||Winter break schedule
- No School: Dec. 21 to Jan. 1
- Classes resume Monday, Jan. 4
||School board approves spending plan focusing on technology, staff development, curriculum and maintenance
Thursday during a special meeting, school board members unanimously (Cindy Meyer absent) approved a spending plan to use $1.7 million of underspent funds from the 2014-2015 General Fund budget. The district underspent its 2014-2015 budget by approximately 2 percent as a result of sound budget monitoring practices and conservative budgeting. The approved spending plan for this one-time money centers on districtwide curriculum, technology, staff development, facility maintenance and improvement and Special Education.
“The school district administration, with broad input from staff, has been working on a spending plan for these dollars since October,” said Superintendent Dr. Bill Jordan. “The purchase of supplies, materials, technology, and services takes time, so we appreciate the school board taking action during this special board meeting so these funds can begin to have an immediate impact on student learning and district operations.”
Following the Great Recession and a trend of less state allocated revenue to fully fund the district’s program and a series of missed enrollment projections, the district took a more conservative stance with its 2014-2015 budget to better ensure alignment with its expenditures to revenue. This conservative budgeting tactic helped the district not be in a position to use reserves to balance the General Fund budget as had been the case in recent years.
“This type of budget scenario is less likely and not guaranteed in coming years as the district continues to balance expenditures to revenue as the enrollment picture becomes clearer,” said Dr. Jordan. “This has been a team effort from our entire staff to carefully account for every expenditure and ensure all funds have a direct impact on students and their achievement.”
The district General Fund balance target is 6 to 8 percent of expenditures. The approved spending plan keeps the district within the established fund balance window.
||Sleep Study Committee says no to Walla Walla High School schedule change
Following months of study, input gathering and discussion, the Sleep Study Committee will not bring a recommendation to the Superintendent to change the schedule at Walla Walla High School. The proposal being studied was to move the current first period start time of 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. This proposal was based on scientific research teenagers need more sleep.
“The committee discovered more clearly during this process at least 50 percent of Walla Walla High School students already start their day at 8:30 a.m.,” said Committee Chair Ted Cohan. “Community levy support in Walla Walla allows the district to offer a seven period day at Wa-Hi which provides much more flexibility in scheduling classes.”
Nearly 1400 people completed the survey which asked what schedule was preferred. Approximately 70 percent wanted the schedule to remain the same. The primary concerns of changing the schedule centered on less time in the evening for homework, student employment schedule conflicts, extra-curricular activities disruptions and missed class time for those involved in activities.
“It was important to go through this extensive process to determine if this was the right fit for Walla Walla,” said Cohan. “The community prefers the current schedule and it will remain in effect going forward.”
Cohan also thanked the committee for its work on this issue and the community stakeholders for providing input to the district.
||School Board members take Oath of Office
Tuesday night, Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann administered the Oath of Office to school board members Derek Sarley, Dr. David Hampson and Ruth Ladderud. Their terms end in 2019. Dr. Hampson and Ladderud are beginning their second terms.
The newest member of the board, elected in November 2015, Derek Sarley is a communications consultant who for 20 years has worked with clients in many industries, including education. He and his wife Erin, a professor in Psychology at Whitman College, have two young daughters. Derek is a native Pennsylvanian who has also lived in Arizona, California, Washington DC and Texas, where he graduated from Rice University. Since settling in Walla Walla, he has been active with the WWPS Community Facilities Task Force and the independent group Citizens for Schools working to find solutions to the district’s building needs.
School board elects new officers
School board members unanimously elected Cindy Meyer as school board president and Dr. David Hampson as vice president. Thanks to Sam Wells for his service as president for the past year.
||Personnel Report (from December 15, 2015 Board Meeting)
Danica Bentley, Para-Educator (temporary), Green Park Elementary School
Kimberly Burr, Para-Educator (temporary), Sharpstein Elementary School
Leslie Collins, Certified Physical Therapy Assistant, Special Education
Richard Jimenez, Para-Educator (temporary), Walla Walla High School
Nichole Michels, Head Secretary, Edison Elementary School
Amber Miller, Intervention Specialist (temporary), Edison Elementary School
Sergio Orozco, Para-Educator, Garrison Middle School
Virginia Romfh, Assistant Secretary, Walla Walla High School
Ariana Valverde, Para-Educator (temporary), Prospect Point Elementary
Leah Diaz, Para-Educator, Walla Walla High School, 4 months
||Gates grant allows study of effective systems in support of staff professional development
The district has formed a Professional Learning Committee thanks to a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant. This committee will work alongside 33 other school districts — including Seattle, Sunnyside, and Highline – to enhance instructional practices. The group is developing a mission statement, goals and plans for a Summer Institute in Walla Walla to provide a variety of learning opportunities for district staff. Stay tuned for much more information in the coming weeks and months.
