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Camas, WA — The Camas School District’s BookMoBus program is a weekly summer event that happens every Wednesday through August 11 at these alternating locations: Helen Baller, Woodburn and Dorothy Fox Elementary schools.

As part of the summer recovery program (which supports more than 300 students), it’s helping Camas students that need extra work on literacy. 

“For elementary school students, the summer recovery program helps students that need extra work on literacy, at the middle school level it helps them with math and literacy, and for high school it’s about credit recovery,” said Diane Loghry, CSD Director of Early Learning. “We work to provide something that’s consistent for all.”

You don’t need to be part of the recovery program to participate.

BookMoBus is made possible by generous grants came from Camas-Washougal Community Chest and General Federation of Women’s Club, and The Standard.

Run by Jen Scott, a teacher on special assignment, and high school volunteers, such as Abigail Malone and Madison Scott, the events alternate each week between the three aforementioned schools: Helen Baller, Dorothy Fox and Woodburn.

The next event is today at Helen Baller from 9 am-12:30 pm. Next Wednesday it will be at Woodburn from 9-11 am, and then at Dorothy Fox from noon-2 pm.

Students are able to check out books (on the honor system), participate in readings, and pre-K students are encouraged to pick up summer learning packets to help them prepare for Kindergarten. Parents can check out books, too.

Guest readers include school board members Corey McEnry and Erika Cox, as well as Julie Mueller, Bryan Graham, and CSD’s Interim Superintendent, Doug Hood.

BookMoBus

The librarian counted 250 people at the last BookMoBus event at Dorothy Fox and Woodburn.

“The BookMoBus program started in summer of 2019,” said Scott. “Last summer we weren’t able to do it, and so we came back bigger this year with a bus. The real goal is to encourage reading and so we provide an opportunity to keep them reading over summer. 

“Recently in the last two weeks we rolled out 200 new books. It’s coming from requests from families about which types of books interest them. I get the requests and that’s what’s getting them back into reading more. Popular requests are graphic novels, Dragon Masters, and Dog Man, which is like the Diary of a Wimpy kid series.”

Loghry said early learning classes were among the first to open last Fall, and said she’s proud of the efforts coming from teachers.

“Teachers worked really hard and they continue to work hard,” said Loghry. “They advocate to bring kids into the building. I think students learned a lot of thing this year: patience, grit, flexibility, resilience.” 

BookMoBus
Inside the converted BookMoBus.

Camas, WA — Amid a backdrop of outside protests Monday evening, including one man who screamed outside the board meeting window for more than 30 seconds (https://youtu.be/V1Ey7SwsejI), the Camas School Board heard from several parents who lashed out about equity programs, critical race theory proposals and mandatory mask wearing in classes while voting to approve $79,000 in robotic and cordless vacuum cleaners for Dorothy Fox, Grass Valley and Prune Hill Elementary schools.

The robotic vacuum expenditure was approved near the close of the meeting, which started by a motion from School Board Director, Doug Quinn, who felt the expense will pay for itself over time and reduce district labor expenses. Quinn was named Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, and will be recognized next week at a formal dinner.

The board voted on the proposal, which came from Custodial Supervisor, Ben Starbuck, who said the robotic fleet of vacuums is working nicely throughout the school district (including an expansion to Jack Will & Rob Center, The Heights Learning Center, Woodburn, Lacamas Lake Elementary, and Woodburn Elementary.

The board voted to approve $59,000 for 125 S4 Max vacuums and $20,00 for nine cordless Proteam backpack vacuums to support the new cleaning teams being created at Camas School (CSD). The custodial team has been piloting the robotic fleet of vacuums at Liberty Middle School, Helen Baller and the ZAC Administration building.

The results, said Starbuck, free upwards of two hours of labor time each night allowing custodians to focus on other tasks. The battery powered vacuum cleaners allow custodians to clean areas the robots cannot reach.

Early in the meeting, during the public comments time, school board members heard from concerned parents who are for and against equity programs, as well as Critical Race Theory.

VIDEO OF SEVERAL PARENT COMMENTS: https://youtu.be/jabhjJ60odw

Camas Education President, Shelley Houle, spoke about supporting teachers. 

“To say that the last 14 months have been tough is an understatement,” Houle said. “We learned to adapt amidst this growing pandemic … We learned to plan quickly for changes, we navigated four to five different schedules just this year … Too often, we are defined by association and not seen for the individuals we are and it’s disheartening to hear public attacks on the Camas teacher union especially in our small town.”

