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Washougal, WA — Second grade art students of Columbia River Gorge Elementary are already getting into the holiday spirit by created ornaments for Washington Governor, Jay Inslee’s Christmas Tree.

CRGE art teacher, Joanna Sickels, saw the opportunity and applied to have CRGE participate in the project. “It is important for students to share their work and have it seen by a wide audience,” she said.  “Projects that bring works out into the public like this help kids to invest in their art. This is also such a great opportunity to highlight our new art elementary program and let the state know that Washougal School District offers art instruction to all K-5 students.”

Since 2013, the Governor’s Mansion has requested ornaments made by students from around the state to decorate the mansion’s Christmas Tree.  The mansion receives a high number of visitors during the holiday season and guests greatly enjoy seeing the work of K-12 students from Washington State that decorates the tree.

“I’m delighted that Columbia River Gorge Elementary applied to participate and was selected,” said Anne Banks, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Learning and Teaching Program Supervisor.  “This year the theme is “Sea Creatures” and we are all looking forward to seeing the ornaments they are creating!”

Once Sickels learned the school was selected and the ornament theme, she emailed the staff to find out who was teaching about the ocean.  “That is a second-grade subject so second graders were selected to create fish, integrating the two subjects,” she said.  “I tell students that science and art are best friends, and math and art are best friend.  Integrating arts in classroom subjects can show students how art is connected in so many ways to what they are learning.”

For their project, Sickels chose traditional Japanese paper-folding to create an origami fish.  After folding the fish, students used decorative papers to collage and create attractive designs. “Origami is a beautiful medium,” she said. “The project allows them to use their personal creativity to make it their own unique fish ornament.”

According to Banks, the response this year was huge from classrooms across the state who wanted to participate, however, just twenty-two classrooms could be a part of the project. They were selected based on their art descriptions, ESD region, and whether they were an elementary, middle, or high school so that all regions and grade bands were represented in the statewide opportunity.

Washougal WA – Washougal area employers, business leaders and educators came together for an evening of collaboration on October 25 at Washougal High School to help the Washougal School District (WSD) Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department leverage existing school programs to prepare the future workforce.

“Businesses are asking us for skilled workers,” said WSD CTE Director, Margaret Rice.  “We want them to understand the current work being done and the programs offered here to prepare our students for their post-secondary education and careers. An important step in this process is to create meaningful standards that, once met, demonstrate to potential employers that this student has learned the skills needed to be successful in a specific industry.”

Keynote speaker Brock Smith, from Precision Exams and Industry Engaged, explained to the nearly 50 attendees that standards are the common language between industry and schools to help quantify the education experience for employers.

“We need industry to be involved and help to set these standards to assist in shaping curriculum and prepare students to be the future workforce,” he said.

Establishing meaningful standards is where Industry Engaged, an online survey program comes into play.

“Employers can use this tool to become a part of the ongoing review and revision of the standards, assessments and available certificates of more than 170 CTE offerings,” Smith explained.  “This ensures that by the time a student has earned a certificate, or a stackable credential, that the knowledge and skills employers desperately need are represented and recognized by those very same employers.”

“I felt the evening was successful,” said Rice. “Creating meaningful opportunities for business and industry folks to partner with education has not been an easy endeavor, with the typical ask being more than most can give.”  Rice pointed out that this industry engagement tool is not only simple to participate in, it’s easy to pass on to others.  “It also provides the added bonus of a direct benefit to students by way of certifications,” she said. “It’s a win-win-win all the way around.”

According to Smith, the ability to connect industry and education with a tool to review and give input on standards will result in teachers teaching and students learning the skills employers look for when making hiring decisions. “When businesses dedicate time to review education standards in subjects their future workers are learning, it benefits more than just their business; it helps our local economy, is a tremendous help for educators and is a great advantage for students,” Smith said.

CTE

Culinary students prepared the dinner.

