||District seeks efficiencies over time as it adjusts to new era of less local levy funds
The McCleary Decision, which pushed the state to fully fund basic education, has been a boon for local taxpayers as homeowners with a median-priced home are looking at a $500 a year tax cut beginning in 2019. The savings comes through the ‘Levy Swap’ agreement, which capped local levies at $1.50 per $1,000, to lighten the load for local taxpayers. The previous levy rate was approximately $3.50 per $1,000 in Walla Walla. This change creates a ‘Levy Swap’ gap for the district as the levy drops from $11.3M in 2017-18 to $5.3M in 2019-20.
The news for Walla Walla taxpayers only gets brighter going forward. Property owners will see the lowest school tax rates in three decades even if voters approve the November 2018 Replacement Bond Rate proposal, which calls for keeping the existing bond rate the same.
Although McCleary has been good for taxpayers, Superintendent Wade Smith reported to school board members Tuesday night lowering local levy revenue has created operating challenges for districts like ours which had a sizeable local levy. Smith outlined the district’s plan to address operating in the post McCleary era. He said the reduction of levy resources and lack of sufficient offsetting new monies from the state will require our district to gradually bring staffing allocations more in line with the prototypical school model in order to maintain competitive salaries and financial solvency. Smith said this process will be rolled out slowly.
McCleary Reality - Key messages from Superintendent Smith:
• No layoffs or elimination of programs anticipated
• Some vacant positions will not be refilled
• Continue to “right size” staffing and program models to better align with prototypical school
• Work cooperatively with WWVEA and PSE to propose legislative funding adjustments for WWPS to ensure adequate and necessary funding to maintain the level of programming our community desires for its children.
||Grades 6-12 new English/Language Arts Curriculum next year
The 2018-19 school year will start with a significant advancement in rigorous and standards aligned materials for 6th-12th grade English Language Arts thanks to a new curriculum adoption, according to Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Christy Krutulis. In Tuesday night’s report, Krutulis and members of the Curriculum Adoption team recommended adopting SpringBoard for the district’s core 6th-12th grade English Language Arts materials. The school board will consider the recommendation at its May 15 meeting.
This proposed $350,000 adoption is part of the annual $500,000 investment toward new curriculum materials approved by the School Board during last spring’s Strategic Planning process. Extensive time over the last year was dedicated to this adoption process to ensure the district is providing students a rigorous and aligned learning experience K-12, according to Krutulis.
“It’s exciting to know teachers unanimously selected College Board’s SpringBoard materials as a critical next step for ensuring all students graduate from Walla Walla Public Schools with the essential literacy skills to be college and career ready,” said Krutulis.
• May 15: School Board votes on adoption of SpringBoard Core materials
• New materials ordered
• Mini-Chromebook carts allocated for each classroom
• Three days of professional learning in June and/or August
• 4th day of professional learning in Fall
• Sessions added throughout the school year
||District taking steps to reach Strategic Plan graduation rate targets
Assistant Superintendent Chris Gardea provided school board members an update on the district’s graduation rates during Tuesday’s Regular Study Meeting. Gardea reported our district’s Vision of ‘Developing Washington’s Most Sought-After Graduates’ reinforces a strong commitment and expectation students graduate.
2017 WWPS 4 year rate: 75.1%
2017 State 4 year rate: 79.3%
• Target 4 year goal: 85% by 2021-22
2017 WWPS 5 year rate: 85.8%
2017 State 5 year rate: 82.4%
• Target 5 year goal: 90% by 2021-22
Gardea said our district is taking the necessary steps to ensure the targets are met, per the district’s Strategic Plan.
• Closely monitoring course completion
• Course retrieval enhanced
• Expansion of summer courses
• Re-teach and assist time built-in
||Personnel Report (from May 1, 2018 School Board Meeting)
Allyssa Barnett, Fifth Grade Bilingual, Green Park Elementary School
McKenzie Bostwick, Third Grade, Sharpstein Elementary School
Katherine Ingram, Special Education, Green Park Elementary School
Rhonda Clements, School Psychologist, Special Education, 2 years
Mary Cortinas, Highly Capable, Sharpstein Elementary School, 17 years
Caitlin Duncan, First Grade, Blue Ridge Elementary School, 3 years
Abigail Luckstead, Math/STEM, Pioneer Middle School, 2 years
- Abigail is resigning .33 FTE of her position and will continue at .67 FTE
Doug Poulson, Physical Education, Garrison Middle School, 25 years
Ronni Tobin, Special Education, Lincoln High School, 5 years
Brittney Cutlip, Para-Educator, Green Park Elementary School, 3 years
Gerard Duncan, Jr., Para-Educator, Lincoln High School, 1 year
Ann Wilson, Para-Educator, Pioneer Middle School, 3 years
Applications now accepted for Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee
The Board has directed Superintendent Wade Smith to establish a Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee, comprised of 10 community members, to carefully monitor the delivery of the proposed bond program to ensure accountability, fiscal transparency, and community trust. Applications are now being accepted until 4 p.m. May 11. Visit the district’s Bond Planning webpage for an application and additional information. Application
||Applications now accepted for School Board position #2 vacancy
Tuesday, April 17, the Board of Directors accepted the resignation of school board member Jaenemy Perez de Luengas. In her resignation letter she thanked everyone for their support and said she is excited about the positive direction of the school district. She noted as a parent of three young children and the sole working provider for her family, she couldn’t provide the adequate attention and time to fulfill her board duties. Interested citizens may apply by submitting an Application for Board Vacancy posted on the district webpage. Completed applications must be received by the District Office by May 9, 4 p.m. The term ends in 2019. Application
No School May 11
There is No School Friday, May 11. This No School day was added to the calendar as a possible snow make-up day. Since school was not canceled this winter due to hazardous driving and walking conditions, the No School day will be observed. Classes resume Monday, May 14.