“Our fabric is made up of individuals with diverse backgrounds so who are we? We are White, we are Black, we are Asian, we are Indian, we are deaf, we are parents …” she continued. “Some of us wanted school to open more quickly and some of us wanted to wait until rates dropped significantly.”

Camas
Protestors outside CSD Administration building.

Kenric Thompson lambasted the school board. 

Citing district documents, he said: “Implmentation of the following core practices. Current forms of oppression: I will identify and disrupt my biases and own my privilege. I will dismantle practices and policies that perpetuate oppression. It goes on to say: ‘Draft curriculum for adoption, selection, creation for emphasis on correcting historical myths and disinformation and including multiple cultural perspectives.’ This sounds like a hidden agenda.”

He said that CSD would continue hiring for affinity groups when hiring for the district and will “discriminate against those who not within these groups.”

“What does this teach our children when CSD is going to openly discriminate or oppress those who may be more qualified but don’t fit the CSD’s equity and liberal agendas, and this is exactly one of the tenets of the Critical Race Theory.”

He said “you as a school board answer to the people who put you there. You answer to us the citizens of Camas.” And, he encouraged parents to pull their kids from the district.

“You have placed politics and woke agendas ahead of children’s education and knowledge. We the citizens of Camas and Washougal are going to take back our communities and our schools. We are strong, united, we are growing and boy do we mean business.”

One parent said “it’s apparent to me we’re living in a very narrow-minded community, a community that is not thinking about those who are not highly represented.”

He added: “I can get on board with this anti-racism curriculum not working because it won’t and the reason why it won’t is because the individuals who are steering these young children aren’t going to be steered by the teachers delivering the curriculum it’s the parents who they go home to every single day, and if those parents do not have a view of the world around them that is not narrow-minded the curriculum won’t work, so the challenge to me is to the community to think outside of the box, think outside yourselves, and think about those around you. I’m scared for my three beautiful brown children …”

The School Board meets every two weeks.

Camas
Protestors gather outside the CSD administration building. Most of these protestors are not from Camas.

Camas, WA — Camas School District (CSD) Superintendent Dr. Jeff Snell said schools continue to open up to in-class learning as COVID-19 cases numbers continue to drop across Clark County. The public also learned CSD is facing a $3.5 million shortfall this fiscal year.

“Clark County Health Department will release the latest COVID-19 data for this week later today with rates expected to be below 150 new cases per 100,000 population,” he said today. “This number indicates that Clark County continues to be in the “moderate’ risk level for a fourth consecutive week. This is good news and reinforces the importance of our COVID countermeasures as across the region we’ve added in-person learning experiences for our students and county rates have continued to drop.”

The school board reviewed COVID-19 level data and the current Reopening Plan again on February 22 and made the following decisions around elementary and high school transition timing and programming.

Elementary: At our elementary schools, instruction will move away from a 2-day hybrid Cohort A/B model to 4-day, in-person instruction on March 22, which aligns closely with the end of the trimester. Schools will still be following the 6 foot istancing requirement, masking, and other countermeasure strategies. Staff will be looking at how to maximize classroom and school space. In certain cases, additional staff may need to be hired to support smaller groups of students. Families who indicate a desire for on-site learning will have students attending on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays will continue to be remote learning days and also used by staff to support planning for both on-site and remote learners.

High School: With cases of COVID-19 in Clark County below 200 cases per 100,000 over 14 days, our high schools will have in-person orientation/small group activities during the week of March 1, and we will begin 2-day, hybrid instruction beginning March 8. Students will have a Cohort A/B model. Note: Hayes Freedom High School is already in a hybrid model.

Budget

Business Services Director Jasen McEathron gave a monthly budget status report indicating we are trending to end the fiscal year with a $3.5 million shortfall largely due to the pandemic. There are still many variables at play in the 2020-21 budget including Federal and State relief funding and how that might impact us in Camas. 

Social-Emotional Learning

Assistant Superintendent Lisa Greseth and Helen Baller Principal Melissa Hutton were on hand to share an update on the social-emotional wellbeing of our students. District-level data was shared from our second student survey. Highlights for our students were in the areas of supportive relationships with staff and at home, and opportunities for growth in the way we help support emotion regulation for our students. Principal Hutton gave specific examples of how a school uses the data as part of the overall school plan for social-emotional learning and support. 