“Helping a student discover an aptitude and area of interest early in their education provides greater purpose, empowers them, builds confidence and brings meaning to learning,” Rice said.  “It answers the question every student has, ‘When am I ever going to use this?’ because they apply their learning in a practical way that links to their career pathway which keeps them more engaged.”

That engagement is why research shows that CTE students graduate at a 12 percent higher rate than those students who are not CTE concentration completers (360 hours of CTE instruction in one focus CTE area of study).  The positive impact of a high school graduate on a local economy is significant and measurable in increased consumer spending and an increase in contributed state and local taxes.

The evening was sponsored by current business partners.  Harry White from Waddell and Reed sponsored the dinner and Heather Jones and Starbucks sponsored the coffee bar.  The event was staffed with skilled WHS students from Advanced Culinary who planned, prepared and served the dinner, by Future Business Leaders of America members who welcomed guests and assisted participants with signing in. Even the artistic table centerpieces were created by Fine Arts Woodworking and Metals Craft & Production students.

“Our goal this evening was to help bring awareness to local businesses of the programs we offer as well as our work to connect classroom learning with the skills businesses are looking for in their employees,” said Rice. “Input from local industry coupled with recognition of the Career Skills certificates adds tangible value for students as it directly ties the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to a pathway leading to high-demand jobs with local employers.”

Rice is working with her teachers to expand WSD local partnerships to gain insight into the needs of industry. One way they are doing this is through their Program Advisory Committees. These committees focus on providing direction, help to set and achieve goals, and assist in accessing resources to support students within specific program areas within the CTE Department.

“We have found that the key to developing the future workforce is connecting employers with the right students and job candidates early in their educational process,” Rice said. “We also want employers to see the validity of these certifications and give students who have met the standards they have helped develop an opportunity to show them what they know maybe through a professional interview or internship.”

To learn more or to become involved in the engagement process asked of local employers, visit https://industryengaged.org/   If you have questions, ideas or want to get involved in Washougal CTE initiatives, contact Rice at (360)954-3121margaret.rice@washougalsd.org

Camas, WA — At Monday’s Camas School Board Meeting, Jason McEathron, Director of Business Services for the Camas School District (CSD), addressed the $3.2 million budget deficit the district faces in this current school year, and his plans to form a budget committee to resolve the issue.

“The anticipated budget deficit is $3,212,141 by end of this school year,” said McEathron. “Expenditures are also trending above our initial budget. Labor costs are higher than expected at $4.9 million.”

He said the fiscal issues are primarily a result of the new funding model mandated by the State Legislature — issues that CSD has been open about for months.

Other contributing factors are headcount (which is 2.7 percent higher than budgeted) and Running Start (which is 25.5 percent higher than budgeted).

CSD warned in August that a 3.1 percent teacher pay raise would create deficits, and likely cause layoffs in 2-3 years. Teachers received 9.3 – 12.6 percent pay increases in their negotiated settlement, which last for two years.

At the time, Camas Education Association (CEA) negotiator, Mark Gardner, called it “a scare tactic by the District.” CSD Superintendent Dr. Jeff Snell defended the numbers and has been meeting with schools and the public for months alerting them of the projected deficit. The new funding model cuts the CDS levying capacity by 50 percent, which will result in a nearly $5 million loss within 12 months.

McEathron said expenditures currently outpace revenues, but this is typical during start-up of a new school year. A full end-year report is due by the end of this week.

“We are looking for other areas to sharpen the pencil to adjust the budget,” said McEathron. “We will work to shrink the deficit down. We can’t dip into fund balance because that’s not sustainable.”

To address the deficit, McEathron is creating a public budget committee.

“So, we really want to have a budget committee that involves stakeholders,” said McEathron. “Let’s shed the light on this and let’s work together as a community. We will do this together.”

He said other similar districts across the state are dealing with these same issues. The state is currently $600-900 million short of fully funding education statewide, and that will hit in the 2019-20 school year.

