Archive for December, 2010
Only a few more days remain in winter break for students across Whatcom County.
K-12 public and private schools across the county will reopen on Monday, Jan. 3.
Winter quarter classes begin at Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College on Tuesday, Jan. 4.
Classes resume at Bellingham Technical College on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
Northwest Indian College will reopen on Monday, Jan. 3, however winter quarter classes won’t start until Monday, Jan. 10.
The new year is almost here, which means it’s time again for school districts to delve into budget planning and discuss where budget cuts can be made.
But this school year, districts will have to focus on cuts for not only the 2011-12 school year; they will have to focus on cuts for the current school year.
The Blaine School Board will be one of the first in the area to tackle the current budget situation at a work session on Thursday, Jan. 13.
In early December, the state Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed education budget cuts that will impact the current school year. With those cuts, which include eliminating funding to reduce class sizes at younger grades and holding-back funding that districts normally get in June, districts across the state may have to reduce their own budgets or dip into reserves.
Gregoire has also released a proposed budget for the 2011-13 biennium, which includes deep cuts in education funding. That budget proposal still needs to work through the state Legislature; as that happens this winter and spring, districts will have a better idea of what kinds of cuts they face for the 2011-12 school year.
Blaine’s worksession will start at 4 p.m. in the district office, 765 H St. There will be no action taken, but the public is invited to listen to the budget discussion.
Check School Days and other district websites in coming weeks to find out when more Whatcom County school district budget discussions will occur.
School districts across the county have started budget planning for the 2011-12 school year, with budget planning committees meeting to discuss where cuts can be made. More specifics about the budgets, and how much money they will have to cut, won’t be known until later this spring.
Check out the following links for district budget planning and committee websites; please note that not all districts have budget websites.
Western Washington University’s Center for Performance Excellence will offer its annual Peak Performance class, a five-session course from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday nights from Jan. 11 through Feb. 8 in Academic Instructional Center West 210 on the WWU campus.
The course is intended for everyone interested in enhancing personal or professional performance.
The class costs $50, which includes presentations, a playbook of educational materials, lectures and handouts for each class session.
Students will learn how to achieve in sports, the workplace and their personal lives through mental skills utilized and developed by elite athletic performers.
The course is presented by WWU’s Center for Performance Excellence (CPE) and taught by CPE founder and director Ralph Vernacchia. Vernacchia directs the undergraduate and graduate programs in Sport Psychology at Western.
Vernacchia, one of the nation’s leading experts in applied sport psychology, has been at Western since 1973. His outlook on excellence is drawn from the life experiences of community members, as well as his work with Olympic athletes, sport-psychology professionals, coaches, and community leaders.
Vernacchia has traveled with national track and field teams to several world championships, including the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. His book, “Inner Strength: The Mental Dynamics of Athletic Performance,” was published by Warde Publishers (July 2003) for sport psychology professionals, coaches and athletes who desire to enhance athletic performance through mental skills training.
For more information, including the course registration form, please visit the CPE website, http://www.wwu.edu/cpe/, or either contact Ralph Vernacchia at (360) 650-3514 or Ralph.Vernacchia@wwu.edu or Student Coordinator Kelly Jones at (360) 650-7269.
From the Associated Press:
A study of Washington state teachers has found that deciding layoffs based solely on which teachers have the least seniority has a significant impact on students’ ability to learn, adding to a growing chorus calling for schools to take a hard look at union contracts dictating who gets to keep their jobs.
The study comes as tens of thousands of teachers around the country stand to lose their jobs next year as federal stimulus money dries up. In most places, union contracts and other policies generally dictate that the least experienced teachers are the first to go.
But that comes at a price, according to the study released exclusively to The Associated Press on Thursday.
The Center for Education Data and Research at the University of Washington, which studies the relationships between education policies and student outcomes, looked at the 1,717 Washington state teachers who were given layoff notices in either of the past two school years.
Most of those teachers were given notices because they had the least seniority; nearly all of them ultimately kept their jobs, but many face layoffs next year as federal stimulus money used to retain them dries up.
The following photos were taken by Doug Cole from his Cessna 152 during December.
From the Associated Press:
Each year, 40,000 school children in the state have been introduced to the life of the salmon through the Salmon in the Classroom program. But beginning in January, the 20-year-old program is ending because of state budget cuts.
