Months and hours of operation: TALC’s fall semester generally runs from the second week of September through the first week of December. The spring semester typically runs from the first week of February through the first week of May. Hours are Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We take fall, winter, spring, and holiday breaks according to the Chatham School District calendar. We meet in central Columbia County at a location that includes classrooms, an outdoor area, and a gym.
Opening Day and Display Day: Each semester begins with an Opening Day, which includes introduction of new members, brief announcements, activities for the children, and signup for cleaning/closing or opening slots (see Cleaning/closing requirements below). Display Day is the last day of each semester, when students display the work they’ve done during the semester and give performances and presentations.
Bulletin Board: Check the bulletin board and class schedule board at TALC for general information and announcements. These are located on a table as you enter the facility. There is also a folder box with cleaning and closing protocols, orientation information, resources, old yearbooks and class schedules.
E-mail group and Yahoo site: All members are signed onto the TALC e-mail list. You can send and receive messages regarding classes, events, etc. through your email at home.
Cleaning/closing requirements: Every family is required to clean up and “close” TALC two times during the semester. Signup for each semester takes place when registration forms are due. Members usually try to sign up to close on afternoons when they are scheduled to be at TALC attending a class.
Cleaning/closing begins at the end of the TALC day, between 2:50 and 3 p.m., and usually takes no more than 30 minutes. Responsibilities include putting the trash out in the dumpster behind the church, putting away mailboxes, etc., sweeping if necessary, checking to be sure the kitchen is clean, cleaning up balls, etc., in the gym, and locking the metal cabinet and the church and community center doors. Detailed instructions and a checklist are located in the cleaning supplies container in the small closet by the side door.
If you need to change your cleaning/closing day or can’t make it due to illness or other unforeseen circumstances, it is your responsibility to find a replacement. If it’s not a last-minute change, you can usually find someone willing to switch with you or cover for you by posting a request to the TALC e-mail list. If it is too late to expect a timely response from the list, please contact the housing coordinator immediately.
A period: 9–10 a.m.
A+ period: 10–11 a.m.
B period: 11 a.m.–12 p.m.
Lunch: 12–12:45 p.m.
C period: 12:45–2 p.m.
D period: 2pm – 3p.m.
Lunchtime: Lunch period is between noon and 12:45 p.m. Members may store bag lunches in the refrigerator and use the front counter and stove for preparing food. Please clean up your area of the table and floor after you eat. We have traditionally prepared a “stone soup” on Wednesdays, where everyone interested in soup brings an ingredient and helps to prepare the soup during the morning hours. There is also coffee available, and hot water for tea. All are expected to wash their own dishes and generally help with kitchen clean up duties.
Registration: Before each semester, you will receive by e-mail a calendar and descriptions for the coming semester. You may register your child/children for ANY number of classes you wish, using the registration form that will be e-mailed to you before each semester. When choosing classes, list them in order of priority, taking into consideration the capacity of each class. Ages listed in the class descriptions are a guideline; check with instructors to determine if your child may attend if they are outside the stated range. You may register for classes that take place at the same time, however, once you are e-mailed the list of classes your child has been admitted to, you must determine if there are any conflicts and, if so, which class your child will drop. Then you must notify the instructor(s) BY PHONE or in person that your child will not be attending their class. This enables other children on the waiting list to be admitted.
Class assignments are made by lottery. Please submit your registration form by the deadline listed on the form. If you fail to do so, your family will not be included in the lottery process.
Registration payments: Checks should be made out to TALC or to The Alternative Learning Center, and mailed along with your registration form. The amount may change depending on the number of families registered and will be listed on your registration form.
Teaching classes: Every family is required to make an educational offering to the cooperative every semester. New members begin making their offerings during their second semester at TALC. These most often takes the form of classes, but can also include a field trip or special event. Many families find that approximately six hours of donated time works well for them (not counting preparation time). Some families prefer to co-teach, or to bring nonmembers in to donate their teaching expertise. Students are also welcome to offer classes. Schedules from past semesters are available in the “Old Schedules” file in the mailbox folder or online for inspiration. Brainstorming for the next semester also takes place on the e-mail group.
Class fees: If you will be spending a significant amount on supplies for your class, you may charge a class fee to offset your expenses. Please list the fee on your offering form. Class fees are generally a few dollars per family, collected by the individual class instructors.
Council: Decisions regarding TALC policies are made by the TALC Council, which consists of Council positions (Coordinator or co-coordinators, Registrar, Treasurer, Secretary, Housing Coordinator, List Moderator, Supplies Coordinator, Membership Coordinator, Student Representative) and other Council members, the number of which varies each year. Any TALC member may become a member of Council; simply inform the coordinator(s) of your intention to serve on Council at the beginning of each semester.
Council members’ responsibilities include attending Council meetings whenever possible. All TALC members are welcome to attend Council meetings; however, only Council members may vote. Decisions are made by consensus. Any member can make a proposal to be considered by Council. The agenda for each meeting is posted on the e-mail group prior to the meeting, and minutes of each meeting are posted online and archived at the Yahoo site.
Evaluation meeting: An Evaluation meeting is scheduled every semester or two, and all members are encouraged to attend to discuss the functioning of the cooperative. Check your schedule for the date.
Supplies: TALC supplies are available for everyone’s use during classes. Art supplies include glue, scissors, white and construction paper, chalk, paint and paintbrushes, colored pencils, pencils, smocks, crayons, and sponges. Gym equipment includes balls, jump ropes, beanbags, hula hoops, sports flags and belts, bases, pinneys, and cones. TALC also owns Chemistry and Math Explorer kits.
Snow days: TALC follows the Chatham School District regarding snow days. If Chatham is closed OR DELAYED, TALC is closed. Call 518-392-2400, ext. 2 for closing reports.
Cancelling or missing classes: If you must cancel a class you are teaching, please contact BY PHONE the family of every child in your class. Likewise, if your child/children is unable to attend a class, please contact the instructor BY PHONE. You may also use email, as long as you call anyone who does not confirm receipt of the email message.
Supervision: TALC is not a drop-off center. If you are unable to accompany your child throughout the entire day at TALC, please appoint a guardian to do so. This can be another adult member of your family, a babysitter, or another TALC member. As TALC is a family-based cooperative in which members’ contributions and presence are vital, it is expected that parents attend on a regular basis. Should circumstances prevent parents from attending regularly and children are sent to TALC with a guardian, parents 1) must submit an explanation of their situation to the Review Board, 2) are strongly encouraged to make the time to attend Opening Day, Display Day, and/or evening community gatherings or camping trips, 3) may delegate cleaning duties to guardians if necessary, and 4) must fulfill the educational-offering requirement themselves at a time that works for them.
Children under 13 must have adult supervision in all rooms and outdoor areas at TALC. Please make sure children clean up after themselves after using games or toys. Teenagers do not need direct supervision outside or in the church as long as a parent or guardian is on-site. They do need supervision in the gym. Teenagers may also be responsible for younger children as long as an adult (18 or older) guardian is on-site.
Supervision for children under 5: Our insurance policy requires that a parent or guardian supervise children under 5 AT ALL TIMES while at TALC. Parents of children under 5 should NOT take responsibility for other small children while supervising their own little ones. Please also remember to clean up after your young children when they have been using toys or books.