Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - January 29, 2016

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Levy ballots due February 9

Ballots for the proposed Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy must be post marked by Tuesday, Feb. 9 to be counted in the election. This proposed levy would help maintain the current level of teaching and educational programs. This is not a new tax, but a continuation of local operating funds for the district. The state only funds approximately 70 percent of the district’s General Fund budget for Walla Walla Public Schools. This proposed Replacement Levy impacts nearly all aspects of district programs and services by funding 20 percent of the district’s General Fund. Federal dollars make up the remaining 10 percent of the district’s budget. The voter-approved 2012 Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy expires in December 2016 and this Levy would replace it.

Proposed Election Details
- Election date: February 9, 2016 (Four-year levy)
- 50% + 1 vote required for approval

Summary of 2016 Levy Proposal
2017 - $11,234,122 (projected rate $3.70 per $1,000)
2018 - $11,458,504 (projected rate $3.73 per $1,000)
2019 - $11,687,674 (projected rate $3.77 per $1,000)
2020 - $11,921,427 (projected rate $3.81 per $1,000)
These rates are based on per $1,000 of assessed property value.

What does the levy fund? The following programs and services were funded by the Educational Programs and Operations levy during the 2014-2015 school year.

Program / Staff Estimated % of Levy
- 33 Extra teachers - including: 39%
1. Teachers to reduce class size
2. Music and PE Specialists
3. Fine Arts (Music and Drama)
4. AP, Honors, 6th and 7th periods @ Wa-Hi
- School Health Clinicians (K-12) 2.5%
- Highly Capable (Gifted) Program 3-8 grades 2%
- Extra-curricular (music, athletics, drama, FFA) 13%
- Educational Assistants (Para-Educators) 2.5%
- Intervention Specialists 3.5%
- Special Education Programs 6%
- Bargaining agreements for certificated and classified staff 13%
(staffing salaries and benefits above state funded levels)
- Utilities 6%
- Facilities Maintenance/Custodial Services 8.5%
- Technology (Chromebooks, infrastructure, training) 4%

What will the proposed levy cost you? Proposed rates are similar to those approved in 2012
(Below is the 2017 estimated tax bill for the proposed levy)
Home Value:
- $175,000 - 2016 (current): $640.50 / 2017 (proposed) $647.50 (estimated $7 increase annually)
- $250,000 - 2016 (current): $915.00 / 2017 (proposed) $925.00 (estimated $10 increase annually)
- $350,000 - 2016 (current) $1281.00 / 2017 (proposed) $1,295.00 (estimated $14 increase annually)

Election Information
- Superintendent Dr. Bill Jordan at 526-6714 or e-mail: bjordan@wwps.org
- Communications Director Mark Higgins at 526-6716 or e-mail: mhiggins@wwps.org
- Online: www.wwps.org

School board cites superintendent hiring and transition a top priority

School board members targeted the hiring of a new superintendent and the transition of leadership as a top priority during a public, mid-winter retreat at Whitman College Wednesday evening. School board members will conduct superintendent semifinalist interviews Feb. 17 and 18 and finalists interviews Feb. 29, March 1 and 2. Board members discussed the importance of staff, parent, student and community input during the interview process.

School board members also announced they will begin reviewing strategic planning options with the thought of starting the development of a new strategic plan early in the new superintendent’s tenure. Facilities planning was also listed as a high priority during the retreat. School board members also said they plan to conduct many public work sessions in the coming weeks and months to address important topics including the Bilingual Education program review, Highly Capable program study, testing requirements and budget. School board president Cindy Meyer facilitated the retreat.

Facilities Committee tours College Place High School

Community Facilities Task Force Co-Chairs Paul Schneidmiller and Executive Director of Business Services Ted Cohan organized a facilities tour of College Place High School Thursday afternoon. College Place Public Schools Superintendent Tim Payne led the tour. Task Force members visited classrooms, science labs, the music room, common spaces and gym during the 90 minute tour. Kevin Cole of Architects West also joined the tour. Architects West designed College Place High School, as well as Davis Elementary School, Sager Middle School, the district office and transportation facility improvements. Cole is assisting Walla Walla Public Schools with its facilities improvement planning. Payne stressed the amount of thought, planning and input that went into the design. He said improvements in technology, flexible learning spaces, maintenance considerations, efficiencies, and a welcoming environment were critical factors in the design process. The district’s Community Facilities Task Force will continue to meet to establish priorities, study design options, review costs and engage with the community. 

