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I have been volunteering and working to support and improve education in the Snoqualmie Valley for 27 years. I am honored to have served on the Snoqualmie Valley School Board of Directors for 12 years. I believe every student in deserves an education that supports and honors their special talents.
The most urgent issue facing our district is funding. On September 24, 2015 the Snoqualmie Valley Board of Directors unanimously approved a special resolution compelling the State Legislature to fully fund education for all children in Washington State. The SVSD Board of Directors keep in frequent and regular contact with our legislators. Levy dollars are an important aspect of school funding. For many years our philosophy has been to pursue the maximum levy amount. This is particularly important to Snoqualmie Valley schools because in relation to our neighboring districts, we are severely disadvantaged when it comes to per pupil funding. Consequently, it has been our position to pursue the maximum levy amount to ensure we are providing programming and compensation that will ensure our student's school experience is on par with neighboring districts. The state is undergoing significant changes in terms of guidelines for local levies which will be considered in future decisions.
I am committed to great public schools for all students. As taxpayer-funded schools, charter schools must be held accountable to the same safeguards and high standards of accountability, transparency and equity as public schools. Unfortunately, in many places where charter schools exist, they do not have to comply with the same laws, protections and certification requirements as public schools. If a charter school was proposed and it would be operated in a manner that is transparent, accountable and equitable to ensure a quality education for all students, then I could be supportive of exploring this option.
Washington State schools administer a variety of student assessments based on federal, state and district requirements. Standardized tests can be helpful in placing a student in the appropriate class for their current level of knowledge. Standardized tests provide a snapshot in time. Teacher-driven classroom-based assessments provide critical data to help measure student success and understanding of concepts, as well as to help identify areas for student growth and where more focused instruction may be needed. Standardized tests are one type of indicator, among many others that are considered, for advancing student achievement and for tailoring instruction to meet specific student needs.
Sleep research supports later start times for adolescents, so schools across the nation are studying this topic and many are making schedule adjustments. The SVSD recently launched a School Start Time Advisory Committee this fall of 2017, to study options for possible implementation of changes in September of 2018. A committee of teachers, parents, and administrators have been meeting twice a month since September. The five most pressing reasons to change start times for adolescents are:
1. Academic outcomes
2. Attentiveness, mood and behavior
3. Student sleep
4. Automotive accidents
5. Attendance and tardiness
I look forward to hearing their recommendations and will be deferring to the educational experts when deciding on start times for elementary and secondary schools. The SVSD decision is still to be determined.
The SVSD established an On-time Graduation Task Force in 2014. The purpose of the Task Force included developing a comprehensive three-year plan to increase on time graduation and extended graduation rates, with specific recommendations for implementation. The results, when fully implemented, provides a comprehensive system of supports and interventions to assist all stakeholders in better preparing our students for college, career and citizenship. This has yielded significant improvement in graduation rates where they are now over 90 percent. One example of an outcome from this plan is Mount Si High School implementing Pride Time, which occurs every Wednesday. The time is intended to give students academic support time built into the school day and to help them develop their High School and Beyond Plans. Teachers and counselors have stated that they need time to individually connect with students regarding grades, homework and to build a relationship with the students.
Bullying should be addressed immediately. All adults including parents, educators, staff, and coaches need to be able to identify bullying, know how to report the incident, and have resources to stop the bullying. Students deserve a safe school environment in which to learn and reach their full educational potential. Washington State has RCW 28A.300.285 that addresses harassment, intimidation and bullying prevention policies and procedures. Counseling should be offered to the individual who is being bullied, as well as the offending person. Disciplinary action should be given in accordance with district policy and state laws. Educating children from a very young age that bullying is not acceptable, and how they can help by reporting when they witness or experience bullying, will go a long way in reducing bullying incidents. I know our schools work to reinforce these lessons at all grade levels, with enhanced focus in recent years around online risks and cyber safety.
According to OSPI, the goal of the Civic Education Initiative is to ensure that every student is provided a civic education from kindergarten through high school graduation. There are three primary laws and regulations for Civic Education; (1) State learning standards-RCW 28A.150.210; (2) Civic Credit requirement-RCW 28A.230.093 and (3) Social Studies Assessments-RCW 28A.230.095.
The College, Career and Civic Life (C3) framework establishes clear and strong standards for social studies instruction as follows:
1. Enhance the rigor of social studies and disciplines (civics, economics, geography and history).
2. Build critical thinking, problem solving and participating skills for engaged citizenship.
3. Align social studies academic programs to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.
My job as a board member, is to support the district and state initiatives to ensure all students meet the new civic requirement.