The district will be on the front end of dealing with the state budget, and will work with OPSI, the Governor’s office, and the Legislature, which McEathron said is dealing with a McCleary hangover.

State Representative Brandon Vick, LD-18, responded to the issue in a private interview at the Camas Youth Advisory Council Candidate (CYAC) Candidate Forum.

“The Legislature feels we’ve done our job by fully funding education as mandated by the Supreme Court,” said Vick. “There isn’t much appetite right now to address this. I voted against the bigger McCleary law because I knew it would cause this problem, but I did vote for the fix, which we passed earlier this year.”

About 30 minutes later, Vick publicly said the following at the forum:

“We dealt with McCleary. I voted against the first law. McCleary is a big bill. Does McCleary get the job done? The answer is yes. This was a very good piece of legislation. I think what we did made a lot of sense. We funded McCleary to those salary numbers that were recommended.”

Candidates at the forum were asked about McCleary, and several citizens responded afterward that they wished the candidates for the State offices would have had more to say about the issues the legislation is causing.

McEathron expects to have the CSD budget committee started in November.

 

Deficit

CSD is forming a special Budget Committee to address a $3.2 million deficit.

Vancouver, WA — With help from the Vancouver Rotary Foundation and a Swiss-funded school, Navraj Lamichhane, or “Raj,” of Nepal, is living his dream, and plans use his education to improve the quality of life in his native country.

After completing two years of college in Nepal, Raj arrived in Vancouver nearly three years ago to continue his studies at Washington State University (WSU) Vancouver where he recently earned a Business Administration Degree with a certificate in professional sales.

“I was the scholarship recipient from the Vancouver Rotary Foundation, and was paid through grants and other scholarships, and directly from WSU,” said Raj. “I got a sponsor from Switzerland, and she helped me through the first semester. Her name is Birgit Krneta, with Bright Horizons Children’s school in Nepal, which is a Swiss-funded school, and everyone has a sponsor. I had her as my sponsor and she paid for my education and she paid for my first semester at WSU Vancouver. After that, I was able to get the remaining funds.”

Raj also received support from Beverly Questad, who assisted with room and board. The two originally met in Nepal during a teaching abroad program. Questad, a Skyview High School teacher, traveled to Nepal to teach and train.

“I was planning to come to America at that time, and we started talking and she really liked my drive,” said Raj. “She offered free room and board, which is close to the WSU Vancouver campus. When I came here I got full scholarships, and that’s how I was able to get it all done.”

His interest is in renewable energy and improving the quality of life in developing countries — and is putting his focus on new, improved cooking stoves that are more efficient, and healthier. Back in Nepal they cook everything inside with antiquated cooking stoves that create toxins and smoke in the home.

“I learned about energy through Winrock International, which is based in Arkansas, and they promote renewable energies worldwide,” said Raj. “They teach, and do proposals, train people, work with local banks, and help local businesses secure financing. I worked with them as a paid research intern for two years, and I learned about solar home systems. During my internship with Winrock is when my interest in America emerged. It really fascinated me. America is a great country as they have diverse thinking. I wanted to study here and I was really in need of those kind of connections.”

Upon arrival in the United States, Raj heard about the Rotary scholarship, and applied. After several interviews, he received the $4,000 scholarship.

“I love that Rotary is doing international things,” he said.

Raj is making plans to earn his MBA, and is currently looking at several schools. He wants to start classes in 2019.

After that, he wants to become an energy expert, and plans to eventually return to Nepal, but still travel the world bringing energy solutions to the developing parts of the world. In Nepal, they often face 18 hours of energy blackouts each day, which is a huge struggle.

“I want to work in project management and bring good products to help people in these places,” Raj said. “I want to first gain work experience in the United States and stay here for 5-10 years and then set up my own company in Nepal. I want to help in different ways. I love my country but I want to get established here. I want to get all this experience and go back and help.”