Becky Stauffer

CSD digital automation specialist Becky Stauffer received the 2021 Laserfiche K-12 Education Impact Award at this year’s virtual Laserfiche Empower Conference.

This award recognizes influential industry leaders who exemplify leadership within the Laserfiche community and empower others to drive transformation within their organizations. Congratulations Becky!

Noah Christensen

CHS junior Noah Christensen was honored with an MTP award by Coach Jones. Noah has grown a lot over his years at Camas, in all facets. One of the biggest ways in which he’s grown is by not being too proud to ask for help when he feels himself getting out of sorts.

“Noah displays good leadership qualities on the football field and in the classroom and he’s just a really fun young man to get to work with and coach,” stated Coach Jones. Great work, Noah!

Camas, WA — About 50 members of a local group called Open Camas Schools rallied for several hours today at the Camas School District (CSD) administration building and alongside Everett Street.

Their intention is to encourage CSD to start opening up more classes to in-person learning. Camas schools have been mostly closed to in-person learning since March, with the exception of special education and a handful of other students totaling about 600 district wide.

Open Camas Schools is a grassroots group of parents and some teachers who are greatly concerned about students falling behind academically, as well as the mental and emotional challenges emerging from continued isolation from peers, academics, and sports.

”I’m here to support Camas schools,” said Mike Hubbell, a concerned parent who helped organize today’s rally. “I want to see our kids back in school. I believe there’s a better method than how we’re currently teaching our kids — to sit and just watch a screen.”

Is the timing right now challenging given the lockdown?

“I think there’s always going to be challenging times,” he said. “When you look at the opportunity we are missing with our kids there’s nothing more important than our kids being educated. The biggest challenge is seeing my kids in sports, and how that’s affecting their ability to play sports, their ability to practice sports, and the whole camaraderie that people see when they play sports. Kids love to play with other kids. They’re missing out on those opportunities right now, and that’s a big part of what our lives are about. The hard work, the dedication that comes with that. Parents don’t get together anymore.”

He also said the schools are the hubs of community.

“The moment you destroy schools, you destroy sense of community.”

Mike Hubbell, Open Camas Schools

He’s also very concerned about the mental well being of students.

“Too much screen time is dangerous,” Hubble said. “What kind of message are we sending to our kids?”

Heather Wynn was also in attendance.

“We’re here as parents asking the district to hear us,” said Wynn. “Online learning is not working for many, many students for many reasons, not just academically. It’s harming them mentally and socially. So, we are here to say it can be done safely. Once the lockdown is over let’s get on this. Let’s get them back in school happy and healthy.

“We know this lockdown has put a damper on things, we’re not tone deaf, but we did plan this weeks ago. We’ve done car rallies, and we’re just getting nowhere with them (CSD Administration). They’re not listening to us. They are using one metric, and this metric is not meeting the needs of the children.”

What’s the metric?

”Case numbers per 100,000,” she said. “It has to be 75 or under and it’s the only metric they are using. They’re not paying attention to other statistics from other school districts that have been open. So, we believe all those things have to be put on the table. We are here to ask them to look at other schools who are doing it safely, even here in our local area. And, then make the decision based on that. Look at what the children are asking for. How many are failing? I personally know of two children — not in this area — who have committed suicide.”

Wynn wants CSD to open up schools once this current lockdown is over. She’s not asking all families or teachers to come back to school.

“I don’t want them to go against what they believe,” she said. “You can see people are saying we need these in-person options for our kids. We want our children to be better served. It can be done safely. They have the space in the buildings. Follow all the protocols. Do a hybrid model. To teachers we say we need you in the classroom.”

The Open Camas Schools Facebook page has 922 members as of this writing.

CSD Statement

Dr. Jeff Snell, Superintendent of Camas Schools, issued this statement today:

“We recognize that this is a challenging time for everyone and appreciate that the pandemic has affected all of our families uniquely.  We understand the value of in-person learning experiences and have been incrementally increasing the number of students served that way within the recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health.  We also value input from our community – students, staff, and families.  Last night, we held another town hall to engage the community in a conversation about remote learning, increasing in-person learning opportunities, and the current transmission rates in our community.  My hope is that we can rally together in our community and every other community on behalf of our students, drive down transmission rates and get all of our kids back in school.”

The Town Hall was virtually attended by about 200 people. Here are some resources CSD posted today from the event.

