JSE Tracks

John Simatovich Elementary School welcomes YOU!

Good Afternoon, JSE Families,

I hope you are enjoying your summer, and in a world of such uncertainty, questioning and changes, you are taking time to notice the good, the happy, and the blessings in your daily with family and friends. We have missed your children this summer and have delighted in hearing of their summer adventures. As always, we look forward to the next school year to watch our kids grow as little people. At JSE, we want you to know first and foremost we are here for you! Our JSE team looks forward to this year focused on partnering with you to meet your child's needs and support them in reaching their individual goals. We are dedicated to working together to provide the highest of quality education. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us as we navigate much new territory now, and to come, for all of us this school year. We are #BearcatStrong together!

Thank you in advance for seeing your way through online registration July 28,29,30 again this year. This is where you will be able to choose our online virtual option this school year. For Kindergarten and new students, please come into our office on one of the registration days anytime during our office hours of 8-4pm. Please see detailed information below.

Please read through the information below with the understanding that information will continue to be shared and updated with you via your email. I will continue to send the JSE Tracks to you weekly. We appreciate your patience, flexibility and understanding that changes will likely occur as we make adjustments to this school year to ensure we are doing what is best for our students, staff, and community.

Thank you for allowing us the privilege of working with your child this year. Our main office opens July 27th and will remain open daily 8-4pm, if you have question or concerns I am available anytime via my email lbarnes@union.k12.in.us or if you would like to meet in-person, please call the main office to schedule an appointment.

Thank you for being supportive and understanding during this time. I sincerely hope that you and your family are doing well and staying healthy.

Leigh Barnes


We have a new website underway:

We are excited to soon present you with our new website and it’s capabilities. Currently, our website is live yet under construction, therefore our schools will continue to utilize email to keep you apprised of beginning of the year information. When our website is complete we will provide you with a how-to-navigate communication.

Online Registration Information:

Last week, UTSC Superintendent Mr. Hunter released Union Township’s Re-Entry Plan for the 2020-2021 school year. In the plan are guidelines for how UTSC will operate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have yet to see the plan, please see Mr. Hunter's letter and a link to the plan below. Currently, our plan is for students and staff to return to our school building with safety measures in place. For those students who do not wish to return to the physical building, a virtual learning option will be provided for your child by your child's elementary teacher.

Registration for JSE ia the following days in July: Tuesday (28th), Wednesday (29th), and Thursday (30th). For returning families, all you will need to do is log-in via the Harmony Parent Portal and complete the online registration, the same procedure we did last year. For new families and incoming kindergarten families, we will need (1) parent to come into the JSE main office on one of the registration days to complete the needed paper forms to be able to complete the remainder of registration online. We welcome you anytime between 8-4 on the 28-30th. Mrs. Rittle, our JSE main secretary and I will be available to meet you, share our school with you, and answer any questions you may have.

Harmony Parent Portal LINK: https://sis.union.k12.in.us/familyaccess.nsf/hello.xsp

During registration, per the UTSC Re-Entry Plan, as stated above, families will have the option of choosing to have their child attend JSE in-person or virtually to start the school year. As a parent, I completely understand that you would like to know how the day-to-day operations of our building will operate, and my plan is to continue to send details specific to JSE daily operations after registration.

The current plan is for all UTSC schools to open for students on Wednesday, August 12th, our normal start of the school year. The re-opening of schools is a fluid situation and is something that we are monitoring on a daily basis so that we can do everything possible to ensure that all our students and staff can return to school safely.

Big picture

We Welcome New JSE Staff:

I am happy to share we have some new additions to the JSE Schoolhouse family staff.

Mrs. Jennifer Oxendale will be a new 4th grade teacher for us, replacing Mrs. Asher as Mrs. Asher will now be our High Ability teacher. Mrs. Belinda Black will be our new Social-Emotional Learning teacher, this is an additional specials curriculum we look forward to offering our students. We are delighted to have these amazing educators join our team.

UTSC Return to Learn Plan

Communication from our Superintendent, Mr. John Hunter:

Dear UTSC Community,

As we look forward to the 2020-21 school year, we understand that many of you are awaiting the release of our Return to Learn plan. We are pleased to announce that our plan will be released on July 9, 2020. Please accept our sincere appreciation for your support and patience as we continue to work through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our re-entry team, with over 20 members including administrators, directors, elementary and secondary principals, teachers, other staff, and parents, met on July 6 to discuss and finalize the Return to Learn plan. The School Board approved the plan on July 8, 2020. Our return to school decisions are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), and the Porter County Health Department while considering parent and staff feedback.