The elimination of the program is part of a $6.2 million cut in the Fish and Wildlife budget.
Teachers who rely on the program to teach schoolchildren to raise salmon and release them into the wild are upset.
“We heard it was on the chopping block,” said Steven Garlid, who teaches at Bryant Elementary School in Seattle. “It’s been a wonderful program at Bryant for my entire career, 17 years. There’s no substitute for watching salmon eggs develop and hatch.”
The fifth-grade teacher said his students teach younger ones about salmon, and it is an all-school science program.
“I can only guess what the loss will be,” said Garlid. “It’s losing a tradition. You can’t learn this online. We’re losing something that binds the community, and it shows how desperate the state has become.”
Craig Bartlett, spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said it was eliminated during the Legislature’s special session and also was proposed to be eliminated in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget for the next two years. The department had paid for the program. It had been available at an average of 495 schools each year.
Eliminating the program will save $110,000 the rest of this school year and $442,000 for the next biennium.
To read the full story, click here.
Lynden School District voters are invited to information sessions and to tour several district facilities before the $35 million bond election in February.
The proposed bond measure, which would raise property taxes by an estimated 80 cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value if passed, is for building a new middle school and renovating Lynden High and Fisher Elementary schools.
Tours of Lynden High, Lynden Middle and Fisher Elementary schools will be available on Fridays during January. The tours will be during school hours and hosted by community members who are familiar with the buildings. Visitors are asked to report to the school office to begin a tour at the following times:
- 10:30 a.m. – Lynden High School, 1201 Bradley Road.
- 11:30 a.m. – Lynden Middle School, 516 Main St.
- 12:30 p.m. – Fisher Elementary School, 501 N. 14th St.
There will also be tours and information sessions at 6 p.m. on the following dates:
- Thursday, Jan. 6 – Lynden Middle School
- Tuesday, Jan. 11 – Fisher Elementary School
- Thursday, Jan. 13 – Lynden High School
For more information, email email@example.com.
Bellingham School District high school seniors who are filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid are invited, along with their parents, to Squalicum High School Tuesday night, Jan. 11 to get their forms finalized.
Filing a FAFSA form is one of the steps in getting financial aid for college; to be eligible for federal assistance, and some college scholarships, a student needs to file the form each year.
Students who attend the event will be entered into a drawing for one of four $250 college scholarships, provided by the Northwest Education Loan Association.
Attendees are asked to bring financial records, social security numbers and driver’s licenses. Western Washington University financial aid counselors, representatives from Northwest Alliance for College Access, and translators for Spanish, Russian, Punjabi and Vietnamese will be available to help attendees.
The event is sponsored by GEAR UP, a program that increases college awareness and readiness for low-income middle and high school students.
To register for the event, which will be from 6 to 8 p.m., go to collegegoalsunday.org.
From Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction:
They sleep in cars. In parks. In shelters. On the sofas of generous relatives or friends.
They are the more than 1.3 million homeless children nationwide.
Of that total, more than 21,000 live in Washington state, according to numbers submitted to the federal government this past week.
Collected by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the numbers show that during the 2009-10, the state reported 21,826 homeless students, up 5.0 percent from the previous year and up 56.5 percent from 2005-06.
“There are a lot of factors that could explain the increase,” said Melinda Dyer, program supervisor for the education of homeless children and youth at OSPI. “The biggest is probably more awareness. Five years ago, many districts didn’t know that this was a requirement. We’re seeing better reporting now than we did then.
“The present economy also may be driving part of the increase. We have had episodic increases at certain points due to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and our own flooding in Lewis County in 2007.”
Dyer cautioned that the numbers are probably low. “We still have some reporting issues,” she said. “Plus because of the stigma attached to homelessness, some families don’t tell others they are homeless.”
Collecting and reporting homeless numbers is a requirement of the federal McKinney-Kento Act, which applies to all homeless people. Title VII of the act concerns education; it ensures that homeless children have access to “the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths.”
McKinney-Vento defines a student as homeless if he or she lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. In practical terms, the student is classified as homeless if he or she lives in:
* Emergency or transitional shelters;
* Motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds;
* Shared housing due to loss of housing or economic hardship;
* Hospitals secondary to abandonment or awaiting foster care placement;
* Cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing or similar situations; or
* Public or private places not ordinarily used as sleeping accommodations for human beings.