 *   Town Hall Recording<https://camas-wednet-edu.zoom.us/rec/share/AqkBv7RuEDngRF1nvRYEGVYeIuHBoenB9XZfh71nSsDPl86WtDLs95usXn3io9MZ.1oufgBhpi2iQ-bYU>
 *   Presentation Slides<https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1BGyVnno1sR-b_534495KBEkD9vU0IecvgLKX1t7fhzg/edit?usp=sharing>
 *   Thoughtexchange prior to Town Hall<https://my.thoughtexchange.com/report/9f1740ee28e0a23b0b9b1ad48369f555> – read community members’ concerns and questions that we used to help plan the Town Hall
 *   Thoughtexchange during the Town Hall<https://my.thoughtexchange.com/report/f8f583c4132ba1bf6002d3f6dc3e4ebf> – read participants’ questions and concerns captured at the end of the Town Hall Meeting.

Open
Open Camas Schools rally in front of the CSD Administration building.

Camas Superintendent, Dr. Jeff Snell, explains in today’s letter that Camas School District is one of eight Southwest Washington school districts to recommend at-home learning when school resumes for the 2020-21 season:

CSD Families,

We have been working this summer through all of the different scenarios for starting the 2020-21 school year with the goal of having students return to campus in some form. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new recommendations for schools last week which stress the importance of onsite experiences.  I think we all agree how important it is to have our students back on campus.   The CDC also suggests “Administrators should coordinate with local public health officials to stay informed about the status of COVID-19 transmission in their community.” The guidelines also advise us to monitor “COVID-19 transmission rates in the immediate community and in the communities in which students, teachers, and staff live” (CDC, 7/23/20). 

Unfortunately, conditions in our community are not trending in a positive direction.  We have been working with Dr. Melnick, director of Clark County Public Health, as a region to determine the best course of action for schools in our community.  As the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases continue to trend up in our region, it has become clear that the safest way to start the school year is a more robust fully remote learning delivery model.  The growth rate trends need to change in our community before being able to bring students and staff together on campus. Without those changes we risk rapidly spreading the virus between students, staff and throughout our community with the reopening of schools. More detailed information about our current trends in Clark County can be found at Clark County Public Health Novel Coronavirus.

What does this mean for my family?

Over the next four weeks we will refine plans based on this decision and begin communicating specific information to you from your student’s school.   We have taken student, staff, and family feedback from our experience last spring to provide a more robust remote learning experience for students.  

Our hope is to start to transition from full remote learning to a blended delivery model with some version of on campus learning as soon as possible.   The timing for this transition is dependent on regional health indicators.  Our learning delivery models stages are below.

School
www.annrivers.com

Learning Delivery Models Stages

  1. Remote Learning – all student participate in distance learning
  2. Remote Learning transitioning to Blended Learning – students identified through a set of district/school developed criteria in greatest need of additional support participate onsite with in-person instruction.
  3. Blended Learning – all students participate onsite with in-person instruction a minimum of two (2) days a week.  Transition to more on campus days for students as conditions improve.
  4. On Campus Learning – all students and staff participate onsite with in-person instruction five (5) days a week.

What if my student prefers a full online model regardless of the health trends in our county? 

If your preference is a full online model for your student, we have developed the Camas Connect Academy.  This program will not shift through the phases above.  It will stay online throughout the year.  It will operate as a separate school/program within our district with district staff and the same learning standards.  We will provide more information about the Camas Connect Academy in the coming weeks including a Q&A session prior to the enrollment window. 

What if I need emergency childcare during learning delivery models 1 through 3? 

We recognize that each family is in a unique situation and may need support.  We are trying to develop options for families in these situations.  Please contact us using this LINK

What if my family relies on school breakfast and/or lunch services?

We will develop a similar process to how we provided these meals in the spring during remote learning.  

We have all been on a rollercoaster ride since early March as we’ve collectively tried to manage through a very different world.  School is a big part of everyone’s lives.  We had hoped to provide you with a return to on campus school this fall.  Our staff is committed to provide the very best educational experience possible for your students no matter what the learning delivery model. It will not be without challenges and there will continue to be opportunities to improve.  We will continue to engage with our public health partners to help determine when we can safely shift to more on campus learning.  

Sincerely,

Jeff Snell

CLARK COUNTY, WA – The superintendents of eight Clark County school districts are recommending to their school boards that a return to school this fall should happen through an improved version of remote/distance learning. The recommendation is based on reviews of the latest health and science data on the Covid-19 virus, discussions with health department leaders and input from staff and families.

