Tag Archive for: Schools

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.



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.”


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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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.


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.



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, 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.”

If you ask a student at Grass Valley what makes their school special, they’ll tell you that Grass Valley is a Green School!  First grade teacher Julie Della Valle is the leader who makes this happen, and Clark County Environmental Services agrees. The organization will honor Mrs. Della Valle with the “Make Every Day Earth Day” award at a ceremony on April 12.

Della Valle has initiated and managed many activities designed to get students and adults focused on the environment.  Most noteworthy of these are: the Eco Officers Club, a school-wide Earth Day celebration, and the accomplishment of being a Level II Washington Green School.

Having the Eco Officers club ensures the school’s green efforts start with kids.  Mrs. Della Valle hosts weekly meetings and guides students in their efforts to reduce Grass Valley’s trash output and maximize recycling potential.  The kids assess each classroom’s effectiveness in recycling through trash audits and award them for their efforts.  Eco Officers teach their peers how to decrease trash production and increase their recycling and reusing habits.

“What we have found is that the adults in our building and parents at home are learning right along with the kids,” commented Grass Valley Principal Patricia Erdmann.


Earth Day
Julia Della Valle teaches at Grass Valley Elementary in Camas.


For the past two years, the Eco Officers have contributed to the Washington Green School Summit.  The efforts of Eco Officers and their leader have spilled over into other Green Team activities, such as the SOS (Save Our Scraps) program in the cafeteria.

A great example of the community coming together in this recycling effort is the Bottle Cap Drive that Della Valle brought to Grass Valley.  In cooperation with a local business, Grass Valley students are collecting thousands of threaded bottle caps that would otherwise end up in landfills.  The Eco Officers spend hours collecting and sorting the bottle caps (which are recyclable, but need to be separated from the plastic bottles) to help with this effort. Once again, the grownups in these children’s lives have become caught up in the tide of this effort and are eagerly participating.

For the past seven years, Julie Della Valle has organized an annual, school-wide Earth Day celebration.  She involves every single student and staff member in the celebration along with many parents.  Each year students design and make their own Earth Day flag to decorate the school.  They also host a school-wide garden cleanup to help recognize the day and to beautify the school grounds.  Additionally, Della Valle created a walking field guide for nearby wetlands and park areas identifying many local species students can find along the way. Many classes have taken advantage of this resource to explore the native plants and animals in the area around the school.  This opportunity is something that all Grass Valley zebras look forward to every year.

Beyond Earth Day, Mrs. Della Valle maintains native perennial plantings in the school garden and composts in her classroom.

In 2012, Mrs. Della Valle led the way for Grass Valley Elementary to achieve Level II Washington Green School status.  Reaching Level II acknowledges that they sustained our goals to reduce trash and recycle, and are now making strides to conserve energy throughout the building.

Students and staff members at Grass Valley Elementary are proud of their accomplishments in conservation and stewardship of the local environment and recognize that Julie Della Valle has been the catalyst in these efforts. Her commitment to the environment and the passion for sharing her knowledge empower the children to ensure a green future. Thanks to her determination and enthusiasm the entire Grass Valley community is making our world a better place.

Content provided by Camas School District.


Camas Superintendent Mike Nerland
Dear Camas parents and guardians,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter. The elementary school shooting in Connecticut earlier today is one of the most horrific scenarios I can imagine. When I heard of this morning’s tragic events my first thoughts, like I’m sure all of you, were of my own children. In light of the events in Connecticut this morning, I want to assure our families that the Camas School District has strong security and supervision policies in place at all of our schools. Please know that we have a very specific set of security drills and protocols that we conduct at our schools on a regular basis to be as prepared as possible in the event of an emergency. Our staff and students know what to do in an emergency, and we practice regularly to reinforce concepts and routines. Additionally, all schools have emergency plans which are developed in cooperation with the Camas Police and Fire departments as well as Washington State Patrol. It is very important that we have accurate emergency contact information in Skyward, our student data system. Parents, if you have secondary students, you have access to Skyward Family Access where you can log in and click on Student Information to view your emergency contact data. For elementary parents, you can contact your school office to verify the emergency contact information.


Nobody knows your child better than you do, so how you address this with him or her can certainly be tailored to your family’s needs. I do want to share some general guidelines below. It will be very important for our students here in Camas to be reassured that our schools are safe and the adults in their lives, at home and at school, care about them and look out for them. The following are tips from the National Association of School Psychologists for parents to help their children cope with tragic news and events.


  • Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy. Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
  • Make time to talk with your children. Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
  • Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.
  • Limit your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
  • Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
  • Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
  • Safeguard your children’s physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
  • Think hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.

As an educator and a parent, I am horrified by the event which took place in Connecticut today. Give your loved ones an extra hug tonight and as we head into the Holiday break let’s be sure our thoughts are with all those families in Newton.

Mike Nerland

Camas School District