The lack of a stable home puts tremendous pressure on homeless students. Mobility rates are higher than students in homes, absentee rates are higher, health problems are more prevalent and graduation rates are lower.
Under McKinney-Vento, homeless students must be given the same access to education as other students and cannot be separated from other students. Where feasible, the student can remain in the district he or she was in before becoming homeless and is provided transportation to and from school.
Washington state receives about $850,000 per year from the federal government to help homeless students. That money is given to districts in the form of competitive grants, with money going to districts with the greatest need. Districts can use the money for a variety of activities for homeless students, including: helping to defray the excess cost of transportation; tutoring, instruction and enriched educational services; supplies and materials; and early childhood education programs. Districts that do not receive McKinney-Vento grant funding can use Title I or other state or federal funding sources to support the educational needs of homeless students.
In addition, the state received $1.3 million in federal stimulus money for homeless education. That money was disbursed as one-time grants ranging between $3,500 and $30,000 per district.
From Western Washington University:
Washington Campus Compact has partnered with Inspireum, a national inspirational awards provider, to search for and celebrate outstanding college students whose volunteer service has a positive impact on society and inspires others.
The Students In Service Awards (SISA), commencing its inaugural year, seeks to engage the broader community to recognize and support students, community organizations, and colleges and universities that cultivate student leadership through service.
Scholarships and grants totaling $25,000 will be awarded to three category benefactors. Three students will receive academic scholarships with the winner receiving a $5,000 scholarship, and a runner-up and the “fan favorite” each receiving a $2,500 scholarship. The service-learning centers at the university of the student will each receive a $2,500 grant for the purpose of supporting their civic engagement programs for students. Additionally, $2,500 grants will go to each nonprofit organization that sponsored the winning service projects of each of the three scholarship recipients for the purpose of supporting their vital community.
“College students are contributing their time, effort, knowledge and leadership to strengthen communities,” said Jennifer Dorr, executive director of Washington Campus Compact. “The Students in Service Awards were developed to recognize these outstanding college student civic leaders who are making a difference.”
Students attending a college or university may apply to participate in SISA through the online awards platform at www.serviceawards.org. Via an online personal profile page, students will be able to post their amazing service learning stories, share their experience with a national audience, and provide photos and videos about their service project. Applications for the award will be accepted through and Jan. 28, 2011.
Students, educators, family members, and other community members are invited to show support by voting for their favorite student and service project. A combination of fan votes and the Washington Campus Compact staff will select the top 50 inspirational semifinalists. A national selection committee will select the winner and runner-up, while the “fan favorite” will be determined purely by supporter vote. Scholarship recipients and their service projects will be recognized at the 14th Annual Continuums of Service Conference, a nationally-recognized service and civic engagement conference, held in San Diego, Calif., next April.
“Inspireum is extremely proud to be working with Washington Campus Compact to celebrate and share the amazing stories of service from college students around the nation,” said Tom Lindeman, President of Inspireum LLC. “Programs like SISA help bring awareness to the great things students are doing in the name of service, and we want to reward them for their efforts to build a better society for all of us.”
About Washington Campus Compact
Established in 1992 and hosted at Western Washington University, Washington Campus Compact and its membership of 41 two- and four-year colleges and universities are committed to providing meaningful experiences for students to become active, engaged leaders in their communities, furthering the civic and public purposes of higher education and strengthening communities. Washington Campus Compact is an affiliate state office of Campus Compact, a national organization comprised of more than 1,100 higher education institutions committed to the civic and public purposes of higher education.
Inspireum provides a comprehensive technology and media platform that helps organizations recognize and reward inspirational young people in America. Inspireum utilizes proprietary platform technology, hosted services and social media to create a comprehensive nomination, voting and donation platform that powers inspirational youth awards, scholarships and fund raising programs. In addition to the Students in Service Awards, Inspireum in partnership with Trusted Sports, Inc. manages the High School Football Rudy Awards honoring athletes who have overcome tremendous obstacles to not only find success on the field, but also serve as an inspiration to others. This scholarship awards program looks beyond traditional athletic performance measures to reward team-oriented values and inspirational impact that help youth succeed throughout life.