FAQ for New Pathfinder Families

Welcome to Pathfinder K-8

You have questions, lots of questions . . . Pathfinder PTSA and K-1 Teacher, Genya Scharks, collaborated to prepare this FAQ in the hopes of answering some of your many questions.

When does school start/end?
The first bell rings at 8:50 and the tardy bell rings at 8:55. Kindergarteners may be on the playground starting at 8:35. There is a kindergarten or 1st grade teacher supervising the playground from 8:35-8:50. Please be sure to arrive by 8:50. It is very difficult for children to come in late.

Dismissal is at 3:25. Starting this year (2017), Wednesdays will have an early dismissal at 2:10. Parents may pick up at the classroom. Teachers will then walk children to Blazing Trails and their school bus. Kindergarten students are never left alone. They are always handed off to another adult.

Where do we park?
You may park in the parking lot across from the school or along the right side of the road coming into the school. The parking lot next to the field is used for buses. You may park in the center spots, but the buses travel around the outside circle. The parking lots get packed during the school year; if at all possible, have your child ride the bus.

How do I figure out which bus my child takes? Or, my child would have to walk 5 blocks to the bus stop – how do I make changes with transportation? Do I need to tell them whether my child is taking the bus or not?
The number to Seattle Public Schools Transportation is 206-252-0900. Please call them with any questions. You should receive bus information in the mail shortly before school begins. If you haven’t received information and your child will be taking the bus, give them a call. You should also know that during the first weeks of school, buses can run late, as drivers are getting to know their routes, and have to check off each child as they enter the bus.

How do I set up a school lunch account for my child? How do I apply for free & reduced lunch?
All children receive a lunch account and number. You can ask your child’s teacher or the lunchroom for this number. Teachers will be teaching their account number to any child buying lunch.

You can put money in the account by giving a check to the lunch room. They serve breakfast before school, so this is a great time to do it. You can also give a check to your child’s teacher and they can get it to the lunch room.

You can visit the Nutrition Services for the Seattle School District to put money on your child’s account online, called PayPams.

Free and reduced lunch applications can also be done on the site listed above. The lunchroom and office staff have applications too, and can be really helpful in sorting out mistakes on PayPams accounts. You can contact lunchroom staff person Juan Juan Liu here: juliu@seattleschools.org.

What time is lunch? How long do kindergarteners have for lunch?
Kindergarteners eat lunch with the first graders at 11:15. They go out to lunch recess at 11:35. They can stay in and eat for a while if they are not finished.

How do we find out what dietary restrictions there are for lunches, such as, anaphylactic allergies – and classroom treats?
We do not serve snacks with nuts, but there are no restrictions at lunch. There is a peanut free table for children with allergies. Children are not allowed to share any food to prevent allergic reactions. If there are any other specific restrictions, your child’s teacher will let you know (this is rare). When bringing birthday treats, the teachers will work with the parents of children with allergies to ensure there is an appropriate treat available. You do not need to worry about this.

How does Pathfinder balance classes? Are changes made?
Pathfinder balances classes based on all of the available information including: gender, birthdates, ethnicity, and siblings already at Pathfinder. Changes may be made during the week of Jumpstart. You will find out your child’s permanent placement Thursday or Friday of this week.

What is the attendance line phone number?
Please call the office if your child will not be at school. The number is 206-252-9712.

How do I make a change in how my child will go home?
If you want to change your child’s pick-up plan, contact your child’s teacher before 8:00 am or tell them at drop off/send a note. Teachers do not always have time to check e-mail during the day. If your plans change after this, please call the office before 2:15 and a note will be delivered to the teacher.

How about what to do process-wise if someone else will pick my child up from school? Or the bus? Or how to take a friend’s bus to a play date?
Telling the teacher is the most helpful. You can call the office if school has already begun for the day. To take a friend’s bus for a play date, call 206-252-9710 or stop by the office. They will write a card (it has been known as a yellow card and a green card in the past) for your child so they can get on the bus. This will be delivered to the teacher.

