Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - September 21, 2018

In this Issue:

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District Stories

School Stories

Community Stories

District Stories
Rating Agency Affirms Strong District Credit Prior to Potential Bond Sales 

At Tuesday night’s school board meeting Superintendent Smith commended the school board for their commitment to financial stewardship and conservative fiscal practices, maintaining a commendable Aa3 credit rating. Landing within Moody’s Investor Services “High Quality” category, the third party rating agency affirmed Walla Walla Public School’s “double a” rating in their most recent issuer’s comment.

Among many factors, Moody’s called out the district’s credit position as very healthy, noting its strong financial position and healthy local economy and tax base. Most notable was their praise over the district’s low debt load of .4%, noting that Walla Walla School District’s debt burden is, “materially below other Moody’s-rated school districts nationwide.”

This favorable credit rating bodes well for the district should the community choose to support the proposed no-tax-rate increase replacement bond appearing on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot. If approved by voters, such strong credit backing helps motivate greater interest from investors, often driving down interest costs at the time of sale. As Smith noted, “I have witnessed first-hand what a positive impact a “double a” credit rating can have at the time of sale. In a similarly-sized bond sale in a former district we were able to save an estimated $5.0M for taxpayers, reducing both the rate and term of the bond.”

The replacement bond appearing on the November ballot, as proposed, is set to maintain the current bond rate of $1.23/$1,000 assessed, one of the lower school bond rates in Walla Walla County. “Should we receive similar heightened interest at the time of sale from investors due to our strong credit rating, taxpayers may actually experience a decrease in rates over current levels due to favorable conditions,” noted Smith.

The replacement bond will renovate Walla Walla High School, Pioneer Middle School, and Lincoln High School and fund specific district-wide health, safety, educational and infrastructure improvements. In addition to the $65.6M generated locally, the school renovation projects are eligible for an estimated $52.6M in State Match funds. All State Match funds will be applied only to the voter-approved projects. Any excess dollars remaining following the completion of the projects will be used to pay down debt to reduce the rate for taxpayers. An 11-member Community Bond Oversight Committee will oversee the entire bond program to ensure transparency, accountability and fiscal stewardship of the community’s resources. To learn more, visit: http://www.wwps.org/2018bond

Walla Walla Public Schools’ five year Strategic Plan targets improvement in state test results  

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal released results of the most recent state tests on Thursday, September 13. A total of 2,990 Walla Walla Public Schools students completed the English Language Arts and math exams, and 1,289 participated in the new Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science during the April and May state testing window last spring.

The tests administered included:
• Grades 3-8 and high school Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) in English Language Arts (ELA) and math
• Grades 5, 8 and 11, Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

While Walla Walla Public Schools reading and math assessment results still lag behind statewide averages, the recently-released data reveal positive trends in cohort results.

Examination of cohort data, following the same group of students from one year to the next, shows strong student growth, particularly in English Language Arts. This year’s 3rd to 4th and 4th to 5th grade cohorts showed an average growth of 8% in ELA scores. At the middle school level, the 6th to 7th grade cohort ELA scores increased by approximately 8%, and math scores improved by 6%. Eighth grade also revealed improvement over prior years’ results. With math lagging in comparison at the elementary grades with respect to cohort growth, classroom teachers are in the process of analyzing standards and implementing interventions to ensure students master the grade level content.

High school students are also administered the SBA assessment, last year being the first year sophomore students took the SBA, previously taken as juniors. While high school ELA and math scores were below the state average, science students scored 15% above their state-wide counterparts.

The district’s Strategic Plan calls for adopting better aligned instructional materials to support high quality instruction. In the Spring of 2017 new K-5 Language Arts materials were adopted, and in the Spring of 2018 new 6-12 materials were also acquired. These curricular improvements provide teachers and students with rigorous literacy materials, aligned to state standards and provide all students access to Advanced Placement (AP) classes. This year’s ELA cohort growth shows the promise of these new materials. Similarly, the middle school math materials also adopted in 2017, focus on building deep conceptual mathematics understanding and help teachers focus on the learning that is most essential at each grade level.

“Looking ahead, we expect math cohort data will increase, similar to ELA, as teachers collaborate around instructional practices to respond to student data, and new materials for K-5 are addressed in the next year,” said Christy Krutulis, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning.

