Tuesday night Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith, Walla Walla County Director for Community Health Meghan Debolt, Health Services Director Amy Ruff and Facilities Director Mike Kay briefed school board members on the district's Epidemic/Pandemic Response Plan. They reported the plan is based on three pillars: Education, Communication and Prevention. To date, there are no confirmed cases in our school district.
Below are highlights of the district's plan.
• Classroom education plan initiated focused on stopping the spread of germs and facts.
• "Social distancing" in school and classroom settings to create "space" between students.
• Non-essential gatherings where large groups of parents/community/students are asked to convene will be postponed and rescheduled for a later date.
• Additional staff are working during the evenings to enhance cleaning and disinfecting.
• Additional hand sanitizer and materials.
• Additional staff training and communication will be implemented, including preventive measures for coaches to implement to support student athletes.
Visit the district's webpage and click on Coronavirus Banner at the top of the page for more information.
||Superintendent Smith breaks down education tax rates
As taxpayers across the state of Washington receive their 2020 tax statements, many constituents are feeling the “see-saw” effect of the legislature’s “McCleary” enactment. Over recent years, lawmaker decisions have resulted in wild swings in state and local levy rates. Although taxpayers in Walla Walla Public School’s jurisdiction are paying a lower combined education rate post McCleary versus Pre-McCleary, the significant up and down swings make it difficult to put into perspective.
Following is brief review of the legislative decisions and how they have influenced local tax rates over recent years.
2017 Tax Year and earlier (Pre-McCleary)
In 2017, Walla Walla taxpayers paid a combined educational rate of $6.69/$1,000 assessed. This consisted of:
• The State School Rate ($1.96/$1,000) that is set by law, assessed locally, and sent to Olympia to pay for education statewide
• A locally-approved “learning levy” rate of $3.51 that provided student enrichment activities not funded by the state
• A school facilities bond rate that paid for long term debt for new school construction and large renovation projects (e.g. Edison Bond)
2018 Tax Year (Preliminary McCleary Impact)
In 2018, the McCleary decision began its first step in influencing how schools are funded statewide. All voters realized an increase in taxes statewide with the inception of the State School Part 2 assessment. As justified by the legislature, this new assessment (which increased taxes locally by $1.02/$1,000) would be offset the following tax year with a reduction in local levies for many jurisdictions, capping most local school levies at a maximum rate of $1.50/$1,000.
2019 Tax Year (McCleary Changes)
In 2019, many taxpayers statewide realized a significant drop in tax rates. Not only were local levies capped at $1.50/$1,000 ($2.00/$1,000 less than Walla Walla voters approved in their 2016-2020 levy rate), the state legislature also enacted a 1-time, temporary decrease in the new McCleary tax (State School Part 2). This one-time relief was implemented due to outcry from taxpayers, primarily on the West side of the state, who were not going to realize a reduction in local levy rates as many urban district levy rates were less than the new cap. As a result, Walla Walla taxpayers benefited from both decisions, realizing one of the lowest combined educational rates in recent history.
2020 Tax Year (Current Tax Year) (McCleary Adjustments)
During the 2019 legislative session, based on overwhelming outcry statewide from districts about the significant loss in revenue due to the arbitrarily low $1.50/$1,000 levy cap, the legislature revised the lid on local levies, raising it to $2.50/$1,000. The new $2.50 local levy cap, although $1.00 higher than the previous year, still resulted in a levy rate $1.00/$1,000 lower than what voters approved for the last year of the 2016-2020 levy in Walla Walla.
Although WWPS officials can not fully predict what the state rates (part 1 and part 2) moving forward will be, as those are under the jurisdiction of the County Assessor, levy and bond rates are under our guise. Recently, the voters approved the replacement learning levy for the 2021-2024 school years, capped at $2.50/$1,000, the same rate we are currently paying. If assessed values exceed estimates, the rate will fall below the current $2.50 amount. Similarly, the replacement bond that is paying for improvements at WaHi, Pioneer, and Lincoln is estimated to continue receding below the original $1.23 rate as assessed values increase across our community.
||March Pulse Video
Watch the March Pulse video as Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith shares the proactive steps WWPS is taking to keep students, staff and visitors healthy and safe from the Coronavirus. Superintendent Smith also provides updates on the Pioneer MS bond project and progress on the Walla Walla Center for Children and Families.
||Budget Development: Ending Fund Balance remains in compliance with board policy
March 3, 2020, Nancy Taylor, Director of Fiscal Services, provided a financial update to the Board, including the Ending Fund Balance report that is presented every March. She noted the district continues to maintain fiscal stability despite turbulence at the state and legislative levels as a result of levy caps and McCleary Decision funding formula changes.
“Our district continues to be in good financial health,” said Taylor. “Our projected ending fund balance is within our budget estimates and board policy.”
Taylor reported the district’s ending fund balance is projected to be about $9.8M. She noted a large percentage of the Ending Fund Balance consists of restricted funds tied to Federal and State grants and the Board’s minimum 6% restricted reserve policy.
