Walla Walla Public Schools
Week in Review - September 21, 2007

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Changes to math WASL possible
The winds of change continue to stir across the nation, in Washington state and locally in Walla Walla as math educators everywhere are working together to help students improve their skills and testing results.

The district’s math leadership team of Assessment Director Ron Higgins, Math Director Chris Gardea and High School Math Coach Anne Swant reported to school board members Tuesday night there is a coordinated effort in our district to think of math systemwide.

Higgins said there are significant changes coming at the state level regarding math as the State Board of Education has authorized a review and rewrite of the standards. Higgins said this document is due January 31 and is expected to have substantial changes. Higgins believes the modifications to the state math standards will ultimately be reflected in the math portion of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). He said the WASL is the measurement to determine if students have mastered the standards, therefore, changes to the math WASL will be needed. He said changes to the WASL could come as early as Spring 2009.

Swant is working closely with staff at Walla Walla High School and Lincoln Alternative High School. She said there is a growing achievement gap in Walla Walla. She said math educators here are studying strategies to help second language students improve their skills. Gardea said the elementary focus is to take “Investigations” to completion and improve teaching strategies.
Virtual learning program comes to Walla Walla
Families who want their children to log on to receive an education will have more opportunities this year with the addition of the Columbia Virtual Academy in Walla Walla set to begin this fall.

The virtual learning program will become an extension of the Homelink program housed at Berney Elementary School. According to Principal David Talley the program will allow students to take rigorous courses online from their homes. He reported the courses are aligned to the state standards.

Talley said the virtual academy will allow Homelink to grow from a K-8 program to now serve high school students. Thus far 111 students are enrolled. Talley believes this number will grow to nearly 200 by October and could reach 300 by the end of the year.

“We have students waiting to be on the enrolled list,” Talley said to school board members. “Virtual learning programs have seen tremendous growth.”

Talley thanked Homelink teachers Valerie Gentzler and Pam Clayton for all their help getting the program started.

Simple Majority Fact Sheet (EHJR 4204 on ballot November 6)

Questions & Answers – EHJR 4204

How does Washington’s current school levy system work? Currently, local school levies must receive both a 60% supermajority approval and meet the 40% validation requirement to pass.

What would EHJR 4204 do? EHJR 4204 would amend the Washington State Constitution and would provide that a simple majority of voters (50% + 1) could authorize local school district levies. The amendment also removes the 40% election validation requirement for levy elections. It does NOT apply to school bond elections. EHJR 4204 will be on the November 6 ballot.

What do school levies pay for?
Local levies support school needs. Our levy pays for approximately 14 percent of the District’s operating budget. In Walla Walla, the M&O levy helps to support education programs and school operations such as:
• approximately 30 additional teachers
• approximately 50 additional non-certified staff
• school safety staff
• elementary music specialists
• health clinicians
• library-media specialists
• elementary physical education specialists
• school supplies
• building maintenance
• technology
• athletics
• transportation for school activities

What happens if school levies don’t pass? Some school levies have failed because they do not meet the supermajority requirement. Levy failures can result in budget cuts, which require program cuts, staff and/or teacher layoffs, and other disruptions.

Elections cost money. If school districts need to run a subsequent election for the same levy, it will take money away from educational programs. It cost our district approximately $40,000 to run the most recent levy election.

Do all types of levies require a supermajority to pass? No, they do not. Regular tax levies do not require supermajority approval. Public hospital districts, metropolitan park districts, and other taxing jurisdictions can pass levies to operate hospitals, parks, and other facilities with a simple majority vote. School districts are held to the supermajority standard to pass a local levy.

New Classroom Close-Up feature takes you back to school
This week the district is launching a new feature series called Classroom Close-Up. This weekly series takes you back to school by highlighting classroom work throughout the district. A fun, photo-filled newsletter and exciting radio spot featuring the teacher and classroom activities are included in this series.

Learn what subjects are being studied this week and what are some of the learning objectives. You will also hear about the strategies being used to enhance achievement and how technology is linked to classroom lessons.

This week Walla Walla High School Technology Teacher Dennis DeBroeck’s Media and Animation class is showcased. Look for his newsletter and 60 second radio spot to be posted next week on the district’s website (A to Z area — Classroom Close-Up).