We realize you may have questions and concerns and we would like to address these for you, your family, and our community. Please send questions and concerns to covid19@union.k12.in.us. Our intent is to create a Frequently Asked Questions resource and post it on our website. With the ever changing state of the pandemic in our community, we will continue to do our best to respond to your questions, concerns and changes in regulations.

At this time, UTSC will follow our previously Board approved 2020-21 school year calendar with our first school day of August 12th at all UTSC schools. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to all of those working toward a safe return to learning for students and staff. We are looking forward to sharing the UTSC Return to Learn plan with you via the link below, the UTSC website, and UTSC social media.

UTSC Re-entry Plan

Additionally, please note the following online registration dates through your Harmony Parent Portal Account for your child’s respective school. Your child’s school will send more information regarding registration in the near future.


July 28, 29, and 30


July 29, 30 and 31

Superintendent Hunter's Ready to Learn Video Information Link Below:

Beginning of the Year events:

We realize the importance and value the events we hold at the beginning of each year to welcome students and families back to JSE. These annual events include our new student welcoming, open house nights, Kindergarten and 1st grade family meet and greets and PTO ice-cream social.

This year, these events will look different and are currently in the planning phase. Our intent is to still provide opportunities for students and families to feel welcome, connected, and more at ease as we transition into a new school year. More information will be shared in early August.

Our JSE Cafe:

Our school serves breakfast ($1) at 8:30am and lunch ($2) each day, an August menu can be found on our website the week before school begins. We will also email and send home a hard copy the first day of school. If you drive your child to school and would like them to have breakfast, please drop them off in the car line by 8:25am. Bus riders will be dismissed from the bus to eat breakfast.

The Free and Reduced Price Breakfast and Lunch Application may be completed online through your Harmony Family Portal Account or picked up in the office anytime. Applications need to be completed each year. Families who applied and qualified last year will need to reapply at the start of school. If you would like us to send a copy home with your child during the first week of school please call the main office.

Mealtime: You may find information at this LINK to create an account or add your child to your mealtime account. You may also always send money in with your child to be added to your child's account.. Please make sure the money is in an envelope marked with your child's name and indicate lunch money. Our kitchen manager, Sandy Denison, will get all Kindergarten and new student families their lunch account information the first week of school, should you choose to create a mealtime account, this will be needed information.

Ice Cream Friday and Snacks: These will be available to students after we get our school year started. More information will be communicated in an upcoming weekly newsletter.

Lunch Visitors: To start the school year, we will not be allowing visitors during our lunch periods. Thank you again, for understanding the changes in place to support our safety measures this school year.

PTO News

  • PTO Events: We will continue to support the school with needs and events throughout the year. Information will be shared with you.
  • Join our facebook page and let us know if you are interested in joining our meetings and looking for ways to get involved in our school! Please reach out to us through our facebook page or our PTO email.
  • PTO Meetings usually occur the first Tuesday of each month at 6PM. Please consider attending the meetings this year, every JSE parent is welcome and encouraged to attend! Changes to our meetings to follow social distancing guidelines and safety measures of UTSC will be communicated.

Teacher and Bus Assignments and Textbook Rental and School Supply List:

This information will be available to you in your Harmony Family Access Portal during and after registration. We will also be emailing and texting you specific bus information as it becomes available and your child's teacher will be reaching out to you as well the few days before school begins.

Our supply list will be emailed to you and available during registration.

You may pay your child's Textbook Rental online through the Portal as well.

First Day of School and Transportation:

Information will be shared in early August, before school begins.

Kidstop Program: Before and After-School Care at JSE:

Information will be shared in early August, before school begins.

https://www.bgcgreaternwi.org/kidstop/ Website LINK

Important Dates:

July 27 JSE Main Office Open 8-4PM *Please call to make an appointment before coming in

July 28,29,30 ONLINE Registration via Harmony Parent Portal *this is where you will register your child for the virtual option.

July 28,29,30 Kindergarten and New Student Registration at JSE in-person, please wear a mask. You may choose to call the office for an appointment 219-759-2508 or email Mrs. Barnes at lbarnes@union.k12.in.us if preferred.

August 12 First Student Day

Harmony Parent Portal LINK: https://sis.union.k12.in.us/familyaccess.nsf/hello.xsp

*With our current situation, please be reminded all dates, events, and information is subject to change. We appreciate you working together with us by checking your email regularly and reaching out to us with questions and concerns. Our partnership will remain strong for our children and community!

You are always welcome at JSE!

Please let us know how we can strengthen our partnership with you!

Leigh Barnes, Principal ext 3001

Barb Rittel, Secretary ext 3000

Lisa Morton, Home School Advisor ext 3003

Kathy Maniszko, School Nurse ext 3002