Kennewick School Board Report for June 20 by Kathy White

Kennewick School Board Meeting

June 20, 2012

Section 1: What transpired

Personal comments (based on Leadership WSSDA training) in italics

Section 2: What was not included

Section 1

Present were Brian Brooks, Ben Messinger, Ron Mabry, and Maricarmen Garza (student), all school board members.  KSD staff: Dave Bond (Superintendent), Vic Roberts, Chuck Lybeck, Bev Johnson-Torelli, Jack Anderson, Greg Fancher, Linda Tucker, Ron Williamson, Lorraine Cooper and Bev Henderson,.  Also present, a representative of KEA and several members of the public.  The room was almost full.


Absent: Dawn Adams and Heather Kintzley


The meeting was called to order at 5:30 PM by Brian Brooks who led the Pledge of Allegiance.


Recognition Washington Achievement Awards: Three schools in the Kennewick School District have been honored by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for their outstanding performance on assessments for the last three years.  The official awards were given in Mukilteo on April 25, 2012.  Bruce Hawkins, superintendent of Education Service District (ESD) 123, was present to note the awards and give each school a banner celebrating their success. 

The schools are Southgate Elementary, Mid-Columbia Parent Partnership and Southridge High School.  The awards were based on three years of data, not one test or one group of students.  In ESD 123, fifteen schools earned the award of which five are in the Tri-City area with only Kennewick having three schools awarded.


Teacher Appreciation Week: May 6 to 11, 2012, is “Teacher Appreciation Week.”  Dave Bond read several quotes celebrating the skill and dedication of teachers.


Communication from Parents, Staff and District Residents:  None


Consent Items:  Minutes of 4/18/12 regular meeting, Certified, Classified and Extracurricular Personnel Actions, Bid Award – Winter Sports 2012-13, Travel Requests, Resolution No 22, 2011-12, Accept Building Commissioning Report for Canyon View Elementary, Resolution No 23, 2011-12, Accept Building Commissioning Report for Southgate Elementary, Resolution No 24, 2011-12, Delegation Authority to WIAA for 2012-13 School Year, WIAA 2012 Sunday Waiver Agreement, Bid Awards – Re-roofing Projects for Amistad & Ridge View Elementary, Snow/Ice Melt Equipment, Kennewick HS 400 Wing & Student Center – Royal Roofing & Siding; Fruitland Elementary – Meyer Roofing Solutions.  Passed unanimously.


Dave introduced Dennis Boatman, the new principal of Legacy High School, replacing Dottie Stevens who is retiring.


For the convenience of a guest, John Deskins of the City of Kennewick, the agenda was altered to Unfinished Business Policy No. 8100 NON-INSTRUCTIONAL OPERATIONS: Transportation, first reading.  This is the third time the matter has come before the board.  When first presented in January, the board felt it was not qualified to deal with the issue and asked the superintendent to work with the city.  In March, the board received a progress report.

The issue is school buses straddling two lanes to stop look and listen at the railroad crossing on Leslie Road near the Clearwater roundabout.  RCW 46-61-350 allows a variance for school buses not to stop at railroad crossings under certain circumstances.  WAC 392-145-070 spells out what circumstances will exempt school buses from stopping.  Oroville School District has three railroad crossings that exempt school buses from stopping.

The new KSD policy would exempt buses only at the railroad crossing near the Leslie Road/Clearwater Ave./Badger Road roundabout  from opening their door to check for oncoming railroad traffic.  This means the buses will not have to straddle two lanes but can do the observation from the inside lane without slowing traffic or risk a side swipe of the door.  The railroad, BNSF, has assured the district that the crossing has a backup generator to ensure that the semaphores are always operational.   Dave Bond also consulted the Benton County and it agrees with this solution.

Ron Mabry asked about use of lights.  Ethan Schwebke, Director of Transportation, explained that buses use flashing yellow lights whenever stopped.  They will not use the flashing red lights which would stops traffic for discharging passengers.  Ron moved to accept the recommendation; it was seconded and passed unanimously.


Dave Bond noted that the City of Kennewick is moving ahead changing the traffic pattern in the Southridge HS area.  Kennewick General Hospital has announced construction of a new building which will create new roads and help correct the bottleneck at the school.


Reports and Discussions Student Safety Survey Results;  A survey was given in compliance with the North Star Goal that 90% of the students will feel safe in school.  Fifth, seventh, ninth and eleventh grades were surveyed for a total of 3754 students.  In the elementary grades, the lowest scores for safety were recorded on the bus.

Greg Fancher gave some information about Westgate where only 64% reported feeling safe on buses.  Westgate has a large number of Somali students.  In Somalia, there are two rival tribes and both are at the school.  The rivalry appears to transfer to riding the bus in Kennewick.

Another glitch in the numbers was at Cascade.  In the pilot of the survey, 90% of the students reported being safe.  In the two weeks to the actual survey, the school conducted lessons on bullying.  All the scores were down in the actual survey which was after the lesson.  It was noted that after safety lessons, scores normally go down.  The explanation is that students learn how to recognize the unsafe behavior.


In the middle school, the score for having access to a trusted adult went down from elementary schools.  It is thought that the different environment of having several teachers instead of one, such as in elementary school, influences perceptions.  The bus also had a lower score.

