Archive for May, 2011
I was among the throngs of people watching the Ski to Sea Grand Parade on Saturday morning, May 28, and shot some photos of the Whatcom County school marching bands.
This year’s performances were good, and I especially enjoyed the Lady Gaga cover of Bad Romance (I can’t remember which school played the song, but kudos to them!)
For marching bands, the parade is not only a showcase, it’s a competition. This year’s results are below:
First place drill/dance/cheer team: Bellingham High School
Second place drill/dance/cheer team: Ferndale High School
Third Place drill/dance/cheer team: Bellingham High School Alumni
A band first place: Meridian High and Middle schools
AA band first place: Squalicum High School
AA band second place: Blaine High School
AAA band first place: Ferndale High School
AAA band second place: Bellingham High School
AAAA band first place: Marysville
Best drum line: Ferndale High School
Best drum major: Ferndale High School
Ralph Pauley Award: Bellingham High School Alumni
More photos are below the jump.
The Ferndale School District has saved nearly $770,000 over the last three years due to a districtwide energy conservation program.
The “savings” is the difference between what the district would have likely spent without the program and what the actual utility costs have been.
According to Mark Deebach, executive director of business and support services for the district, savings were achieved the last three years by not budgeting for increased utility costs, therefore leaving money in the operating budget for other items.
In fall 2007, the district contracted with Energy Education, Inc. to provide software and training that would allow a district employee to monitor district energy use. The four-year contracts costs about $20,000 each year, with the funding coming from the utility budget.
The largest percentage savings came from Eaglelridge Elementary School, which saw its overall energy costs drop by about 30 percent over the last three years. Others schools, including Ferndale High, Horizon Middle, Mountain View Elementary, Central Elementary, North Bellingham Elementary site and Cascadia Elementary all saw energy costs drop by at least 20 percent.
Overall, the district spent $2.75 million in energy costs for the last three years. Without the energy conservation program, the costs would likely have been about $3.5 million, according to the school district.
Below is a graph showing energy costs by building. Remember this three year’s worth of data combined.
To view the district news release, click here.
Whatcom Community College’s computer program, especially in the areas of cyber security, is now considered one of the best in the country.
The college was recently named as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
The designation, which lasts for five years, means the college’s curriculum and faculty meet rigorous standards set by the NSA and DHS to help protect people and their information.
“It is a major threat to our security,” said Corrinne Sande, CIS program coordinator at WCC, about hackers and others trying to access personal information on computers and the Internet. “Even though people can’t see those kinds of attacks, it is a threat.”
WCC is one of only 13 two-year schools in the country with the designation, which was opened to community and technical colleges last year. The University of Washington is also a Center of Academic Excellence in this area, but for a university instead of a two-year school.
“We’re not a really large community college so it is pretty significant for our college,” she said.
The CIS program has gained popularity over the last couple years, Sande said, with double the number of students enrolled in the Networking 1 class this year compared to last.
Sande, who has been working through the steps get the designation for the WCC program for about three years, said being known as a Center of Academic Excellence should give students better job placement and college transfer opportunities.
“It’s all part of national strategy to protect the infrastructure of the nation,” Sande said, “to produce people that understand what it takes to protect company networks and aid our national security.”
The state Legislature passed the state budget with a provision that state employees, including teachers, will face pay cuts during the next two years.
But how will that work for K-12 teachers and other school district employees? The simple answer is: it’s not fully clear yet.
Just because school districts will be receiving less money the next two school years to pay for salaries, it doesn’t mean the unions representing employees have to agree to pay cuts. As I’ve explained before, salaries are set based on individual school districts, with unions bargaining for pay raises on top of any state raises (for example, on top of the cost of living increases from I-732, the few times it’s actually been funded). So, the state reducing school employee salaries actually just reduces the amount of money districts have to pay those salaries.
I shot a couple emails yesterday to district and teacher union leaders in Bellingham and Ferndale, asking about the impact of this section of the budget. I haven’t heard from the union leaders, but I did receive responses from district officials.
Overall, certificated and classified staff (so basically everyone who works in a school) will receive a 1.9 percent pay cut. There is an exemption for people who make less than $30,000 each year. Administrative staff will face 3 percent pay cuts.
In Bellingham, the pay cuts will result in about $755,000 less in state revenue for the school district. District officials expect it will take a bit to figure out how the pay cuts will work, with union and district representatives having to work together to come up with plans.
In Ferndale, district officials are also starting discussions with the different unions to “interpret their individual contract language and compare it to the language in the bill,” wrote Mark Deebach, executive director of business and support services. Deebach expects it will be a couple weeks before any details are available.
Below is an excerpt from a Tacoma News Tribune story by Debbie Cafazzo about this issue. Click here to read the entire story.
