Welcome back to the 2017-18 school year and I am excited to greet and serve you! After the long, wet winter, the warm sunny weather this summer was certainly longed-for and refreshing. Summer is a time for rest, relaxation, traveling and enjoying family and friends and I am hoping you took full advantage of your time to rejuvenate. While you have been recharging, the district has been humming with activity. There has been much to accomplish this summer, which has kept the district staff and administration quite busy: (a) McCleary legislation was passed during the last week of June, (b) Teamster’s strike caused a delay in concrete delivered to sites around the state, (c) Water main leak, condenser units delayed for installation, and other unforeseen challenges forced slower completion of renovations at Cascade View Elementary, (d) the skyrocketing costs of construction projects in King County have caused district and community representatives to have crucial conversations regarding alternative ways to meet the objectives of the bond projects, (e) a new charter school is knocking on the back door of the district’s boundaries, and (f) families and students appear to be choosing alternative options for earning high school diplomas. Despite these challenges, the Cabinet, district administrators, staff, and I worked around the clock this summer to ensure a successful start of the new academic year. Here is a brief reflection of the district’s summer focus:
Summer School. This year’s summer school was a big success with expanded opportunities for learning at all levels. At the elementary level, over 200 students participated in programs to strengthen literacy and math skills. The YMCA provided after school programming to improve children’s physical strength as well as boost their self-esteem. The successful summer school program was coordinated by Javier Roman, Thorndyke Assistant Principal and Julie Herdt, Summer School Office Manager.
Over 100 students enrolled in the middle school summer school coordinated by Suzanne Hamilton, Showalter’s Dean of Students. In addition to classes focused on literacy and math, students also had the opportunity to participate in Zero Robotics course, in partnership with Schools Out Washington. Students worked in teams with engineers from NASA and students from MIT to create a code that will be used in a satellite. The competition was held in August. In addition, 25 students took part in a week-long field trip to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle. This is the third year of this field trip.
Brian Seigel, FHS’s Math teacher and TEA President, coordinated the high school summer school and Silvia Discus-Mora, Foster High School’s Registrar was the summer school office manager. Students attended Puget Sound Skills Center and earned credit in Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. A partnership was formed with the Museum of Flight and students were able to earn Science or CTE credit in the Take Off! Program.
The Way Forward!
Preparation for 2017-18 Academic Year. During the month of August, district administrators participated in a “Nuts and Bolts” Administrative Retreat that was well received by all. An expanded organizational chart was shared and included the specific responsibilities and “who to call for what” in the district office. The business office reviewed with administrators the approved budget and the reasons behind the decisions made throughout the budget process, which began in February, 2017. Teaching and Learning Department was able to share their plans for curriculum and instruction, special education, ELL, early learning and elementary education, and more. Data and Technology shared its plans associated with student assessment and evaluation and technology work associated with the technology refresh at the middle school. Human Resources and Labor Relations Management shared with staff the district philosophy on building an inclusive and positive culture and doubling our focus on student development and success. The two and a half day retreat was collaborative and many questions were addressed. Thank you for planning a comprehensive retreat: Dr. JoAnne Fabian, Dr. Heather Newman, Ms. Gayle Wilson, Dr. T.C. Wallace, Mr. Alphonso Melton, Ms. Maricel Haessig, Ms. Veronica Birdsong, Mr. Kenneth Peterson, Ms. Michelle Hill, Ms. Sally Jerome, Ms. Deborah Kohr, Mr. Jason Wilke, Mr. Jeff Baker, Mr. Hsian-Yu Kuo, Mr. Eric Estorga, Mr. Harvard Jones, Ms. Liliana Cardenas, Mr. Craig Huckins, Ms. Carol Pizano, and Ms. Ellen Gengler.
On August 30, the all District Staff Kick-Off was held at the Performing Arts Center located at Foster High School. Prior to attending the Kick-Off session, district employees were given the opportunity to complete Safe School Modules that are required each year. Following the session, Inspirus Credit Union and the district’s food service staff hosted a nice barbeque for the entire district where staff had the chance to catch up on summer vacation ventures and more. More than 375 staff members attended this year’s Kick-Off session whereby the highlight of the session was Spoken Words by Ms. Carla Carrizosa, Mr. Luis Escamilla, and Ms. Kyla Crawford. Thank you to principals and the expanded Cabinet for orchestrating a successful Kick-Off.
New Hires. Human Resources and Labor Relations Department has been busy helping principals and district Leaders fill positions in buildings and at the central office. It is our pleasure to welcome 19 certificated and 10 classified staff members to the Tukwila School District. A special welcome to principals Megan McGroarty of Foster High School and Teodora Bordeanu of Cascade View Elementary. The Data and Technology Department welcomes Jeff Baker, former principal of Cascade View Elementary, as director of its department.