Nepal

Raj wants to market new, more efficient stoves in Nepal and other developing countries.

The 26 year-old has two older sisters and one younger brother, who only attended school through the 7th grade. He was raised in Kathmandu, but was born 2.5 hours away — in rural Nepal. There aren’t a lot of jobs there for people who don’t have an education, and the nation has a massive unemployment problem.

“Renewable energy is a way to a healthy life,” Raj said. “It’s a way to progress and sustainability. It’s a way to empower people. I think there are ways we can think critically — in different ways. Like using solar cars, and it’s just healthier.”

He said that solar home heating systems and modern cooking stoves are key to their progress.

He plans to bring newer stoves to market, because their current models are making women and children sick, given that most women stay at home in Nepal.

“With new cooking stoves, we can eliminate these health problems and provide for a better life,” he said. “In the cities, they use more gas stoves with ventilation. The traditional stoves are used more in the rural areas.”

He’d like to see Metallic Improved Cooking (MIC) stoves spread through his native country — and to other parts of the developing world.

Photo Gallery

 

Washington state Superintendent Chris Reykdal announced a capital gains tax in his 2019-21 budget Tuesday, which addresses the funding gyrations and looming budget deficits in many districts across the state as a result of the new public school funding model.

Capital

Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal.

His proposal includes additional funding for students with special needs, nurses and dual language programs, which have historically been unfunded by the state, requiring local districts to implement levies.

“Our students deserve an education system that does not allow opportunity gaps to persist,” Reykdal said in a statement. “That can only happen if our system provides equitable opportunities and individual learning pathways for each student.”

Reykdal’s budget proposal is funded by an 8 percent long-term capital gains tax that would raise $1 billion annually. His goal is to reduce the state property tax by 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This would affect approximately 53,000 households. Single filers who earn $25,000 from capital gains annually or couples who make more than $50,000 will be taxed.

Jewelry

www.michaelnutterjewelry.com

Would it affect sales of residences? No, said Reykdal.

The objective is to reduce the burden on homeowners so school districts can increase levies as they’ve done in the past.

The state legislature, in their response to the McCleary Supreme Court decision, capped the amount of levy money schools could collect to whichever was less: $2,500 per student or $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. This decision reduced Camas School District levy capacity by 50 percent, and is a chief cause of projected CSD deficits. Districts all over the state are dealing with similar issues, which Reykdal readily admits.

“Without critical changes, the reduction in levies will leave some districts in a very tough financial situation,” Reykdal said in a statement.

The rest of the capital gains tax would go towards these public school funding areas:

  • $150 million for special education
  • $46 million for mentoring and professional learning
  • $45 million for career and technical education
  • $38 million for institutional education
  • $38 million for counselors
  • $20 million for dual credit programs
  • $14 million for dual language programs
  • $13 million for nurses
  • $13 million for mental health and school safety
  • $10 million for expanded learning opportunities
  • $9 million for family and community coordinators

Reykdal’s plans has critics from both Republicans and Democrats.

“The capital gains tax is basically an income tax,” said Clark County Assessor, Peter Van Nortwick. “If we have one Fisher Investments will be gone. You let a new tax in and it expands. The State brings enough in sales and other taxes.”

Retiring State Representative Liz Pike thinks it’s a terrible idea that tries to fix bad legislation with more bad legislation.

”School districts should not have given raises they had no way to pay for,” said Pike. “It was financially irresponsible. I’ve said all along the WEA orchestrated these strikes with Democrat operatives in order to justify a new state income tax. The Capital Gains Tax proposed by OSPI Reykdal is a back door to a new state income tax.”

The capital gains tax was floated by Governor Inslee two years ago, and most recently by House Democrats in this last budget cycle.

“I’m opposed to any new tax structure,” said candidate Larry Hoff, a Republican who is running for the 18th Legislative District, Position 2 seat. “McCleary needs to be fully implemented prior to suggesting that major changes are necessary.”

