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Fifty years of relevant experience in education including a PhD. Worked as a classroom teacher, principal, superintendent, and state program director. Nineteen years on the Pullman Board, including 15 on the Finance Committee. Current chair of WSSDA's State Interscholastic Activities Committee.
1. The most urgent issue is adjusting the overall District budget to newly passed state legislation. The new laws impact every element the Districts finances. For the first time in 43 years, there will be no statewide salary schedule. The legislation was specific to teacher and administrator salaries, but all employee groups must be considered and treated fairly as part of an overall new plan for short and long-term financial stability. State school property tax levies and local levies have changed dramatically, leaving major unanswered questions.
2. Determining how Core 24 is going to serve the needs of all graduating students rather than just those high school students who are going to college. For this to happen, the State Board of Education will have to change its Vision, which currently prioritized college readiness above all other options.
3. Improving the confidence of stakeholders in the overall operations of the District including decisions of the Board and administrators.
I can envision a charter school application from the Pullman area, one designed to serve students from the Pullman District, and select students from surrounding rural districts. Given the area’s demographics, the applicant would target high-capacity students.
Washington’s charter school law has major flaws; some are still being litigated. Unlike Idaho, WA's charter schools, receive state funds and local levy funds, but are not under the control of local school boards.Instead, charter schools operate under a state commission comprised of advocates of charter schools. Consequently, there are few checks and balances, ones that would come with differing opinions. Each charter school is administered by a non-profit board which is not responsive to local voters.
The professed advantages of charter schools could be duplicated in public schools by giving them the same operational flexibility. WA laws could be amended so that districts could apply to operate "public charter schools."
My personal “position” on a topic like testing is not germane, because the majority of the testing done in the Pullman schools is required by federal or state law. Despite a 50 year career in education, I am not a testing expert. I have a high degree of trust in the District’s highly trained teachers and administrators. One of the Board's yearly responsibilities is to approve the District’s assessment plan. This plan must meet all the legal requirements, but may also include local diagnostic testing to better track individual student progress. When the plan is brought to the Board for approval, each element is thoroughly discussed. In general, testing must be done to determine an individual student’s level of understanding of required concepts; however, much of the grouped achievement testing was triggered by No Child Left Behind which has been replaced by Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which encourages states and school districts to get rid of unnecessary testing.
The topic is certainly worthy of further study by the Pullman District. The current PHS bell schedule is 7:15 am for zero period and 8:20 am for 1st period; LMS is 7:20 for zero period and 8:25 am for 1st period. These start times are actually similar to the “late start” schedules suggested by research. The elementary schools start class at 8:30 am. In May of 2017, PHS conducted an experiment. For a week classes started 15 minutes later and then students, parents, and staff were surveyed. The results of the survey were mixed, but favored staying with the current schedule.
A recent North Carolina study showed that delaying middle school start times by an hour from 7:30 to 8:30 increased standardized math and reading scores by two to three percentile points and that the effects was more than twice large for students in the bottom third of test scorers, thus it could be an important factor in closing the achievement gap. Pullman's schedule is already close to the one studied in NC.
The graduation rate can be improved by continuing to refine the focus on individual student progress. The District is already employing almost all of the established strategies that lead to higher on-time graduation rates. The District’s current overall graduation rate is 95% compared to the statewide average of 80%. For any school district, one of the most difficult factors effecting graduation rate is the percentage of transfer students. Pullman is a growing district (+500 students in six years), and is a “transient” district due to WSU. The growth has occurred at every grade level, including 9-12; consequently, PHS administrators and teachers face greater-than-average barriers to on-time graduation. Given those barriers, 95% is outstanding, but leaves room for improvement. It is always difficult for a student to transfer to a new school at the beginning of their junior or senior year, especially from out-of-state.
The District has adopted all the required policies and procedures, and is following them; however, state law addresses much more than bullying. Harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) have been prohibited in state schools since 2010. As required by law Pullman has a WA adopted model anti-HIB policies and procedures. The policies and procedures are very complex and fluid.
Reducing and then eliminating bullying must be accomplished through a comprehensive approach, K-12. The methods vary by grade level with the elementary school emphasis on teacher training and implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) which described as a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional, and academic success.
At the middle school and high school levels "cyber bullying" is a serious and growing threat especially because it does not occur on school grounds.
Specifically, Pullman’s administration and the Board believed that the legislature’s intent was for high schools to offer a .5 credit Civics course. Some other districts have integrated the Civics requirement into their junior or senior year U.S. History course; however, the Pullman CAC felt that the state standards for U.S. History were too comprehensive to cover in conjunction with the Civics standards. Pullman requires that all students complete a stand alone .5 Civics course. Because it is difficult to fit in a .5 credit course during their junior year, most students take the course as seniors.
