Here we are beginning a new calendar year. It just seems like yesterday we welcomed staff, students, parents and guardians back to school and now we are halfway through the school year.
I mentioned in the previous message that we welcomed 13 new teachers and counselors to the district this year. These new teachers are a result of teachers leaving our district or being hired to staff new programs or to offset our increased enrollment. They are all doing a fantastic job of educating our students and providing classrooms that are welcoming, nurturing and productive. Our two new counselors continue to meet with students to help them with social, emotional, educational and career-planning activities that enhance the learning experience. I am very proud of the work that these new staff, as well as our returning staff, are doing with and for your children.
As you are probably aware, this is an important year for our Legislature. There are two big issues that are at the forefront of this session- McCleary (fully funding K-12 public education) and the issue of local levies to support what the state is not providing in funding our schools. Our hope is that our Legislature will work hard to develop a plan to fund schools equitably around the state and do this work in a timely manner as we will have to submit budgets later this spring for the 2017-2018 school year. I am confident that the Legislature will do what is in the best interest of our students and find a way to ensure the highest quality of education possible for our K-12 students.
We have seen an increase in enrollment this year that was unexpected. At the end of the 2015-16 school year in June, we had 738 students. As of January 2017, our enrollment is up to 775. The majority of this growth was in grades K-8. Our estimation is that we will continue to see steady growth in our district in the coming years.
State testing will be getting underway later this spring. Our expectation is for continued growth in our student’s academic abilities. We are now in our third year of fully implementing our new learning standards and our second year of administering the Smarter Balanced Assessments. However, as I have said before, the true measure of academic growth in our students does not rest on one test on one day, but continual progress monitoring during the year that measures how much they have learned and are able to demonstrate in multiple ways.
I hope you will take opportunities to visit our schools and participate in parent/guardian conferences. Feel free to contact your child’s teacher or administrator any time to see how well they are doing in school. We all have a stake in educating our students and the partnership between home and school is invaluable in that process.