Laure Quaresma, Assistant Superintendent (Chair)
Sergio Hernandez, Equity and Access Coordinator
Libby Thompson, Special Education Director
Christy Krutulis, Berney Elementary Principal
Angelica Pedroza, Bilingual Coordinator
Mindy Meyer, Walla Walla High School Asst. Principal
Marci Knauft, Lincoln High School Principal
Maria Garcia, Assessment and RtI Coordinator
Casey Monahan, Literacy Curriculum Coordinator
Mira Gobel, Pioneer Middle School Principal
Forrest Baker, Technology Director
||Graduates of Distinction nominations now accepted
Walla Walla Public Schools' Graduates of Distinction program provides an avenue for recognizing high school graduates of Walla Walla Public Schools who have distinguished themselves in their communities, professions, or careers. Nominations are now being accepted. This award also honors the Walla Walla Public Schools' staff members who were the most inspirational in the lives of those individuals.
Candidates must have graduated at least 10 years ago. Graduates of Distinction serve as positive role models for current and future students. The application process is simple. Nomination packets include a cover letter and three letters of support. The Class of 2016 Graduates of Distinction will be honored June 7 at 5 p.m. at the district office. Visit the district website to see instructions for the nomination process: http://www.wwps.org/programs/graduates-of-distinction
||Facilities and Operations crew complete hundreds of work orders
Facilities management is an integral part of the overall management of any school. The district’s facilities maintenance staff strives daily to keep buildings and grounds safe, presentable, and ready for our students to utilize in a variety of instructional and recreational activities. The crew’s work for the month of November 2015:
- New work orders: 116
- Completed and/or closed work orders: 240
Garrison Middle School students support YWCA Women’s Shelter
Garrison National Junior Honor Society members held a "Gift Giving Celebration" this week during their monthly morning meeting to wrap gifts they were donating to the YWCA Women's Shelter families this holiday season. Teacher Jami Eggart is the program advisor.
||Pioneer Middle School students participate in Salvation Army's Adopt-a-Family for Christmas program
Pioneer Middle School National Junior Honor Society members and Adviser Alba Biagi participated in sponsoring three families through the Salvation Army's Adopt-a-Family for Christmas program. NJHS students spent more than $700 to help 10 children from three different families.
"Our students had so much fun shopping,” said Biagi. “They wanted to make sure that kids in our community have a great Christmas. The Adopt-a-Family for Christmas program was one of our community service projects for the year and our kids worked hard to ensure that it was a success."
Latino Club named best High School entry at Macy’s Holiday Parade of Lights
The Walla Walla High School Latino Club was selected as the best High School entry during the recent Macy’s Holiday Parade of Lights. The theme was Santa's Workshop. Intervention Specialist Melito Ramirez was the lead advisor on the project with support from Automotive Shop teacher Paul Quick and Athletic Director Jack Mehn.
||Registrations now accepted for Ready for Kindergarten program
Walla Walla Public Schools is taking further action to invest in early childhood education through its Ready! for Kindergarten program at Title 1 schools, Blue Ridge and Edison Elementary. The classes begin January 11. Sharpstein Elementary and Head Start/ECEAP are currently offering the Ready! for Kindergarten program for their families. Presently the district is only offering classes for parents of children 4-5 years of age who plan on starting kindergarten next fall at Blue Ridge, Edison, and Sharpstein.
“We have plans to extend to younger ages in the years to come,” said Family Involvement Coordinator Pam Clayton. “It has been shown that from birth-to-age 5, a child learns faster than at any other time in his or her life.”
Walla Walla Public Schools is providing families with an opportunity to learn how to tap into those successes through reading and purposeful play as part of the Ready! for Kindergarten program. Ready! for Kindergarten, a program established in 2002 by the Children’s Reading Foundation and the Kennewick (WA) School District, was developed out of a need to help close the kindergarten learning gap. According to research cited by the Children’s Reading Foundation, 40 percent of children enter kindergarten one to three years behind the curve. The Ready! for Kindergarten program provides families with age-appropriate trainings, targets and tools for parents and caregivers of children birth to five years that ensure children success in school before they even start school. The goal of READY! is to promote language and literacy, math and reasoning, and social and emotional skills.
