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Pierce Peninsula School District No. 401 Director Dist. 5

4-year term No Salary, some districts offer small per diem for evening meetings. School Board Members or “directors” – are the elected governing body of the school district, serving four-year terms. The school board’s governance responsibilities fall in four major areas: Vision – focuses the work on student achievement through a comprehensive strategic planning process; Structure – provides prudent financial planning and oversight; diligent and innovative policymaking; Accountability – sets specific goals and a process for evaluation, reporting and recommendations for improvements; and Advocacy – champions public education in the local community and before state and federal policy makers. The School Board sets the general policies of the district, which are implemented by the hired professional district Superintendent and certificated teaching staff and personnel. One of the critical duties is the adoption of the district's budget and proposal of any school levies to be placed on the ballot to the people. The commission sets policies and approves all spending via the budget. The council also sets salaries for district employees.
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    Noelle Balliett (NP) Clinical Psychologist

  • David Olson (NP)

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Biographical Information

Of three major issues facing your district, which one is the most urgent?

What is your position on Charter Schools as a part of your public school system?

What is your position on testing of your students?

What is your opinion on "start times" for elementary and secondary school?

How can the on-time graduation rate be improved?

How should bullying be addressed?

What would be your plan to see that your school district students earn their civics credit required by the new state law?

What is your opinion of student suspension for classroom disruption?

Phone (253) 310-7943
Email noelle@noelleballiett.com
YouTube Video https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOAYg9BCC-N0BIvP80JIWOA
Town where you live Gig Harbor, Washington
Experience (300 characters max) I have a strong research background and experience in curriculum development, testing, program evaluation, and working on teams and committees to accomplish goals. Before graduate school, I worked with special education kids, connecting students and their families with available resources.
Time and again, voters in the community have told me they feel disconnected from what's happening at the school district, that their ideas and concerns are not being heard. Connection with the community will be key as we address funding changes brought by the McCleary decision and comply with K-3 classroom mandates.

As a psychologist for the VA, I connect with people for a living. I work with patients to talk through problems and chart paths forward. Above all, this involves being a good listener, knowing how to ask the right questions, and taking the time to understand what people are saying.

Our district is facing big challenges, including facility needs, class sizes, teacher compensation, and tax rates. To address these, we need to engage the entire community in various ways on a sustained basis. People need to feel they have a stake in the process. Without that strong community connection, I fear we will remain stuck in place and won't be able to move forward on these key issues.
Regarding charter schools, I believe that we should proceed with caution. Charter schools can be a viable alternative for students that are more successful in non-traditional school settings. However, charter schools should never be for profit, program goals should be clearly identified, and there should be strong community support and demand for the proposed programming. The research on charter schools is especially mixed, with some charters doing a great job for students and others doing really poorly. New charters need to ensure that they follow best practices for what works well to provide first-rate opportunities for students.

In addition, such schools must be held to the same accountability and transparency standards, follow best practices, and offer benchmarks for achievement in line with other district programs. Opportunities might include unique or specialized programming that serves to retain students in the district, especially at the high school level.
Assessment is an important tool to provide accountability, ensure that we can intervene early, and have an opportunity to adjust where needed. The primary purpose of assessment is to ensure that each student’s process of learning is appropriately supported. Students are more than a number, and no one data point should ever be used to determine high-stakes outcomes such as graduation status, admission, or placement. All testing needs to have a clear goal, be efficient, cost-effective, and developmentally appropriate.

In addition, the conditions for testing need to be adequate and may be affected by facilities constraints. Students need to test for an appropriate length of time, have opportunities to take breaks, and have quiet space with minimal disruption in the environment. Space limitations, especially in our elementary schools, may make testing more difficult. This is an issue we need to address in the Peninsula School District.
The science has grown increasingly clear on this point: there are substantial negative impacts to having high school start early. The neurobiology of high schoolers doesn’t support early start times—they are biologically in a period of phase-shifting, where they naturally stay up later and get up later.

Depriving them of sleep has consequences for their capacity to learn, for their health, and for their well-being. Sleep-deprived teenagers are at risk from drowsy driving, their attention and concentration suffers, and they are less able to cope effectively with stress or emotional difficulties.

A model that other school districts in the state have adopted, and that Peninsula School District ought to consider as a community, would be elementary school first, middle school second, and high school with the latest start times.

Improving our on-time graduation rate means that students will have more opportunities to succeed: better health, more job opportunities, increased lifetime earnings, and longer lifespans.

Because the stakes are so high, we must get this right. The system must change to build in a district-wide early warning system, so that students are connected with supports as soon as a red flag is recognized. Some of these red flags might include missing school, missing credits, academic difficulties, or disciplinary problems.

Connecting students with mentors, whether in the larger community or within the school, has been demonstrated to be helpful in many pilot programs, including in Seattle with a peer-mentoring program for upperclassmen to mentor freshmen. Taking the initiative to intervene early is critical.
Bullying needs to be addressed district wide, using research-based best practices for every grade level and in every school-related setting—from the bus to the cafeteria to the playground.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is one component of the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) that exists at many of our schools. The structure of PBIS is designed to enhance academic and social behavior outcomes for all students. All stakeholders are involved, and successful implementation can mean a reduction in many problematic behaviors, such as bullying.

The district has taken steps to improve the climate at schools, and we must continue with that momentum and examine what is and isn’t working. In addition to involvement of all staff, families also are needed partners. With bullying, the focus must be on prevention. We must also ensure that systems are in place for intervention and supporting both students who have been bullied and students who have engaged in bullying.
One purpose of education is to produce good citizens, which must include a strong foundation in civics. This goes beyond history lessons to include a perspective on where our country has been, where we are, and where we may be headed.

Inspiring our next generation by making civics come alive through experiential learning can be creative and fun. We need to make it local and lively. This could include connecting with civic leaders in our community by either hosting them in the classroom or, better yet, visiting settings where civics is the order of the day.

We should foster project-based learning, create internships or shadowing opportunities to enrich classroom instruction, and partner with businesses, volunteers, elected officials, and families.

In addition, using electronic media to provide virtual experiences—such as running a city or country, legislating policy, or being part of the legal system—can make ideas come to life and empower our next generation of leaders.
Although the aim of suspensions—to limit disruption of other students and provide a corrective learning opportunity—is well-intentioned, research has shown that suspensions can harm both the student and the wider school community.

Suspensions at any grade level often deepen disciplinary problems, reduce academic achievement, and increase the dropout rate. Such students need more support, not less, and to be given the opportunity to move forward without losing valuable instruction.

We need strong leadership and engagement with best practices on every level: a district-wide culture focused on discipline, professional development, and support for teachers and staff, as well as interventions at the classroom and individual student level. These include positive behavior supports, conflict resolution, and connection with school and community partners.

System change should involve a robust feedback process and engagement with all stakeholders in the school and wider community.
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