Hoff’s opponent is also against the capital gains tax.

“I’m disappointed in his proposal,” said Kathy Gillespie, a Democrat who is running for the open 18th, Position 2 Legislative District seat. “It ignores the huge property tax increase passed in 2017 and also ignores the levy swipe contained in that deal. After a summer of strikes and sky-high property tax bills to boot, I don’t think taxpayers will have an appetite for another ‘fix’. The idea has been around for a while. It’s not new, and it’s still a bad idea.”

 

 

 

Washougal, WA — Angela Hancock was sworn in as the new Washougal School Board Director for District #2 at the Tuesday, September 25 board meeting. She replaces Elaine Pfeifer, who resigned in July after nearly 14 years of service.

“I look forward to representing District #2 community members,” Hancock said. “My main priorities as their board director are transparent communications, fair representation, being accessible and continuing to be a vested member of the community.”

District #2 covers areas to the north of Washougal River Road and in Skamania County.

“The Board of Directors and myself are pleased to welcome Angela to her new position,” said Dr. Mary Templeton, WSD Superintendent. “We are excited about her energy and passion for our school district and are eager to have her join the other four board members in the work of guiding the direction of the Washougal School District.”

Hancock

www.McKeanSmithLaw.com

Hancock, a mother of two current Washougal students, has been very active in many areas of the district. She is a past employee at Gause Elementary, Cape Horn-Skye Elementary and Canyon Creek Middle School as well as a long-time volunteer at CH-S. She was a valuable member of the successful Vote Yes for Safe Schools Bond and is a current CCMS Booster secretary. Additional volunteer work in the schools and community have included past CH-S Booster Vice President, Washougal Schools Foundation 2018-19 Stride Volunteer Coordinator, Girl Scouts of America Assistant Troop Leader, Camas Community Education Soccer Coach, West Columbia Gorge Humane Society volunteer, Harold W Busch Alzheimer’s Committee Member and much more.

Hancock said she is excited to work with a group that she respects on what she feels are some of the most important goals in our community. “Being a school board member has been in the back of my mind since attending my second board meeting years ago,” she recalls. “I felt that this was somewhere that I belong and could make a difference when the time was right. Washougal is at a turning point in many ways and I am very excited to become a part of the process.”

Hancock joins board members Teresa Lees, District #1; Donna Sinclair, District #3; Cory Chase, District #4 and Board Chair; and Ron Dinius, District #5.

Vancouver, WA — More than 1,400 Evergreen Public Schools (EPS) teachers met Sunday afternoon at Evergreen High School to ratify their new collective bargaining agreement — by a vote of 1,455 to 4, or 99.5 percent approval.  The new two-year union deal gives teachers, on average, a raise of 11.5 percent, and gives starting teachers salaries $51,619 and veteran teachers topping out at $98,279 in year one. The year two salary range will be $53,474 to $100,618.

The new deal opens schools back up on Monday for Evergreen’s 26,000 students. It’s the largest school district in Clark County, and the second to last district to end a two-week long strike. Battle Ground still hasn’t settled.

“We are excited to be welcoming our students and staff back to school and appreciate the hard work both bargaining teams did in reaching a mutually beneficial agreement,” Superintendent John Steach said.

The Evergreen Education Association (EEA) struck a deal with administration leaders just before 3 am today.

Teachers have been picketing in front of their various schools for two weeks, causing major scheduling issues for parents.

EPS teacher, Hillary Axford, said the teachers were frustrated that a deal took so long. It’s been a very contentious few weeks.

“I don’t feel the district has been honest in these negotiations,” she said on Thursday.  “I think we’ll be one of the last districts to settle.”

All high school students who attend the Cascadia Technical Academy, which is run by EPS, need to report to classes as scheduled.

