Welcome to McKee Elementary School!
We at the PTA know that it can be overwhelming to start at a new school, whether your kids are in Kindergarten, or have transferred from another school. Here are the answers to some of the questions that new parents (and even some veteran McKee parents!) frequently have.
If you have another question that is not answered here, please email us and we'll do our best to get you an answer!
How does the Six-Day Rotation work?
Each school day is numbered incrementally from Day 1 to Day 6 starting from the first day of school. After Day 6, then it starts back at Day 1. Each Six-Day Rotation is either an A week or B week, starting with A, then alternating with B. So the first day of school is Day 1A, the next day is Day 2A and so on until Day 6A. Then it switches to Day 1B, then 2B, 3B, etc. After Day 6B, it goes back to Day 1A again.
Your child’s Specials will be scheduled on specific days within the Six-Day Rotation (ie, Library might be on Day 3, Art might be on Day 5). Every classroom has their own Specials schedule.
Currently at McKee, there is no difference in the Specials schedule from A week to B week. Therefore, you need only keep track of the numeric Day of the week.
NOTE that if there is a day off (planned or unplanned), then the first day back to school will increment from the last day that there was school. (If it was supposed to be Day 3A but school is cancelled for bad weather, then whatever day the kids go back to school will still be Day 3A. Similarly, if the last day of school before Christmas Break is Day 2B, then the first day back after break will be Day 3B.)
What is WIN?
WIN stands for "What I Need". WIN is a designated time during each school day when every student in Grades 1-5 at McKee is engaged in a literacy or math task specially prepared for a group of students with similar needs or on similar academic levels. The students participate in various engaging learning tasks that are separate from the grade level curriculum. Students within a grade are arranged into groups across classrooms based on "what they need".
What is AR?
West Allegheny elementary students in Grades 2-5 use an online tool called 'Accelerated Reader' (AR) designed by a company called Renaissance Learning. AR allows teachers to monitor each child’s independent reading practice and comprehension skills at their reading level.
At the beginning of the school year, each child is given an assessment to determine his/her independent reading level ('Book Level') as well as an individualized point goal that they need to achieve each month. Students are directed to choose independent reading books within this reading range. When the student finishes a book, they take the associated AR test on the computer at school. Book levels and point values can be found on a label inside each book in the school library.
To review your child’s reading practice results at home, you can log into Renaissance Home Connect from the McKee homepage. Students use the same login as they do in school for AR. By using the AR Book Finder (located directly above Renaissance Learning Home Connect), students and parents are able to find the book level (BL) and AR point value, should they be choosing books outside of McKee’s school library.
Students in Kindergarten and First Grade do not participate in AR.
What are the School Colors?
The official colors of West Allegheny School District are Red and Gray, but any combination of Red, Gray, Black, and White are generally accepted as 'school colors'. McKee does not have it's own school colors or school mascot.
Where Can I Get Spiritwear?
McKee PTA holds periodic Spiritwear sales during the school year. Click the 'Fundraising' tab for more information on the PTA Spiritwear sales.
Spiritwear can also be purchased in several local stores such as Shop 'n Save, Rite Aid, and Dollar Store, all in Imperial.
What Time Does My Child Have Lunch/Recess?
Each grade has a total of 40 minutes for their lunch and recess. The actual time allotted for each depends upon the completion of lunch. There are lunch aides in the cafeteria to assist your children and to help monitor behavior. They have a great relationship with the students!
Below is the breakdown of the lunch/recess times for each grade:
Fourth and Fifth Grade 10:55 - 11:35
Kindergarten and First Grade 11:40 - 12:20
Second and Third Grade 12:25 - 1:05
What is the Proper Procedure for School Drop Off & Pick-up?
Morning drop-off procedure for parents/guardians:
Official start time of the school day is 8:40 a.m. Students that arrive after 8:40 will be marked Tardy.
- Bus students will be dropped off and enter using the cafeteria doors
- Car students will be dropped off and enter using the front doors (parents will NOT have to wait until buses leave for arrival.
- Students arriving before 8:30 will report to the cafeteria for breakfast or to gym (if not eating breakfast). Students will sit in assigned areas. Staff will monitor and release students to classrooms at 8:30. Students will take breakfast to homerooms at 8:30.
- All students will report to gym on Mondays (unless eating breakfast) for Community Time.
Afternoon pick-up procedure for parents/guardians:
Students are dismissed from their classes at approximately 3:20 p.m.
* Students who will be car-riders will be dismissed after the buses have departed the school. Parents will stay in their vehicles.
* It is preferable for parents to write a note for an early dismissal before their child leaves for school.
* For last minute changes when no note was sent in, parents can email the student’s teacher and/or the School Secretary by no later than 2:30 p.m. (This is not preferred.)
Who plans the Classroom Parties?
