Tonasket School District nears decision on bond

TONASKET – The Tonasket School District’s Thoughtstream internet survey regarding the proposed school expansion bond measure continued through last week in its second stage, which involved prioritizing ideas gleaned from the survey’s first stage.

Superintendent Paul Turner shared progess on the survey and the bond project at the Monday, Oct. 28, school board meeting.

The goal has been to accumulate ideas from throughout the community and in the second stage, have those ideas ranked (in a form similar to a multiple-choice test) to give the board a feel for where the community’s priorities lie.

“We received a lot of really good comments,” Turner said. “There were a couple things that came out that we had to send some clarifying information on. So we sent some statements out that clarified those.”

Turner said that the architect’s initial estimate for a dollar amount fell between $6 and $7 million.

“We’re trying to see if there is a way to stay at the same rate, perhaps over a different period of time,” Turner said. “We’ll see if we can address that or not, and bring that back to the board for a recommendation.”

Turner added that the community-based facilities committee had done a thorough job of “turnover over every rock we can find.

“We’re anxious to get the information back from the Thoughtstream, and try to roll out something next month.”

Strategic Plan Approved

With a minimum of debate and a few corrections, the board approved its strategic plan on its second reading.

The board met on several occasions through the summer, including several sessions with a consultant, to formulate the majority of the plan. Monday’s vote finalized the fine-tuning that had been done in the interim.

Administrators Report

The evening was filled with reports from the administrative team. Some highlights included:

  • Special Education Director Liz Stucker said that enrollment was going to be about 127 for the November count, two higher than what was budgeted for.
  • Elementary Principal Jeremy Clark said that his staff is working to adjust to the new standards-based grading system. 

“It’s really been monumental in terms of the changes,” Clark said. “Not only in terms of the way we assess the students, but in the way the students are included in the process. It’s great to see that work in action.”

  • Middle School Principal Jay Tyus said that the districts migrant/bilingual program is drawing a lot of positive attention.

“It just amazes me what the parents are doing in that group,” he said. “OSPI has asked us to put together a proposal for the national migrant conference program for parent involvement. And our ESD has asked us to put together one for our innovative program that Liz invented for summer school. So we may be coming to the forefront nationally.”

In a separate report, Tyus also shared details about the College Readiness Math Initiative, which is a two-tiered grant that he said the district is applying for. If Tonasket wins the grant, it would require the board to adopt changes to the curriculum.

“The idea is that with the new 11th grade tests coming down the pike, one of the tiers is college readiness ability,” he said. “The trajectory we’ve been on is a bit low. Since we’re in the middle and have a chance to change the course, we’re looking at how to do that.”

  • High School Principal Jeff Hardesty talked about the first round of TPEP profile meetings that had just been completed.

“I want you to know that I had a conversation with the high school staff about how astonished and humbled and proud I was of their work, as far as profile meetings and just rolling up their shirtsleeves and immersing themselves in the work that’s taking place. It’s one of the more enlightening experiences I’ve had in education…. There is so much good work out there, it’s really impressive.”

He added that a trainer from the ESD, while going over student growth goals, gave him positive reviews on several occasions about Tonasket’s proactive approach to building structures for teachers that would help them be successful.

  • Turner reported on the completion of the 2013-14 fiscal year and the school’s transition into using the ESD for budgeting and transitions in the district office.

He added that eight staff received a total of $2,200 in teacher classroom grants from the North Central ESD Educational Foundation.

The board also observed a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting at Marysville High School and approved the sending of a letter to that district expressing sympathy and support.

The school board next meets on Monday, Nov. 10, with the meeting time returning to its Standard Time schedule of 7 p.m.