Guiding Principles of READY! for Kindergarten™
- Honor parents as a child’s most influential and most loved teacher
- Foster important early learning experiences for children birth-to-age five
- Instill children with a joy and zest for learning that lasts a lifetime
- Build relationships between parent and child and family and school
For more information visit Ready for Kindergarten at www.readyforkindergarten.org.
If you are interested in attending a Ready! for Kindergarten class with your 4-5 year old, contact your neighborhood school for a current schedule:
- Blue Ridge at 527-3066
- Edison at 527-3072
- Sharpstein at 527-3098 or
- Head Start/ECEAP at 527-3066
If you have further questions, please contact Pam Clayton at 526-6781 / email@example.com.
||Holly Claus author visits area schools in support of this weekend’s world premier
This week Holly Claus Author Brittney Ryan visited with Blue Ridge and Berney Elementary students to discuss the world premier of her new holiday ballet. She encouraged students to dream and imagine for their futures. She talked to students about traveling through the wintery Kingdom of Forever and the Land of the Immortals with Holly Claus as she herself realizes her dreams and encourages children from across the globe to discover and pursue their own dreams for their futures. Ryan also donated children’s version of the book and the full-length legendary hardback for the school libraries.
The school visits are an extension of the world premier of a new holiday ballet, Holly Claus: The Ballet of Dreams. This production is coming to Cordiner Hall on the Whitman College campus December 18 and 19. Doors open nightly at 6:30 p.m. with the performance at 7:30 p.m. The ballet will be finished by 10 p.m. More than 85 local youth, most are Walla Walla Public Schools students, will be performing in the ballet including numerous dancers in pre-professional dance programs across the country. The role of Holly Claus will be danced by Sophia Rolph who has studied at the world renowned Joffrey Ballet School. A $3000 donation from Whitman College helped fund tickets for area social services agencies and schools for children and families in need.
Tickets for the performances are available online at hollyclaus.brownpapertickets.com, at Earthlight Books at 321 E. Main Street in Walla Walla, or at the door the nights of the performances. Holly Claus: The Ballet of Dreams is produced by the Danza Classica Ballet Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, Brittney Ryan, and The Dance Center of Walla Walla. The show is generously sponsored in part by the Whitman College Office of Provost and Dean of Faculty, Klicker’s, Fleurissant Event Rentals & Design, Alexandria Communications, Integrity Design & Printing, 51 East Main, Northwest Public Radio, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Sherman Painter, Eliza Van De Rostyne, Idalee Hutson-Fish and Achieva Marketing Group.
For more information: Contact Michael Mettler at (509) 956-9045. To find out more about Holly Claus: The Ballet of Dreams visit their Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HollyClausTheBalletofDreams or find them online at http://hollyclausballet.info
||Pioneer Middle School staff play Santa Claus through Starfish project
This month, Pioneer Middle School staff took it upon themselves to help make the Holidays brighter for students in need of additional support through Operation Pioneer Starfish. The gift giving concept is centered around the Starfish story about making a difference by saving one starfish at a time. The staff volunteered to adopt 42 students and provide them gifts in beautifully wrapped shoe boxes. The staff will hand deliver the gift boxes to the homes of the students tomorrow. Principal Mira Gobel says the staff take on a project every December in support of the community. This year she said is was decided to look within and help the students of Pioneer Middle School directly. She said staff and students jumped at the opportunity to help.
“We had to be creative in our shopping to make sure everything would fit in the box,” said Principal Mira Gobel. “This has been a team effort and everyone has stepped up to help.”
||Debate team takes first place at Yakima event
Congratulations to the Walla Walla High School Debate Team for taking 1st place in the overall Debate category Saturday at Eisenhower High School in Yakima. The team competed against 12 schools, including Pasco, Chiawana, Davis, Eisenhower, and Wenatchee High Schools. Two returners from last year's team, Amelia Mott and Wafa Abedin, took 1st and 2nd place, respectively, in the Lincoln Douglas event. Mott also took 2nd in Interpretive Reading.