Cinco de Mayo celebration tonight
Tonight, the Walla Walla High School Latino Club is sponsoring a Cinco de mayo celebration in the Walla Walla High School Commons from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The festival will feature a career and activity fair as part of the celebration. Dinner will be provided by “Dora’s Deli” for the first 400 people who attend the event. Entertainment will feature performances by local groups and school programs. The activity fair will include many community partners, colleges, universities, and school clubs that families or children would enjoy.
||Green Park Principal says good-bye at end of school year
Green Park Principal Gina Yonts is bidding the district farewell after 27 years of service. Yonts has accepted the position of Director of Principal Support, Eastern Washington with the Association of Washington School Principals. She begins July 1. Yonts spent 11 years in the classroom as a teacher at Berney Elementary. She went into administration 16 years ago. She was Assistant Principal at Garrison Middle School for six years and spent another five years as the school’s principal. She has been in her current role for the past five years.
“The growth, learning and investment in me as a teacher and administrator these past 27 years by the Walla Walla Public School system are appreciated and valued beyond measure,” said Yonts. “It’s a blessing that our family is able to continue living in the Walla Walla Valley and continue to be a part of this wonderful community. Moving forward, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to impact regional school systems through principal mentoring and support.”
Applications are currently being accepted for the Green Park principal position. Visit the district website for details. The position closes May 23. The new principal begins July 1.
||Wa Hi Drama Presents - Bells Are Ringing
Don’t miss this 1950s Romantic Musical Comedy!
• Story: This 1950’s musical follows an answering service girl named Ella (Cassie Dixon) who loves talking to her clients and trying to fix their problems. Hilarity ensues as she falls in love over the phone with one of her clients- Jeffery Moss (Collin Gabriel) and attempts to save his career as her answering service is being investigated for misconduct. Originally played by Judy Holliday and Dean Martin, this show has great standards (Just in Time, Long Before I Knew You) as well as some other fun toe-tapping tunes played by Wa-Hi’s award-winning orchestra lead by Andrew Ueckert.
• Tickets: $6 students/$12 adults available at the door one hour prior to curtain and online at intouch.wwps.org
• Dates and Times: May 4, 5, 10, 11, 12 @ 7 p.m. & May 5 & 12 @ 2 p.m.
• Location: Wa-Hi Auditorium
||Wa-Hi students compete at state Solo & Ensemble event
Congratulations to the seven Walla Walla High School students who recently competed in the State Solo & Ensemble Event at Central Washington University.
• Caroline Blethen and Amanda Looney sang in the Small Soprano/Mezzo/Alto Category
• Thomas Kaminsky and Keeli McKern performed in the Small Woodwind Ensemble Category
• Blake Averrett performed in the Piano Category
• Thomas Kaminsky performed in the Flute Category
• Keeli McKern performed in the Clarinet Catergory
• Peter Hoffman performed in the Bass Category
• Trevor Kytola performed in the Tenor Category
“We had several that were contenders for the top three,” said Roger Garcia, District Music Coordinator. “We are very proud of these students, and all of our music students, who represented Walla Walla quite well.”
||Walla Walla High School JROTC wins Army top cadet unit award
Story courtesy WWHS JROTC Public Affairs
Walla Walla High School, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (May 3, 2018) -- The accomplishments and honors for cadets in the JROTC program at Walla Walla High School just keep growing. The Blue Devil Battalion learned last week that they won the title of “Honor Unit, with Distinction” following a recent rigorous inspection conducted by higher command headquarters.
The accompanying insignia of this achievement is a golden star a cadet will wear on the right side of their dress uniform jacket, along with their other unit award ribbons and devices. The first group of cadets received their stars this morning following the command and staff period.
Becoming an HUD award-winning program is a demanding challenge and only those units in the 95th percentile receive these honors, according to the program director at Wa-Hi.
“The inspection and evaluation process is rigorous and consists of several parts,” said Lt. Col. Bill Bialozor, Senior Army Instructor for WWHS JROTC. “Every three years, our program undergoes a battalion-wide assessment that includes in-depth knowledge of cadet training material, uniforms and appearance, leadership briefings by the instructors, cadet leaders and staff officials, and randomly selected members of the battalion.”