These are the eight school districts recommending remote/distance learning:  

  1. Battle Ground
  2. Camas
  3. Evergreen
  4. Hockinson
  5. La Center 
  6. Ridgefield
  7. Vancouver
  8. Washougal

According to state guidance, school boards must approve a district reopening plan two weeks prior to the official start of the school year and before any plan can be implemented.

“Clark County Public Health supports school superintendents who have made the very difficult decision to recommend starting the 2020-21 school year online,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County’s Public Health director and county health officer. “We all agree that in-person education is best; however, the data and science of COVID-19 suggest it’s just too dangerous to head back to the classroom right now.”  

“The virus growth trajectory in Clark County and our surrounding region makes it clear that resuming school in-person this fall could result in more widespread infections,” said Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb. “That’s a risk we simply cannot take. Protecting the health and safety of our students and staff is our number one priority.”

A peer-reviewed study recently released by Seattle-area researchers for the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) concluded that the relationships between reopening community, workplace and schools are intertwined—as community activity rises, so does the level of infection within a community. Further, the study estimated that if community activity were to rise above 70 percent of pre-COVID activity, no amount of intervention in schools (masks, physical distancing and hand washing) would prevent the virus from spreading rapidly in the community. Additionally, recent data collected since the report was drafted indicates that levels of disease activity following counties moving to Phase II are too high to support the reopening of schools at this time. 

In preparation for the possibility of remote/distance learning, Clark County school districts have enhanced their remote/distance learning 2.0 plans. After receiving feedback from families and educators, districts have made the following improvements:  

  • Streamlining education apps and tools for more seamless content delivery,
  • Investments in remote learning infrastructure that support internet connections, updated devices and online-friendly curriculum for students,
  • Providing additional training on best practices for remote instruction to educators.

“Distance Learning 2.0 is an improved and more accountable model than the version experienced by families and students this past spring,” said Washougal School District Superintendent Mary Templeton.  “Clark County educators are committed to ensuring students continue to make progress in their learning during the pandemic, and Distance Learning 2.0 reflects that commitment.” 

Clark County school districts also will follow requirements from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to:  

  1. Work with community partners to identify child care options for school-aged students whose families don’t have the option to stay home with a child each day;
  2. Address gaps in connectivity and technology access so each student has sufficient opportunity to continue their learning outside of the classroom;
  3. Continue providing school meals to the students who rely on them; and
  4. Utilize local data to determine which of their students need additional intensive learning supports, and provide those supports remotely if possible or in-person when that is the only effective delivery method.
  5. Have weekly schedules for each student, daily engagement or assigned work for each student, and requirements for daily attendance.
  6. Meet the number of instructional days and hours required in state law, consistent with the State Board of Education’s rules on the definition of an instructional hour.

“School districts will continue to work closely with public health departments to transition eventually to a hybrid learning model, which combines in-person learning with remote learning,” said Ridgefield School District Superintendent Nathan McCann. “The transition to in-person education will depend heavily on how much the virus is spreading in the community and the steps we take now to slow the spread of COVID-19.”  

School superintendents recommend using the Washington State Safe Start Phases as a framework for returning to in-person instruction. Phase III would enable districts to begin transitioning to limited, in-person instruction (a hybrid model of some in-person and some remote/distance learning). Phase IV would enable districts to adjust this hybrid model to include more students.

“We all play a role in stopping the spread of the virus and helping schools to return to in-person learning,” said Dr. Alan Melnick. “By wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distancing and washing our hands frequently, we can help get kids back in the classroom.”

Dr. Jeff Snell, Superintendent of Camas School District, recently answered several questions about that state of the district as it navigates this COVID-19 pandemic.

How has this transition from in-school to at-home learning been going?

Overall, I think we’re happy about the transition. We just had a two-day window to convert. We are learning a lot. Each teacher has learned a lot. It’s a work in progress.

Some things are working well, some are not.

You have to try and take risks to get to success. I’m glad that families and students are taking risks. The class meetings have been successful, and it’s good to see each other’s faces. The ability to record lessons and drive home key concepts is what we’re excited about. We are working toward personalizing things for students. 

For example, if a teacher is doing a math lesson and there’s a key concept about finding the Y intercept of the line that teacher can make mini-videos about how to do that. Students will then be able to go back and learn. During the school year, it’s hard to find the time to do that. This has created a pause to help make different building blocks to help them learn. They are thinking differently.

I think every teacher is working harder than they’ve ever been. You take a job you’ve done for 20 years and everything is flipped upside down.

