absences:
Upon returning to school, the student must bring a note from her/his parent to her/his teacher stating the date(s) and cause of the absence. Calling the school regarding your child’s absence will not provide sufficient documentation.
Absences without a valid written note on file are considered unexcused.
Students with 5 or more days of unexcused absences are considered “Truant”.
** Please note: once a child is marked absent in the computer, the Chicago Public Schools automatically place a telephone call to the student’s home, regardless of whether the child arrived late. The school is unable to stop these automatic telephone calls.
Students who generally take the bus should notify the driver or call the bus company (see back page for contact numbers) with the child's name and bus route, in advance of absences. If a student will attend school but will not take the bus home, the office should be notified via a note sent in the morning (strongly preferred) or by a phone call to the front office.
Please note that vacations are not excused according to Chicago Public Schools Policy. It is important to note that students miss important information when absent, which in turn impacts their learning and achievement. Please plan vacation days when school is not in session. Absences due to family vacations during the regular school year are highly discouraged and are considered unexcused absences.
Additionally, please be aware of the following:
When arriving late, the child must be escorted to the office to receive a tardy pass before reporting to the homeroom.
Tardies are charged as follows:
If a student arrives late due to the tardiness of a school bus, this will not be considered a tardy. If a student has a partial absence, parents must send a written note to the school explaining the reason.
Early dismissals are discouraged because they disrupt the educational process. If you must pick up your child, go to the main office (do not go directly to the student’s classroom), request that the student be sent, and sign the student out. Students may never leave the building early unless accompanied by a responsible adult. Students will not be called out of the classroom for early dismissal after 3:00pm.
Please discuss all personal matters with students before the school day begins. In the past, the main office has experienced an increased amount of calls regarding these matters. When calling the school to leave a child a message, this involves interrupting the entire classrooms’ instructional time to convey the message to your child.
The task of placing students in homerooms involves a process that stretches over weeks in the spring and includes input from teachers. Our number one priority is to meet the needs of all of our students. It is important to connect learning and teaching styles. We strive to create classes that are balanced in terms of numbers, boy/girl ratio, and special needs. Therefore, we are not able to honor or accept parent requests concerning the classroom placement of their child. If parents have a specific concern about their child’s learning style, that information can be shared with the administration to better inform our decision. However, this is again, not an opportunity to request a specific teacher.
Textbooks are on loan to the children; all textbooks that are carried back and forth between home and school should be covered with disposable book covers. Children and parents are responsible for keeping all books (including library books) in excellent condition. Parents must pay for books that are damaged, lost, or destroyed.
A list of supplies required for the coming year is sent home at the end of the school year. Additional copies are available in the main office and on the school website at bell.cps.edu.
Parents can stay informed of their child’s academic progress via the Aspen Parent Portal. A link on the school website is also available. Parents will receive an email with their login information upon registration. Please direct any issues with Aspen logins to our Technology Coordinator, York Chan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The partnership between parents and teachers is extremely important in the successful education of students. When requesting to speak with your child’s teacher, please observe the following procedure:
Meetings should be scheduled in advance. Impromptu meetings interrupt the structure and instructional day for students.
Bell School recognizes that email is a valuable communication tool that is widely used across our society. The administration and staff value communication between home and school, however, our highest priority is to attend to your son/daughter, his/her class work and curriculum. While email is a fast and convenient way to send a message, this may not be the case for many of our teachers. Some teachers read their email in the morning before school, and some read them at the end of the day. Please also remember that teachers are sometimes absent or out of the building at professional development sessions. For these reasons, please remember if you send an email message to a member of our staff, you may not get an immediate reply. The school expectation is that you will be contacted within 24-48 hours of your message. When using email, please follow these guidelines:
Again, Bell School recognizes that email is a valuable tool for communication, and it is very convenient for parents and teachers. Parents can always use email to schedule meetings with teachers, provide brief updates that are not time sensitive, and send any other general messages.
School-wide grading policies are addressed at the beginning of the school year and comply with Chicago Public School policies. Each teacher establishes the criteria for grades in each subject area. These criteria are discussed at the teacher/parent Curriculum Night during the first month of school.
