To: Michael Green
From: Jake Hall
Re: September 2021 Board Report
Although we are in the midst of a pandemic and all of its impact on our educational systems, it is absolutely wonderful to have our students back for the start of the school year! We are grateful to be in a NEW school year, especially given the backdrop of the previous two school years.
Family and Community Resource Center
Currently, we are working on needs assessments and eligibility for our returning and new students who are experiencing homelessness.
Our annual Back to School Bash was held on August 21, 2021, and we gave away over 350 backpacks with school supplies, snacks, and community resources. We hosted the event outdoors this year in accordance with safety guidelines and held a raffle for prizes. We were awarded sponsorship by Fibre Federal for $1,000 and IQ Credit Union for $1,500. Red Canoe did a “Fill the Canoe” drive which generated more than $5000 in donations to our district, awarding us with piles of school supplies, and their donation-matching check.
We were awarded the Community Foundation grant for $25,000 for emergency eviction assistance and emergency hotel vouchers for our families facing homelessness. We are in year 3 of our McKinney-Vento grant for $25,000 a year (used for tutoring, summer school, technology, and FCRC staff hours), and year 2 of our HSSeP grant for $15,000 a year (used for additional interpretation and translation staff hours for our district interpreter).
Additionally, because we were awarded the McKinney-Vento grant, we were also awarded funds by the state of Washington, from the American Rescue Plan, of $42,500 to be spent by 2024. We used the funds to create a Homeless, Unaccompanied Youth part-time paraeducator position, filled by Jonathan King. This position will provide added support to our homeless youth who are not living with a parent or guardian.
Highly Capable Program
Columbia currently has 29 students identified as Highly Capable. Specialists are assigned to a grade level and are provided 30 minutes daily to plan and provide accelerated curriculum for identified students. We are looking forward to attending the yearly gifted and talented conference, WAETAG. This conference is a great resource for our teachers.
North Fork currently has 30 students identified as Highly Capable. Teachers are providing an accelerated curriculum for their highly capable students during their SOAR intervention block, Tuesday through Friday. Each grade level has a designated teacher which the students go to during this intervention block. Our intervention groups are currently being planned and will begin on September 20th.
At Woodland Middle School, we have hit the ground running this new school year. The 5th grade Highly Capable group is researching an engineering project aimed at launching a ping pong ball parachute into the sky. We have also talked over the LEGO Teams projects and collaborated with the students on creating innovations to the country's package delivery systems. This project-based learning is applicable in real life for finding solutions to real world problems.
K-12 Nurse Services
Our health staff are very busy caring for students daily for minor and major injuries/illnesses. Before the start of the school year, our nursing team also works with our returning students’ families to ensure we receive all emergency medications and updated medication orders prior to the first day of school.
On top of all these tasks for our health staff in the normally busy start to the school year, our nurses have been working extra hours due to all of the covid-19 testing, tracing, and communication with students and families. There is no way that I have found to put the enormity and complexity of their work during this pandemic. We are fortunate to have our four hardworking, knowledgeable health staff.
K-4 has completed our Fall Literacy Screeners to identify students who are at risk for not meeting standards in reading. We included the Rapid Automatized Naming measure as required by OSPI to ensure our screening catches all possible areas of phonological, phonemic, and phonetic weakness. Using that data, we completed diagnostic surveys to identify what supports are needed. Our LAP and ELL teams have also begun supporting our first and second grade classrooms in a specific intervention designed to help close the gap.
Lewis River Academy
LRA is delighted to welcome back many returning families to build on their success last year and beyond. We have over 70 students and are thrilled to have Andrea Edwards still with the LRA staff, working with grades K-2. Andrea's experience and Kindergarten assessment “WA Kids” certification allows us to keep offering a full-day kindergarten even though we are a remote program. Our days are filled with virtual Google Meetings with students and families. We are helping new families settle in and encouraging returning families to make this year a success in their at-home learning.
TEAM High School
TEAM is off and running for the new school year! Long-term substitute teacher Michael Harper is learning the ropes and has already had a positive impact on students. The TEAM Satellite classroom at WHS is also seeing positive reactions from students who say that having access to both schools makes them feel included and excited about school. TEAM staff is also thrilled to finally welcome students back into the portable on a regular basis, up to 8 hours each student each week. We have been strategically physically distancing ourselves to allow as many students as possible in the building.
WMS Title has been busy doing reading assessments for students placed in reading intervention classes, along with new students to ensure they are identified early in the school year if they need additional support. Our reading classes have been up and running from day one, targeting specific student needs in the area of reading accuracy, rate, comprehension, and writing. We are pleased to say we have trained a few paras to be Barton tutors for students with dyslexia. They are working one-on-one with 5 students throughout the day. We are planning to serve even more students in the future as we are able to hire more paras.
September is usually the month with the lowest number of students with IEPs. From September to October, our number of students with IEPs continue to fluctuate as students transfer in and out of the district. This is especially true this year as parents navigate their child’s educational environment with concerns about the pandemic. Our special education unofficial count looks to be approximately 316 but with all of our current initial evaluations under way, our numbers of students who need services could climb by dozens.
Student Engagement (formerly K-12 Attendance)
One of the updates in the legislation around Truancy is with nomenclature. Community Truancy Board is renamed to Community Engagement Board, effective 8.1.21. As such, Nichole Lester's title is now Student Engagement Coordinator (formerly Truancy Coordinator). This fits more with the work of the position and the new name of Truancy Boards.
We are seeing a higher absence rate this September compared with the previous three years as nearly all of the absences this year are due to COVID-19 quarantine time and/or sickness.
There are no students currently on truancy petitions. Stacy dismissed them all last year for a fresh start this year. Nichole is doing a great job leaning in to help our health staff with contacting families of students who are absent.