What’s the status of Food Services? Are we meeting the need? 

We have a couple of separate programs going on.  One is our food services program through our schools.  They are serving breakfast and lunch to students through pick up locations.  The number of students we’re serving has grown each week as we find new families.  We have about 10 bus routes that deliver meals and our food service staff prepares those meals.  We have been averaging over 5500 meals a week and will top the 50,000 meal mark on Monday. 

We also have a food bank type of program going on at the Jack, Will, and Rob center.  Our community has stepped up and been so generous with their donations. Our current inventory is good, and the needs continue to grow.  We’ve receive money donations and have about 10-12 volunteer shoppers that go out and purchase items to keep the inventory up to date. 

What’s happening with graduation?

We are delivering a virtual graduation for June 12-13 for both high schools. We’ve been making a lot of other plans with students and parents, and we are trying to be creative by meeting those needs. Phase two gives us a little more flexibility. Depending on whatever phase we’re in we’re hoping to be able to scale up the activities.  Many have shared how important it is to them to walk across a stage and receive their diploma so we’re looking at a date in early August to hopefully be able to do that. We are also targeting Homecoming in the Fall to start some new traditions like a grad walk before a football game. We are trying to have multiple dates and opportunities so we can try to meet the needs of graduates and their families.

How has the pandemic affected the Camas School District budget?

We engage with our local elected officials and we’re on weekly webinars with the state superintendent, and from what they’re saying the budget deficit continues to grow. I think the next three to four years could be very difficult. Public education is more than half of the state budget. We’re at the mercy of enrollment and the state budget.  There could be a special session this year, and there will likely be an impact in the coming school years so it’s important for us to be thoughtful about our spending now and how we save for the future too.

I think everyone is a little worried about what the future holds. We try to do the best we can given the budgets we’ve been given. We want to maintain the staffing levels going into next year, because of the need of students.  It is likely that we will need to help catch students up a bit, and we’ll need each of our staff to do that, so our plan for next year’s budget is to really maintain our staffing levels.  The 2021 legislative session will be the first year of the biennium with new budgets that most likely will be impacted by the pandemic, so we could definitely have to address reductions at the state level in planning for the 2021-22 school year. 

What will Camas schools look like this Fall?

The state has set up a task force to address that and what they’ve been looking at is a range of seven models. They look at all spectrums from where we are now, and what it might look like in late August. They have told us in June we will get some guidelines from them, so we’re looking at these issues with leadership and staff. We will be having a Town Hall on June 4 to share some of our planning work and listen to ideas and concerns from the community.  We want to be thoughtful about planning for the future, recognizing how significant the events this spring have been for everyone.

What about mental health and supporting parents with at-home learning?

This is a really important focus for us.  We started off communicating with families a lot about the logistical what and now  we’re shifting to tips for conversations with students and more the how.  We’re learning a lot about what’s working and what’s not and we want to share that information. 

Regarding students in crisis: We ask teachers to reach out to each student and monitor how they’re doing.  If we don’t hear from them we’ve been trying do the phone call or even go and knock on doors to make sure everything is OK. Everything is amplified in the home.  It’s hard right now as parents are trying to figure out work, the future and help their students.  We are trying to pay attention to that. I feel like right now it’s pretty similar to what we were experiencing before. If it was on the radar before, it’s on the radar now. When you physically see students in the classroom you had a sense of the situation, but not virtually we don’t have that so we have to really pay attention to students who may be in need. 

We have a great staff; they’re working really hard. It’s been very challenging for everyone. We have the opportunity to re-invent. You see some kids flourishing in these challenging times. We will come through this as a better school district.

Snell is going on his fourth year as Superintendent of Camas Schools. To learn more what is happening in Camas schools, visit www.camas.wednet.edu

In his Friday update, Camas School District Superintendent, Dr. Jeff Snell, said the following:

Dear Camas Community,

It may be overstated, but we are in the midst of extraordinary times. Our staff is committed to supporting students and families as we work through the state-wide school closures.

Our school system is built on human interactions. Relationships that staff members form with students are critical to the learning process.  It’s not just about technology access, but access to staff members in the moments of learning to monitor and adjust instruction. It’s a new world with a new context for learning. We cannot replicate the experience in the classroom, but we can provide content and learning experiences in different ways.  Shifting to a remote learning system in two weeks while in the midst of a public health crisis is a great challenge for all of us. For the class of 2020, our focus is ensuring they graduate. For all other students, the focus is on making the most of the opportunity we have.