McKee Elementary holds three classroom parties per year: Halloween, Winter Holiday, and Valentines Day.
Classroom parties are handled by the individual teachers. PTA requests volunteers each year, through the Homeroom Helpers program, to serve as a Classroom Coordinator. This Classroom Coordinator will plan a classroom party within the teacher's guidelines. If no Classroom Coordinator is established for a class, the teacher will contact parents to help plan the event.
Most teachers will ask for volunteers and donations of items from the parents in the classroom. The volunteers will come in to the school for the event and help implement the games and activities planned by the Classroom Coordinator. (Clearances must be on file in order to volunteer for classroom parties.) The donated items must be on the school's approved snack food list. Please do not send in items for a classroom party if you have not signed up through the teacher.
Look for signup sheets in your child's classroom during Open House, or contact the teacher directly if you would like to help with classroom parties.
How are Field Trips Funded?
Have you ever wondered why parents in some grades are asked to pay for a field trip, while parents in other grades are not?
Part of the funds raised by the PTA are set aside for each grade to be able to enjoy a yearly field trip. McKee PTA has a fixed budget every year for classroom field trips. We break this total into a per-student amount based on the school enrollment at the beginning of the school year.
The PTA then gives the Lead Teacher in each grade-level a fixed budget that is based on the per student amount multiplied by the total number of students in that grade. (We add two students per grade to the budget to account for increases in enrollment throughout the year.) Teachers then plan and book their own field trips. If the cost is within their budgeted amount, the parents do not have to pay anything. Some teachers take multiple field trips, or book trips that cost more than the budgeted amount, which can cause them to request additional money from parents. This is why some parents are requested to pay for field trips and some are not.
In addition, McKee’s music instructors organize field trips for Second and Fifth grade that DO NOT come out of this field trip budget. PTA provides an additional $1000 to the music teachers to be split between these two trips. Again, if the cost of the trip exceeds this amount, they will request money from parents.
Please note: When costs are calculated for field trips, teachers must account for bus transportation by Monark, price of tickets or admission, and if applicable, lunch.
McKee PTA is happy to be able to provide an opportunity for your children to enjoy exploration and offsite learning through the many field trips chosen by the teachers at McKee Elementary!
When Does My Child have their Specials (Art, Music, Library, Gym, Swimming, Computer)?
This varies for each classroom. If you do not have a Specials Schedule from your child's teacher, you should contact them to obtain one. Note that Swimming is for Grades 1-5 only. Kindergarten does not have a Swimming period.
All Specials are 40 minutes long.
Gym and Swimming are scheduled for the same Rotation Day (ie, Day 3 and Day 6). Gym is held on both of those days during the First and Fourth Grading periods, while Swimming is held on both of those days during the Second and Third Grading periods. This allows the gymnasium to be available during the colder Winter months for Recess use.
Does My Child Have to Take Gym/Swimming When They are Sick?
If a parent does not want their student to participate in PE or swimming due to an illness, please send in a note to the gym teacher. If it is an injury that required the attention of a doctor, the school policy requires a note from the doctor to excuse the child as well as a follow up note from the doctor releasing the child back to physical activity.
What Does My Child Need for Swimming?
To be prepared for swimming, students need a swimsuit, towel, and bag. If the student has goggles, they can bring them, but they are not required. The students are NOT permitted to bring masks, snorkels, or toys.
Students who come to swim class without the proper equipment may choose to borrow items. The towels and suits available to borrow are laundered after every use. While there will always be parents who are not supportive of their child borrowing a suit from the PE department, this is a much needed service provided by our District to ensure that every child has equal opportunity to participate in swimming class. Any student who forgets their swimming equipment and chooses not to borrow, either watches their classmates’ swim lesson or brings a book/classwork to complete. Students do NOT have to borrow a suit/towel. If you do not want your student to borrow, please make it clear to them that they are not permitted to borrow.
What if My Child Can't Swim?
The West Allegheny School District follows the American Red Cross Guidelines for swimming instruction. The foremost objective of elementary swim class is to help students feel comfortable in the water and enjoy the water safely. The students learn elementary swimming skills including water adjustment, buoyancy and breath control, water entry and exit, locomotion skills, personal safety and basic rescue skills. As they progress and develop confidence in their swimming skills learned, they improve other aquatic skills and increase their endurance by swimming familiar strokes. They will also continue to build upon coordination and refinement of key strokes. Each grade level has a curriculum skills checklist. Students who are less confident with swimming are always allowed to work at his/her own pace and to build the self-confidence needed to appreciate water safely.
What Does My Child Do in Gym Class?
All PE lessons begin with an anticipatory set. This allows for skills instruction, activity review and a warm up activity prior to starting the lesson.
The elementary PE curriculum is available online for viewing. There are certain games that only grades K-2 participate in as well as certain games for grades 3-5. Some activities are modified to meet all grade levels.