School districts across Washington face a long, hot summer as they try to put into place the employee pay cuts adopted by the state Legislature this week.
The state budget includes reductions in state allocations for paying school employees. Specifically, it calls for cuts of 1.9 percent for teachers and support staff, and 3 percent for school administrative staff, in each of the next two school years.
Tacoma Superintendent Art Jarvis criticized the Legislature for abandoning its commitment to improve teacher salaries.
“The final blow was that they handed it back to the local districts to bargain how to make the cuts,” said the head of Washington’s second-largest school district.
Jarvis said he sensed a “seemingly cavalier approach” from legislators about whether districts would be able to absorb the pay cuts.
“That invites friction at the local bargaining table,” he said.
Lawmakers didn’t mandate how local districts must deal with less funding. Some might be able to absorb it by tapping their savings accounts or spending local levy dollars to keep pay steady.
But most districts had already planned to dip into reserves to pay for other state cuts, including funding that kept class sizes lower. Those districts will have to negotiate pay with their employee unions.
Architecture students have until July 1 to apply for scholarships from the Northwest Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
The group recently received a $1,000 grant from the National AIA to supplement their annual scholarship program. This means this year, like last, the organization will be able to give out $2,000 worth of scholarships.
The scholarship program is open to students who are at least juniors at an accredited architecture school. Students must also be from Whatcom, Skagit, Island or San Juan counties.
For more information, including an application, contact the organization at 360-671-9555 or email email@example.com.
It’s college scholarship announcement season, and several notes about local students have been trickling into my inbox.
I’ll keep posting announcements as I get them, but here are a few of the most recent ones:
- Kaitlyn S. Mensing, Ferndale High School, College-sponsored National Merit Scholarship winner for the University of Arizona. To be eligible for the scholarship, Mensing had to be a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program, which is based on student performance on the PSAT and SAT, plus school records and recommendations.
- The Comcast Foundation is awarding four $1,000 scholarships to Whatcom County students as part of the Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program. Students were chosen for the one-time scholarship based on their achievement, school and community involvement. This year’s winners are: Ferndale High’s Steven Rauch, Meridian High’s MacKenzie Erickson, Sehome High’s Sarah Dillard and Squalicum High’s Noelle Kogan.
- Sehome High students Patrick Cole and Colleen Chalmers will receive $1,500 each from the Fairhaven Alumni Association. The association raises funds for scholarships for students who attended Fairhaven Middle School from sixth through eighth grade.
A permit has been filed for Whatcom Community College to construct a new building for its “auxiliary services.”
The building is part of the college’s 10-year strategic plan, which was done in 2001, according to Nate Langstraat, spokesman for the college.
The building, expected to cost about $5.3 million, will house some behind the scenes operations of the college, including printing, mail room, and some storage.
This type of building generally doesn’t get funded by the state, Langstraat said, so the college used a type of capital project savings fund (called a “sinking” fund) to raise money for the project.
The new building will allow the college to end a storage lease that costs about $50,000 each year; that savings will then be used to fund the operation of the new building, Langstraat said.
According to the permit notice, Zervas Group Architects is the company working on the project.
Host families are needed for Japanese high school students this summer.
The teens will be girls from Tokyo Joshi High School and they will be in the Bellingham area from July 21 through August 10. During their three week stay, the girls live with host families, attend classes during the week and have afternoon activities and weekly field trips.
Japanese students have visited the Bellingham area for several years now through the Compass USA program. For people interested in learning more, look at the Host Family Handbook or contact Shelby Davison at 303-466-4707 or 303-919-3334.
The Lynden School District calendar for the 2011-12 school year has been set.
To view the calendar, click here. Below is a list of important dates.
First day of school – Tuesday, Aug. 30.
Winter break – Dec. 19 – 30 (last day before break is Friday, Dec. 16; first day back is Tuesday, Jan. 3)
Spring break – April 2 – 6
Last day of school – Friday, June 15
Weather make-up days (these days will be non-school days unless needed to make-up a missed day of school; they are listed in priority order) – Feb. 17, April 9, May 29, June 18
The Washington Award for Vocational Excellence winners have been announced, with seven Whatcom County high school and college students among the winners.
Due to budget cuts, there is no scholarship associated with the award this year. The award honors career and technical education students, generally three from each legislative district. To view teh entire list of winners, click here.
Whatcom County recipients:
Joseph Tenney, Bellingham Technical College, instrumentation and control technology
Pamela Corbett, Bellingham Technical College, accounting
Matthew Nulle, Sehome High School, FIRST robotics
Karl Shilhanek, Squalicum High School, business
Gary DeJager, Nooksack Valley High School, agricultural science
MacKenzie Erickson, Meridian High School, business education
Michael Everroad, Bellingham Technical College, eletrician/EMTEC