A Message From the Superintendent
John's message from the January, 2018, edition of the "Open Line":
Happy New Year! I hope you have enjoyed some time with friends and/or family over the past several weeks and maybe spent some time to reflect and recharge as we head into 2018.
We are approaching the midpoint of our school year and find it a good time to celebrate the progress being made toward our six strategic planning goals. Here are just a few examples:
More students graduating - Our staff continue reaching out to students who did not graduate within four years to help them develop and complete their graduation requirements. These efforts have helped produce a 92.6% 5-year graduation rate at Black Hills High School and a 94.8% rate at Tumwater High School in 2017.
Improved Attendance - Each school has made school attendance a priority focus again this year with students and families. Positive recognition systems as well as student/parent communication and problem-solving have contributed to improved attendance rates across the district.
Kindergarten Preparation: Black Lake Elementary hosted a "Provider Night" in November for neighborhood daycare and preschool staff focused on information and resources to help prepare their students and parents for Kindergarten. This successful event prompted planning for a similar district-wide event we plan to host later this winter.
Kindergarten Registration: On Saturday, March 3rd, we will host our annual Kindergarten Registration event at Tumwater High School. We are coordinating the timing of this event with school districts across Thurston County this year to help promote as much participation as possible. In addition to registration materials and support, a range of other resources will be available for our parents including early learning resources, health services information, transportation information and more.
Parent Education: This year we are offering parent education opportunities throughout the year, a tradition that continues based upon feedback we receive from parents across our system. These offerings address topics such as how to help your child succeed in school to dealing with depression and anxiety with teens. More information about these opportunities can be found on our district website at: https://www.tumwater.k12.wa.us/Page/8239
Cultural Competence: This summer our staff began a series of trainings focused on developing cultural competence to ensure we are creating inclusive respectful school environments for all students and families. This training is also helping develop our capacity to enter into conversations about race, culture, and social justice.
Superintendent's Advisory Committee: In our ongoing effort to communicate and engage with our stakeholders, I am creating a superintendent's advisory team made up of internal and external stakeholders. This group will gather 3-4 times each year to provide input and perspectives on emerging issues in the district and receive district information on a variety of initiatives and programs. More information about this engagement strategy will be posted to our website soon.
Community Outreach - Listening Tour: The district is planning a "road show" that will serve as a listening tour with community groups beginning this winter. This strategy replaces the former "Community Roundtable" program hosted at the District Office which was more of a district presentation/communication format. This outreach will begin with some of our local faith-based groups who have expressed interest in sharing ideas and input with the district. More details will be available on our Community Relations webpage as plans are finalized.
Work-Based Learning: This year we have launched a work-based learning opportunity at BHHS and THS which is an option for students to develop knowledge and skills in the context of their employment resulting in high school career and technical education credit. This program is expanding our partnerships with local businesses who also serve as on-the-job mentors and teachers for participating students.
After School Programming for Middle Schools: In collaboration with TOGETHER! and the YMCA, we are developing plans to provide an after school program at both Bush MS and Tumwater MS. This initiative grew out of parent surveys indicating a significant need for these opportunities, especially for students not currently involved in athletics or other community-based activities. Our middle schools will be sharing information with students and parents as these plans are finalized later this winter.
Operational and Fiscal Effectiveness:
After School Program Transportation: This year we expanded our transportation service for after school programs to include Black Hills High School where increasing numbers of students are now able to access academic support programs provided by our staff. This service adds to routes we already provide at THS along with multiple routes we provide to students participating in the daily Boys & Girls Club program.
Bus Safety: Our Transportation operation received an unannounced inspection of our bus fleet on November 1st by the Washington State Patrol. All of the 19 busses inspected met state safety standards thanks to the outstanding maintenance program our mechanics consistently support.
It is an honor to serve students and families with our dedicated staff and I appreciate the growing support we experience from so many community partners and parents working to help every student succeed.
Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy 2018!
John Bash, Superintendent