Superintendent's Update: November 26, 2019

School Reviews

This year, we’ve completed school reviews for Clear Creek Elementary, Woodlands Elementary, Fairview Middle and Ridgetop Middle schools. School reviews began last year and are on a two-year cycle (half our schools are reviewed each year). During its two-hour session, a school identifies data trends, shares key actions from its SIP, discusses needed supports and responds to comments and questions. This process allows us to be intentional about monitoring our schools’ progress and adjusting when needed. The sessions have been valuable personally because they help me better understand each school individually. I’d like to thank the administrators and staff members who have participated so far, especially Joan Blazer, Office of Teaching & Learning, who coordinates tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure all goes smoothly.

Washington STEM Summit

On Friday, November 15, I attended the Washington STEM Summit at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond. This annual event brings together education, business and community leaders to tackle some of the biggest STEM education issues in our state. This year’s summit focused on two initiatives: Early STEM and Career Pathways. We participated in STEM immersions and workshops, and heard from STEM leaders from across the state. 

School Board Retreat

I’d like to thank our school board members and cabinet administrators for your participation in last week’s school board retreat. We spent a portion of the day in equity training. We also focused on board operating principles and key performance indicators. We also talked about our long-range facility plan. This time was valuable as we plan for the months and years ahead. 

WSSDA Fall Conference

Following the retreat, our school board members and I spent the weekend at the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) Annual Conference. This annual event for school directors, student representatives and superintendents is the largest gathering of education policymakers in Washington. This year’s conference theme was, “Culture of Connecting.” Over three days, we had the opportunity to learn from peers and other educational experts both formally and informally. It was also an opportunity for us to spend time together strengthening our own connections. During the Awards Luncheon on Friday, our board was recognized for earning a Board of Distinction award. This award honors boards that demonstrate alignment with research-based governance practices to increase student and district achievement. Congratulations once again!

BCCS Thanksgiving Luncheon

Today I attended the Thanksgiving Luncheon at Barker Creek Community School. The school created a true Thanksgiving family meal, recognizing that not all students will have that opportunity later this week. The tables were beautifully decorated with centerpieces from BCCS art students. Generous community members, families and staff members from across the district donated a turkey and all the trimmings, and TLC staff provided desserts. We all sat at tables together, put away our phones, and had wonderful conversations. It was the highlight of my day!

School Start & End Times

Over the past few years, district surveys have revealed concerns about the start times of secondary schools, particularly middle schools. Last spring, the district formed the School Start & End Times Team, which includes staff, parents and community members. The school board asked the team to provide a recommendation that considers:
  1. Research findings on sleep for adolescents
  2. Experiences of other districts
  3. Benefits to students
  4. Implications for families and district operations
  5. Input from stakeholders

In a survey earlier this fall, majority (75%) of respondents supported a change to start times based on sleep research. This research recommends that middle and high schools start no later than 8:30 a.m. After reviewing those results, the School Start & End Times Team asked for a survey comparing the two options that meet the sleep research. Those two options are not the only or final choices the team is working with. They are simply using those options to learn more about the specific needs and preferences of our families, staff and students. We are grateful for the thousands of survey responses we’ve already received. The survey will close on December 2. The School Start & End Times Team will share the results and an overview of their next steps during the school board meeting on December 11.