Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Barbara spent 12 years as a teacher, 7 in the San Juan Island School District after 20 years in Retail/Manufacturing. She served as Home School Liaison /Alternative Learning Coordinator with Griffin Bay Schools and was active with WALA. District-wide she served as State Testing Coordinator.
It always comes down to the money.
Money to hire specialized teaching staff, money to fund required and much-needed optional programs such as foreign language, music and even lunch, books, online options and so much more. The Public Schools Foundation does a terrific service for our schools, but imagine what they could do if their support was not needed for the basics that they currently fund.
Money to pay teachers and para-educators what they are worth and a wage that is enough to live on this island.
Money to fund infrastructure maintenance and repairs in a more timely manner, rather than waiting until an emergency happens.
Charter schools may have a place in larger districts, but here on San Juan Island I believe that it would dilute the resources available to such a degree that a Charter School would not be viable. Charter Schools do not come with separate funding, they leach if from existing schools. Many current studies also now show that for-profit Charter Schools have not proven to be any kind of panacea; test results are not necessarily higher, bullying is not necessarily reduced, class size is generally smaller, but not more effective. We all would like less regulation, less testing, less oversight, but even if Charter Schools indeed have less of the above, they also come with other strictures and problems.
As the former Test Coordinator for the district I understand the necessity of testing. What becomes a major problem with testing is when not passing the “test” impacts an otherwise qualified student’s graduation. Some students just DO NOT test well but are competent. Another factor is when test scores and results impact the district’s standing in ratings.
As a teacher, I often had students transfer in to my class from other districts and other states. Some would slip in seamlessly, well-prepared. Others would be as much as two grade levels behind, some that much ahead of grade level. Some of the difference is socio-economic, some of it is prior teachers’ skill level. The bottom line is that testing shows these discrepancies and helps dedicated staff teach to the students’ skill levels and focus on bringing up those in need, and challenging those at a higher level. Really great teachers do this intuitively, but less experienced teachers need testing in their tool bag.
In the case of San Juan Island schools, economically this is an unanswerable question. We can only afford to run full route busses once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Ferry schedules also factor in for students who travel from other islands. Ideally, as a former elementary teacher, I would like to see an earlier start. As a parent who dealt with secondary ages and tired young adults, I would like to see a later start for secondary students. Realistically, the consistent day (existing now) works better for parents who are working. Interscholastic sports would also be adversely affected.
This is something that the San Juan Island schools do very well. Statistically our rate is consistently well under 10%. We have a school-wide system that teaches to each student’s needs as much as is possible with limited resources. We are the village raising the students and working toward their success. If tailoring classes to a student’s needs isn’t effective, we try other options, such as restructuring classes, or acquiring online courses, tutoring or Griffin Bay Alternative School.
This question is loaded and not easily answered. What type of bullying? Physical. Emotional. Verbal. Cyber. All of the above happen daily everywhere. The answer is not clear cut because bullying is insidious. At the forefront, in the classroom, the San Juan Island School District has a Health curriculum in place that teaches about bullying as a part of the healthy living, self-awareness modules. The school district also has policies and protocols in place for students, teachers and parents. First the problem needs a clear identification as to who, what, where, when, why and how. Getting to there isn’t easy, but it then sets the protocols in motion. Each approach to a specific instance would be different based on the type and degree of bullying. The district’s policies and protocols are reviewed and updated on a regular basis with the intent of alleviating the problem.
This is already being done starting with our Middle School and High School History and Government curriculum. Specifics are being added as needed at the classroom level.
This question really speaks to communication and chain of command protocols whereby this would be something APPROVED by a School Board AFTER the teachers, principals and Superintendent examine the issue and make recommendations.
Depending on the egregiousness of the disruption, it can be necessary. Least restrictive environment is always preferred. At the elementary level it can be a ”time-out” place. In my elementary class I used a giant shade-cloth patio umbrella. The class named it Siberia. The transgressor sat behind the umbrella for a period of time, (usually 5-10 minutes). That student had the power to decide when he or she was able to rejoin the class with good behavior. This method allowed no loss of of the day’s instruction. There are numerous variations that are proven to work.