An Department of the Army civilian official from the Cadet Command 8th Brigade headquarters visited last month to conduct this several-day evaluation. Mark Pratt, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, announced the Blue Devil Battalion earned a total of 96.38% following this evaluation. The 8th Brigade is responsible for all Army JROTC programs from the western United States and across the Pacific Theater.
“That’s when we found out we got the HUD Gold Star,” said Cadet Lt. Col Melinda Locke, who commands the battalion this year. “We got to brief Mr. Pratt on the efforts and achievements of this year, including our drill and marksmanship meets, special events like our Veterans Day assembly. I am so impressed with all our cadets and their accomplishments this year that led to this distinction. I couldn’t be more proud of my company commanders and their people.”
Achieving this level of recognition doesn’t come easy, according to the JROTC’s other Army Instructor and rifle team coach. Only one other program in the Pacific Northwest league, North Salem H.S. (Oregon), is currently recognized with the Gold Star.
“We’re evaluated like this every three years,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mark Mebes, Army Instructor. “The last time we did this was at least a dozen years ago.”
Getting the job done takes preparation and effort across the corps of cadets, according to the chief enlisted affairs advisor to the battalion commander.
“I prepared our non-commissioned officers for this by working with all the company first sergeants to help ensure their records and briefings were the best they could be,” said Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Ben Bialozor. “Things like these briefings can be a make-or-break factor in an evaluation as important as this one.”
Now that the Blue Devil Battalion has earned the HUD, every cadet currently in the program may wear a gold star on their dress uniform for the next three years, until they will again have to prove themselves worthy of this honored title.
The 8th Brigade also visited Wa-Hi JROTC nearly two months ago to present a 100-year service certificate of achievement. The WWHS program was one of the first half dozen established in the country.
||Middle School Coding with Robics Camp
• Coding with Robotics Camp
• June 18-22
• Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 noon
• Walla Walla High School Room A7
• The deadline for registration is May 25; space is very limited.
• Instructors: Mike Bertram and Kerry Delfino - email for registration information - email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Walla Walla Public Schools’ Coding with Robotics Camp is a free summer enrichment program that engages students using a hands-on and fun way of teaching children important concepts like math and science and working cooperatively to problem solve. Throughout the week, participants will work in teams to plan, create, build and program robots. Open to all Walla Walla Public Schools students entering 6-8 grades for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.
||Walla Walla High School students organize Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk
Blue Devil Strong at Walla Walla High School in conjunction with Walla Walla Department of Community Health, W2 for Drug Free Youth and Reach Out Walla Walla will be hosting an Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk on May 10 from 8 to 9 p.m. at the Dave Klicker Track at Walla Walla High School.
The Out of the Darkness Community Walk is a journey of remembrance and a walk that unites a community – a time to acknowledge the ways in which suicide and mental illness have affected our lives and our loved ones. Participants will wear honor beads. Each color shows their personal connection to the cause, and helps to identify others who understand the experience.
Walla Walla High School students Macy Quinn-Sears and Erin Gerola are the lead students for this event. Behavior Health Prevention Specialist Peggy Needham of the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health serves as the Blue Devil Strong Advisor. Contact Needham for additional information or to secure space for an informational booth.
||Stop the Bleed program prepares students for life threatening emergencies
Wa-Hi students in sports medicine and the CTE section of health completed the ‘Stop the Bleed’ program in April. During the training, students learned how to identify types of life threatening bleeding as well as how to control it through direct pressure, tourniquet application, and wound packing.
The ‘Stop the Bleed’ campaign was initiated by a federal interagency workgroup including the American College of Surgeons, the Hartford Consensus, and the Department of Defense. In their words, “the purpose of the campaign is to build national resilience by better preparing the public to save lives by raising awareness of basic actions to stop life threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies and man-made and natural disasters.” Deaths from bleeding emergencies are often preventable and this program aims to get more of the general public aware of lifesaving measures they can take in any life threatening bleeding situation.
For more information on the program or to inquire about training, please visit www.bleedingcontrol.org or email ‘Stop the Bleed’ instructor Kelsey Dill at email@example.com.
||City Parks and Recreation Update
All Comers Track & Field Meet – Ages 3-12 – Pre-registration $3 (onsite registration $5)
Pickleball for All – Ages 18 & up - $48
Hatha Yoga – Ages 12 & up - $12-$76
Adult First Aid/CPR – Ages 12 & Up - $70 includes materials
Lifeguard Certification Course – Ages 15 & up - $150
Lifeguard Recertification Course - May 19 – Ages 15 & up - $75
For more information on these programs or to register, please go to www.wwpr.us.
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We are hiring!
Lifeguards for Veterans Memorial Pool – apply at https://www.wallawallawa.gov/depts/humanresources
Want to try the fastest growing sport in the US?
Intro to Lacrosse – Drop In
Mill Creek Sportsplex
Wednesday’s 5:30 – 7 p.m. now through May 23
FREE to children Grades 1st – 8th
Brand new Lacrosse gear available for participants to use
Coaching Staff – AJ Gravel – Lacrosse Captain, University of Idaho