Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - September 22, 2006

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School board members listen to community group
Thursday evening nearly 50 Walla Walla community members met at the district office to discuss what direction they want to see the district move in regards to facilities improvements.

This meeting was part of the district’s “Let’s Talk Schools -- We’re Listening” efforts to get more input on facilities issues following last May’s failed bond issue.

Mary Jo Geidl facilitated the meeting. All input was recorded and will be included with other data the district is collecting this fall.

School board members hope to report back to the community on their findings later this fall.

Rural Health Grant to bring health fairs to three district schools
This week an advisory committee for a Rural Health Grant met to begin planning regional events to promote physical activity and nutrition practices for youth.

In June, a partnership grant between Walla Walla Public Schools, Walla Walla Community College and St. Mary Medical Center was awarded to help reduce obesity and other related problems in school children.

This school year health fairs supported through grant funding will be held at Sharpstein Elementary and Garrison and Pioneer Middle Schools. The Rural Health Grant from the state of Washington will support a three-year initiative to increase awareness of health issues in our community.

District Health Services Director Jennifer Douglas will serve as the Walla Walla Public Schools lead contact. The grant also supports an education program with staff and parents.

Data from last year’s health fair at one of the local schools revealed large numbers of unhealthily overweight parents who were at a high risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other related diseases, many of whom were unaware according to Douglas.

This year’s goal is to screen even more parents of school children. Through the screening process, grant coordinators will select 15 to 20 people at each school with the need for healthy lifestyle improvement.

These parents will be invited to participate in the free Lifestyle Management Program at St. Mary Medical Center. The Lifestyle Management Program is designed to teach new, healthy habits for adults who in turn can promote healthy lifestyles in their children.

Walla Walla Head Start Director selected to Governor’s Early Learning Summit
Walla Walla Head Start / Early Childhood Education Assistance Program Director Donna Painter will join a regional Early Learning Team to participate in the Governor’s Early Learning Summit in November.

Fellow team members include: Nancy Beekman, Children’s Home Society/ Early Head Start; Roz Duthie, Born Learning/ WWCC; Melinda Brennan,
WWCC Early Learning Programs.

The Regional Learning Team will conduct surveys prior to the summit to address issues facing early childhood education programs.

WASL Wrap-Up
District Assessment Director Ron Higgins provided school board members with his 2006 assessment update Tuesday evening. Higgins noted fewer students remain in the lowest skill level areas as the district continues to make advances in all subject areas. Reading had especially strong gains this year.
He said math will get even more attention this year and in coming years to keep pace with state and federal targets, while Science scores across the district remain well above state averages.

Complete test scores are online at: reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us.

4th Grade 2006 Summary
• Steady, long-term growth and improvement.
• Marked growth (more than 12%) in reading in the past year (district focus on literacy is key to improvement).
• Less than 2% of our 4th graders are “Level 1” readers.

7th Grade 2006 Summary
• A modest increase in reading and slight declines in math and writing.
• Reading and math are above state average.
• In 2004 as fourth graders, less than 50% of these students met standard in writing, whereas in 2006 more than 64% of the students met standard in writing.
• Just 3.2% of our 7th graders are “Level 1” readers.

10th Grade 2006 Summary
• Significant gains in all subject areas.
Four-year historical data shows a sharp upward trend -- progress toward all students meeting standards.
• Science scores nearly 10% higher than the state average -- highest ranking in the “Columbia Basin Conference.”
• Just 3.2% of our 10th graders are “Level 1” readers.

Personnel Report (from September 19 school board meeting)

• New Hires
(Classified) Alma DeLaRosa, Para-Educator, Green Park
Debbie Dorman, Food Service Assistant, Berney
Heidi York, Food Service Assistant, Berney

• Resignations/Retirements
(Classified) Twila Mitchell, Library Technician, Blue Ridge, 1.5 days

School board members host second listening post October 3
• Talk to a school board member one-on-one.
• Participants may also leave written copies of their thoughts, ideas, concerns at the listening post following their session with a school board member.

Tuesday, October 3
District Office: 6 to 7:30 p.m. (preceding the regularly scheduled board meeting)

“Let’s Talk Schools — We’re Listening” survey online
“Let’s Talk Schools — We’re Listening,” the district’s information gathering campaign, begins this fall to involve the community in a facilities needs study in light of last May’s bond issue failure.

An online survey is now available on the homepage of the district’s website. Please take time to get involved and have a voice in the future of our schools.