At the secondary level, it’s more difficult, particularly if the transgressor is violent. Then immediate removal from the classroom is required for safety. With discussion, a solution can usually be remediated without excessive loss of instruction time. This sometimes includes a change of class, an online class or tutoring alternatives. Again, the district has policies and protocols in place to facilitate a solution.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Secretary, San Juan Golf & Tennis Club Board of Directors, four years; Chairperson, Burrell Osburn Scholarship Committee, four years
Budget. Are we using our available monies effectively? I want to ensure our tax dollars and bond levies are used appropriately, benefiting students, teachers, and para-educators.
Since the legislature’s education proposal does not take effect until the 2018-19 school year, an additional budget question is: How our reserve fund is holding up while waiting for final resolution on the McCleary decision?
As a candidate for the Board, I am not a proponent of charter schools. I would rather see the traditional public school system strengthened, challenging our students academically and helping them grow as individuals. However, if parents feel their children’s best interests are served with a charter school, they should take advantage of it.
Charter schools must meet Washington state academic goals, but are free to design their curriculum in a unique manner to meet those goals. They can choose their staff, set education goals, offer a longer school day or year, and establish their own standards for student behavior. Last year, less than 1,500 students attended charter schools in Washington State.
I believe some testing is necessary, if we hope to gauge progress and create a baseline for future comparison. The question is: How much testing is needed? Without testing, how do we gauge progress? Are we referring to state or federally-mandated testing? Knowledge testing? Comprehension testing? Gap testing?
State and federally-required testing usually involves spending money that might be better spent within the district. And, it is not uncommon to teach to the testing itself. Some testing requires keyboarding, a difficult skill for some K-3 students. Are we testing students on content or their ability to manipulate an on-screen cursor? Testing is also used to determine and monitor a student’s progress over the course of the school year, essential when providing feedback to parents. Testing is a part of our lives. In their post-graduate world, students quickly learn they are constantly being compared against peers, using some type of testing or scoring.
I’m assuming this question involves the optimal time of day for students of different ages to learn, impacting the starting and end time for school. I feel that more research is required on this topic before a district-wide decision should be made. Since any changes in school hours impact many people, perhaps a pilot program can be launched, involving students, parents, AND teachers willing to participate in the pilot.
Is on-time graduation more important than adequately preparing students for their adult lives? Students learn at different rates. Some students are taking college preparatory classes during high school; some graduate early, and unfortunately, some drop out and pass their high school equivalency exam later down the road.
I prefer to ensure graduates, which should include students transitioning from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school, are adequately prepared for the challenges ahead.
Whether in person, cyber, social media, or texting, bullying should not be tolerated at any level. Bullying is intimidation and should be immediately reported and addressed, applied equally to students and staff. The reality is that our bullying today has a much different face than it did a generation ago and presents new challenges.
Friday Harbor Elementary School uses Kelso’s Choice, which introduces young students to problem solving and resolving conflicts. Friday Harbor High School and Middle School use a peer framework and student support for addressing these issues, including identification of root cause. Both follow district guidelines and policy for applying a consistent resolution to bullying.
The San Juan Island School District has a link to SafeSchools Alert Incident Reporting System on the district website, featuring buttons to submit reports via text, email, web, or phone. It also features video training, “So How Do You Know You’re Being Bullied?”
Currently, Friday Harbor High School offers a Government class, meeting the state requirements of House Bill 2132 and related Washington Administrative Codes for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Since we currently meet the current civics requirement for the state of Washington, I see no reason to change our approach.
How are we defining classroom disruption? Are they a physical threat to others or just continuously interrupting class with their talking? Is their cell phone constantly beeping with new text messages? Each incident and individual is unique and I trust our administrators and teachers at each school to handle each incident on a case-by-case basis, effectively and in a timely manner.
It is better to try to build relationships with disruptive students, gain insight into their world, and understand the root cause of their disruptive behavior. If they are not in class, they likely are not learning. Student suspensions should be a last resort and always follow district policy.