Students MUST wear sneakers to participate in gym class year round.
Why Do School Assemblies Require an Opt-in or Opt-out?
School Assemblies sometimes require parental permission to students to participate. Some assemblies require an 'Opt-in' while other require an 'Opt-out'. The information below is provided to help differentiate between the two.
OPT-IN: We require parent/guardian permission (Opt-In) when we bring a presenter or assembly from outside the district that does not have a direct correlation to the student's curriculum. An example of this would be our school-wide assembly with meteorologist Mike Harvey from WTAE. Because not every grade level teaches weather, we require parents to complete the form indicating that their child may participate in this activity. By default, students will not participate in this type of assembly. In order to take part in assemblies such as these, each student must return the completed form with signature to his/her teacher prior to the specified deadline. *For Opt-In: Your child cannot participate if you don't return the form.
OPT-OUT: We offer parents the opportunity to opt their child out of presenters/assemblies that are brought in from outside the district, but have a direct tie with our curriculum. An example of this occurred when WPXI’s meteorologist Stephen Cropper visited with our Third Grade students. After recently completing their study of weather, Mr. Cropper’s presentation was a wonderful opportunity to culminate this unit for the Third Grade students. By default, students will participate in this type of assembly. However, if a parent or guardian does not want their child to participate, then they must sign the Opt-Out form and return to his/her teacher by the deadline. *For Opt- Out: Your child will participate unless you return the form.
Will My Child Go Outside for Recess During the Winter?
McKee Elementary believes that fresh air is always a good thing, but the staff always places your children’s health and safety first. There is no set temperature that will ensure indoor or outdoor recess. The staff assesses the temperature as well as the windchill and makes a decision accordingly. Recess is only 20 minutes, so if they feel it is safe for the kids to go outside, they will take them outside. Sometimes they will do an abbreviated outdoor session of only 10 minutes, with the remaining 10 minutes of recess being held indoors.
Please always send you child to school with appropriate outerwear for an outdoor recess.
What is the Battle of the Books?
The Battle of the Books is a program designed to encourage reading and to give recognition to those who like to read. All fourth and fifth grade students in the West Allegheny School District are eligible to participate. Students are organized into teams. Team members read from a list of selected books that can be found in the school library, public library, or local bookstore. They compete in a tournament with other teams by answering questions based on the books. Although one team is awarded first place, we feel that all of the participants are winners!
The program generally kicks off in January, with the tournament being held in April.
What is 'Girls on the Run'?
Girls on the Run is a program that works to encourage pre-teen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games, culminating in a celebratory 5k run.
Over a period of 10 weeks from March to May, girls in the 3rd through 5th grade will participate in an after-school program that encourages positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development. For more information on this program and/or what is involved with volunteering, visit the Girls on the Run website.
What is Being Done to Keep McKee Students safe?
West Allegheny School District takes the responsibility of providing a safe building for students very seriously. Below is some information related to the preparedness measures the District has in place. This list is not exhaustive as there are many emergency preparedness measures that need to remain unpublished in order to protect the integrity of our emergency plans while ensuring the safety of our students and staff is not compromised.
- The District works closely with local, state and national law enforcement to maintain the most current emergency preparedness procedures. This includes our commitment to providing a full-time school resource officer with additional support from both North Fayette and Findlay Township Police Departments.
- On-duty police officers conduct daily visits to our schools that include perimeter checks, conversations with students, and school walks.
- In coordination with local law enforcement agencies, the District has conducted extensive active shooter, Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate (ALICE) training as well as Stop the Bleed immediate responder and triage trainings with all staff members. We have also distributed Stop the Bleed Kits throughout the schools.
- The District has established and maintained trained Unit Captain Teams in each school that support the coordinated emergency procedures during drills and in case of a crisis event. The District has provided these teams with two-way radios for enhanced communication in case of a crisis event.
- Every West Allegheny school holds monthly preparedness drills that include one of the following: fire, severe weather, earthquake, evacuation preparation, lockdown and lock-in. We also conduct multi-agency, major event drills on a regular basis.
- Administration and staff are continually working in coordination with law enforcement to identify potential threats and address them proactively.
- We have significantly increased the number of interior and exterior cameras as well as upgraded and networked them to law enforcement vehicles and dispatch.
- Principals and school staff conduct daily exterior door checks and monthly District level safety and security checks.
- Evacuation and reunification sites have been identified for each school.
- All visitors are required to use the Raptor visitor monitoring system, which checks all visitors against a national database and provides them with photo IDs.
- The District works in partnership with the Student Assistant Program (SAP) teams and the Safe and Supportive School Committee to promote positive student to student and adult to student relationships.
- Local law enforcement supports athletic and extracurricular events.
Please see below for some additional resources that are useful as you talk with your child/ren about these matters.
Additional support resources: