Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - August 14, 2015

In this Issue:

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
First day of school Wednesday, August 26

- All schools open for business Monday, August 17
- Visit the district and school websites for Back-to-School information
- We look forward to seeing everyone Wednesday, August 26 for the first day of school

No early release on first day of school

The 2015-2016 school year begins Wednesday, August 26. There will be no early release on the first day of school. The district Calendar Committee agreed to make this a full day of school when the two-year calendar was adopted Nov. 18, 2013.

School board discusses levy, superintendent search and test results during public work session

School board members conducted a public work session Wednesday afternoon at the Reid Center on the campus of Whitman College. Board members discussed the election timeline for the district’s Education and Operations replacement levy. The board is expected to pass a resolution this fall to place a levy measure on the ballot in 2016. The Education and Operations Levy funds nearly 20 percent of the district’s General Fund budget. Last school year nearly 40 percent of levy dollars funded extra teachers to reduce class size and provide academic specialists. Another 13 percent funded positive extra-curricular activities including music, drama and sports. Remaining dollars fund maintenance, gifted learning programs, special education, technology and other operating costs.

Board members also discussed the Superintendent Search scheduled to begin in October. Former WWPS Superintendent Dennis Ray is leading the search through his company Northwest Leadership Associates. Board members plan to organize focus groups with staff and community involvement, organize community meetings and have a variety of ways for the public to weigh in during search process. A new superintendent is expected to be named in March and assume the position July 1, 2016.

Curriculum Director Dr. Tracy Williams also led a discussion on the release of state standardized test scores set to be made public August 17. Dr. Williams reported the new Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC) are the next-generation assessments that accurately measure student progress toward college and career readiness. She mentioned previous state exams measured basic skills. The SBAC scores represent a new baseline that provides a more accurate indicator for educators, students and parents. She said the 2015 results are not an “apples to apples” comparison from previous results and will not be featured in a side-by-side glance with Spring 2014 results. Dr. Williams will update the school board on district SBAC results during the August 18 school board meeting.

Dorn statement on Supreme Court order

August 13 the Washington state Supreme Court ordered that the state pay $100,000 a day until it produces a plan that will fully fund basic education by 2018. Below is a statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn on the Court’s action.

OLYMPIA — August 13, 2015 — I am very pleased by the State Supreme Court’s order today. A $100,000 a day penalty shows that the Court has made this a priority and that the Legislature can’t keep “kicking the can” on education funding.

In September, I argued that the Legislature should be given one last chance – the 2015 session – to make significant progress toward full funding of basic education.

As the Court wrote today, the Legislature “has repeatedly failed to do so.” The Court wrote that our state constitution:

imposes only one “paramount duty” upon the state: “to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex. (Article IX, Section 1)

In April, I unveiled a plan for full funding. It’s based on existing law – House bills 2261 and 2776. In my opinion, it represents the best way for us to achieve full funding and, in the words of our state constitution, to make “ample provision” for a “uniform system” of education to all students.

I agree with the Court and urge Gov. Jay Inslee to call a special session of the Legislature so that it can produce a plan for full funding.

I also urge every legislator to do what he/she can to fully understand McCleary v. Washington, as well as House bills 2261 and 2776. On behalf of the state’s 1.1 million students, I’m heartened that the Supreme Court has taken this step. I believe that this will force significant progress to be made.

Business partners needed for new school-to-work program

Walla Walla Public Schools Special Education Department is seeking business partners interested in providing work sites for students with special needs. Walla Walla high school students would work at area business sites with a district para-educator serving as a job coach. The students would be volunteers and work one or two days per week for a few hours, according to Special Education Director Libby Thompson.

“We would match students to their job interests,” said Thompson. “Students would need to be juniors or seniors to work in the community.”

Thompson is also developing an internal program for freshmen and sophomores to work at sites within Walla Walla Public Schools. This program will serve as a training platform for underclassmen as they prepare for work in the community during their junior and senior years. Businesses interested in partnering with the district on this school-to-work program should contact Libby Thompson at 526-6726 or lthompson@wwps.org.

Annual Report available for public view

The district’s 2014-2015 Annual Report mailed out to residents recently. This report serves as a platform to communicate our demographics, finances, test scores, staffing and federal requirements. Click on the district website and visit the A to Z section and select Annual Report.

Report threats to safety via SafeSchools Alert

SafeSchools Alert is Walla Walla Public Schools tip reporting service. If you have information about a threat to our safety, do your part and report it! And remember, you can remain anonymous.

Report tips on:
- Bullying, Intimidation, Harassment
- Weapons
- Drugs
- Other

Four Easy ways to report:
- Online: http://1057.alert1.us
- Email: 1057@alert1.us
- Call: (855) 976-8772
- Text: (855) 976-8772

Results from Spring 2015 ThoughtExchange community engagement available to public

Results from the Walla Walla Public Schools community engagement process through ThoughtExchange are now available to the public. Visit wwps.thoughtexchange.com to learn more about the priorities of Walla Walla Public Schools. A total of 773 stakeholders contributed nearly 2000 thoughts during the Spring 2015 engagement. The district is using ThoughtExchange to gain a better understanding about its strengths and the areas in which it can improve.

“We have heard loud and clear you truly appreciate our teachers and staff, and parents want to be involved and engaged within the school,” said Superintendent Dr. Bill Jordan. “We have also heard your concerns around our school facilities and the impact the changes to testing practices might have on the quality of education.”

Jordan says the information from ThoughtExchange will be used to align focus areas and goals with the high expectations of the Walla Walla community. The district will conduct another community engagement through ThoughtExchange this fall and is encouraging community members to take time to Join the Conversation.

School garden coordinators needed

Walla Walla Valley Farm to School program is seeking school garden coordinators for several elementary schools. Each coordinator works in partnership with a district supported school garden Teacher Liaison to:
- prepare for and lead school garden lessons which compliment science curriculum;
- to build/support the school garden volunteer community who help lead lesson stations, help utilize garden produce and help maintain the garden/compost;
- and to create opportunities for students to use the gardens outside regular class hours (recess or after school).

Materials and lesson resources are provided as well as a small stipend. Coordinators will be asked to participate in a monthly workshop with other coordinators and Teacher Liaisons to share best practices and to hear free instruction on school garden topics. If you are interested, please contact Beth Thiel: bthiel@wwps.org

State Board of Education establishes graduation scores on Smarter Balanced Assessments

By Ben Rarick, Executive Director, State Board of Education

As you may know, at its August 5 meeting, the State Board set the minimum scores required to earn a diploma on state assessments, as required by law. We appreciate those who have provided input and feedback to the Board at meetings and community forums. The adopted scores and supporting details can be accessed here.

The Board followed through on its equal impact philosophy, adopting a mid-Level 2 score requirement for the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessment (scale score: 2548), and followed the same philosophy for the Math End-of-Course exams. The SBAC math score (2595) was set to be commensurate with the ELA requirement. These minimum scores are just a little more than half way up the Level 2 scale; about 60% of the way between Levels 2 and 3.SBAC SCores The Board wanted me to help explain their decision to you all, and emphasize a few points we can all work on together for the betterment of students.

First, the Board wants to emphasize that Level 3 remains the goal for all students on the new (SBAC) assessments. A Level 3 score represents a career and college-ready score for our students. The Board wishes – indeed expects – all students to eventually be able to achieve this level of proficiency. Although the board has set a transition standard at a rate below Level 3, this was done to ease the transition for our system and demonstrate fairness to students. It was not done to compromise or confuse our ultimate goal. We have every reason to believe that students will respond to the Level 3 challenge. Over 70 percent of 10th graders achieved a Level 3 this year – exceeding earlier predictions – and we know our students are capable of much more. The Board has already indicated that it will revisit this issue frequently and may move the minimum score requirement to a Level 3 in the near future. The Board believes that emphasizing a Level 3 score as the goal now will help ease that transition when the time comes.

Second, as exciting as the 10th grade results were, the results from juniors on the SBAC were perplexing. Fewer than half of juniors took the assessment, and those who did were greatly surpassed in achievement by their sophomore counterparts. The sophomores outperformed the juniors to such an extent that it is obvious that something is wrong. As a result, the Board was limited in its ability to use this data to set scores for the math SBAC.

As a system, we need to strategize about ways to communicate with students about the 11th grade assessment, and provide the proper encouragement and incentive for students to do their best, even prior to its requirement for a diploma. We should continue to emphasize the valuable information SBAC gives them about their level of preparedness for post-secondary education, what corresponding classes they can take as seniors to improve their readiness, and the potential it offers to avoid expensive remedial coursework at community and four-year colleges. A participation rate of less than 50 percent on a state assessment is a problem of practice we can all work on together.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, while these assessments are important to our goals, but they are not the goals themselves. There is a difference between taking these assessments seriously, and letting a test define a student. No test defines a student. Kids are complex, hopeful, and individual wonders. Students who score at Level 1 can, with hard work, be successful in college and career. They should be reminded that many others have before them. A well-rounded student who is truly “career and college-ready” is more than simply proficient in Math and Language Arts. Let’s acknowledge the important role that SBAC assessments play in career and college-readiness, without letting them become the definition of career and college-readiness. Kids are so much more. Thank you for partnering with us. We can do great things together. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write to us.

Personnel Report from July 28, 2015 School Board Meeting

Rebecah Barrett, First Grade, Green Park Elementary
April Brundin, Special Education, Walla Walla High School
V. Caleb Condie, Choir & Orchestra, Garrison Middle School
Kerry Delfino, Business/Marketing Education, Walla Walla High School
Caitlin Duncan, First Grade, Blue Ridge Elementary
Tracy Gerbino, Fifth Grade (temporary position), Edison Elementary
Amy Heinzman, Second Grade, Blue Ridge Elementary
Cesar Hernandez, Bilingual First Grade, Edison Elementary
Miranda Lincoln, Counselor, Walla Walla High School
Kathleen Tiffany, English, Walla Walla High School
Jeffrey Townsend, Digital Media Technology, SEA-Tech Skills Center
Kristen Wegner, English, Walla Walla High School

Rosalina Avalos, Bilingual Para-Educator, Edison Elementary
Monica Collins, Para-Educator, Garrison Middle School
Leah Diaz, Bilingual Para-Educator, Walla Walla High School
Sergio Hernandez, Access and Equity Coordinator, Teaching & Learning, District Office
Anne Marie Jones, Para-Educator, Pioneer Middle School
Calvin Knight, Custodian, Walla Walla High School
Linda Leighty, Assistant Secretary Teaching & Learning, District Office
Yolanda Maycumber, Bilingual Assistant Secretary, Walla Walla High School
Shari Strickland, Substitute Coordinator, Human Resources, District Office
Monica Simmons, Bilingual Para-Educator, Pioneer Middle School
Itandehui Trejo, Para-Educator, Prospect Point Elementary
Yvonne Vinyard, Para-Educator, Edison Elementary
Tamara Willis, Para-Educator, Lincoln High School

Madison Dissmore, Second Grade, Blue Ridge Elementary, 1 year
Jerry Records, Math, Walla Walla High School, 7 years
Carina Stillman, English, Walla Walla High School, 11 years
Kristen Thompson-Graber, Counselor, Pioneer Middle School, 4 years
Benjamin Ugaldea, Library Media Specialist, Walla Walla High School, 11 years

Danon Griffen, Mechanic, SE Transportation Co-Op, 3 years
Liz Records, Para-Educator, Prospect Point Elementary, 2 years
Karen Ruzicka, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary, 1 year
Yesica Villegas, Assistant Secretary, Walla Walla High School, 4 months

Terri Davis, Kitchen Manager, Berney Elementary, 22.5 years
- For the 2015-2016 school year

Kaylie Piver, Para-Educator, Lincoln High School, 2 years
- For student teaching August – December 2015

Rosalva Vazquez, Para-Educator, Sharpstein Elementary
- Partial leave for the 2015-2016 school year

School Stories
Teaching Tolerance board assignment takes Wa-Hi teacher to Alabama to study civil rights issues 

Walla Walla High School Social Studies teacher Michelle Higgins traveled to Montgomery, Alabama in July to attend Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board meetings. The goals of the meetings for board members were orienting them to the mission of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the work of Teaching Tolerance; familiarizing Board members with their roles and responsibilities and establishing expectations and working procedures; providing an opportunity for SPLC staff to hear directly from practitioners about how materials are used and what educators need; and fostering professional networking and sharing ideas among participants. The SPLC funded the trip.

Morris Dees, the founder of SPLC, spoke with board members about the three parts of their mission, which includes the legal side of civil rights, identifying hate groups and raising awareness about their locations, and supporting educators in their classrooms. Dees said that if children and teenagers become more aware of civil rights' issues and develop tolerance and understanding of others, many hate crimes could be prevented. Teaching Tolerance has a lot to offer educators and other people concerning civil rights--a presence on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, free classroom curricula and resources, and a print and online magazine, according to Higgins.

"One of the best resources I encountered during our meetings was the online program ‘Perspectives for a Diverse America’," said Higgins. “This free K-12 Literacy-based anti-bias curriculum has developed into a comprehensive and dynamic set of free resources that helps teachers add diverse literacy texts to their classroom curriculum. I explored a beta-version of this program about 18 months ago and it has developed into a powerhouse of essential questions that are supported by central texts, tasks and strategies. Rarely have I seen online tools as thorough as 'Perspectives. I am excited to take this back to my state and begin sharing this program with other administrators and educators in Washington."

The day before their meetings started, Higgins took time to trace the steps of people like Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and countless marchers who began their famous walk in Selma, AL and ended at the steps of the Alabama state Capitol. Both Reverend Abernathy and King's churches were located less than two blocks away from the front entrance of Alabama's capitol.