We want to help students grow in meaningful ways and be ready for whatever the next stage of learning looks like. Our staff is creatively embracing this challenge. Please be patient with them as they embark on this journey with your students.  Please help us by supporting your students as they engage in remote learning opportunities safely, responsibly, and respectfully. We also greatly appreciate your support in helping students find some structured time at home. We are all learners in this together!

Below is our school year, organized into the different sections we’ve experienced and will be experiencing. In each section, there is a high-level description of the learning and assessment provided during that time.  On Monday, April 6, teachers will be starting the next section of our school year. They will be connecting with you and your student(s). Our goal is to use the three weeks for meaningful learning and then transition back to school on April 27.  We are doing our best to lead through this challenge with flexibility, grace, and heart. As we have all seen over the past month circumstances can change quickly, requiring us to adjust plans, and making those leadership qualities essential. 

Please take care of yourself and each other.  We will continue to regularly provide you with updates.

Sincerely,

Jeff Snell, Superintendent

2019-20 School Year: Learning Activities & Assessment

9/3/19 – 3/13/20: Traditional learning engagement and assessment/grading practices

3/16/20 – 3/27/20: Transition time with the announcement of state school closures; staff members exploring and learning more about remote learning options; continuing the learning that was planned prior to the closure; making connections with families to assess student needs.

3/30/20 – 4/3/20: Spring break

4/6/20 – 4/24/20: Staff members will deliver learning designed to continue student growth in all subject areas. The primary focus will be on providing learning opportunities and meaningful feedback for students rather than grading. Staff members will document the level in which each student is involved with the learning to monitor progress, not in a way that negatively impacts grades.

While technology will be a key resource used in this phase of learning, other options will be available to accommodate students who have limited access to the internet. Staff members will continue to develop opportunities for students to engage with learning and demonstrate their understanding.

Staff members may enter scores into Skyward for tracking and communication purposes. Those scores will not negatively affect a student’s grade.

4/27/20 – 6/19/20: If we are able to return to school, staff members will help transition students back to school with opportunities for students to re-engage with learning considering their ability to access instruction during the closure.  In order to assess student learning, staff members will blend pre-closure and closure learning experiences to determine proficiency and/or grades. Students will have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning.

IF THERE ARE CONTINUED SCHOOL CLOSURES BEYOND APRIL 24: Staff members will continue to provide learning experiences, and will begin to shift to a proficiency-based assessment system of prioritized learning standards for students through remote instruction.  Students will be given multiple ways to demonstrate their proficiency.

High School:  Teachers will consider overall assessment in two phases: prior to closure and during closure in determining credit.  For classes that require a grade, we will determine a process that accounts for the extraordinary circumstances. We will also develop a process for students to recover credit and learning opportunities if they were unable to access learning during the closure.

Camas School District Superintendent, Dr. Jeff Snell, sent out an update today regarding the following issues as the district deals with life during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Meals
  • Childcare
  • Graduation Requirements
  • Learning
  • Stories from Camas

Meals for children

We are providing free breakfast and lunch grab-and-go meals for all children, even if they are not yet school age, in our community. Here are the locations:

  • From 9-11 AM (it was 9-10 AM, but we’ve expanded it) at Liberty and Skyridge middle schools;
  • At our AM elementary school bus stops; and
  • Starting tomorrow morning, buses will be parked at Dorothy Fox, Prune Hill, Grass Valley, and Woodburn from 7:45 – 8:30 AM in order to provide service to students who live in walk zones and don’t have a bus stop. 

For more information about routes, please contact our Transportation Department at 360-833-5585 between 6 AM and noon.

Providing childcare, especially for families of healthcare workers or first responders

We are working to accommodate requests for emergency childcare in the questionnaire that went out Friday.  We are also trying to plan for additional requests as healthcare workers and first responders continue their vital services in our community.  

Graduation requirements

High school students, especially seniors, have the additional pressure of meeting graduation requirements and other related activities. OSPI and the State Board of Education are working to provide statewide guidance.  We’ll share information as soon as we receive it. We want to make sure we support high school students with their concerns throughout the closure and will be sending a message to them directly later this evening. High School Student Message, 3/17: (http://bit.ly/2UcEQRm

Learning

During these weeks prior to spring break, teachers will be communicating with students/families with the goal of assessing student access and needs.  That information will be helpful in our planning for learning after spring break. Teachers may also be continuing any learning that was going on prior to the closure when appropriate.  