These first-year debaters also performed well:
- Courtney Brown: 3rd in Oratory; 1st as the Presiding Officer in Congress
- Cameron Wood: 3rd in Oratory and 3rd in Impromptu
- Skylar Casey won her 2nd round in Lincoln Douglas
- Josh Rose: 1st in Oratory, 1st in Extemporaneous Speaking; 2nd in Congress; 1st in Impromptu
- Lauren Bergman: 2nd in Extemporaneous Speaking; 3rd in Congress
- Emma Case: 1st in Congress
Local firefighters support Lincoln High School Cafe
Walla Walla Professional Firefighters Local 404 recently donated up to $825 for the purchase of a new ice machine for the Lincoln High School Cafe. Student Kaylee Lopez and teacher Ronni Tobin recently visited the Popular Street Fire Station to request funds for the project. Students serve a variety of drinks through the cafe and would have to walk down three flights of stairs to get water and ice without this new ice machine. The district is coordinating the installation and plumbing for the new machine. The district is also purchasing additional equipment to support cafe operations. The program helps special needs students learn job skills and responsibility. Thanks to Union President Chris Worden and all the firefighters from Local 404 for the support.
||County Emergency Management offers citizens emergency alert system
The Walla Walla Emergency Management Citizen Alert system is able to alert residents about severe weather, fires, floods, toxic environmental issues, radiological events and other emergencies. Messages can be sent to residents on any communication path desired – cell phone, home phone, email, text messaging, fax, pager, PDA and more – ensuring that residents receive life-saving emergency information and important public service announcements in minutes. Citizens listed in the County’s white pages landline phone database are automatically subscribed to emergency alerts by phone. Citizens may also self-register their cell phone, VOIP phone, email, text message device, fax, and pager. Self-registration is also required to receive alerts regarding severe weather and/or road closures and to receive notifications on devices other than their landline.
This is an important tool for the county to alert the citizens and is intended for community-wide use.
For more information, contact Kati Brown - Coordinator, Emergency Management Dept.
||The Health Center provides critical services to local youth - By Director Stan Ledington
At this time of the year, we are reminded to consider our blessings and of the needs of others who are less fortunate than ourselves. At The Health Center, we spend all year aware of our many blessings and the needs of others. Each day we are open, we are honored to serve some of the neediest children in our community and to do so with the help and support of so many important community partners.
As the only not for profit independent student based health center in the State of Washington, we could not survive without the generosity of important committed community partners and devoted individual donors. To run our two small clinics at Lincoln high School and Blue Ridge Elementary School, we receive limited insurance reimbursements and one government grant. While these revenue sources are important, the bulk of our funding comes from people right here in our community. It is an example of what makes our town so special. Walla Walla residents really care for one another.
One such way this is illustrated in with the collaborative funding we received from the United Way of Walla Walla County and our local Association of University Women. These two important community organizations each granted us money to support our “Graduation Preparedness Program”. All Lincoln graduating seniors this past spring were offered a personalized medical examination, called the graduation physical. This exam was performed by one of the regular medical providers at our clinic whom the students have come to trust. During the exam, the provider reviewed the student’s vaccination history and all childhood illnesses so the student understood what their personal health history included. The provider also taught the student about referrals and resources he or she would need to continue to make healthy decisions after they left school and faced adulthood without the support of the school system or clinic to guide them.
These students also participated in group counseling sessions designed to address fear of success – there really is such a thing – and some very concrete life skills the young people will need for success. These skills include things like how to pick a good roommate, how to apply for a job or how to open a checking account. While these students may have been taught about these life skills before, it was the impending graduation that helped make them seem more relevant. We celebrate the success of our partnership with Lincoln High School in the design of this important program and we recognize the benefits this offers our students. And, we are grateful that our community’s United Way donors and the women of AAUW offered us funds to bring this program to students on the eve of their high school graduation.
These partnerships are important to supporting student success. Earlier this month, together with Whitman College and the Walla Walla Public Schools, The Health Center hosted a standing room only crowd at Whitman’s Cordiner Hall for a showing of Paper Tigers, a Jamie Redford documentary about the life changing work occurring at Lincoln High School and The Health Center. The response of our community to this film was astounding and reminded us again that while the burdens the children we care for are heavy, the support of a caring community can make all the difference in the world. This film is being shown all across our country and our community can be very proud that our efforts are bringing both notice and results. Support of local programs, like The Health Center, are good investments in the life and future of Walla Walla. We are grateful for the blessings of committed partners and generous donors as we work to help students with childhood traumas find ways to grow and succeed in Walla Walla.
Kirkman House closed until after New Year
The Kirkman House is closed until January 9. It will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning January 9 until March 9, 2016.
||City Parks & Rec Update
Registration is open for the following programs:
Indoor Soccer Late Registration - January 9 - March 12
Cost - $60 (Grades K-8)
Winter Tennis Camp - January 11-15, 2016
Beginning - Advanced (Ages 10-18) Cost - $75
Quickstart (Ages 4-10) Cost - $55
The Pottery Painting Studio
Open Thursday - Sunday (See Website for Holiday Hours)
For more information on these programs or to register, please go to www.wwpr.us. Like on Facebook! www.facebook.com/wallawallapr