For a complete look at all district state assessment information, visit the OSPI school report card:

Lincoln High School featured in bond information video

Superintendent Wade Smith, Lincoln High School Principal Marci Knauft, Lincoln High School Teacher Erica Wauchek and local architect Linda Newcomb share information about the proposed improvements to Lincoln High Schools as part of the November 6 Replacement Bond proposal.

Replacement Bond Proposal Community Meetings/Tours next week

On November 6, 2018, Walla Walla Public Schools will ask voters to decide on a $65.6M replacement bond measure to renovate Walla Walla High School, Pioneer Middle School, and Lincoln High School and fund specific district-wide health, safety, educational and infrastructure improvements. The school renovation projects are eligible for an estimated $52.6M in State Match funds. All State Match funds will be applied only to the voter-approved projects. Any excess dollars remaining following the completion of these projects will be used to pay down debt to reduce the rate for taxpayers. Learn more about this Replacement Bond proposal during a series of community meetings. http://www.wwps.org/2018bond

Monday, Sept. 24
Location: Carrie Center - 711 Carrie St. (Spanish)
Meeting Time: 6 to 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 25
Location: Lincoln High School
Meeting Time: 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. (tour begins at 6 p.m.)

Wednesday, Sept. 26
Location: Wa-Hi Commons
Meeting Time: 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. (tour begins at 6 p.m.)

Thursday, Sept. 27
Location: Pioneer Middle School Library
Meeting Time: 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. (tour begins at 6 p.m.)

Replacement Bond Informational Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Oee6Aqkij4&t=37s

Replacement Bond Informational website - http://www.wwps.org/2018bond

Sign up now for Superintendent’s Patron tour of Wa-Hi, Pioneer MS and Lincoln HS

Join Superintendent Wade Smith for a tour of three schools and an update on the district’s Nov. 6 Replacement Bond proposal. He will also review the Strategic Plan Success targets. This is an excellent opportunity to meet Superintendent Smith and learn more about Walla Walla schools.

• Wednesday, Oct. 10 / 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (lunch provided)
• RSVP by Friday, Oct. 5 -- sgolden@wwps.org / 526-6715

Tour Sites:
• Pioneer Middle School
• Walla Walla High School
• Lincoln High School

Remember to vote – November 6

• Is easy at MyVote Washington

• Registration forms are at all schools and the WWPS District Office

October 8, 2018
• Last day for mail, online new registrations and address changes

October 17, 2018
• Ballots mailed to homes

October 29, 2018
• Last day for in-person voter registration

November 6, 2018
• Election (ballots due)

Dual Language program receives state grant to support program

Walla Walla Public Schools has been awarded a $34,000 Dual Language Grant Program state grant. A total of 21 applications were received, but only 12 grants were funded.

Funds can be used to help support:
• Staffing of the dual language program
• Recruiting bilingual teachers & bilingual instructional aides for the dual language program
• Program evaluation
• Instructional coaching
• School visits
• Professional learning
• Stipends or contracts for teachers to build supplemental curriculum in the language other than English
• Supplemental materials

“We are extremely excited to receive this grant which is going to help our Bilingual Department finance specific areas of instruction, materials and teacher professional development,” said Dr. Victor Vergara, WWPS Director of Bilingual Programs. “All of this funding support will directly benefit our Dual Language students.”

Personnel Report (from Sept. 18, 2018 School Board Meeting) 

Katherine Adenauer, Bus Assistant, SE Transportation Co-Op
Shyla Barker, Bus Assistant, SE Transportation Co-Op
Richard Kulberg, District Bookkeeper, Business Office
Crystal Lara Ruiz, Bus Assistant, SE Transportation Co-Op
Suzanne Lougy, Kitchen Assistant, Berney Elementary School
Miriah Starr, Kitchen Assistant, Walla Walla High School
Shannon White, Kitchen Assistant, Walla Walla High School

Donna Abrams, Health & Nutrition Coordinator, Head Start/ECEAP, 2 years
Yaneth Hernandez, Intervention Specialist, Blue Ridge Elementary School, 8 years
Elizabeth Schille, Para-Educator, Prospect Point Elementary School, 3 years

School Stories
School gardens support classroom learning; program volunteers needed

School gardens link together science, math, English, environmental studies and health in a vibrant experiential space that stimulates memorable learning. Students working in a dynamic ecological system are inspired to be curious, to develop critical thinking skills, and to find comfort in the natural environment.

