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Washougal, WA — The Washougal School Board approved a new, two-year contract with the Washougal Association of Educators at its Tuesday, August 25 board meeting.

The contract puts equity, diversity, and inclusion front and center for the district, with a major investment in teacher training on equity this coming school year.  The district is excited to be partnering with the Washougal Association of Educators (WAE) as well as the statewide Washington Education Association to provide culturally responsive practices training for all teaching staff. The contract includes new language around inclusive practices, and language to remove barriers to student participation that are created through discipline processes.  This work will help both groups work to eliminate the achievement gaps for our diverse learners, as school leaders and teachers work together to authentically know all learners, nurture relationships that build common understanding, and challenge each of us to disrupt systemic racism in our society. 

The contract also features an investment in additional teacher training focused on technology to build skills and to ensure quality implementation of the new impactED remote learning model.  

“Our vision to know, nurture and challenge all students to rise remains in place,” said WSD Superintendent, Mary Templeton.  “This training will help our teachers deliver positive and engaging learning experiences for our students.”

The contract includes a state provided increase in compensation across two years, along with additional paid training time.

“This keeps the district’s overall compensation in alignment with our region, so that we can continue to attract and retain great teachers,” said Aaron Hansen, Assistant Superintendent of HR & Student Support. 

“WAE are happy to have the contract in place for the next two years,” said Eric Engebretson, WAE President.  “It is one less item on teachers’ plates.”

This agreement makes changes to Special Education language that provides more equity to Special Education teachers as compared to general education teachers.

Other contract features are additional non-discrimination language, changes in leave provisions, creation of a guest teacher (substitute) handbook, and more structure for teacher involvement in equity and school building leadership teams.  

“This was an unusual bargaining process for many reasons,” said Hansen. “We held about 18 bargaining sessions; all were done over Zoom.  Both sides worked extremely hard to listen, to seek common ground, and to collaborate as we solved issues in the contract. It is the first time in quite a while we’ve settled a contract without support from a mediator.”  Engebretson added “I think that this is one of the earliest contracts to be settled between WAE and WSD.  We appreciate the work the Union and District did together to come to an agreement.”

The tentative agreement was reached at the bargaining table July 29.   WAE membership ratified it in a general meeting on August 21, and the WSD Board approved it at the August 25 board meeting. 

To address student learning gaps happening during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to sharpen minds during summer vacation, several local teens have created a non-profit learning and tutoring organization called Youth Hand in Hand, which offers free online classes and tutorials on a wide range of topics.

The organization, which is comprised of talented student teachers, hosts weekly 40-minute ZOOM class sessions, teaching topics that include Coding (Scratch and Python), SAT tutoring, Chemistry, Biology, Math, National History Day, Creative Writing and Cartooning.

“A lot of these classes are things we are passionate about,” said Ares Zhang, a Camas High School senior, and one of the group’s student teachers. “We know a lot of people who have missed out on opportunities over the summer. This all started out as friends trying to help each other, but it’s turned into something bigger. There’s no cost! All of it’s free. All you have to do is sign up.”

As a non-profit, Youth Hand in Hand is able to procure funding to purchase full ZOOM subscriptions for all teachers, and they are accepting old routers to help students to have better WiFi access.

“Technically, we started in April during the pandemic, and my sister wanted to learn scratch coding, and several neighbors were interested,” said Spencer Chang, a junior at Mountain View High School, and the organization’s founder. “I asked if anyone would also want to do it, and other four kids helped us.”

After initial setup, Youth Hand in Hand now has 18 student teachers and offers 15 classes. Most classes have two teachers and typically 15 kids are in each session. 

“Last month, we had 250 people sign up,” said Chang. “It’s a month-to-month program. Most classes are 4 weeks long. We provide resources to help kids get through online learning.”

Zhang said they are adapting the curriculum to help kids through the school season, and they will shift toward tutoring.

“We can help them learn concepts since they’re not in regular school,” said Chang. “Our goal for September is to expand curriculum and get ZOOM subscriptions for all our teachers. All teachers are teens. The youngest one will be a freshman this year. We are mostly juniors and seniors.” 

Youth Hand in Hand plans to do face-to-face classes and tutoring sessions when life returns to pre-pandemic normal.

“It’s mostly so people can keep on learning throughout the pandemic,” said Chang. “Some people don’t learn as well online, and we’re hoping we can make an impact, to provide people opportunities to learn.”

To learn more about the program, visit https://sites.google.com/view/youthhandinhand/home?authuser=0 or email the team at [email protected]

“We just channeled our passion into this,” said Zhang. “This is great way to make an impact in our community.”

Camas Superintendent, Dr, Jeff Snell provides to frequently asked questions regarding school reopening for the 2020-21 school season. He said this week there will be an opportunity to engage in a question and answer session about Camas Connect Academy, the Camas School District (CSD) full online option.  CSD recommends the Camas Connect Academy only for families that do not have a desire to return to on-campus learning at any point during the school year.  For all others, CSD recommends starting the school year remotely and then transitioning towards more on-campus learning during the year.