School board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 2

- 6:30 p.m.: Regular school board meeting
- Location: District Office (364 S. Park St.)
- Meeting open to the public

Former Walla Walla High School principal named Educational Service District 123 superintendent

The Educational Service District (ESD) 123 Board of Directors announced Darcy Weisner as the agency’s new leader, effective July 1, 2016 upon retirement of current Superintendent Bruce Hawkins. Weisner was one of three finalists identified by the superintendent review committee on December 17. The ESD began its search for a successor superintendent last summer following Hawkins’ formal retirement announcement. Hawkins has served as superintendent of ESD 123 for nearly thirteen years, is highly regarded among his peers, and has led the educational agency into an era of great growth.

“I am extremely humbled and proud to have the opportunity to serve as the Superintendent of ESD 123,” states Weisner. “I hope to continue promoting and modeling our mission of helping all students realize their dreams and aspirations. I would like to thank our board of directors for their trust in my selection and I hope to continue the collaborative success of the ESD.”

Weisner brings 34 years of educational experience to the ESD. He currently serves as Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Support at ESD 123 – a position he has held since July 2014. Prior to joining the ESD, he served as superintendent of the Clarkston School District for four years. His career in education also includes four years as principal of Walla Walla High School and four years as assistant principal at John R. Rogers High School in Spokane. Twenty years of Weisner’s career has been spent as a classroom teacher and a head basketball coach.

“We were fortunate to have high-caliber candidates from which to select our next superintendent,” states ESD Board Chair, Lee Ann Dudney. “Following a thorough process that included participation from superintendents in the 23 school districts within our region and ESD staff, Weisner emerged as the strongest candidate to become the next leader of ESD 123. His excellent qualifications and unwavering passion for our mission position him to successfully lead the ESD well into the future.”

Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers promotes school zone safety

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, U.S. Representative for Washington’s 5th congressional district, was recently in Walla Walla. During her visit, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers recorded a school zone safety radio public service announcement with Safe Travels Alliance chair Kathryn Southwick Hess. She also recorded an automated telephone message to be sent to parents and staff members at end of spring break alerting them to be extra cautious when driving in school zones. Safe Travels Alliance is a community-based, volunteer group working to promote school zone safety and awareness. McMorris Rodgers said safety in school zones is critical and she salutes the work of Southwick Hess and the Safe Travels Alliance. 

Equity and Access committee meeting update

Equity and Access Coordinator Sergio Hernandez organized a committee meeting Tuesday afternoon at the district office. Bilingual Education Coordinator Angelica Pedroza updated the committee on the Bilingual Education Program Study currently underway. She reported the committee has spent numerous hours reviewing the research on bilingual education, model options and implications for WWPS. She shared an update with the school board is being planned soon. The committee is also working to finalize a belief statement for the program.

Pioneer Middle School Explorers teacher Megan Cabasco shared how the Highly Capable Study Committee is studying diversity in the Highly Capable program. Hernandez shared the College Bound Scholarship is now available to DACA eligible students. Latino Club Advisor Bill Erickson reported the Latino Club officers recently met with Walla Walla High School Principal Pete Peterson to seek more opportunities for leadership, actvities involvement and representation and school event planning.

School Performance Reports available online

School Performance Reports for the 2015-16 school year have been completed and are now available online. They also are available in limited quantities at all schools. Each district is required to provide these reports annually to give parents and community members easily understandable information on educational programs and assessment results.

Each report includes a brief statement of the mission of the school, enrollment statistics, expenditures per student for the school year, student attendance and graduation/dropout rates, historical information on the school building and an invitation to all parents and citizens to participate in school activities. They also list district and building goals as well as highlights from the previous school year.

Each report also specifically directs the reader to the appropriate pages of the Washington State Report Card website which shows current and historical state and national assessment scores, teacher information and much more specific student demographics. We hope you take time to read the reports and see what is happening in our buildings.

Secondary open enrollment period begins next week

There will be two registration periods for enrollment in Walla Walla Public Schools for the 2016-2017 school year. The first will be for secondary (middle and high) schools. It will run from February 1 through 29, 2016. The schools will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the first registration day, February 1, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of the month.

