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Cowlitz Kalama School District No. 402 Director District #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.
  • Susan (Sue) Dennis-Langham (NP) Retired school administrator

  • Bruce Rader (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 (360) 270-8879
Town where you live Kalama, WA
Experience (300 characters max) *BA in Ed from Arizona State *Taught in Kelso, 9 years *MA in ED and Administrative Certificate, Lewis and Clark *Principal, Pendleton, OR, 2 years *Principal, Crestline and Sifton Schools, Evergreen District, Vancouver, WA, 12 years *Retired *Taught reading, quarter time, Salem, OR 3 years
With the growth of industries at the Port of Kalama and a few new businesses in downtown Kalama, we have seen new families moving to town and the surrounding area. New families bring children. This trend is expected to continue as new workers come to town to work at new industries and businesses on Port properties. Our schools fill with new students; this year our schools have grown by more than 90 students. The elementary has grown to four kindergartens and four first grades, while 3, 4, and 5 have three large classes. As the classes are more crowded, the administration is examining ways to provide support. We are using space in the library for a classroom and library books are now in the hallway. The only space left is the principal’s office. New classes being offered in middle and high school also cause space problems. We have a citizen/ staff/ board member committee studying the issue and a bond levy to build a new elementary and middle school as well as extensive remodel
We have no Charter Schools inside our boundaries, but some of the students who live within our boundaries go to Charter Schools outside Kalama’s boundaries. We also have students who have chosen to attend Running Start at Lower Columbia College. This is a challenge because these students carry their FTE funds to that institution. In both situations, we do not get funds for them because they do not attend Kalama. We treat all students who return to Kalama from Running Start and Charter Schools to take certain classes or activities just like all our students. I strongly support public education and as a board member I will work to see that we continue to improve class offerings and eliminate issues which may have caused parents and students to choose options other than Kalama Public Schools. This year we have quite a few students return to the district and hope that this trend continues.
Standardized testing can provide some information on how a student is performing on the day of the testing. However, many students do not perform well in a mass testing situation. I believe that an analysis of student writing and reading level as well as teacher observations should be included in the assessment of a student. A portfolio of all student work/tests should show how the student is performing. The state requires certain testing and naturally this will be done but make this score part of the picture that the parent gets of their child. Test results, especially for an elementary student, are just part of the picture and generally not the most important part. How the student is working inside groups, getting along with her/his peers, cooperating and following classroom expectations could tell much more how the student is performing. For secondary students, the stakes are higher and tests become more important. Students also can have test anxiety which can affect how they
Research shows that teenagers need more sleep than they typically get. If they start school at 7:00 or 8:00, they struggle to stay alert. In Kalama both elementary and secondary students start school at 8:30, making it a little bit later for sleepy teens. Elementary children should go to bed earlier than older students so they are more likely to get enough sleep. Teens have more homework and do stay up later, but with a later start time in the morning they are more likely to get more rest and function better at school. This is an area that is outside of school control, so hopefully parents can exert influence in the area of “lights out” and the end of device use for the night so that their child gets as much rest as possible.
Students need reasons to stay in school. Activities like sports, choir, band and drama tend to get students involved with their school and build bonds with other students in their activity. Close involvement with their peers is one thing that keeps kids in school.

Another important factor is the relationship between the staff and the student. Teachers who are open to building relationships with their students really make a difference. A student needs to feel that his/her teacher is approachable and willing to help. A student needs to feel that her/his teacher cares.

I feel that these two factors build loyalty to the school and the other students and staff. A student who feels connected is likely to stay in school and graduate with his/her peers.

The administration and school board can help by fostering this attitude. Classes which are offered must be challenging enough for the academically talented. Support for struggling students must be in place. Students must be safe
Bullying must not be tolerated. This message must be heard by all people associated with the school. The penalties for bullying should be known in advance. If there are punishments, they must be applied equitably to all involved in the incident. Students and parents need to know that the situation was dealt with, not ignored or favoring any student. Student handbooks should clearly cover this issue. Rules must be posted in classrooms and around the school. Teachers must be vigilant and report incidents to the counselors and administration. Teachers should strive to be open to students so that students will bring bullying issues to them. The student must feel safe in the classroom. Bullying can come from many sources including social media and occurrences outside the classroom. Hopefully, parents, teachers, counselors, and sometimes law enforcement will work together to get a handle on the situation. The victim should be supported and those involved in the bullying, including
A total of three credits in civics must be earned for graduation. The three credits should be earned through the following classes: 1. One credit would be required in the study of the United States history and government. This will include study of the Constitution of the United States of America. 2. One-half credit will be earned through the study of Washington State history and government. This shall include the study of the Constitution of the state of Washington. This course would include the study of the Native Americans, “American Indians”, the first inhabitants of Washington State. 3. One credit will be earned through the study of contemporary world history, geography and problems. 4. One-half credit must be earned from a social Studies Elective such as economics or law.

This information comes from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Education. As a board member, I will support the offering of these courses in my district.
I do not approve of out-of-school suspension for classroom disruption. Alternative placement until the student is in control and ready to return to class is preferable. A student may just need a time out, or an opportunity to talk through the situation with a counselor or adult trained to listen and focus the student on positive ways to regain control and deal with whatever caused the situation.

When a student is excluded from class for more than a few minutes, assignments should be sent to the student or the adult monitoring the student should have worthwhile activities for the student to do. This is not a “vacation” and the purpose is not to entertain the student but to help him/her calm down and get ready to return to the classroom.

The only time an out-of-school suspension should be considered would be when laws have been broken and the legal system is involved.
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