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Pierce Steilacoom Historical School Dist. No. 1 Director Pos. 1

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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  • Don Denning (NP)

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    Jennifer Mcdonald (NP) Clinical Research Psychologist

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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?

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Phone (509) 339-5999
Email frymcdonald@gmail.com
Town where you live Dupont
Experience (300 characters max) I'm a clinical psychologist by training and I currently do research for the U.S. Army. I'm an Army spouse and the mom of 3 kids in the district, one with a learning disorder. I've been involved in the PTA serving as a board member, science club chair and volunteer coordinator.
I feel that screening, identification, and intervention for children who fall out of the middle of the bell curve on learning ability is a major deficit in our district. Both the special education program and the gifted program are in need of scrutiny and remediation. Both populations have students with needs that remain unaddressed and can lead to issues with poor academic performance, increased risk of drop out, and attrition from the public school system. We are failing students who are not provided with opportunities to succeed and shine. A free and APPROPRIATE education for all students is what public school is about- and that isn't happening for a significant number of kids. The district should not be status quo on these issues or satisfied with providing intervention in just one specific learning area. Our students, teachers, and parents deserve more.
While at first glance, a charter school appears to offer increased opportunity, the research thus far has demonstrated that they don't deliver. Charter schools have been associated with poor outcomes for students and communities. They also tend to be self-selecting and serve to divide communities along racial and socio-economic lines rather than unifying. A public school system should not support that and should instead work to ensure that we provide the best education we can to all students involved. I can appreciate the lure of a charter school with promises of individualized learning and choice; however, the reality is that they don't deliver those things. A better use of resources would be to invest that time and energy into creative solutions in our public schools.
I am a clinical psychologist by training, so I'm well-versed in the limitations of standardized testing. While I believe that they can give general norms across students, I don't think that any one test should define a student's ability or be a stumbling block to learning and progress. There are other means to measure progress and more effective methods of teaching than making sure each student is prepared for a high stakes exam. Ideally, assessment would be utilized to demonstrate strengths and weaknesses and to address those. We need to find smarter ways to ensure our students are mastering material rather than continuing to rely on standardized tests.
In my clinical work, I'm a behavioral sleep medicine practitioner, so I'm familiar with the research on later start times for children and adolescents. While I appreciate the logistical issues that can arise, the research is clear that later start times are associated with improved sleep, better academic outcomes, and --importantly--fewer motor vehicle accidents involving sleepy students. The reasons for later start times are primarily biological in nature. Kids and adolescents are wired with a circadian rhythm that pushes them to go to bed later and wake up later. We fight this with early morning start times and we reap the problems that come with it. Districts in Seattle are moving to later start times, as well as schools in California. I think we can learn from how they implement these and do so in a way that can improve the health and wellness of our youngest members and also improves their academic performance.
One of the ways I think we can address this is by addressing the significant number of students who don't receive appropriate screening, identification and intervention for learning disorders starting in elementary school. These students tend to remain behind and/or drop out of school, which greatly affects graduation rates. The percentage of students with dyslexia alone is estimated to be ~20%. There are currently no interventions in our district at the middle or high school level for reading at all and none at the elementary level that would be deemed evidence-based or effective. Other things that can improve graduation are focusing on attendance, catching students who are off-track earlier and raising standards so that they are working towards B or better grades- not focusing on average performance, and intervening with students who have high disciplinary rates, as they tend to have more hurdles outside of the classroom as well.
I believe that the schools should have clear and posted policies regarding bullying and then develop means of enforcing that uniformly. Along with this comes a need to establish means of reporting bullying that students are comfortable with and use. Environmentally, setting up fewer unsupervised areas and training monitors to recognize bullying behaviors is an easily implemented intervention. Parents and community members can be more heavily recruited to be a presence in middle and high schools. Staggering recess and lunch times can also help as it reduces the number of kids in the area at once to make monitoring more feasible. Clearly communicating the standards and creating a culture of openness where bullying cannot thrive is key to addressing it.
I think this requirement is community based. Thus, as a district, we need to bring in community resources that can help students earn their civics credit. Incorporating it into the curriculum, whether that be through government courses, mock legislation, clubs that have a civic focus, or other innovative ways to incorporate this principle would also be options.
I don't believe that taking a student out of the learning environment is beneficial in terms of discipline. Instead, I think there needs to be a policy of understanding why the disruption is happening at all. Behavior is generally a function of environment- whether that be internal or external. Understanding that via some type of functional behavior assessment within the setting and also understanding the student is important in order to be able to address that behavior. Suspension of the student simply suspends the problem. It's a quick fix to a problem that will continue to occur until properly addressed.

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