School board members to visit schools and listen to parents again next week
Community members and parents will have opportunities to talk with school board members at their neighborhood schools mornings before school starts regarding facilities throughout the month of September. This is a great opportunity to be heard.

Please see the schedule below:
• Monday, September 25 – Prospect Point (7:30 to 8:00 a.m.)
• Tuesday, September 26 – Wa-Hi (7:30 to 8:00 a.m.)
• Wednesday, September 27 – Berney (7:30 to 8:00 a.m.)
• Thursday, September 28 – Paine (7:30 to 8:00 a.m.)
• Friday, September 29 – Edison (7:30 to 8:00 a.m.)

(**Note: School board members will also be in attendance at Open House events to discuss these issues as well.)

Community facilities planning symposium participants needed
Help shape the future of your Walla Walla Public Schools by participating in a facilities planning symposium.

School board members, administrators, staff, parents and students will join you at the table to discuss how the district should address its facilities needs.

Community Symposium Date:
• October 13: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Walla Walla Regional Airport
RSVP by September 29 (Attn.Mark Higgins at: (509) 526-6716 or by e-mail: mhiggins@wwps.org)

Garrison turns Open House into fair frenzy
With a couple of years of poorly attended open house events in the books, Principal Jim Sporleder knew he had to make a change to get parents back to this important beginning year activity.

Sporleder turned to Gear Up Site Director Jerri Doyle and Millennial Grant Building Coordinator Brent Cummings to add some new life into this fading tradition. Doyle and Cummings decided to throw a party and convert the traditional style open house into a fair setting.

With face painting, food, prizes, information booths the school came alive with nearly 500 people in attendance.

New Wa-Hi principal Darcy Weisner who has a 7th grade daughter at Garrison this year said it was the best open house his family has ever attended.

Sporleder thanked Doyle and Cummings for their hard work and creative thinking and said they are truly part of the Garrison family.

Facilities Support ultimate support system
Facilities Support Director Dan Johnson delivered his annual department “Year in Review” report to school board members Tuesday night.

Johnson praised his department staff of: 29 custodians; 4 trades/grounds assistants; and 3 warehouse/delivery for being the ultimate support group. Johnson said his department supports education by ensuring a clean and safe learning environment for students, staff and the public.

Johnson said his department has faced budget reductions recently which have provided challenges, but said his team is stepping up to still get the job done.

He highlighted projects his department has recently completed and said he is proud of their work.

New Wa-Hi Principal to speak at Chamber of Commerce Synergy Lunch
When: Wednesday, September 27
Where: Elks Lodge
Time: 11:30 a.m. lunch served
Noon to 1:00 p.m. program
Price: Chamber Members $13, Non-members $16

Drawing on information from the book “The World is Flat” by Thomas L. Friedman, Darcy Weisner will address changes in the world economy and the resulting need to re-think how school systems operate.

He will also speak about how changes in education have impacted teaching and learning and influenced the American culture.

Pioneer Humanities Night draws more than 200 parents
Monday evening 220 parents attended the Pioneer Middle School Humanities Curriculum Night and 21 parents have signed up to do a parent book study on “& Keys to Comprehension” to help their students toward school success.

Parents were treated to free pizza dinner sponsored by the school’s Millenial Grant Program. Families visited various Humanities classrooms to experience instruction in this curriculum as well as gain valuable ideas and insights to help them support their children’s learning.

Pioneer students make book bags for Katrina victims
Pioneer Middle Schools Bev Ziska’s 8th grade home economics class is busily making book bags and lap quilts to be sent to Jackson Elementary School in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

“They are having a great time,” Ziska said. “Any student interested in helping with the project can stop in after school and start creating their own book bag to send to the school.”

After speaking with the principal at Jaskson Elementary school she stated that there is still a great need for these children to help them return to a normal life. Many of these children are still living in trailers and apartments and they would be so excited to have something made especially for them.

“We also hope to fill the bags with school supplies, and of course, a book or two,” Ziska said. “Any contributions would be greatly appreciated.”

Garrison students learn about negative impact of bullying
This week 26 “Leadership Program” students at Garrison Middle School provided all 6th grade classes training on the Bullying/Harassment law. They practiced skits and presented the information during 1st period classes.

They were trained by Mark Thompson of MZI and were accompanied on their presentations with administrative and counseling staff.

“This was a very successful endeavor!” Assistant Principal Gina Yonts said.

Wa-Hi vs. Moses Lake football tonight on KTEL 1490 AM
KTEL 1490 AM
Friday, Sept. 22
Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m.