Walla Walla Valley Farm to School has coordinated school garden lessons and clubs for district elementary schools and this year will focus efforts on creating a framework for future sustainability of school gardens involving a network of support. WWVF2S will support garden teams at each school with volunteer coordination, maintenance consultation, and Garden Education Manager (GEM) financial, material and educational support as well as professional development and consultation for teachers interested in using school gardens to meet Common Core and Next Gen Science Standards.

The first step to success is forming the school’s garden team. If you are an interested parent, teacher or community member, please let your principal know that you’d like to be on your school’s garden team. If you think you’d like to be a compensated GEM or a volunteer in the school gardens, please contact Beth Thiel - beth.wwvf2s@gmail.com for more information.

Volunteers needed to judge Garrison debates

Community members are encouraged to volunteer to judge Garrison Middle School student debates. Below is the schedule. Contact Garrison Teacher Mrs. Beth Clearman if you are interested in volunteering. bclearman@wwps.org

Monday, Sept. 24
• 8:15-9:00; 12:30-1:15; 2:15-3:00
Tuesday, Sept. 25
• 9:15-9:55; 12:50-1:30; 2:25-3:05
Thursday, Sept. 27
• 9:15-9:55; 12:50-1:30; 2:25-3:05
Friday, Sept. 28
• 8:15-9:00; 12:30-1:15; 2:15-3:00

Community Stories
Blue Zones Community Presentation

The public is invited to join a discussion regarding health in Walla Walla and best practices that can improve overall health, well-being, and longevity.
- October 4
- 3 to 5 p.m.
- Young Ballroom, Whitman College
- Presentation from Tony Buettner of Blue Zones, LLC
- Please RSVP at bluezonesprojectww.eventbrite.com

THE BLUE ZONES PROJECT is a community-wide well -being initiative designed to make healthy choices easier. We encourage sustainable changes in our built environment and social networks, of ten suggesting systems- level changes in key settings such as worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, faith-based communities, and neighborhoods.

September is Suicide Prevention Month - Ripple Effect movie showing at Power House Theatre 

• Ripple Effect (Kevin Hines is on a mission to use his story to help others stay alive)
• Power House Theatre
• September 26
• 7 p.m.
• Tickets: http://phtww.com/show/film-suicide-the-ripple-effect/

Peggy Needham, CPP
Behavior Health Prevention Specialist
Walla Walla County Department of Community Health
314 West Main
Walla Walla, WA 99362

District Director of Bilingual Programs featured in AAUW Big Idea Talk Series 

The Walla Walla Public Library and the local branch of the American Association of University Women will host a free public program, “The Value of Bilingual Education,” on Thurs., September 27, 7-8:30 p.m., at the Library, 238 E. Alder.

Victor Vergara, Ph.D., Director of Bilingual Education and Latino Outreach, Walla Walla Public Schools, will lead the session. Using a panel format – which will include students, parents and staff – the group will discuss the changing demographics of the school district and community and the value of being bilingual, plus share the key elements of WWPS’ bilingual program.

Dr. Vergara earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Geography from University of Bio-Bio in Chile, a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Portland State University, a Master’s in Education, Policy and Administration from Portland State, and a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from PSU.

His career in education began as a bilingual teacher in elementary schools in Portland and Woodburn, Ore. Then he became the Assistant Principal for Valor Middle School in Woodburn. In 2007, he was named Principal of Valor Middle, one of the only secondary schools in the nation that offers content classes in Russian, Spanish and English. In 2012, he became Principal of Woodburn High School.

Dr. Vergara was recognized as 2012 Oregon Middle School Principal of the Year and 2016 Latino Principal of the Year for Oregon. He is married to Lola Ramos Vergara, first-grade bilingual teacher at Edison Elementary School.

For more information, contact Twila Johnson-Tate, Walla Walla Public Library, (509) 524-4443; or Marilyn Hawkins, AAUW, (509) 876-8202.

City Parks & Rec Update 

Art Lessons taught in Spanish – Ages 5-13 - $35-$40

For more information on these programs or to register, please go to www.wwpr.us.
Like us on facebook! www.facebook.com/wallawallapr Follow us on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/wallawallapr/

Ribbon Cutting to be held for new playground

The community is invited to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new playground at Fort Walla Walla Park.  The ceremony will be held on Sunday, September 23 at 1 p.m. at Fort Walla Walla Park, 1199 SE Myra Road.  The ribbon cutting ceremony is a chance to celebrate the opening of the playground and the work accomplished by the students at Rogers Adventist School.

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