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School board wants Congress to reauthorize education act

The South Kitsap School District board voted unanimously to support a resolution to urge Congress to show leadership and reauthorize the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 during its May 7 meeting.

The Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) board of directors approved the original resolution on May 1.

WSSDA reported the resolution was prompted by growing recognition that the act, which has not been amended or reauthorized in more than a dozen years, is both flawed and outdated. The recent denial of a waiver to “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) is only the most recent and visible of the problems. The overriding issue is that failure to update the law has created a national roadblock to high-quality K-12 education.

The resolution cites unwarranted mandates, costly and ineffective punitive sanctions, and inaccurate accountability provisions as reasons enough to demand changes to the law.

School Board President Chris Lemke said he received a copy of the resolution from the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) and presented to Superintendent Michelle Reid.

“I thought we should consider this as a board,” said Lemke.

“The president of WSSDA is asking school districts to adopt the resolution.”

Lemke said by not reauthorizing ESEA, there are more consequences that will happen to school districts across the U.S.

“It will put a lot of school districts in a bad position,” he said.

Lemke said WSSDA is contacting other states to become part of this resolution.

School board member Patty Henderson noted one of the most important parts of the resolution deals with the accountability provision in the law that unfairly and inaccurately reflects the academic progress of students, schools and school districts resulting in public schools labeled as “failing” by NCLB. Those schools then are subject to punitive sanctions that are costly and ineffective.

“It has resulted in the misrepresentation of students, schools and districts,” said Henderson. “And it has contributed to a significant and unwarranted decline in the public’s opinion of our public schools.

“I think that is so important because schools are doing so much more these days and so much more than they ever did for our kids,” she said. “They are learning so much more.”

Lemke said that according to the National School Board Association (NSBA), the U.S. has the highest graduation rate ever.

South Kitsap Education Association President John Richardson thanked the board for approving the resolution.

According to Michael Wilson, WSSDA spokesman, four other school districts – Tacoma, Marysville and Lake Washington — have passed the resolution as of May 12.

Olalla Elementary receives awards, grant

Greg Lynch, superintendent for the Olympic Education Service District (ESD) 114, awarded Olalla Elementary with the 2013 Washington Achievement Award for improvement in student test scores over a three-year period.

Lynch said there are six categories of the award, which are based on the Washington State Board of Education Achievement Index and combined with some federal standards.

Olalla Elementary was awarded for high performance.

“This is not one or two years worth of performance, but three years,” Lynch said. “The students demonstrated increasing test scores measured by the state’s standardized testing.”

He said only 10 percent of the schools in the state are recognized for the award.

“I know where the work gets done, it’s in the classroom,” said Lynch.

Principal Charlotte Flynn and several staff members were on hand for the award.

“It’s an exciting time for Olalla Elementary,” Reid said.

Karen Anderson and Stephanie Darragh, teachers at Olalla Elementary School, won a $5,000 Teachers and Technology Grant from CenturyLink. They were among 21 schools selected to receive the grant money.

“Our school, with help from the South Kitsap Conversation District, put in a rain garden with plants,” said Darragh, a first-grade teacher. “Our proposal for the grant was to use iPads to create a digital field guide for plants we have on our campus.”

Anderson, a second-grade teacher, said this is a way to get young students started with technology and interested in the rain garden.

“With the iPad they can use the camera, do their research and it’s a great way to get it started,” she said.

The school also received an Environmental Education Award in recognition of work that students, staff and community volunteers completed during the installation of the rain garden at Olalla Elementary.

Kitsap County’s 23rd annual Earth Day Awards are presented by the Public Works Solid Waste Division to outstanding individual citizens, organizations, schools, clubs and businesses for their innovative environmental programs or projects in Kitsap County.

The award was presented April 14 during a meeting of the county commissioners.

PSE easement approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution for an easement with Puget Sound Energy for the installation of a utility pole near the Cedar Heights Junior High School outfield fence.

The pole will allow Rush Construction to provide electrical power to the sanitary lift station that will be installed in the rear of the parking lot this summer.

This easement and pole installation present no financial cost to the school district. The new pole supports a lift station installation previously agreed to and benefits the district by bringing electrical power to the baseball field area for the first time. It will provide the district with a future capability to power irrigation controls, a score board, pitching machines and other improvements.

 

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