How can we contact other families in our classroom? How can we keep our information confidential?
Teachers will provide a classroom contact list after the first few weeks of school. If you do not want your information to be given to other families, we will not include it. The contact list is only for classroom families. It is great for planning birthday parties and playdates.

How can I help at school?
There are so many ways to help – there is something just for you. This community depends on volunteers of all kinds – Classroom volunteers, office helpers, chaperones, data entry from home, art help, event set up, baking, anything! You will receive more information about volunteering at the end of September. If you aren’t sure what to do but know you’d like to help in a different way, please contact Lashanna Williams, our Volunteer Coordinator, at volunteer@pathfinderptsa.org, or by phone at 206-715-5265 voicemail or text. Look for the Volunteer Form in your First Day Packets.

Will the kindergarteners be coming across 8th graders?
Yes, but they are always wonderful with the younger kids. We do not eat lunch or have recess with the older kids, so we do not have a lot of interaction with them but they will run into each other in the halls.

Where is lost and found kept?
There is a large wooden bin for lost and found in the lunchroom, that is sometimes moved into the front hallway. Please write your child’s first and last name on everything: sweaters, lunch box, and coats. Missing items will find their way back much easier with a name.

What happens during a ‘lockdown’ or a ‘shelter in place’? Will I be notified? Can I come into the school? Why is the school locked?
When a lockdown happens, all doors are locked and children are moved to a nonvisible spot in the room. They remain there quietly until it is safe to go back to normal activity. During a shelter in place all external doors are locked and children remain in the building but go about their day as usual. No one, including parents, is allowed into the school during these times. The school is locked because there is a possible threat in the neighborhood and we want to keep the children safe.

How do we find out about general school information?
The office e-mails out the Hot Sheet and the Compass to share information. If you don’t have e-mail, your teacher will get it to you in paper form. Your teacher will also be sending home newsletters. The school website is pathfinderk8.seattleschools.org and the PTSA website is pathfinderk8ptsa.org. You can also follow the Pathfinder PTSA on Facebook, at this public page: facebook.com/pathfinderk8ptsa. These are great places for information.

What does the PTSA do?
Pathfinder PTSA focuses on what students and teachers need to be successful in learning and on building a strong and inclusive community for all.

  1. Fundraising: We raise money to support our classrooms and kids. Most of this goal is met during two main events: the Direct Give in the fall and the Annual Auction in the spring. In addition, our winter wreath sales go directly to your child’s classroom to offset the costs of camping and to provide scholarships.
  2. Events: We host several community-building events throughout the year such as the Back-to-School BBQ, Spring Garden Built, Science Fair, and more. Updated calendars of events can be found in the Hot Sheet and Compass, as well as on the school and PTSA Websites.
  3. Advocacy: We are a voice, along with tens of thousands of other PTSA members across Washington and millions across the United States, to advocate for our children’s well-being and to make a difference in improving their education through policies and legislation.

More information about the PTSA will be in your First Day Packet, and can be found here on the PTSA Website.

How do I get added to the Pathfinder Community Communication and Earth Project Facebook groups?
These are both moderated ‘secret’ Facebook groups for Pathfinder community members. You must request admission to the groups. Send an email to Gillian Maguire at communications@pathfinderptsa.org to be added to either of these groups. The moderator will add you within a few days.

Also, Pathfinder PTSA has a Facebook page, visible to the public and offering school and PTSA related information: facebook.com/pathfinderk8ptsa/

I have other questions! Where do I go?
Your child’s teacher is a great place to start. The office can often answer questions too – Danielle Otey (dtotey@seattleschools.org), and Maureen Clark (mgclark1@seattleschools.org), are our fabulous office staff. You can reach the front office at 206-252-9712. Your classroom coordinator (room parent) is also a great resource. If you have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask. We are all here to help you!

For more answers to your questions, see: