By Florine Gingerich
At its regular meeting on Tuesday, the Edmonds School Board approved a new Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Policy, as required by changes to Washington State law, which take effect in August.
The state has required school districts to address bullying behavior since 2002. Cyberbullying was added in 2007. The new provisions require training for both staff and students.
Ideally, incidents will be dealt with promptly and effectively as they occur, but if persistent, severe or unresolved bullying happens, a formal written report must be prepared. The district will then contact the families, investigate, inform families of the outcome and act to correct the situation, all within specific and short time frames. There is also an appeals process. More information will be available on the district website.
The Board also approved a revised Development Agreement and Ground Lease for the former Lynnwood High School site as the process for City of Lynnwood approval moves forward.
The South County Engineering Technical Advisory Committee reported on its accomplishments and goals. The Committee, composed of teachers and community members, supports STEM (Science, Technology, Engineeering and Math) education, which includes classes in engineering, architecture and robotics. The committee also works to promote excitement about math, science and technology education. Among the successes of the program are two Mountlake Terrace High School seniors, Emily Wong and Tyler Baker, who in 2010 and 2011 respectively were named the top robotics students in the area.
Dr. Ken Limon, Assistant Superintendent for Middle and High Schools, reported on several matters, including the progress of the Class of 2011 toward graduation. Of the students who began ninth grade in the district and have not since transferred to another district, 78.5 percent are on track to graduate. This number compares with 79.6 percent at this point in 2010 but will move upward as more students complete additional requirements or tests.
Board members expressed approval of plans described by Limon to install video security in the student store at Edmonds-Woodway High School to help manage theft losses. The cameras will aim only at the cash register and food storage area. Their installation is consistent with the educational aspects of the program, since commercial establishments of this type have similar security.
Limon described the new state PASS (Pay for Student Success) program, which allocates funds for high schools that reduce dropout rates through proven practices. Since the base year will be 2012, and since the district has already moved aggressively and successfully to reduce the dropout rate, it is unlikely to receive substantial funding. However, board member Anne McMurray expressed the hope that the district might in the future benefit from learning of successful new practices in other districts to improve graduation rates for particular demographics.
The future of the School Resource Officer at Lynnwood High School had been in doubt, but board members favored retaining the position in principle, subject to negotiations with the County Sheriff as to how funding should be divided between the district and the Sheriff’s office. At issue is response time for 911 calls: whereas at other schools, located in cities, the response time in minutes is in low single digits, the response time for Lynnwood High School could be as long as 20 minutes because of its location in unincorporated Snohomish County. Board President Susan Paine expressed the strong opinion that the District should not have to bear the expense of an unacceptably long emergency response time.
Finally, Limon commented on how the district will deal with loss of drug and alcohol prevention/intervention specialists, who will be eliminated because Federal and State matching grants that funded the positions have ended. Existing staff members are being trained to make referrals and perhaps continue some groups such as smoking cessation, and the specialist at Scriber Lake will be retained part time.
Dr. Tony Byrd, Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning, reported on several matters, including math. End-of-course examinations are in process, and once results are available staff will examine them closely as part of an ongoing effort to support struggling learners. The district is also working on science road maps for teachers in preparation for 2015, when state science requirements for graduation, applicable for next year’s ninth graders, will take effect.
My Edmonds New school board contributor Florine Gingerich has a son who attended Edmonds public schools, where she volunteered in roles ranging from pouring juice in kindergarten at Madrona K-8 to serving as president of the Edmonds-Woodway Music Boosters. With her husband, Doug Purcell, she practices law at Purcell & Adams, PLLC, a South County firm emphasizing business law, real estate and estate planning. Visit them at purcelladams.com, or contact her at email@example.com.