Secondary parents/guardians who wish to open enroll their child to a school outside of their attendance area may pick up an Open Enrollment application at their attendance area school or complete a release form from their current school district office during normal business hours beginning January 25; however, forms will not be accepted in the receiving school until Monday, February 1. The second period for Kindergarten and Fall Registration for elementary schools will be from Monday, April 18 to Friday, April 29, 2016. Kindergarten registration will be conducted at the student’s attendance area elementary school. Parents wishing to pick up the kindergarten registration information may do so at their child’s school beginning April 11. However, the completed registration forms will not be accepted until April 18.

Kindergarten/Elementary Registration Hours:
- Monday, April 18: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- April 19 to April 29: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parents/guardians who wish to open enroll their child to a school outside of their attendance area may pick up Open Enrollment application or release forms at their attendance area school during normal business hours beginning April 11; however, forms will not be accepted in the receiving school until Monday, April 18. Open enrollment requests at Walla Walla Public Schools will be granted according to priorities outlined in School Board Policy No. 3130 which will be used to determine movement of a student. School Board Policy manuals are available online at http://www.wwps.org/district/information/school-board/policies. Please contact your attendance area school for more information.

School Stories
Wa-Hi STEM grant application submitted to state

This week the district’s official grant proposal for $4 million in improvements to the Walla Walla High School science facility was submitted to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The goal of the project is to improve STEM curriculum delivery, then apply these skills through project-based learning experiences to prepare students for the 21st Century economy. The proposed project will renovate and expand the 53-year-old science classrooms and labs at Walla Walla High School to meet the Washington state Science Learning Standards and increase STEM offerings schoolwide. Grant recipients will be announced in May. Site visits for finalists are expected in early spring.

The project calls for renovating 14,524 square feet which consists of 10 STEM classroom/laboratory combinations, as well as prep areas and storage. The design is based on recommendations from the National Science Teachers Association which call for 60 square feet per student in a combined classroom/laboratory setting. Walla Walla High School presently does not have the required classroom and lab space to meet the new state graduation requirements and Science and Engineering practices. During the project, Walla Walla High School will utilize temporary classrooms, empty classrooms available during prep periods and existing community facilities to house students while construction is underway. Once construction is completed, WWPS will use state matching funds and local dollars to properly outfit the learning spaces to meet today’s STEM needs to prepare students for college and careers.

District considers using new virtual reality program to enhance STEM education

Career and Technical Education Director Dennis Matson organized a demonstration of a new virtual reality program known as zSpace -- edu.zspace.com. Students using this special computer and software use 3D glasses to get the full impact of this dynamic learning tool. Students are able to do science labs and many other content areas in virtual space. Curriculum options include physical science, life science, earth and space science, social science, math, and art and design. Two students work together on one device during the lessons. Matson is looking to pilot one lab this school year. Richland School District recently purchased 100 units. Walla Walla High School Principal Pete Peterson and Matson are doing a site visit to Richland High School next month. Science has been identified as a state and national priority. New graduation requirements are in the pipeline for this year’s 7th grade students. The Washington Roundtable points out 80% of unfilled jobs in Washington state are linked to a shortage of qualified candidates with STEM skills.  Walla Walla Public Schools believes a stronger commitment to STEM education will better enable Walla Walla students to take advantage of these opportunities in the 21st century economy.

Whitman College expands successful program civil rights education program in Walla Walla schools

Whitman College students embarked this week on its fifth year of teaching civil rights in Walla Walla schools through the Whitman Teaches the Movement initiative. Working in small groups, 50 Whitman College students will travel to all 10 local schools through Feb. 5 to lead 45-minute lessons on civil rights education. The lessons are age-appropriate and include the Greensboro sit-ins, Jackie Robinson, feminism in the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez. This year the program expanded to the youngest students yet: first graders. It was the idea of Whitman College’s student organizers, including Nicole Antenucci ’18.

“We decided to add first grade to the program this year to target younger students before they form biases and stereotypes,” said Antenucci.

The first-grade curriculum focuses on the story of Ruby Bridges, the American activist known for being the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in Louisiana in 1960. The first graders will express their reactions to the stories by drawing pictures. Those will later be displayed on the Whitman College campus and at the Walla Walla Public Library.

Walla Walla Assistant Superintendent Laure Quaresma is a strong supporter of this partnership. After attending the student training sessions, Quaresma said Whitman Teaches the Movement supports shifts in the Washington Learning Standards and fosters important skills.