Traditional expulsion/suspension increases student absence with students getting further behind. The middle schools and high schools are using restorative justice and looking for alternatives to expulsion and suspension. I feel all students deserve a calm and supportive learning environment. Classroom disruptions should not be tolerated and should be addressed immediately. The district disciplinary policy and procedures should be followed regarding student suspension. Parents, school staff, and administration need to work together to assist the student who is acting out and prevent further classroom outbursts. I believe every student in our district deserves an education that supports and honors their talents and skills so they can succeed in their own way and fulfill their dreams.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
•City North Bend Planning Commission (2011-present), Chair
• Big Brother for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound
•Legislative Chair for the Opstad Elementary PTSA
•Secretary of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group
•Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Search and Rescue
As a parent in this community, I care about the type of education our kids are receiving and the status quo is not good enough.
I would add a policy for parents and students to have more say in decisions about their education. SVSD should have a policy similar to some other WA school districts referred to popularly as “informed self-select” for mathematics and other pathways. Most parents believe they know their kids better than teachers or administrators, but the majority of our current board doesn’t believe that. They rejected the idea of an informed self-select policy last year. Teacher and administration opinions about the capabilities and pathways for individual kids should be viewed the same as healthcare professionals, that parents make the final decision about their kids’ education just as they do for their healthcare. That is not the case currently, and this is a prime time for a new policy to correct the problem.
I believe that our public school system can and should be again, the mark for the world to follow. Therefore, it will take all of us, parents, teachers, administrators, and students working collectively to research, advocate, and change the current system so that coursework, accurate measurements and data are freely and honestly communicated in order to make the necessary improvements for ensuring that each child realizes their full potential. Taking money out of the currently depleted public school system to fund a private Charter idea is not currently in this best interest of our States paramount duty.
Frequent, high stakes testing, especially standardized read/write testing does not address the abilities and needs of kinetic learners.
In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics published the Let Them Sleep Article (https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/let-them-sleep-aap-recommends-delaying-start-times-of-middle-and-high-schools-to-combat-teen-sleep-deprivation.aspx), yet no Board member has become and advocate for this. Gary will. The SVSD has said it is now studying this idea. What we need is a Board parent like Gary with kids in the district to take a lead supporting the science and data of ensuring our children get adequate sleep and follow the time change that Seattle Public Schools has already adopted.
Sleep deprivation leads to poor academic performance (grades and test scores), discouragement, and drop-outs. This is because of the natural development of kids as they move into middle and high school to stay up later and their ability to wake up early erodes.
Closing the Preparation Gap. For at least 8 years kindergarten teachers have expressed to me the entering gap between our children that have preschool and those that do not. High-quality early childhood learning opportunities can significantly reduce gaps and prevent or mitigate gaps in later years.
Research has demonstrated the important and lasting effects of brain development from birth to age five. Kids who are behind early on usually do not thrive in school later on. Conversely, students enrolled in an early learning program are more prepared for kindergarten, more likely to graduate high school, are healthier, more likely to be employed and report higher income. They are also less likely to repeat grades, be placed in special education, be involved in the juvenile justice system, and commit crimes as adults.
Also, establish evaluation and rewards for teachers who are successful in connecting with and engaging students and provide positive and safe learning environments.
Gary is committed to ensuring a Safe and Supportive learning environment. Working collaboratively with the School Administration and Board. Bullying, happens in our District mostly from students in middle school and from even teachers in high school. There has been a strong avoidance to effectively addressing “internal” student safety by SVSD administration and board that has been witnessed over the years. There has been very little change in student reported bullying/safety via the Healthy Youth Survey over the past 15 years in SVSD.
* take a stronger stance against selling and using drugs in school to help guide those students towards a more productive and beneficial future
* establish a school culture of acceptance, tolerance and respect
* enhance building safety and security
A required civics class that covers our government processes, statistical research surveys and their quality, how to validate “facts” and “fake news”, history of how Americans both volunteered and were able to improve our communities, environment, and institutions, is an effective way to do this. We do not have such class today, although some of the ideas are sprinkled in other classes in grades 6-12 haphazardly. As far as volunteer work hours are concerned, it should be encouraged and recognition given, and that can be made easier by SVSD proactively funding and supporting the formation of new groups focused on volunteer work of interest to student-driven ideas as part of such class project.
Gary believes that students in Elementary should be taught empathy and positive behavior intervention so each child can properly communicate to other students and their teachers. First clear rules of student behavior should be establish so all can follow the rules and know what happens when they are broken. When a rule is broken a naming list could be made Students that are disruptive should first stay late to have a discussion with the teacher who can then understand the situation. Then proper action can be taken such as moving a students seat, counseling, and providing a way for or letting that student control their destiny. Suspension does little to address a problem.