Edmonds School District students keep their minds on math over summer

graduation capEarlier this the week, the Edmonds School Board got the tally on Edmonds School District’s efforts to keep students making math gains even as summer distractions beckon.

The ESD Summer Math Program averaged 300 to 350 students per day, according to its administrator, Alderwood Middle School Assistant Principal Brian Stewart, who made the report at the Aug. 13 school board meeting. The outreach effort spread 60 hours of math tutoring over 30 days at four sites. It was coordinated with the free lunch program: Over 50 percent of attendees were students who qualified for free or reduced price lunches.

Stewart spoke warmly of the efforts of lead volunteer Bill Henning to recruit numerous students, parents and community members to help out. Sno-Isle Library and the Lynwood High School Robotics team are two examples of other participating groups enriching the learning opportunity.  Among other local businesses, Dairy Queen, Burger King and 7-11 provided incentives. The Assistant Principal summed up by indicating that next summer’s program will be looking for students who lack Internet access and it will perhaps offer one session in the evening to coordinate better with working families.

Details of staff summer professional development and student summer reading programs were provided to the board by Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Lara Drew. She ticked off a list of workshops, institutes, orientations, trainings and conferences that took place over the summer to prepare staff for the coming year. A special emphasis was preparing to implement the district’s new evaluation system, the Danielson Framework, and also adopting Common Core standards. This summer, for the first time, pre-kindergarten staff participated in training to improve seamless transitions, Drew noted.

She also passed out results of hours logged by middle school students in the myOn Summer Reading Program and also of RazKids Summer Reading for elementary students. Students read or listened to 34,204 books in the latter program.

Also under discussion at the Aug. 13 meeting:
– The board heard an explanation by Assistant Superintendent Patrick Murphy of the district’s 74.2 percent graduation rate for 2013.  One contributing factor to the low number is that in the past Edmonds counted its graduates differently from the state. The state’s graduation count is time-based, while Edmonds School District used to be credit-based.

Another factor that affects the district’s graduation rate is turnover of students: one out of three graduates from district schools last spring was new to tje system. This compares to one out of four in Northshore and one out of two in Everett. Both of these districts had higher graduation rates than Edmonds, however.  Unlike many of its surrounding districts, Edmonds has 13 different entities that can grant diplomas. Everett, in contrast, has only one while Mukilteo has three, a different one at each of its high schools.

In addition, students participating in the Edmonds School District’s alternative programs have a lower graduation rate. At the Edmonds Career Access Program (EDCAP), for example, it’s 66 percent. The secondary staff during an upcoming retreat will re-examine use of alternative programs, Murphy added, citing that the best graduation rates are from comprehensive high schools.

Stating that students in rigorous, college-preparedness courses are more likely to finish school and go on to college, Murphy also briefed the board on the district’s new acceleration policy. This new policy places middle school students in challenging classes based on their grades and test results. This is modeled after a similar program in the Federal Way School District. Parents have the right to petition for a less-demanding placement (essentially opting out) for their student if they think that is necessary. Secondary staff is still working to implement the acceleration policy at the high school level, where it is a more complex issue.

Murphy went on to request that the board accept a Memorandum of Understanding with Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS), a Washington state non-profit corporation. Google is providing matching grants of $36,000 each for three separate high schools — Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds-Woodway — to put the program in place this year.  Meadowdale would be included in the program the following school year. This grant is about “under-represented populations in our schools’ higher level classes,” according to Edmonds School District Superintendent Nick Brossoit.

EOS data collection specialists will survey students and teachers in the fall. They will then merge data and strategize with counselors, principals and administrators to get more minorities enrolled in AP and IB classes in the spring. Additionally, more teachers will get AP training. Finally, when ESO leaves the district, it will leave its process with district staff so that they can take over, explained Murphy.  The board later in the evening agreed to the Memorandum of Understanding with Equal Opportunity Schools.

– Executive Director of Business and Operations Stewart Mhyre relayed to the board that compared to last year, revenues and expenses are both running higher than expected. He said he was glad to report that the district’s assessed evaluation of real estate is up by 9.7 percent, “which is huge.” Income to the district is closely aligned with higher real estate values, and Meyers noted that assessed evaluation has dropped by about 34 percent in recent years.

In other business, the district’s Lynnwood Central property across from Lynnwood Convention Center has been declared as surplus, which enables it to be sold or leased and developed.  Staff will shortly order an appraisal.

In addition, the board awarded the bid of $316,400 for demolition of the district’s Melody Hill site in Mountlake Terrace to Rhine Demolition LLC, which according to Capital Projects Director Ed Peters, did a great job on Meadowdale Middle School’s demolition.  The work will start soon and a traffic study is underway so that potential developers have a complete picture.

Peters also updated the board on a quickly implemented effort to supply Spruce Elementary with more kindergarten space. State funding has provided for an additional full-day kindergarten, but not funded more space at the packed school. The board approved $375,000 to reconfigure a book storage room and some additional portion of Spruce’s library to create a kindergarten room and another classroom for learning support. Peters remarked that this is a compressed timeline and no students will be allowed to use the library while this construction happens.

Board Chair Ann McMurray complimented staff on “way to think outside the box and make it so we don’t have to do a portable.”  Peters remarked that a portable would have taken even longer and wouldn’t have been that much cheaper.

In one of its essential tasks for this meeting, the board with a second reading approved a budget for the coming fiscal year as follows:

General Fund  $212,364,947
Transportation Vehicle Fund  $1,000,000
Capital Projects Fund  $14,777,724
Debt Service Fund  $28,942,405
Associated Student Body Program Fund  $3,000,299

In yet another significant task, new staff was introduced:
The five new elementary school Principals are: CJ Gray at Cedar Valley; Troy Holding at College Place; Susan Jung at Westgate; Scott Mauk at Edmonds Heights K-12; and David Updike at College Place. Three of these are interim administrators hired so that sitting principals can be freed up to implement the Edmonds School District’s new administrator and teacher evaluation system.

New secondary administrators include: Jennifer Kniseley, Meadowdale Middle School Principal; Sara Lowes, Lynnwood High School Assistant Principal; Mike Piper, Lynnwood High School Assistant Principal; and Joyce Scott, Meadowdale High School Assistant Principal.

Other new faces include: Gretchen Fleming, English Language Learner Program Manager; Karen Schreiber, Early Learning Manager; Sarah Schumacher, Manger for Secondary Education; and Darren Spencer, Life Skills and Health Services Manager.

The board next meets on Sept. 10 at 6:30 pm at the Educational Services Center, 20420 68th Ave. W., Lynnwood.

Kelliher— By Eileen Kelliher

School board contributing writer Eileen Kelliher served as a parent volunteer while her three children went through Seaview Elementary, Meadowdale Middle School, and Edmonds-Woodway High School.  She works occasionally as a substitute classified employee for the Edmonds School District. https://www.linkedin.com/in/eileenmkelliher/

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