An Accomplished District
The Northshore School District has become a model of educational leadership and quality in Washington State because of the strong legacy and ongoing work by dedicated parents, educators, administrators, staff, board members, citizen volunteers, and superintendents.
I am proud to be a part of a group that was voted Large District Board of the Year by the members of WSSDA (Washington State School Directors Association). Those who selected us for this award pointed out many of the Northshore School District's policy and program changes to begin removing barriers for all students to have equity in, and access to, quality educational opportunities.
Program and policy implementations included access to preschool programs for low-income students - which allocated resources to create more preschool programs. Those resources opened up 97 more ECEAP spots for low-income preschoolers representing a 62% increase. Also, Highly Capable assessment was extended to all students in grades K-8. This resulted in an increase of assessment rates across federally recognized sub-groups, such as English Language Learners, low-income students and those students eligible for Special Education Services or a 504 plan. In addition, we implemented a sweeping Equity and Diversity Policy which has created multiple approaches and efforts towards this important ongoing work.
The School Board cannot solely take credit for progress. In this district it is always a team effort with the stakeholders mentioned above. Here are some highlights of the positive changes that we have made in the last 2 years:
Eliminated fees for beginning band and orchestra, which increased enrollment by over 250 students.
Testing of all students K-8 for highly capable programs. This has increased the number of qualified students of color and low income by hundreds to enter our highly capable programs.
All day free Kindergarten.
Expansion of our home school support program, Family Networks. to include 6th Grade (K-6) and supporting this program further by providing a dedicated school site at Bear Creek Elementary.
Transition to Middle School and 4-year High School.
Moving Middle School and High School start times 'slightly' later - more work needs to be done here.
Opening of North Creek High School.
Establishing Girls Who Code programs and coding courses in our CTE electives in Middle School.
Passage of new levies and bonds. Thank you voters! This included: * $234 million levy to fund over the next 4 years the renewal of education programs, services, and operations * $275 million capital projects bond for the addition of a new elementary school and site work for a new middle school off of Maltby Road, a new shared use building for 30 new classrooms at the Skyview Middle School and Canyon Creek Elementary School campus, a new music performance and instructional class room building at Inglemoor High school, in additional to other building maintenance and upgrade needs, and outdoor instructional spaces.
Successful collective bargaining with our certified teachers, para-educators (ESP's), school assistants, nurses, deans, technology specialists, and other non-certificated employees. The contract produced and average salary increase of 19.2%, which will help us retain quality employees and to attract new employees to the education profession.
Hiring of Elementary School counselors to help with social emotional needs of our students. We have hired 4 thus far, with more to come.
The purchase of a 3-story 66,000 sf office building in the North Creek Business Campus to handle our continued growth in our high school population, and avoiding the alternative of huge portable farms at our high school campuses. This purchase was accomplished without having to go to the voters for additional funding. The type of high school programs that will be at this 'new school' are yet to be determined.
Hiring former Bothell Deputy Police Chief Henry Simon as the new Director of Safety and Security for the Northshore School District. Mr. Simon is overseeing emergency preparedness, the safety and security needs of the District and the allocation of voter-approved funds as they relate to safety and security. Along with this, we have established a Safety & Security Task Force.
Listening to Families
I see the community as one big family and we cannot effectively improve education delivery and results without the Superintendent, the School Board, administrators and educators being in continual dialogue with families and advocacy groups regarding goals, needs and concerns. We should always be in the business of facilitating conversations and creating an environment where parents, students, and all community stakeholders feel comfortable reaching out to ask that new conversations be undertaken as new issues and concerns arise.
Each year we experience constant change within the community; within our families, children, our culture and the economy. In order to make sure that we are being proactive, creative, and effective we must have constant open dialogue.
Equity & Diversity
Our community is becoming more and more racially, ethnically, culturally and socioeconomically diverse, and we need to have policies and programs in place to ensure that we are addressing student and family needs. We must be inclusive, sensitive, accommodating, and just in our approach.
This diversity inherently creates equity issues. Inequitable achievement and opportunity gaps have emerged over time. We need to make sure that we are fully aware of these issues so we can ensure that every student is receiving the education, program participation, and social support that they need in order to reach their full potential. The District's Equity & Diversity Committee is doing great work in this area and we need to design policies and programs to address the variety of needs that they have identified.
We also need to address diversity within our hiring practices and purposeful hire qualified staff that reflect the cultural diversity of our student body. This is currently a new priority of the District and I look forward to seeing results. Additionally, we have embarked on district wide cultural awareness training for staff and students in order to help all of us address the inequities created by the implicit bias that exists in the classroom and in district policy making. This work needs to be an ongoing pursuit.
Career Technical Education (CTE)
The District has developed extensive and effective CTE programs to give students exposure to a variety of career paths that don't necessarily require a traditional 4-year college degree. The traditional 4-year degree path is not for everyone for a variety of reasons, and our ever changing economy is providing good career opportunities that require more specific technical training.
I believe that it is essential for the District to continue to strongly support its Career & College Readiness programs and to ensure that they continually evolve to keep up with the changing economy.
In 2017, the voters approved our proposed Technology Levy Renewal of $62 million to improve the operational efficiencies of running the business of the District and to improve the quality and efficacy of delivering the educational experience to each student.
It is a priority of mine to ensure proper oversight in how we use these dollars in order to guarantee that our return on investment is acceptable. The results of using these taxes dollars should 1. Save us money in the everyday operations of the district, 2. Help our teachers to use cutting edge and effective educational materials in the classroom, and 3. Provide each one our students with resources that they can leverage to enhance their educational experience.
Planning for School Growth - Addressing Capacity
It has been said over the years that we are following the growth patterns of San Francisco. I can tell you from my commercial real estate experience that this is true, and the rate of growth and all of its associated costs are increasing rapidly. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we have well thought-out strategic plans that allow us to creatively consider existing school repositioning and real estate purchases for future schools.