A Progress Report may be sent home at the end of the fifth week of each marking period; if a child is failing or struggling at this point, parents are requested to set up a conference with the teacher.
Four report cards are issued throughout the school year. Report card pickup, which takes place after the 1st and the 3rd marking period, is a scheduled conference time with your child's teacher. Report cards are sent home with the students after the 2nd marking period. For the first three quarters, parents are to sign the report card and return it to the teacher as soon as possible. The final report card is sent home with the student on the last day of school and remains at home.
Please label all belongings with your child’s name and room number. Unlabeled items will be placed in the Lost and Found. The Lost and Found is cleaned out periodically, so do not wait to look there for a lost item.
In cases of separation or divorce, the school assumes that both parents, custodial and non-custodial, have equal access to their children. If a special situation exists, copies of official court documents must be on file in the school office and the student's teacher must be notified.
Chicago Public School teachers, counselors, and administrative staff are mandated reporters and are required by law to report any cases of suspected abuse of students to the Department of Children and Family Services (1-800-25 ABUSE).
Parents must promptly notify the office if there has been a change of address, phone number, or emergency contact. Please ensure that the school has at least one emergency contact on file in case you are not reachable in the event of an emergency involving your child.
At the beginning of each school year, Bell School publishes an online directory of students to help students and parents keep in touch with one another during the school year. The directory is organized by grade, and every student entry includes the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of the student’s parents. Parents complete and/or verify directory information with registration packets in the spring. At this time they may request that address, phone, and/or email be omitted from the directory.
The directory is to be used only by Bell families, for communicating with other Bell families. It should not be shared outside the Bell community or used for sales or other solicitations. Similarly, the email addresses included in the directory are for family-to-family communication. Please do not abuse this information!
Parents/guardians have the right to look at all of their child's records in the official school file. In order to do so parents/guardians need to submit a written request twenty-four hours in advance of the inspection. The school will not disclose anything to a third party from a student's records unless a parent/guardian consents in writing prior to disclosure.
Parents/guardians have the right to present evidence that the school should amend any part of the child's records which they believe to be inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of a student's rights. If the school decides not to change the records, parents may insert an explanation therein.
For information about Chicago Public School closings, tune in to WGN radio at AM 720 or WBBM at AM 780. Also, check the web site at www.schoolclosings.com.
There is limited street parking available around Bell School. The south side of Grace and the west side of Oakley are NO PARKING zones. These areas must be left clear to accommodate the 20 or more buses dropping students off in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon. The playground is not a parking lot. Oakley Avenue between Waveland and Grace will be temporarily closed from 7:45 - 8:25 A.M. and 3:00 - 3:30 P.M. daily to accommodate school buses.
Parking Dos and Don’ts:
Pushing or riding wheeled vehicles (wagons, strollers, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, roller blades, etc.) on the turf area of the playground will cause damage. Please keep all vehicles on the paved pathways. Dogs are not permitted on the school grounds; please curb your dogs outside the fence if you must bring them with you to school. In addition, contact sports are not permitted on the grounds. Students will still have designated areas during recess to play touch football, but tackling/wrestling are not allowed. We will continue to enforce the student code of conduct for any rough play that appears to be fighting. Please speak to your children about playground safety.
Safety is the number one priority. Important information is always communicated via the school website, eblasts and backpack mail. When entering the school, use the center main doors (on Oakley). The school is equipped with a security system and parents and visitors must buzz in to enter the school. Ring the doorbell at the center main doors and wait; you will hear someone greet you over the intercom. Once in the school, sign in at the desk where the security guard is sitting and then proceed to the main office. New visitors to the building will be asked to show an ID upon arrival at the security desk. Parents and visitors may not go directly to classrooms.
To ensure staff and student readiness in the case of an emergency, drills and special code calls are held periodically throughout the year. In addition to the standard fire drills, teachers are prepared to handle other disasters or emergencies. If complete evacuation of Bell School's building is ever required, the school Emergency Plan contains procedures for walking students to Lane Tech High School, located at Addison and Western.
All visitors entering the school must sign in at the security desk located at the main entrance and present their ID. Once this has been completed, visitors are to go to the main office to receive a visitor’s pass. The clerk will then inform the staff member of the visitor’s arrival. Visitors are not to travel the building without a pass and passes must always be visible. This routine procedure is done to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Volunteers who are in the building three or more times a week will be provided with a special volunteer badge to streamline this process. If your child is outside on the playground during recess or gym class, please do not approach your child without first informing the teacher or staff member who is present.