Our Story

We are launching a site that I hope can become a place to connect called Stories from Camas (http://bit.ly/39XdAx2). Stories can create opportunities for us to come together.  They allow us to share experiences, discover common ground, be curious and interested in learning more about each other.  We are in the midst of a very unusual time where we don’t get to interact with each other in the typical ways. Perhaps coming together around stories can help us all.  During our school closure, this will be a hub for our collective stories. Check it out and send me any ideas at [email protected].  

Jeff Snell, Superintendent
Camas School District

The Camas School Board voted unanimously Monday night to approve Levy Rate Resolution 1902, which restores the 2017 voter-approved levy, and brings an additional $4.05 million in district revenue through 2021.

The levy calls for $2.15 per $1,000 of assessed property value, and becomes effective January 2020. The 2018 McCleary legislation cut the Camas School District levy authority in half, which contributed to budget deficits and staff reductions. In 2019, the Washington State Legislature authorized school districts to levy up to $2.50. The current levy is $1.50.

“If we stayed at $1.50 there would be no added revenue,” said School Board member, Connie Hennessey. “At $2.15, it brings in an additional $4.05 million, which puts us at the amount voters approved before McCleary.” 

School Board member Tracey Malone said “We have to be good stewards of the taxpayer money” while School Board member Erika Cox felt “very comfortable with $2.15.”

“We had authority by the state to go to $2.50 but we felt $2.15 honors what the taxpayers approved in 2017,” said CSD Communications Director, Doreen McKercher.

The board also voted unanimously to increase contingency funds for The Heights Learning Center Seismic Upgrade Project, as well as approve final acceptance of Energy Services Agreement for district-wide projects.

WSSDA Conference

The board spent November 21-24 at the Washington State School Director’s Association (WSSDA) Annual Conference. Superintendent Jeff Snell addressed topics learned at the conference, which include the following:

  • Budget process
  • Communication with community
  • Social emotional learning
  • Changes in law/requirements/procedures
  • Best practices related to inclusion, highly capable, pathways to graduation
  • Hot topics around the state
Levy
The resolution was unanimously passed by the Camas School Board.

Legislative Priorities

Snell also identified CSD’s legislative priorities:

  1. Continue progress towards fully funding special education: Ensuring students served through special services have full access to their basic education, continues to require the use of CSD’s local enrichment levy. Possible solutions are 1) increase the multiplier for each special education student; and 2) lower the threshold required to attain safety net funding.
  2. Sustain regionalization: Regionalization factors for some districts begin declining in 2020-21, 1% per year. It is unclear why this is the case, and this is challenging CSD give the cost per employee will continue to rise annually. Possible solution: Do not phase out funding using “regionalization” existing factors over time.
  3. Update staff allocation formulas: The staffing allocations in the Prototypical School funding need updating. Not only are schools staffed beyond the allocations in important areas such as mental health and safety, the cost of each staffing unit exceeds the funding received. This is particularly evident in funding school administrators. Possible solutions: Begin phasing in updated ratios to achieve more realistic state-funding staffing levels and increase funding levels to better reflect market rate for positions; and follow recommendations of OPSI prototypical workgroup.
  4. Monitor the impact of School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB): As the new employee benefits system is implemented, assess the additional costs for school districts and the impact of enrichment levies. Possible solutions: Fully fund the cost of employee health benefits for all eligible employees; and, if unable to fully fund employer costs, adjust eligibility to reduce costs and align revenues and expenditures for SEBB.
Levy
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Monthly Budget Report

Jasen McEathron, Director of Business Services, presented his monthly budget report. In the August 2019 Budget Status, preliminary vs. final, the numbers are: 

  • General Fund: Minor accrual adjustments
  • Revenues: August revenues increased about $118,000.
  • Expenditures: August expenditures increased $317,000.

September 2019 status:

  • Capital Projects Fund — LGO Bond revenues of $5.27 million were received to reimburse the fund used to purchase the Underwriters Laboratory property.
  • Debt service — normal 

October 2019 budget status:

  • General Fund: Local tax revenues of $3.62 million.
  • ASB Fund: Normal activity
  • Transportation vehicle fund — normal activity

Enrollment: 

  • Head count: 7,407
  • Basic enrollment continues at about 2.2 percent.
  • Running Start is up 10 percent this year.
  • CTE numbers are holding strong as well with over 7 percent growth in 9-12.

The CSD School Board meeting is held twice a month.