Higgins walked from Montgomery's former central slave market where Rosa Parks boarded a city bus bus and followed its route to the spot where Parks was taken from the bus and arrested--right outside the entrance of the modern Rosa Parks Library and Museum. She also explored the Rosa Parks Library and Museum afterwards at Troy University.

Community invited to meet new Prospect Point principal

Come meet new Prospect Point Principal Dana Chandler Thursday, August 20 from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Prospect Point Library. Chandler succeeds former Prospect Point Principal Chris Gardea who has accepted the position of Executive Director of Human Resources.

Chandler has been an elementary school principal for the past 12 years. Prior to coming to Walla Walla, she was principal of The Sullivans School in Japan as part of the Department of Defense school system. Chandler has also been principal of Sollars Elementary (Japan School District, Dept. of Defense), Camelot Elementary School (Lewiston, ID) and Ocosta Elementary School (Westport, WA). Chandler recently received the peer selected 2014-2015 Yokosuka Complex Administrator of the Year award. Prior of her work as an administrator, she was a special education and second grade teacher at Jennings Elementary in Colfax, WA and a special education teacher at John Francis Adams High School in Clarkston, WA.

Chandler received a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education from Washington State University and her Masters of Arts in Administration and Curriculum from Gonzaga University. She earned her Principal Certificates from Idaho State University, Washington State University and the Department of Defense Education Activity.

New Head Secretaries named

Armida Contreras - Head Secretary, Garrison Middle School
Anita Suarez - Secretary to Director of Nutrition Services
Pam Nichols - Head Secretary, Pioneer Middle School

Head Start/ECEAP preschool applications now accepted

The WWPS Head Start/ECEAP preschool program is now taking applications for the 2015-2016 school year!  The program provides free preschool classes for qualifying children in Walla Walla County.  Families are encouraged to apply for children who will be three or four by August 31, 2015.  Applications are available at Blue Ridge Elementary and on the Walla Walla Public Schools website.

Walla Walla High School ASB Officers/Commissioners/Class Officers for 2015-2016 

ASB Executive Council
Karli Plucker, ASB President
Lauren Clark, ASB Vice President
Tara Krivoshein, ASB Treasurer
Braelen Maiden, ASB Secretary

ASB Commissioners
Maddy Redman, ASB Club Relations Commissioner
Sam Hoe, ASB Publicity Commissioner
Avery Cortinas, ASB Music/Technology Commissioner

Senior Class Officers
JC Wicklund, Senior Class President
Jared Funk, Senior Class Vice President
Kaley King, Senior Class Secretary
Whitney Enriquez, Senior Class Treasurer

Junior Class Officers
Selina Atkinson, Junior Class President
Poppy Small, Junior Class Vice President
Alex Meliah, Junior Class Treasurer
Bryar Jensen, Junior Class Secretary

Sophomore Class Officers
Daisy Schonder, Sophomore Class President
Jordan Wicklund, Sophomore Class Vice President
Kiran Maini, Sophomore Class Treasurer
Emma Case, Sophomore Class Secretary

Community Stories
Crime Watch program brings free bike safety program to area schools

Crime Watch is launching a new program this fall called Back on the Road to promote bicycle safety. This free activity is coming to district elementary schools this fall on Saturdays to repair flat tire, perform bicycle maintenance and give-away bike helmets. “Eric Hisaw has committed his football players to help out with flat repair and helmet fitting,” said organizer Kay Barga. “Local bike shops will send mechanics to determine if the child's bike is fit to ride.”

Bikes determined not fit to ride will be exchanged through a bike exchange with the penitentiary. Old bikes are rebuilt and then donated back to the community.

September 2015
Sept. 12 - Green Park
Sept. 19 - Sharpstein
Sept. 26 - Berney

October 2015
Sept. 3 - Blue Ridge
Sept. 10 - Edison
Sept. 17 - Prospect Point

"A Little Bit Off" is family-friendly fun at Gesa Power House Theatre - Sept. 24

The Adventist Health Little Watts Children's Series of Family Entertainment presents "A Little Bit Off" on Thursday, September 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gesa Power House Theatre.

Two bumbling and incompetent aviators, Beau and Aero, explore flight, folly, and the world around them in this family-friendly physical comedy production. A Little Bit Off uses clowning, dance, puppetry, and lots of balloons to create a playground for the imagination.

Awards for A Little Bit Off's "Beau and Aero" include "Outstanding Physical Theater Award" (San Diego International Fringe) and "Producer's Choice 'Encore' Award" (Hollywood Fringe)

Reserved seating tickets($9 Adult, $6 Youth) are available online, by calling the box office, or at the door. Additional sponsorship for the Adventist Health Little Watts Children's Series of Family Entertainment is provided by Ketelsen Construction.

For more information about upcoming events at the Gesa Power House Theatre, visit www.phtww.com.

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