Superintendent's Update: May 13, 2020

Class of 2020 Plans

Earlier this month, we announced that senior-related events (senior awards, graduation, etc.) across the district would take place virtually on their originally scheduled dates and times. We are in the planning stages for what those events will look like and include. Our virtual graduation ceremonies, in particular, are intended to honor our seniors and their achievements with a celebration that is meaningful and memorable during this unprecedented time. We will share more details with our families as the next few weeks unfold.
  • Tonight, you approved a contract with VEGO Pictures, and they are producing our virtual graduation ceremonies (same graduation date/time for each school).
  • High schools are planning virtual senior awards nights, on their originally scheduled dates.
  • We are also working on an in-person event between our awards ceremony and graduation.
  • This event will depend on our state’s limitations for social distancing and group size.
  • We know there are many things that we need to deliver to our seniors, and we still want to do that in-person if we can.These items include:Yearbooks, honor cords, award medallions, certificates, and the like.
  • High schools are collaborating with students and parents to make the best out of this challenging situation.

Grading Guidelines Update

Last week we shared an update to our grading guidelines for grades 9-12 and credit-bearing middle school courses. This change in policy was needed after the state eliminated the pass/incomplete option. Teachers will now assign a grade of "A" or an "I" (incomplete) for second semester report cards. No student will receive a "pass," "fail" or "no credit" grade for any course (with the exception of students receiving special education services where a “pass” is included in the IEP).

Meal Pick-up Changes

We are making it easier for families to participate in our free meal program. Federal guidelines have been temporarily waived, and children no longer need to be present to pick up weekday meals. We are also no longer asking families to complete an online form in advance—they can just show up! Meals are served from 11:00 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday at several locations across our district. We are currently serving an average of about 1,530 children each day (3,060 meals). 

Childcare Update

Over the past two weeks, as local businesses have begun reopening, our childcares have also increased their services and are now serving more families. These childcares will be transitioning to provide summer services beginning June 22, including Martha & Mary KIDS, which will be opening at Cougar Valley Elementary.

Continuous Learning Plan and Waiver Resolution

On April 6, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) published the Continuous Learning 2020 publication. The publication provides school districts with guidance, tools, and resources for meeting student, educator, and family needs while schools are closed due to COVID-19. On April 29, OSPI adopted temporary rules that allow school districts to receive their full annual allocation of state basic education apportionment during this closure. We will need to submit an application to OSPI requesting the waiver of school days and instructional hours.

Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead

The last day of school for the current school year is Friday, June 19. Our goal is to finish the current school year strong, while we also begin planning behind the scenes for next school year. As we consider our plans for student and staff re-entry, and the work we’ll need to do to rebuild our academic and social foundations, we’ll do so with an increased focus on relationships.

District Budget Situation

Based on current state funding, we are not facing layoffs at this time. But we do need to make some budget adjustments and reductions. We are projecting a budget shortfall of at least $4.7 million for the upcoming year. This figure may change based on uncertainty around the financial impacts of the current global pandemic. We plan to address this shortfall primarily through attrition (as people retire or resign, their positions may not always be filled) and by implementing efficiencies to reduce costs.

Staff and Community Conversation

I recently asked staff, families and community members to connect with me, and let me know what’s on their mind. And they did! Nearly 1,900 people participated and shared more than 2,700 thoughts. We are sorting through the results now, and we are learning so much about their ideas, concerns and questions. It will take some time to process the full results. We will follow up with staff, families and our community when this work is done.

Certificated Employees Appreciation Week

This year marks the first time we’ve needed to honor and celebrate our teachers and other certificated employees from a distance—and I hope it’s the last! Although we couldn’t be together to show our appreciation, we did take time last week to recognize these hardworking employees for all they do.