The district has partnered with several area radio stations to play the spots, including:
- Cougar and Huskies football and basketball
- Seattle Mariners and Seahawks
- Capps Broadcasting (KTEL 1490 AM, 107.7 FM, K-Wheat, Blue Devil Athletics)
- KUJ 1420 AM and Smooth Jazz 101.9 FM
(*We’re hoping to get more radio partnerships established too)

Next week we’ll travel to Berney Elementary to visit Kindergarten Teacher Lori Thomas and the following week we’ll learn how Sue Parrish helps Garrison students learn science skills.

Edison 70th Anniversary Open House and Celebration
Thursday, September 27
7 to 8 p.m.
Edison Elementary School (1315 E. Alder)

Event Highlights:
- Celebration program in gym
- Alumni recognition
- Tours of school
- Free cake and punch

This is one of the last public opportunities to look at the original school and reminisce. Come celebrate with us! For more information, contact Principal Nancy Withycombe at 527-3072.

Blue Devil Youth Football Night scheduled September 28
Show your school football pride! All Pioneer and Garrison Middle School and Walla Walla youth football players are invited to wear their game jerseys to the home varsity football game against Davis High School -- Friday, September 28.

• All players will be admitted for free as long as they are accompanied by a paid adult

• Student football players are treated to a free pizza tailgate feed prior to the game

• Teams will have special reserved areas to sit with their coaches or team representatives

• At halftime each team will jog out onto the field together and be introduced by the announcer

For more information contact your respective youth football coach.

Second group of High School Facilities Task Force members tour schools
Thursday the second group of the High School Facilities Task Force toured Walla Walla High School and Lincoln Alternative High School as part of their work studying Walla Walla’s high school programs and facilities.

Wa-Hi Principal Darcy Weisner and Lincoln Alternative High School Principal Jim Sporleder facilitated the three hour tour. The tours included an overview of a recent independent facilities study, visits to classrooms, question and answer opportunities and more.

The work of the High School Facilities Task Force will be organized into three phases. First, the group will answer the question — “What is?” Next, they will reflect on — “What Should Be?”  in relation to a successful high school experience.

The group will then determine the best strategies for narrowing the difference in Walla Walla. Staff and public input will be gathered along the way as the group completes its work. Recommendations will then go to the school board for consideration and possible action plans.

The group will meet again Thursday, Sept. 27 to reflect on what they saw and learned during their tours and to form specialized sub-committees to further study specific issues pertaining to Walla Walla’s high school experience.

High School Facilities Task Force Members
Cindy Meyer: Co-Chair
John Rowley: Co-Chair
Darcy Weisner
Scott Krivoshein
Lawson Knight
Jim McCarthy
Mike Pettyjohn
Jim Hayner
Cindy Widmer
Clint Gabbard
Mindy Meyer
Jim Sporleder
Max Carrera
Everett Knudson
Nanqi You
John Butenhoff
Dave Warkentin
Ruth Russo
Ruth Ladderud
Carrina Stillman
LaDessa Smelcer
James Payne

Garrison Fun Fair a success
More than 400 families attended last week’s Garrison Family Fun Fair. This is the second year Garrison has used fair-style activities to welcome families to a new school year.

Families were treated to games, prizes, free food and plenty of information about the school. Principal Gina Yonts thanked Brent Cummings and Jerri Doyle for helping coordinate this successful event. Parent and staff member Laura Angulo reported to school board members Tuesday night the event made her feel welcome and connected to her daughter’s school.

Personnel Report (from 09/18/07 school board meeting)
• New Hires
(Certificated) Leah Crudup, Title I/LAP Coordinator, Special Programs

(Classified) Marlo Logan, PAS Advocate, Walla Walla High School
Alison Spencer, Occupational Therapy Para-Educator, Special Programs
Vidalia Trejo, Preschool Para-Educator/Family Advocate, Blue Ridge Preschool

• Resignations/Retirements
(Certificated) Georgie Germain, Library Media Specialist, Edison, 34 years
(Classified) Jose Godinez, Para-Educator, Green Park, 2 weeks
Javier Hernandez, Intervention Specialist, Walla Walla High School, 15 years

Wa-Hi Kids Cheer Camp Saturday
Wa-Hi Cheerleaders are hosting the annual Kids Cheer Camp Saturday, Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. to -12 noon in the Wa-Hi main gym. Children may register at the door and purchase a camp t-shirt too. It’s not too late to sign up. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.

“We hope to see you and your ‘little ones’ on Saturday!” said Cheer Coach Joy Moniz.