“The anti-bias framework presented supports the development of individual pride and confidence without denying these same values for all people,” says Quaresma. “It creates an opportunity to support critical thinking focused on social justice.”

The effects of Whitman Teaches the Movement reach beyond the Walla Walla community. The program is also being used as a model for schools across the country. The University of Washington, Eastern Washington University and Whitworth University have all implemented similar programs modeled after Whitman’s own.

Walla Walla Symphony teams with district to expand music opportunities

During the 2015-16 school year, students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades will collaborate with the Walla Walla Symphony in a music education program provided by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute (WMI). Link Up is a highly participatory program that pairs orchestras across the country with schools in their local communities, inviting students to learn about orchestral repertoire through a yearlong, hands-on music curriculum. Each year focuses on specific concepts, including rhythm, melody, tempo, orchestration, and composition. Utilizing materials provided free-of-charge by WMI, teachers guide students in exploring music through a composer's lens, with students participating in active music making in the classroom; performing repertoire on recorder, violin, voice, or body percussion; and taking part in creative work such as composing their own pieces inspired by the orchestral music they have studied.

The culmination of the program was a free, live performance Tuesday in which students had the opportunity to sing and play the recorder or violin along with the Walla Walla Symphony. This performance often serves as students' first concert experience and provides them with the opportunity to apply the musical concepts they have studied. The Symphony also performed the program for families at the Free Family Concert & "Foodraiser" on Monday. Admission to this concert was free with a non-perishable food item donation. Previous "Foodraisers" have collected over 2,000 pounds of food which is donated to the local food bank. The Walla Walla Symphony is one of more than 70 national and international organizations chosen for this program.

Walla Walla High School Debate Team takes first place in regional event

The Walla Walla High School Speech and Debate team traveled to Othello last Saturday to compete against 11 other regional high schools. All of the Walla Walla High School competitors placed in at least one event, reports Advisor Keith Swanson.

The team took 1st place overall (speech & debate combined) among schools with smaller teams, and 1st place among all schools (big and small) for debate.

The following students have qualified for the state competition in Yakima next month:
- Courtney Brown: Best Presiding Officer for Novice Congress, 3rd place Novice Oratory
- Emma Case: 2nd place Novice Congress, 2nd place Novice Extemporaneous
- Wafa Abedin – 3rd place Open Lincoln-Douglas, 3rd place Open Extemporaneous
- Elizabeth Baez – 3rd place Novice Congress
- Noah Deitrich – 1st place Open Lincoln-Douglas
- Jessica Swanson: Best Presiding Officer for Open Congress
- Amelia Mott – 2nd place Open Lincoln-Douglas, 3rd place Open Interp. Reading
- Josh Rose – 1st place Novice Impromptu, 1st place Novice Extemp, 2nd place Novice Oratory, 1st place Open Congress

Community Stories
Local educators to present Monday on Changes and Challenges in K-12 Education in Washington State

- Monday, February 1 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
- Olin Hall, Olin 130 920 E Isaacs, Walla Walla, WA
Join four local and regional education professionals, whose work spans pre-K through high school to talk about changes and challenges in education in Washington State. This event is sponsored by the Whitman College Pre-Education Advising Program.

- Darcy Weisner was a teacher for twenty years at the secondary level with a focus on American history and contemporary world affairs, and then spent three years as an assistant principal in Spokane, four years as the principal at Walla Walla High School, and four years as superintendent in Clarkston, Washington. Darcy is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Support at ESD 123 in Pasco Washington.

- Samantha Bowen is Director of Early Learning at Educational Service District 123 as well as Director of Early Childhood and Parenting Education at Walla Walla Community College.

- Erin Dorso holds a MA in English Language Arts Education and has taught grades 6-12 English Language Arts in Florida, Japan, and Washington. She now supports schools across southeastern Washington in literacy instruction in her role as a Regional Literacy Coordinator.

- Sergio Hernandez, a retired school superintendent has worked in education for 47 years and currently is the Equity and Access Coordinator for Walla Walla Public Schools.

Parks & Recreation update

- Mother & Son Superhero Bash - Ages 3 & up - $15
- Father & Daughter Valentine Ball - Ages 3 & up - $15

For more information on these programs or to register, please go to www.wwpr.us. Like on Facebook! www.facebook.com/wallawallapr

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