As the Board and district prepare for the development of the 2020-21 school year budget, Taylor praised the district and its bargaining groups for agreeing to three-year contracts. She says the district is able to more accurately forecast upcoming budgets since there are two years remaining with both bargaining groups.
Unfortunately, as was discussed, it does not appear any significant increases in resources will be coming to the school district next year based on current legislative budgets presented both in the House and the Senate last week. The 2020-21 budget will go before the School Board for consideration Aug. 18.
||Personnel Report (from March 3, 2020 School Board Meeting)
Carrie Diede, Speech Language Pathologist (20-21), Special Education
Kelli Neal, Speech Language Pathologist (20-21), Special Education
Patricia Jones, Special Education, Walla Walla High School, 9 years
Lance Longmire, English/Language Arts, Garrison Middle School, 21 years
Cindy Nass, Coordinator, Special Education, 29 years
Monica Nelson, Math, Walla Walla High School, 16 years
• Monica was on a leave of absence for the 2019-2020 school year
Morgan Jo Poynor, Math, Pioneer Middle School, 6 years
• Morgan Jo was on a leave of absence for the 2019-2020 school year
Leslie Rodriguez, Fourth-Grade, Green Park Elementary School, 3 years
Richard Kulberg, Administrative Assistant, Business Office, 1.5 years
David Saranto, Sr., Bus Driver, SE Washington Transportation Co-Op, 2.5 years
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
Keith Reardon, Physical Education Specialist, Prospect Point Elementary School, 21 years
• For the 2020-2021 school year
Jenny Swagger, Cook, Garrison Middle School, 4.5 years
• For the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year
||Wa-Hi Jazz Band shines at Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival
Congratulations to the Wa-Hi Jazz Band for placing runner up in the AAAA Division at last Saturday’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho. There were eight schools in Wa-Hi’s division from throughout the state, including Spokane and the greater Seattle area.
• Avarie Arbogast
• Will Huntsman
• Nicholas Newton
• Olivier Nicault
• Noah Diaz
• Catherine Hoerner
• Milan Mumm
• Aaron Christopherson
• Emerson Fitts
• Daniel Nielson
• Ben Reser
• Robert Rochester
• Cheston Bradley
• Annie Carpenter
• Rylee Clayton
• Marcus Klem
• Rebecca Whitehurst
• Brennan Creason
• Andres Dankel
• Ava Kirtley
• Noah Bruce
• Elliot Harrison
||DO YOU EVEN GAME? - WWPS Spring Break 2020!
Walla Walla Public Schools’ 21st CCLC programs are sponsoring Spring Break 2020 activities at Pioneer Middle School, open to all WWPS students grades 1st-12th. Activities include: Indoor Soccer, Open Gym, Nintendo Switch, Virtual Reality Gaming, Board Games, Arts & Crafts, and more.
April 6-10, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Pioneer Middle School
Open to all WWPS students, grades 1st-12th
Contact: Sergio Orozco (509-525-1689, firstname.lastname@example.org)
||Wa-Hi seniors receive scholarships to support pursuit of bilingual teacher certificate
Congratulations to Walla Walla High School seniors Esmeralda Rojero Gonzalez and Luci Sullivan for receiving $1500 Beca Maestro/a del Futuro Scholarships from the Walla Walla Public Schools’ Department of Equity and Dual Programs. This scholarship aims to assist local high school seniors who desire to become bilingual teachers or certificated employees and return to work for Walla Walla Public Schools after graduation. Funds for the scholarships are made available through grant funding from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Minimum requirements to be considered for this scholarship include being a 2020 graduating senior from a WWPS high school, maintain a minimum high school GPA of 2.5, earn the Seal of Biliteracy, enroll full-time at a two or four-year college or university in the fall and have a commitment to becoming a bilingual teacher and return to WWPS.
Gonzalez plans to attend Washington State University and become a bilingual elementary teacher. Sullivan plans to attend Brigham Young University and major in English and Spanish and become a bilingual teacher.
||Congratulations to the Wa-Hi Choral Program
Walla Walla High School Choral program students traveled to Richland High School and competed in the Columbia Basin Music Educators Association’s Vocal Solo & Ensemble contest last Saturday. Each student and ensemble performed in front of an adjudicator and received a rating of I, II, III, IV, V. With I = a superior rating and V= Poor. The top three musicians in each category (Winner, 1st alternate, 2nd alternate) are ranked, with the winner going on to compete in April at the State Solo & Ensemble Competition in Ellensburg.