Our school bus carrier and contact numbers are listed on the last page. The Department of Student Transportation at CPS can be reached at (773) 553-2860.
Bell School uses the standards-driven curriculum of the Chicago Public Schools and the State of Illinois. Departments modify the curriculum to address the needs of the children they serve. Your child's curriculum will be discussed in depth at the teacher/parent Curriculum Night held during the first few weeks of school.
Students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades have a modified departmental schedule. The schedule for departmentalization changes from year to year and is announced at the beginning of the school year.
Students have art, music and STEAM classes throughout the school year. In addition, there are various fine arts assemblies and family activities hosted at Bell.
Students receive instruction on the use of computers with class project work designed by their teacher and the computer instructor once a week in grades 5-8. Students must have a signed Acceptable Use Form on file before they are allowed to use the Internet. Students in grades K-4 will work on computer projects with their homeroom teachers primarily via the mobile labs with some computer lab instruction time.
Students in grades 3-5 receive instruction in Chinese each week. Students in grades 6-8 can continue Chinese instruction in an optional after school program.
Students have gym class twice a week. On gym days they are expected to wear gym shoes or sneakers, and the gym "uniform” of a white or red shirt. Bell School “spirit wear” (with the Bell logo) is acceptable for gym days.
All Bell School students are encouraged to check out books weekly. Students in grades K-4 are provided regular library time with instruction/assistance from the librarians. School library books circulate for one week.
All students are expected to have and use a Chicago Public Library card. Recreational reading is encouraged through incentive programs.
Classes take field trips throughout the school year. A field trip permission slip for each bus trip must be on file for a child to participate. Parents are often asked to volunteer to chaperone field trips if additional chaperones are needed. Most field trips have associated fees; financial assistance is available to families for whom these fees are a hardship. Students in all three departments from fifth through eighth grade take overnight trips:
The school fee for 2020-21 is $200/student, capped at $600/family and includes general classroom supplies, consumable workbooks, assignment notebooks, subscriptions, and technology.
A few school-related activities may have additional fees associated with them:
The Local School Council allocates funds each year to provide financial assistance to families for whom these fees are a hardship. Parents should contact Ms. Miller if any difficulties arise.
All Chicago Public Schools measure student performance with standardized exams. Third through eighth grade students take the NWEA MAP Survey of Goals (reading and math) assessment online two times a year. The administration periods will be in January and May. Eighth grade students will take an Algebra Exit Exam at the end of May. Throughout the school year students will complete the REACH performance tasks (new teacher evaluation system) and Benchmark Assessments (relates to the new Common Core State Standards). Information gathered from these assessments is for internal use only.
Breakfast and lunch are offered to students daily. All students must have a Family Income Form (distributed during the first week of school) completed and on file. Please complete the form even if you believe you do not qualify for free or reduced lunch, because certain school funding is based on these forms.
Breakfast is served from 7:45AM to 8:35AM and is FREE for all students. Lunch is FREE to all students this year. Milk alone (for students who bring their lunch) costs $0.45. Students pay for lunch directly to the classroom teacher each morning, cash or money orders only. Students will be provided with a school lunch if they do not have their own lunch at the school by 10:30 a.m., the first lunch period.
Lunch hours including outside recess (weather permitting) are as follows:
Forgotten Lunches Students who forget their lunch will be given a hot lunch for the day. We are encouraging students to be independent and responsible for their belongings. If a student has a medical condition or allergy, parents can contact the main office.
Additional Recess Each grade level has an additional 15 minute recess period during the school day, weather permitting. Students may bring basketballs, Nerf balls, tennis balls, and jump ropes on the playground. For safety reasons skateboards and scooters are never permitted on the playground. During inclement weather, recess is held indoors, either in the classroom or in the auditorium.
Health records: According to Illinois law, all children entering school for the first time, in pre-kindergarten or kindergarten, must provide a record of physical examination, immunization history and dental records. In addition, all second and fifth grade students must have a dental examination and sixth grade students a complete medical examination prior to the beginning of the school year. Students that are not up-to-date on their physical examinations will be unable to attend school until they receive their examinations.