PHS has also added a one-credit Leadership elective, which is required for involvement in ASB and class officer positions. The course has been so popular that two sections will be offered this fall and a 2nd year option has been added, The design of these courses aligns with three of OSPI’s Six Proven Practices for enhancing Civic Education and encourages community involvement.
Suspensions should be in the least restrictive environment related to continuing all facets of a student's ongoing education. Depending on the age of the student, and the nature of the disruption, an intervention as rudimentary as sitting with a paraprofessional might be an effective option. For older students, use of in-school suspension has proven to be effective. In all cases, the disruptive student should have an opportunity to demonstrate non-disruptive behavior as quickly as possible. In-home suspension, for an arbitrary time frame, should be the absolute final option, as this option eliminates the chance of the student regaining composure and integrating into the classroom setting that triggered the unacceptable behavior. The goal of suspension is for the student to gain the skills necessary to return to the more challenging classroom environment. In-home suspension, even when supported by a teacher, can never substitute for performing appropriately in school.
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Experience (300 characters max)
I've worked in Higher Ed for over 10 years, have an advanced degree, taught in the classroom, designed courses, and served on representative bodies across WSU. I have two children about to enter the Pullman School system and a passionate intensity for ensuring equal access to a good education.
The most urgent issue for the Pullman School District currently is the budget just negotiated in the state legislature. The short turnaround between the plans release and passing has not given school officials adequate time to assess it's impact. Judging from the discussions leading up to the levy swap passage, Pullman Schools could stand to lose considerable revenue. This issue will require broad communication with the community to seek input on funding shortfalls, budget cuts, and future funding opportunities. As a School Board member my priority during this budget process would be preserving the hard fought gains in curriculum improvement, staffing, and class sizes that make our Pullman Public Schools some of the best in the state, while simultaneously trying to remedy funding problems with our Special Education programs.
I will work against the voucher movement. It creates a two-tiered system that serves to intensify inequality and divide our community. Every child deserves access to a quality education. Though I agree with providing alternative educational options for the open market, I do not agree with removing tax dollars from public schools to do so. America's public schools are a national treasure created by contributions from everyone and must remain an institution that everyone in America is involved with supporting. I would not support at all the "voucher movement" where parents can take their children and money out of the school systems, creating an outlet for those who can afford it, while leaving the students who have no options stuck in a downward spiral impacting facilities, staffing, and the fundamentals of their education.
Kids are tested too often, period. I’m proud to live in a district that exceeds benchmarks, but I believe that a focus on standardization minimizes the ability of students to succeed upon graduation. As a school board member I would work to eliminate excessive standardized testing where possible.
Starting school even one hour later has demonstrable benefits to student focus, testing, and retention of knowledge. However, it also presents some shortfalls that cannot be ignored. For instance, what are parents who work supposed to do with sleeping children when it's time to go to work? I believe that we should study the option for Pullman Schools, but do so in a fashion that elicits the maximum amount of public commentary.
Persistence and careful study of the root causes of the problem. Pullman currently enjoys a graduation rate of 95-96%, which is far higher than the Washington State rate of 80%. So this issue is definitely one related to identifying students with issues on the margins. I would like to work with teachers and the administration to address this last 4-5% to get as close as possible to a 100% graduation rate. In society today, you can not function without a High School Diploma.
This is not an easy question, but I think the School Board can play a positive role in addressing bullying in our school system. First we must recognize that it is a problem and identify the type of bullying that is the issue. Once identified, we must work to hold our Principals and Superintendent accountable to remedying the bullying, identifying where it's happening, encouraging victims to respond, providing adequate supervision and hall monitoring if appropriate, even collecting evidence and acting on reports of bullying in schools. It's the administration's job to execute on the advise of the School Board, so in that role I would work to identify and solve issues of bullying by coming up with a plan of action and then holding the administration responsible for executing the plan.
First and foremost I would like to take input from Pullman school teachers and parents to see where they stand on their preferences for the civics requirement. I have my own ideas about classroom discussion/instruction, instituting service learning or extracurricular activities, democracy simulations and school government participation to help teach civics to our youth, but I do not know if they are practical in the daily lives of teachers or if the students would even respond. I would work to see the legislation fulfilled based on the best strategy to emerge from discussions with teachers, parents, and even students on what ways we could best fulfill the requirement.
Though it may be necessary to ensure that all of the other students learning is not disrupted, studies show that suspension does not curb school violence and behavior problems. Districts should work where possible to identify students at risk of becoming a problem in hopes of heading off the cycle of restrictive procedures increasing issues like fighting, absenteeism, truancy, and vandalism. In an ideal setting the district officials, teachers, and parents would work in a proactive way to prevent students going down the path to expulsion. However, in the end it's the unfortunate nature of equal opportunity that if a student is preventing others from learning, then that student must be removed from the classroom. However, I'm a bigger proponent of alternative classrooms where students causing disruption can be given a space to do their schoolwork in a restricted setting, while not interfering with others.