WAHI Regional Vocal Solo & Ensemble Standouts
Dominic Walker- Winner- Baritone Category
Belles Voix (names listed below)- Winner- Large Soprano/Mezzo/Alto Category
Aria Avila, Izzy Brashear-Simmons, Janie De Leon Lara, Grace Evans, Mimi, Filan, Megan Hua, Emma Jenkins, Raquelle Justice, Abbey Loney, Mya Osborn, Liana Osterman, Brooklyn Rogers, Hannah Sanchez, JDa Thomas Hemming, Paula Vargas, and Maliah Mercado
Shemar Irizarry- 1st Alternate- Tenor Category
Lydia Anderson & Dominic Walker- 2nd Alternate- Small Mixed Category
Chamber Singers (names listed below)- 2nd Alternate- Large Soprano/Mezzo/Alto Category
Lydia Anderson, Kaeldra Caton, Nele Escobar, Michelle Foster, Ciera Griggs, Sofia Groff, Isabele Gwinn, Marissa McBride, Colleen McKibben, Maliah Mercardo, Liana Osterman, and Jazmyn Paul
||Wa-Hi students honored at regional art show
Congratulations to the following students for receiving awards at the 47th Annual Regional High School Art Show. ESD 123 hosts the Regional High School Art Show each year. The High School Exhibit was held at the Byron Gjerde Center at Columbia Basin College in Pasco from February 24 to March 6. Winners of the regional awards may advance to the state art show in Olympia.
WWPS Award Winners
Alex Scott, Tea Pot Condiments, Honorable Mention
Peyton Knauft, Pollen Patterns, Judge’s Choice
Walla Walla High School
Dylan Dixon, Banana Trump, Judge’s Choice
Eleah Dalgleish, Captivity, Honorable Mention
Eleah Dalgleish, People Change, Judge’s Choice
Eleah Dalgleish, Torment, Superintendent’s Choice
Giovanni Garcia, Untitled, Honorable Mention
Kaylee Doepker, Untitled, Judge’s Choice
Maya Betzler, Big Papa, Honorable Mention
||FFA Alumni Dinner March 21
• 6th Annual Pot of Blue and Gold presented by the FFA alumni
• Saturday, March 21, doors open at 5 p.m., dinner at 6:15 p.m.
• Community Center at the Fairgrounds
• Catered dinner and auction, live music by the Froghollow band starting around 8 p.m.
• Tickets $30 each
• To purchase tickets, visit this website: http://wallawallaffaalumni.weebly.com/tickets.html
• Information: Contact Staci Humphreys - (509) 386-3484
||Kindergarten and Early Learning Roundup April 1
• Wednesday, April 1
• 6 to 7:30 p.m.
• Walla Walla Fairgrounds
• Pick up the 2020 Kindergarten registration packet
• Learn about Early Learning options and resources
• Meet principals and teachers
• Visit community and school informational booths
• Information: Call Pam Clayton - 509.526.6785 or email@example.com
Storybook Art with Carnegie Picture Lab
The third session of Carnegie Picture Lab’s Storybook Art series will be presented on Wednesday, March 18 at the Walla Walla Public Library. Designed for elementary age children, the featured book will be The Dot by Peter Reynolds. The lesson begins at 2:30 p.m. and will include storytelling, Artful Thinking and creating a monoprint art project.
Artful Fundraiser to Benefit Carnegie Picture Lab
For the last ten years, Carnegie Picture Lab has partnered with the Walla Walla School District to provide art education programs in all elementary schools. Brushes ‘n Brix is hosting a fundraiser for Picture Lab on Thursday, March 26 from 6:30- 9:30 p.m. Participants will paint “Spring Bicycle” in a low-key, fun setting with step-by-step directions from the instructor. For $40.00 (plus tax) you will receive all materials plus your first beverage of choice. Appetizers will be provided. Come be creative and support Picture Lab in our schools! Seating is limited – registration portal available at http://www.brushesnbrix.com/march-2020.html
||Walla Walla’s Got Talent auditions Saturday
Help support this fundraiser for Walla Walla Child Advocates by competing in Walla Walla’s Got Talent. Auditions are Saturday March 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Cordiner Hall. The event is April 11 and is hosted by Kappa Alpha Theta of Whitman College. Contact Phyllis Pawa for additional information: 617-388-4830 | firstname.lastname@example.org
||City Parks & Rec Weekly Update
• St. Paddy’s Day Dash – March 15 at 10am. 5k & 10k for ages 10 & up - $25. NEW Leprechaun Lap (1k) at 9:30am for ages 10 & under $15. Shirts included.
• Spring Softball Skills Clinic (in partnership with Blue Devil Softball) – Ages 7-14 – March 28 – $35 - Pitching and catching clinic - $15
• Blue Mountain Girls Softball – Grades K-6 - $40 - $55
• Blue Mountain Baseball League – Ages 12-16 - $75
• Adult Soccer League Ages 16 and up. Cost is $400 per team.
• NEW Blue Mountain Pre Tee Ball League – Open to boys and girls ages 3 &4 (age as of 3/30/20) - $40
• Youth Fencing – Beginning Classes for ages 9-18. Cost is $60. Saturdays 8:50 – 9:50 and 10am – 11am. Equipment provided.
• Adult Fencing – Classes for ages 18 and up. Cost is $75. Saturdays 11:10 – 12:10. Equipment provided.
• Youth Art Class (taught in Spanish) for ages 5-13. Cost is $20. Mondays 5pm – 7:30pm.
• Veterans Memorial Pool Passes – February prices Youth/Senior/Veteran $60 Adult $70 Family $150. Prices will increase on March 1.
• Scholarships available for youth programs. For information contact the Parks & Recreation office at 509-527-4527.
For more information on these programs or to register, please go to:
• Web: www.wwpr.us
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