Immunizations: Illinois law requires proof of immunization for each student from the following diseases: Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Poliomyelitis, Rubella, Mumps, HIB, and Chicken Pox. All Kindergarten and 5th grade students must have had a Hepatitis B vaccination, which consists of a series of 3 doses or shots over the course of 6 months. The Chicago Board of Health also mandates that all students must have a second measles shot, and that all students 6 years old and under must take a lead screening test. All kindergarten and second grade students must provide proof of dental examinations. Proof of immunizations and testing must be on file prior to the beginning of the school year. These records are kept on file in the nurse's office. Students that are not up-to-date on their immunizations will be unable to attend school until they receive their immunizations.
Medication: All student medication must be kept in the nurse's office. If your child uses an inhaler, the nurse determines where it will be kept safely in school. A completed doctor's permission form must be on file for any medication to be administered to your child.
Food allergies: If your child has food allergies, please notify the classroom teacher as well as the nurse’s office at the beginning of each school year. Please review the school’s new Wellness Policy regarding food in the classroom.
Due to the high number of students with food allergies, food in classrooms is limited, and teachers will inform parents of any food related activities by sending a list of ingredients.
Bell School offers a variety of competitive sports opportunities. Starting with fifth grade, students can participate in basketball, volleyball, cross-country, track, soccer, softball, and flag football. In addition, there are a number of clubs and after school activities available for each grade level including chess club, conservation club and Future Problem Solvers.
CLASSROOM ACADEMIC AWARDS
This award is given to students having all A’s for all 4 quarters of the school year.
This award is given to students that have maintained All A’s and B’s for at least 3 out of 4 quarters of the school year.
This award is given to students who have no absences or tardies for the entire school year.
This award is given to students who have only been absent or tardy for a total of 1-3 days for the entire school year.
Red Letter “B” Service Award
This award is a service award that students work for from Kindergarten through 8th Grade. Points are earned for academics, attendance, school service, art and performances, athletics, extracurricular activities, academic competitions, citizenship and classroom service. Attainment is 200 points. Only one level may be achieved each year except in 8th grade. Points balance at the end of year will carryover next year towards the next level.
8th GRADE GRADUATION: Students in 8th grade participate in the 8th grade graduation ceremony at the end of the year after completing all requirements as stated in the CPS promotion policy. The CPS promotion policy can be found here:
8th grade students also participate in an end of year luncheon and video night. If students are not behaving in accordance with the CPS Code of Conduct, participation in these events may be limited.
A current list of staff members is located on the school website, bell.cps.edu, and included in the Bell Pages.
The faculty and staff at Bell try to keep regular communications with parents and families. Some of the methods of communication are:
The Parent Forum is a monthly meeting open to all Bell parents. Meetings will be hosted by a member of the Bell Administrative team and facilitated by a Bell parent. Items discussed include those of interest to the entire Bell community (such as playground policy, school hours, school directory) and some topics specific to the Neighborhood program (mainly curriculum issues). Meeting dates, times and locations are posted on the Bell School website calendar. Parents attending these meetings occasionally take on special projects to improve school systems. Meeting summaries are reported at LSC meetings and are available on the Bell website.
Sign Language classes for parents are offered at Bell School on selected days. Please look for information via backpack mail, the Bell Link, or by calling the school for current class days and times.
There are several Family Nights with special themes during the school year. Possibilities include Fall Family Night, STEAM Night, Wellness Night, and Fine Arts Night. These events are both educational and fun for the whole family.
There are numerous opportunities for parents to volunteer to help with school activities. Parents are encouraged to fill out the Online Volunteer Form on the school website. If you are scheduled to volunteer in your child’s classroom you will need to complete the CPS Volunteer Process. Parents in grades 6-8 who wish to chaperone any of our overnight trips will also need to complete this process. A link to the CPS volunteer page can be found here.