 

 

Washougal, WA — At a special meeting of the Washougal School District Board of Directors on April 27, 2018, the school board unanimously passed a motion to hire Dr. Mary Templeton as the next Superintendent of the district. Templeton and three other final candidates interviewed with the Board, district administrators, and representatives of the staff and community on April 25. She will begin her new job on July 1, 2018.

“The district started this process several months ago, gathering feedback from community, staff, and district parents, in an open and transparent process,” said Cory Chase, Washougal School Board President. “The board felt Dr. Templeton’s experience and background are best suited to the current initiatives and opportunities in our district. The board would like to thank all of the community members, staff, and others who participated in the process and provided feedback to help with this process. We are excited to welcome Mary to the Washougal community.” The board worked with Northwest Leadership Associates on the search process.

“I am so excited to be joining the Washougal School District as the new superintendent of schools,” said Templeton. “After spending time in the district this week, it was clear that there are great things happening here and that the community, staff, school board, and parents are committed to excellence for all of our students. I look forward to leading the Washougal School District with this vision for excellence into the future.”

 

Templeton is currently the Human Resources Director for Certificated Personnel for Spokane Public Schools, a role she has held for four years. She began her education career in the classroom, teaching German, English, and Drama for 15 years. She later served as a dean of students, principal assistant, and then worked as an assistant principal for four years.

Templeton recently received a doctorate in Education from Washington State University and has held a superintendent credential since 2015. She serves on a task force for the Public Educator Standards Board (PESB).

CAMAS, WA — The Lacamas Heights Elementary community invites all members of the Camas community to help celebrate their 50th Anniversary with two special events on January 17.

At 2:30 pm, staff and students will host a school-wide assembly where guest speakers will share memories from their years at Lacamas with staff and students; additionally, current students will share a special presentation reflecting back on the great history of Lacamas Heights.

All who attend will be treated to a sneak peak at a movie short titled “The Lacamas Story.” This will be an opportunity to provide today’s students with a glimpse of what has made Lacamas the school that it is today.

For the second event, all former students, teachers, and staff are invited to a Celebration Reception, which begins at 5:30 pm. This will be a time to tour the school, reminisce with former students and staff, reconnect, and celebrate the impact that Lacamas has had over the past 50 years.

There will be pictures, memorabilia, birthday cake, and the premier of our short film, “The Lacamas Story,” but most importantly, there will be teachers, administrators, staff, and students who called Lacamas Heights Elementary School their school from 1963-2014. This is an exciting opportunity to reconnect Lacamas alumni, and organizers hope community members will help to spread the word about this special day.

Lacamas Heights Elementary, in Camas, to celebrate 50th anniversary.

 

 

Last week, schools across the nation were abuzz with the release of “Best High School Rankings” by U.S. New & World Report magazine.  The Best High Schools rankings, which are available online only, are produced in conjunction with the American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world.

With the data release, U.S. News published detailed information on more than 21,000 public high schools, including school-specific data on enrollment, ethnicity, location, school type and results of state assessment proficiency tests and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests. Using some of this data and a comprehensive methodology, the schools were given a college readiness index score, with the top scoring 4,805 schools receiving a gold, silver or bronze medal and – in the case of gold and silver schools – a numerical ranking.

 
This year, Camas High School (CHS) received a silver medal, and climbed up in the rankings.
“Well, I think it is great,” said CHS Principal, Steve Marshall.  “I love it when CHS makes headlines.  But what I really like is what this award represents. While the methodology behind this award is somewhat controversial, the silver medal status represents a couple of different things: 1) A significant number of CHS students are challenging themselves by taking Advanced Placement classes and, moreover, succeeding in those classes; and, 2) CHS students are doing well on the Washington High School Proficiency Exam compared to other schools around the state.  Both of those areas translate into college readiness.”
Marshall continues: “This is the third time we have been awarded the Silver Medal by US News and World Report. In 2010 we ranked just in the top 5% of US public high schools – right around #950.  This year we were ranked #744.  It is exciting to us climb the rankings.”