So how do we start school? 
During remote learning, we will keep the same school hours.  This provides a consistent structure for students and families and defines the workday for staff.  Schools will be providing orientations to help staff and families partner together in support of students. 

Does full remote learning mean my student will be on Zoom for more than six hours per day?
No, the State Board of Education has provided some flexibility in how we meet our yearly instructional hour requirements, and sitting in front of a screen all day long is not a best practice for students.

We designed our scheduling framework to have a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded) learning with brain/movement breaks for students. Our remote learning schedule is aligned to our full hybrid schedule to help transition to more on-campus time when community health indicators improve. In our full, hybrid learning delivery model, students will receive at least two days of on-campus, live instruction. We’ve included a similar expectation in our remote learning schedule. The equivalent of at least 2 days of “live”, synchronous instruction will be distributed across the week. Other learning time will be asynchronous instruction from our teachers with specific learning tasks for students to complete with support. This allows for some flexibility for students and families when they access this instruction. Each school will develop a schedule that supports students and helps families at home. Prior to each week, teachers will post the week-ahead schedule that includes opportunities for student support and communication with families.

Will daily student attendance be taken?
Yes, attendance will be taken for both synchronous and asynchronous learning sessions. 

Will this look different than it did in the spring?
Yes, our staff are committed to our students and have been planning based on the experiences from the spring.  Staff training this summer includes social and emotional learning/wellness, design for remote learning, learning management and communication tools, video creation, synchronous interaction, and priority learning standards. As you know, we have an amazing staff who were put into a very challenging situation last spring.  They want to create an engaging learning experience for your student this fall!

What if I need emergency childcare as we transition back to on-campus learning? 
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.  

When will we start phasing into on-campus instruction?
Decision Tree K12 Schools provides a framework that puts regions into COVID-19 activity levels using several indicators. One of those indicators is the rate of cases per 100,000 people. The rate divides COVID-19 activity into three levels: HIGH >75, MODERATE between 25-75, and LOW <25.  The most recent rate of cases per 100,000 in Clark County was 74.3.  Even though we are on the upper limit of MODERATE we are trending in a better direction considering our previous two rates were 99.7 and 96.4 (The Columbian, 8/5/2020, Clark County at ‘moderate risk’ for school reopenings).  Your effort and the efforts of our community of following the Safe Start Washington guidelines are starting to pay off so thank you!  Please help keep lowering the rate by socially distancing, wearing your mask, and washing your hands.  

As our rate per 100,000 lowers, we will bring students on campus in small groups starting with our youngest students and those with specific support needs.  We will then add more small groups of students easing our way towards a full hybrid model of at least two days of on-campus learning for each student.

I have greatly appreciated your feedback and patience during this journey to our first day of school.  

Jeff Snell, Superintendent

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
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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.”

Washougal, WA — A parking and circulation project was completed over the summer at Gause Elementary to enhance student and staff safety while increasing parking capacity.  These improvements were one of the final projects to be completed using funding by the voter approved 2015 capital facilities bond.

The Gause Elementary Circulation Project added a drive lane in front of the school with a pull-out lane that allows families to drop students off in the driveway rather than on the street.  This will reduce congestion along 34th Street during peak pick up and drop off times.

In addition, the north parking lot was expanded to accommodate additional vehicles, and to create a loop for cars to more easily enter and exit without drivers needing to do a 3-point turn at the end of the lot.  The parking area includes crosswalks for pedestrians to increase safety and trees to make the area cooler in the warmer months.

“Gause Elementary is excited to start the school year with a major redesign of the front of the school for safer and more efficient student pick up and drop off,” said Tami Culp, Gause Principal.  “We are also grateful for the extended north parking lot to provide more adequate parking for our families and community for the school day and events. 

“Student safety is a priority in the Washougal School District and these renovations align with the improvements needed to ensure the safety of our students,” said Culp.  “We wish to thank the Washougal community for the dollars provided by the Bond for these features to Gause.  I would like to invite the community out to Gause to see the investment they have made in our school!”

The Gause project was approved by the WSD Board in January 2018. It was paid for with excess funding resulting from excellent fiscal management of the 2015 $57 million capital bond.  This project had been identified as a needed safety improvement during the 2014 Long Range Capital Facility Planning process.

Gause Elementary
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The original bond funded safety and security remodel and upgrades at all schools, a new 550-student Columbia River Gorge Elementary (CRGE) and new 600-student Jemtegaard Middle School (JMS), a new Excelsior Building at Washougal High School, roof and HVAC improvements at Gause and Hathaway Elementary and building a new, modern transportation facility.

The other additional projects funded with excess bond funds were: construction of covered play areas for Gause and Hathaway Elementary Schools; construction of a dry storage building for athletic equipment at Canyon Creek Middle School; and improvements and upgrades to the Fishback Stadium (including replacing existing restrooms with ADA accessible facilities, relocating the concessions area, additional dry and secure equipment storage, replacing wood plank seating with aluminum seats, and installing new visitor side bleachers) all finished during the 2018-19 school year.

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)954-3121[email protected]

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.

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