Archive for March, 2009
All Lynden high school students — there is a career and college fair coming soon just for you.
On Thursday, April 16, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., you can talk with representatives from more than 30 universities, colleges and local businesses. Participants include all local higher education institutions, Tony and Guy’s, Kulshan Veterinary Hospital, Family Care Network – Lynden and all branches of the U.S. military.
For more information, contact Shelly Williamson in the Lynden High School Career Center at 354-4401 ext. 5260.
The next “Wizard’s at Western” will focus on “the most beautiful ratio in the world.”
Western Washington University math professor Michael Naylor will talk about the “Golden Ratio,” the pattern that naturally and almost eerily appears everywhere. Fibonacci numbers (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc) are part of the theory.
Naylor’s “mathematic voyage” will be Saturday, April 11 at 10 a.m. in SMATE 150. The event is free and open to the public.
Western Washington University junior Justin Lund recently won the Gold Award at the 2009 Northwest Design Invitational for invention.
Lund, an Industrial Design major from Waterloo, Iowa, designed a timer that helps children monitor their computer use. BEEP helps deter arguments about getting off the computer by reminding kids how long it’s been and putting the computer to sleep after a set amount of time.
BEEP plugs into one of the USB ports and then perches on the back of the computer. For a half-hour session, BEEP starts with its “eyes” open and then starts getting bored around 15 minutes. At that point, BEEP’s eyes start glancing around the room. Around 25 minutes, BEEP’s eyes droop, signaling that time is almost up.
At the end of 30 minutes, BEEP “falls asleep” and puts the computer into sleep mode.
Lund competed against students from 9 other states and 3 Canadian provinces.
The math Washington Assessment of Student Learning is no longer tied to graduation at all.
Passing the reading and writing WASL tests is a graduation requirement, but the math part won’t be a requirement until 2013. That part hasn’t changed.
But now if students don’t pass the math test in the 10th grade, they don’t have to keep taking it each year. Students who fail in the 10th grade are still required to take 2 credits of math in order to graduate.
All of this may be obsolete, depending on when and how state Superintendent Randy Dorn changes the standardized testing in Washington.
The Blaine School Board is having three meetings in April, giving people plenty of opportunity to learn about the 2009-10 budget and provide their input.
Budget planning forum – Tuesday, April 14, 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the district board room. This is the second of two meetings organized for parents and staff to provide input on suggesting budget cuts.
Special budget meeting – Thursday, April 23, 5 to 6 p.m., in the district board room. This is a special board meeting to reveiw recommendations for a “Resolution for Reduced 2009-10 Education Program,” a required resolution for the budget process for the coming school year.
Regularly scheduled board meeting – Monday, April 27, 7 p.m., Point Roberts Community Center.
The Washington House released its budget today, and higher education is taking the biggest hit.
The House version calls for cutting $683 million from higher education, compared with the Senate’s call for cutting $513 million.
But, K-12 education is saved a bit in the House budget, which includes $625 million in cuts, compared with $877 million in the Senate budget.
Now the work begins to combine the budgets.
Regardless of what the final dollar amounts are, many believe this is still the biggest cut in education in ages. It will be up to each school district and university to decide how to distribute cuts, but expect layoffs across the board.
The exact amount schools and universities will have to cut won’t be known until the budget is adopted. However, the release of the Senate and House budgets means education officials can make educated guesses. As soon as I know what those are, I will post them here on School Days.
The Washington Senate released its proposed 2009-11 budget Monday, and education officials all over the state probably gasped when they saw it.
The Senate calls for cutting about $513 million from higher education and $877 for K-12 public schools.
The cuts to K-12 include eliminating almost all of the I-728 funding, which is voter-approved funding to help reduce class sizes. I-728 funding is used to hire additional teachers in many school districts, which means that many teachers will likely be laid off this coming school year. Teacher pay-raises, along with all state employees, are also being put on hold. Levy equalization funds, which help rural districts offset low property values for tax levy purposes, are being cut by 75%. Plus more than $100 million in education capital project funds are being used to offset the budget crunch, meaning there is very little state money available for school construction projects, new or repair.
In all, school districts could see about a 11 percent reduction in revenue from the state. However, most of the federal stimulus money is targeted for school districts, so Senate leaders say the cuts will be closer to 2.5 to 3 percent.
School officials still don’t know when stimulus funding will come to them.
So what do these cuts to K-12 mean? It’s too early to know how each district will handle things, but parents and students should expect larger class sizes, fewer “non-essential” classes, reductions to sports offerings, and building problems going unrepaired.
For higher educaiton, the cuts are just as devastating. Colleges can raise tuition by 7 percent, but no more than that, as stated in state law. But that doesn’t even come close to making up the difference. In a statement released to campus yesterday, Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard said WWU could see cuts equalling about 25% of their operating budget for the 2009-10 school year. The cuts would be about 13.5 percent the following year.
Cuts of that magnitude mean reducing faculty and staff, which reduces the number of spaces available in any given course, which means students will have a harder time getting classes, let alone getting into college. Higher education officials estimate there will be 10,000 fewer slots available for students in state colleges and universities.
It should be noted that education still gets a larger piece of the pie than in years’ past.
The House will set to release its proposed budget today, so we’ll see how different it is. The final budget will be a combination of the two. Either way, it will be much more dismal than Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget that was released in December when the expected deficit was only about $5 billion, not $9 billion.
For more information about how the budget proposals are affecting schools, read the following stories.
The Ferndale School Board has decided to not vote on any construction to the North Bellingham Elementary School site due to budget problems.
District officials had originally considered spending about $1 million out of the capital project fund, plus about $1 million in state matching funds, to fix the site enough to house Clearview and Windward high schools, the districts two alternative schools. But, Mark Deebach, the district finance guy, heard recently that Gov. Chris Gregoire is likely going to pull about $375 million in state match capital project funds to put into the general fund to help offset the budget deficit.
Because of that, the district has no guarantee that if they spend any money demolishing the condemned building on site that they will receive state matching funds. So, the board is not moving foward with demolition at this point.
There is discussion about putting some early childhood education programs into the Kindergarten building. I don’t know enough about this yet, but will work on a story next week.
Several Whatcom County students know their history and have proved it by earning places at the state History Day competition later this spring.
The regional compeition was at Western Washington University a few weeks ago, but I only recently got my hands on the results.
The History Day competition requires students (individually or in a group) to create a documentary, exhibit or Web site, do a performance or write a paper on a topic that fits the year’s theme. This school year, the theme is “The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies.” Students compete at regionals and the top three in each project category advances to the state competition.
I just talked to the district office and found out that is someones wants to donate only to Lowell Elementary School, they can get their money back if the goal of $450,000 is not reached by Friday, April 3.
However, if people want to roll that donation over to the districtwide fund, that’s fine too.
And, as I said in the story, the district is accepting donations because it was one of the ideas generated by community members as a way to increase revenue.