The high school survey was similar to middle school.  In all the schools, students felt safe in school and in class.  Maricarmen added that cyber bullying does not happen at school.  Brian asked if this was addressed on the survey.  Ron suggested that we are learning about the questions.  Dave noted the need for improvement.  The answers were not precise.  Is the bullying outside the school?  Do the students feel unsafe at the bus stop or on the bus?

Ben observed that buses seem to be a universal problem.  For the best solution, we should dialogue with the students to find out their concerns.  Brian wanted to know how often the survey was given which is once a year.  Ron was concerned about the low perception that students could find a trusted adult.  Dave suggested the question be rephrased to “if you need.”


Kindergarten Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) Testing; Bev Henderson met with seven kindergarten teachers to establish protocols for giving the test.  Afterwards, they met again to debrief.  The math test was given at Cascade, Edison, Lincoln and Sunset View.  The reading test was given at Amistad, Southgate and Vista.  This ensured a wide variety of demographics.  The tests had three thirty minute sessions which were split over time.

The feedback was that the test was easy to administer using computers.  The students used a mouse which was new to some students.  The students were engaged but some were distracted by the noise or auditory enhancements to some questions and “played” with the noises.  As a result, only about half of the scores were valid.  There also were issues with broken headphones at some sites.


The conclusion reached from all the teacher comments is that MAP testing should only be voluntary.  The one-to-one testing currently used gives better information.  Capacity is also an issue.  In grades 1 and 2, all students are taking the MAP tests.  Grades 3, 4, and 5 are taking the MSP online.  No reliability issues were discovered in the kindergarten testing.

There will be other kindergarten testing in the coming years.  In 2012-13, all day kindergarten (five schools in Kennewick) will be given the WAKids assessment.  In 2013-14, all kindergartners will be given the assessment.  Gregg stated that capacity is a big deal.  In some schools, intervention activities were cancelled to accommodate the assessment.

The recommendation is that MAP testing be optional and continue the DRA tests as is current practice.  Heather moved to accept the recommendation, Brian seconded and it passed unanimously.


2012-13 Preliminary Budget The budget will be final 6/20/12 with the budget hearing and adoption on 7/18/12.  The state budget has the following features.  Enrollment will be based on ten months, rather than nine (should lower enrollment), teacher salary is unchanged, retirement rates are slightly higher, levy equalization is down $434,000 (due to lower value of property), still waiting for details about special education and health care funding.  KSD is budgeting for no increase in enrollment.  Dave reminded the board that enrollment drives finances.  Utility costs have gone up $300,000.  Staffing has risen a small amount.  Fund balance projections show no cuts for now but we are not in a good position for the future.  The next presentation will show more details.


The president noted that an item on the agenda was missed.


Superintendent/Board Member Report; Dave read an invitation for the board to attend a STEM event at CBC.


The retreat date of 6/9/12  will not work for some of the board.  In the past, the board has had evening retreats.  Dave proposed some options: 6/13, 5:30 to 9:00 (Wed), 6/12, same time (Tue), 6/6 which is too early to have final school information, 6/16, 8 to 12 (Sat).  Dawn would like to bring up some issues from the National School Board Association Annual Session that she attended and with the regular business, it may take more than four hours.

Dave reminded the board that the next board meetings will be busy with end of school year issues.  Brian says he is flexible.  Both Heather and Ron had constraints as to when they could meet.  Dawn will put her items in the Friday update.  These are philosophical in nature and call for discussion.  The board will meet next Wednesday, 5/16, to discuss these (Ron will be on travel) and on 6/13 to handle business items (Heather will be on  leave).


Brian reported that he participated in the interviews to replace retiring Legacy principal and was impressed by the quality of the applicants.  Dave asked for a board member to again participate in interviews to replace Sue Denslow, principal of Horse Heaven Hills Middle School who is retiring.


Going back to the agenda,


New Business Policy no. 2313: INSTRUCTION: Electronic Communication System (K-12), First Reading  KSD participated in E-rate, a federal program to lower costs for educational institutions.  The “Children in the 21st Century Act” adds that students are to be taught about what is safe when using the internet and compliance to this must be certified.  The policy needs to be revised by 7/1/12.  Lorraine Cooper presented the information as Ron Cone, director of technology is at a conference.  How to track compliance still needs to be worked out.

Ben asked for more information about implementation in the future.  Heather moved to accept first and second reading of the policy, Ben seconded.  Ron asked what accepting first and second reading meant.  Heather explained that the policy was accepted without revision.  The only information requested was about implementation.  Motion passed unanimously.


Executive Session  Per RCW 42.30.110 (1) (b) A discussion of real estate and a personnel issue to last thirty to forty-five minutes.  I didn’t stay to see how long the meeting actually lasted.


Section 2


The board seems unable to come together for team building activities.  Everybody has a life with obligations to be handled.  There also is an obligation to the trust the community placed when electing a person to office.  The quality of the questions asked by the new board members shows that their orientation to the board was incomplete.  Effort has to be put forth by all board members to create a communication system that honors individual differences but creates a cohesive direction for the school district to follow.  Best practices of school board dictates universal participation in continuing education for themselves as well as the employees of the school district.