Waiver of science exam by state boosts 2015 Edmonds District high school graduation numbers

edmondssdlogoThe Washington State Legislature’s decision to delay a requirement that high school students pass a biology/science exam helped boost the graduation numbers for the Edmonds School District.

Assistant Superintendent (Secondary) Patrick Murphy said that the graduation rate for the Class of 2015 increased to 92.2 percent during his Secondary Report to the District’s Board of Directors on Tuesday. The graduation rate was 89.1 percent in June with the science test requirement. The Class of 2015 graduation rate was close to the Class of 2014 rate of 93.5 percent. About an additional 30 of the district’s students were able to graduate high school with the statewide numbers estimated to be 2,000.

The decision by the legislature also means that the biology/science exam will be waived for the Class of 2016. Beginning with the Class of 2017, the biology/science assessment will be required for graduation.

The district plans to send a letter to parents and its counselors will be informing students and parents of the changes, Murphy said.

The Board also unanimously passed a reduction in kindergarten tuition for 2015-16 at Brier, Edmonds, Hilltop, Madrona, Seaview and Sherwood Elementary Schools and Maplewood K-8. The tuition reduction is from $3,600 to $2,800 with all parents saving a combined $156,000.

The district has a long-standing tuition waiver pool of $220,000 available to families who qualified for assistance. With the addition of state-funded full time kindergarten at several of the district’s schools, the need for tuition waivers at the remaining parent-paid schools will significantly decrease and the district will use approximately $70,000 of the $220,000 waiver pool. This leaves an available balance of $150,000.

In December 2014, tuition for the 2015-16 school year for full time kindergarten was set at $3,600. The actual cost of tuition was calculated to be $4,150. The school board voted to keep tuition at the 2014-15 rate of $3,600 and $100,000 was added to the plus/minus sheet to offset this difference.

The district calculates that using the $100,000 currently on the plus/minus sheet to assist with tuition reduction, plus the additional $150,000 from the waiver pool will reduce tuition from $3,600 to $2,800 for the 2015-16 school year. This results in a savings of $800 to parents at the six remaining schools who still need to pay tuition.

In other news:

– The district is preparing for another year of working with its Strategic Direction Groups. Feedback was sought from members of last year’s work groups and the results were presented by Human Resources Executive Director Debby Carter.

The plan is for the Strategic Direction work groups to meet on the second Monday of each month and the meetings will start at 6 p.m., half an hour earlier than last year.

All five of the work groups – Effective Learning for All Students, Equity of Opportunity, P-3rd Grade Early Learning, Graduates Who are Ready for Life and Facilities and Enrollment will meet together in January and in June. The meetings will still be held at the Educational Service Center and childcare will be provided. The Board of Directors indicated that they will continue with their same workgroups.

District staff and the board brainstormed different ideas on how to invite and encourage people to join the Strategic Direction workgroups. Those interested, including students, are encouraged to contact the district (See more about the Strategic Direction at: https://www.edmonds.wednet.edu/Page/10893.)

– Student Learning Executive Director Lara Drew said that it appears that the numbers for the district’s summer learning programs may be down this year.

Drew said it would be good to seek feedback from people as to what types of programs the district can provide to meet the needs of the community. Drew added that she hopes the issue will be discussed in the Strategic Direction workgroup.

Summer Learning is “an area for growth and conversation,” Drew said.

Some school districts offer a robust summer program but the Edmonds School District pulled back on some of its offerings when it was faced with financial issues.

Board Member Ann McMurray noted that when the district had limited resources it focused the summer offerings on a high-level need group (remedial).

Jump start, a pre-kindergarten, transitional program, has started this week at all of district’s elementary school except Sherwood (construction issues). The focus of Jump Start is on preparing children for success in kindergarten – familiarizing children with the school environment, the kindergarten teachers and the daily schedule. Children will be involved in typical kindergarten classroom activities, tour the school campus and experience outdoor play just like they will at recess.

– District staff updated the board on a number of construction projects.

  • Parents will notice a number of traffic safety and improvement projects at Sherwood Elementary School.
  • New high efficiency lighting and field turf was installed at Edmonds Stadium.
  • The district will have installed 18 new portable classrooms at 13 different sites by the start of the school year.
  • Work continues on the new maintenance and transportation site in Lynnwood. Contractors will be erecting steel in a few weeks. Contractors also are continuing to work on the Alderwood Middle School site.
  • Staff at Lynndale Elementary School will be moving into their temporary home at the former Woodway Elementary School next week. Two portables and a new third portable classroom will be installed at the site.

– The Board approved the name – Woodway Campus – for the programs housed at the property commonly known as former Woodway High School. The athletic fields at Woodway Campus are expected to be ready Sept. 18-25.

– The board settled on a new logo, selecting from three different choices. Implementation of the logo is scheduled to be discussed at the Sept. 15 meeting.

– The board also unanimously renewed an interlocal agreement between the district and the City of Edmonds regarding the operation of Madrona Fields.

– By David Pan

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