Teaching and Learning. The district’s foundational department for the promotion and focus on student success has been quite busy ensuring resources are ordered and received by the start of the school year. I observe on a daily basis crowded in the hallways of the district office curriculum boxes and tool kits of all kind. The T and L staff members are checking “them twice” to make sure that deliveries are to the right schools. Curriculum has been received that was approved based on the 2016-17 middle school math pilot. The first phase of the digital Gradebook has been completed and the staff will continue to work on the next phase over the 2017-18 school year. Special Education has been working to ensure the accommodations are on target and appropriate for its students and has hosted several training sessions this summer for staff to confirm readiness for its students. English Language Learners will see a new team member soon to accommodate its needs; Daniella Mark has resigned to take care of her newborn. Be assured that ELL needs will be handled. Under a Letter of Agreement with the TEA Union, two staff members will join the T and L Team as Quality Engagement Officers for Students and Families. Welcome to the team, Quality Engagement Officers, Nichelle Page and Julie Herdt who will work with family liaisons in expanded roles beyond Title compliance for families and students in our school district. Should you need McKinney-Vento needs handled, you will now contact one of our Quality Engagement Officers. If you have an idea about wider opportunities for our students, please contact one of our Quality Engagement Officers.
Data and Technology. Summer is always busy for this department. Technology is overhauled and refreshed to make sure teachers and students can have maximum access during the fall. Just as our automobiles receive tune ups in the winter, so does district technology similarly this time of the year. For the assessment component of this department, an assessment calendar for the new year is ready. iReady training has taken place, which is the new elementary assessment protocol that will be implemented for the first time in 2017-18. Julie Polwarth and I attended the Summer State Career and Technical Education Conference in Spokane, July, 2017 to ensure the district will be on target to support career and technical education students this year. Career and Technical Education is housed in this department and Jeff Baker and Jason Wilke will provide support for that area.
Business Office. Business Officers Alphonso Melton, Kenneth Peterson, Carol Pizano, and I attended the WASBO Summer Institute in July to keep apprised of McCleary decisions and informed about the latest school business and finance practices. A balanced budget was approved in August and at the end of last week the State Audit was on location to finish the remainder of the 2016-17 audit.
Maintenance and Operations. Might I acknowledge that this is the busiest department of all during summer months! The coordination of all the maintenance tasks including, but not limited to, cleaning carpeting, waxing tile floors, painting walls, moving furniture, doing safety checks, keeping up with lawn care and more is a tall task for such few staff members over the summer. A special thank you to all of you!
Enrollment. What does Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) have to do with “it?” While district leadership, which includes building office managers, keeps up with daily enrollment, the district’s Enrollment Czar is Carol Pizano, Project Manager and Business Analyst and the final word! She keeps everybody straight when it comes to distinguishing between Head Count and FTE. Until October 1, 2017, Carol will be requesting daily attendance from each school so that we may analyze the alignment of enrollment with basic education allocation and make adjustments accordingly. The exciting and great news is that our FTE Enrollment as of today stands at 2,920, according to the Enrollment Czar! We are making certificated staffing changes accordingly, based on instruction from the 2017-18 Budget Booklet pages about staffing complement. Reminder, the budget was developed based on 2,725 FTE count. As a gentle reminder, please continue to call students who are not in attendance consistently for the first 4-days and on a regular basis as needed. Attendance Everyday Counts for Student Success, our goal for the 2017-18 academic year!
Construction projects get everyone excited for positive change throughout the district and construction projects began with a flurry at the end of June. Projects moved forward at a rapid pace. Below is an update on the various projects that have started and where they are in the process.
Transportation Building began construction in June. The fleet of buses has been housed in the FHS student parking lot. Construction was interrupted recently due to the concrete workers strike and it is back on track now. To start the year, some buses will remain at FHS and others will be moved to the new transportation site. Drivers will park at FHS and be shuttled to their buses in the AM and PM until the new building is completed.
New Technology Bldg. (Old Foster Library) will be going to bid this fall with remodeling expected to be completed by December and staff moved in by end of January.
Cascade View is in process and the full completion date is expected later this fall. While construction continues through September, the building will be accessible and ready on the first day of school for staff and students to occupy all areas except the new cafeteria. Safety is a priority while construction continues, so plans for students and staff movements throughout the day are being developed.
Foster High School plans are being finalized and will go to bid in January 2018 with construction to begin in the spring. Transition and phasing plans are being developed to relocate classrooms to accommodate the construction phases. The track was replaced this summer and the flagpole in the stadium was relocated to the south end of the field. Showalter Middle School plans are in development and project will go to bid in January 2019. Birth to Kindergarten Center project is currently on hold. A special board meeting was held on August 22, 2017. At this meeting, information was shared about the challenges of moving forward with the project based on rising costs in construction. Additional meetings will be scheduled to hear from the community before final decisions are made. We recognize the need for quality early learning programs for our students and will be looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts in upcoming meetings.
As I sign off on my first official Welcome Back correspondence to you as interim superintendent, I want to thank you for jumping and pitching in this summer as we navigated together stormy weather. We are ready to greet our families and their scholars on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 bright and early with excitement and with smiles. I would be remiss if I did not save the last acknowledgement for the special staff at Cascade View Elementary…you are troopers and I appreciate the extra work you did at the end of the school year, and just last week to ensure classrooms were ready for your scholars. A big hug and thank you to you!
Judith K. Berry, PhD