End of Parent Handbook
Bell School believes homework is an important element of a child’s educational program. In addition to teaching responsibility, independence and offering enrichment opportunities, it helps children develop positive study skills and habits that will serve them throughout their lives. At the beginning of the school year, your child’s teacher will send home information about homework requirements. Students will practice homework skills in class at the beginning of the year before receiving homework assignments. This will help ensure that students will be successful in completing assignments. Homework should be expected Monday through Thursday; it may also be given on weekends. Homework guidelines for each grade are listed below:
Kindergarten: Students in Kindergarten are still developing their academic skills, study skills and independence. Therefore, homework options are more flexible. Students will receive a packet at the beginning of each week which includes a range of activities and assignments to complete over the course of the week. This allows for academic choice and provides more flexibility so all students are receiving homework that is appropriate for their varying developmental levels. Students should not work for more than 10 minutes per night on homework. We also encourage parents to read with their students each night as this helps build fundamental literacy skills for students in a developmentally appropriate manner.
Grades 1-2: Students in grades 1-2 are continuing to develop their academic skills and becoming more independent. Homework will be assigned on a regular basis and should take approximately 10 minutes per night for first graders and 20 minutes per night for second graders to complete.
Grades 3-5: Students in grades 3-5 are becoming more independent as they transition to middle school. Therefore, homework may involve more project based learning assignments which help children learn to manage time and prioritize. Projects also allow for more differentiation based on individual student needs. As students progress through the intermediate grades, homework should take between 30-50 minutes per day to complete.
Grades 6-8: Middle school students are preparing for the transition to high school, where students are expected to be completely independent. Therefore homework assignments will include more culminating projects such as essays, presentations and reflections to help indicate individual student learning and provide more practice with application of skills.
Grades 6, 7, and 8 should receive 10 minutes of homework per grade level. A sixth grade student should receive approximately 60 minutes of homework, a seventh grade student, 70 minutes and an eighth grade student, 80 minutes per day.
Parent Involvement: Homework is seen as an integral part of the school experience. Student success in school is often a reflection of the support and assistance parents offer with homework. Parents are encouraged to listen to reading, dictate spelling words and ask for definitions, assist in research and problem solving, encourage, direct, and drill, but never just give out answers. Doing these tasks requires parental time and effort. It is well worth it, however, in order to keep in touch with what your child is learning at school. If parents have a question about the school work or an assignment, please email, call the teacher at school, or write the teacher a note.
The following are suggested methods for parental involvement in homework:
The Options Department of Bell School believes homework is an integral element of a child’s educational program. In addition to teaching responsibility, building independence and offering enrichment opportunities, it helps children develop positive study skills and habits that will serve them throughout their lives. At the beginning of the school year, your child’s teacher will send home grade-specific information about homework requirements.
Beginning in first grade, students in the Options department are provided assignment notebooks and taught how to use them to keep track of assignments. In first through third grades, parents are encouraged to check the planners for completion and accuracy. Teachers will provide information about homework via newsletters, handouts, and/or classroom websites. However, by the time students are in fourth grade, they are expected to keep track of assignments and due dates by themselves.
Primary level students in the Options department are expected to spend between thirty and forty-five minutes daily on homework. Intermediate level students are expected to spend between forty-five and ninety minutes daily on homework. Upper level students are expected to spend between ninety minutes and two hours daily on homework. Teachers of all grades assign little or no homework on the weekends to provide maximum opportunity and time for long-term projects and family activities.
Homework in the primary grades often consists of reinforcement of class work and extension of class activities. As a result, there are frequent short-term daily homework assignments. However, long-term projects are part of every grade level in the Options department. As students move from the primary to intermediate to upper grades, there are fewer day-to-day assignments and more long-term assignments. All students are expected to read independently every day.
Student success in school is often a reflection of the support and assistance parents offer with homework. Parents of younger students are encouraged to listen to reading, dictate spelling words, ask for definitions, assist in research and problem solving, encourage, direct, and practice, but never just give out answers. Doing these tasks requires parental time and effort. It is well worth it, however, in order to keep in touch with what your child is learning at school.
If parents of younger students have questions about an assignment, they may email, call, or write their child’s teachers. However, in an effort to foster independence, even students in first through third grade should be encouraged to ask their teachers for help themselves. By the time students are in fourth grade, they are expected to contact the teacher themselves if they have questions about classwork or homework assignments.
The following are suggested methods for parental involvement in homework: