Archive for October, 2011
College students can now access textbooks online for less than $30, potentially saving students thousands of dollars over the course of their schooling.
The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges unveiled Monday, Oct. 31, the new Open Course Library, an online collection of course materials for 42 of the state’s highest-enrolled classes.
Included in the site are texts, syllabi, tests, readings, and more, all developed by instructors and reviewed by other instructors, instructional designers and librarians.
According to SBCTC, it is up to college professors to decide whether the curriculum are texts are ones they want to use, but that some have already made the switch.
The materials are available through an open license used by the state’s 34 community and technical colleges and six public colleges and universities. The state and a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is covering the cost, according to the SBCTC. (I haven’t found out what the overall cost is to the state yet).
Available courses include Calculus, cultural anthropology, English, philosophy, Biology, technical writing and U.S. history. The goal is to have 81 courses available by 2013.
The press release from the SBCTC is below:
People interested in touring the newly-renovated Miller Hall at Western Washington University are invited to a dedication of the building on Wednesday, Nov. 2.
The $51.5 million renovation project, which was funded by the State Legislature, included: upgrading classrooms, computer labs and offices; replacing windows, electrical and mechanical systems; and building a “green roof” over the new “Collaborative Space” in the former courtyard.
Miller Hall was built in 1943 as the Campus School. This was the first major renovation work done on the building since 1968.
The event will be from 3:30 to 5 p.m., with self-guided tours following a ceremony. Free shuttle service will be provided from gravel lot 12A on the south side of campus, starting at 3:10 p.m.
Enrollment in the state “Guaranteed Education Tuition” program starts Tuesday, Nov. 1.
The program allows families to start saving for their children’s college tuition costs by purchasing tuition units at current prices instead of waiting a decade or more and paying higher tuition. 100 units is the equivalent of one year of tuition at the state’s most expensive public school (usually the University of Washington).
Each unit costs $163 this year, an increase over last year due to increased tuition at all state colleges and universities.
GET credits can be used at schools across the country, but the amount is based upon Washington tuition rates.
Enrollment in this year’s program ends May 31. For more information, check the press release below the jump.
Enrollment opens November 1 for Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program
State launches 14th year of helping families save for college
OLYMPIA – GET enrollment opens November 1 for families looking for a safe and convenient way to save for college. Record numbers of new accounts have been opened over the past three years, as thousands of parents opt for the state’s guarantee and GET’s flexible, tax-advantaged saving options. The new enrollment year runs November 1, 2011 through May 31, 2012.
More than 135,000 accounts have been opened since the program began in 1998. The prepaid tuition Program welcomed 15,284 new accounts last year, which was the second highest year ever for the program.
GET accounts can easily be used at nearly any public or private college, university, or vocational school in the country. Already, GET students have used their accounts at colleges in all 50 states and five foreign countries. GET is a 529 plan offering tax-free growth and withdrawals. It is a self-sustaining program and is not dependent upon state general funds for ongoing operations.
The cost of one GET unit today is $163. The future value of 100 units is equal to one year of resident, undergraduate tuition and required state fees at the highest-priced Washington public university (UW or WSU), no matter how much tuition increases. Families can buy any amount from 1 to 500 units per student, and the average GET account holds just under 200 units. Betty Lochner, director of the GET program, encourages families to save an amount that fits best within their budget. “The important part is to get started,” she said, “and then have a plan to contribute regularly over the years. Even smaller amounts will add up over time.”
The value of a GET account is measured in “units.” The monetary value is the same wherever GET units are used. If a college costs more than UW or WSU, the student pays the difference. If it costs less, a GET account can also be applied towards room & board, books or other qualified expenses.
“We are expecting another strong year,” said Lochner. “With surging tuition costs, GET is a very good option, especially for families with young children. Parents who start early have the opportunity to save literally thousands of dollars on the future cost of college,” she said.
Over 11% of new accounts are opened by a student’s grandparents.
GET’s Web site at http://www.get.wa.gov offers details, charts, planning tools and answers for many of the questions families may have about the program. Accounts can be opened online, and Customer Service staff is available at (800) 955-2318 to help in any way needed.
Students, you don’t have to be 18 to vote in this election!
The annual State Mock Election begins Monday, Oct. 31 and ends Friday, Nov. 4, giving students a chance to weigh-in on statewide ballot measures.
Students in grades 6-12 will be given the chance to vote on the same measures as their parents, including I-1183 (privatization of liquor sales) and I-1125 (relating to transportation tolls). Students in grades K-5 can vote on “age-appropriate” measures, which include whether schools should require uniforms, should it be legal for students to bring pets to school, and should there be a two-week vacation from school every three months instead of summer vacation?
To vote, which is free, students can click here. Results will be posted online Friday afternoon, Nov. 4.
The real state election for registered voters in Tuesday, Nov. 8.
The press release from the Secretary of State is below.
Note: this post was updated with more details Oct. 27
Gov. Chris Gregoire just released a list of possible budget reductions. And education, especially higher education, is taking quite a hit.
Gregoire’s budget cut list includes about $4.2 billion in cuts for the rest of the 2011-13 biennium. However, about $2 billion of those cuts are what Gregoire plans to include in her 2012 supplemental budget request to the Legislature in November when the special session starts.
In all, proposed education cuts range from $545 million to $1.5 billion, with the lesser option being what Gregoire will likely proposed to the Legislature.
Last month, state agencies, including colleges, sent the governor’s office information about what 5 and 10 percent budget cuts would mean for them. These cuts are even deeper than that.
Here is a look at areas poised for cuts, with notes about areas Gregoire will be suggesting in her supplemental budget request. For the list that was release by Gregoire’s office, click here.
Department of Early Learning
- reduce seasonal child care administration, saving $2.1 million. This eliminates state funding given to nonprofits to help migrant workers with childcare. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Eliminate state funding for Child Care Resource and Referral program, saving $1.3 million. This would reduce services by about 11 percent, since most of the funding comes from the federal government. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Reduce administration within the department, saving $950,000. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Reduce enrollment in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program by 11 to 25 percent, saving between $6 and $14 million. This would equate to a loss of 1,065 to 2,223 spots, mostly for three-year-olds.
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
- Delay the June 2013 apportionment until July 2013, saving $330 million. This is an accounting move but doesn’t change the total amount school districts receive. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Eliminate or reduce levy equalization funds, saving between $30 and $300 million, depending on what percentage is cut. These funds help property-poor districts that can’t raise as much money through tax levies as others. Gregoire is proposing cutting the payments by 50 percent, instead of entirely. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Eliminate school bus transportation funding, starting with the 2012-13 school year, saving $220 million. Most school districts already subsidize state transportation funding with local money due to costs being more than what the state provides.
- Increase class sizes by two students in grades 4-12, saving $137 million. This would increase the statewide class staffing ratios, resulting in fewer teachers. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Reduce the school year by a week, leaving 175 days in the calendar, saving $125 million. This equals a three percent reduction in the school year.
- Move bus depreciation payments from October to August, saving $49 million. This would be a 10 month delay for districts waiting for money to buy new buses. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Eliminate or reduce National Board Certification bonuses, saving between $8.4 to $40 million. Greogire prefers reducing the amount from $5,000 to $4,000. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Eliminate full-day kindergarten funding for high-poverty schools, saving $38 million.
- Change the school funding formula to base it on “average daily attendance,” which would save about $33 million. Gregoire prefers changing the attendance policy so that students who are absent for 20 days in a row are considered withdrawn from the district; this would save about $6.4 million (Likely in supplemental request)
- Eliminate or reduce small grants and projects, including PASS, Readiness to Learn, principal and superintendent internships, career and technical education start-up grants, Washington Reading Corps and more, saving about $9 million (Likely in supplemental request)
- Reduce staffing for high schools with less than 300 students from 9 full-time teachers to 8, saving about $5 million. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Reduce OSPI administration by 10 percent, saving $600,000. (Likely in supplemental request)
- Reduce K-12 salaries (and other state employee salaries) by an additional 1 percent for the 2012-13 school year (this is on top of the 1.6 to 3 percent reduction staff took this year). Saves about $37 million
- Reduce the amount the state kicks-in for health insurance by $23 per employee per month, saving about $20 million (Likely in supplemental request)
- Eliminate or reduce the amount of State Need Grant financial aid given to students. Elimination of the program, which helps 700,000 low-income students, would save about $303 million. Gregoire also proposes reducing the amount of the grant award to each student by about $2,700, excluding students who attend private colleges/universities, or reduce the eligibility of students by requiring students be at 55 percent of median family income. The alternative proposals would cut between $25.5 and $68.4 million.
- Reduce state support to all state public universities and colleges by 10 to 20 percent for the 2012-13 school year, saving between $111 and $222 million. Gregoire prefers reducing the funding by 15 percent, which equals about $166 million. (Likely in supplemental request) (Note: The state universities still have the ability to change their tuition, as granted by the Legislature last spring. That is how they handled many of the cuts for the current school year. Tuition is already set to increase for the 2012-13 school year.)
- Eliminate the State Work Study program, which helps 7,600 students, saving about $8 million. (Likely in supplemental request)
The proposal also calls for reducing state funding for the School for the Blind and the Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss by 5 to 10 percent, saving between $711,000 and $1.4 million. Gregoire supports cutting funding by 5 percent (Likely in supplemental request).
You can get an overview of all the proposed cuts, not just education, on the Politics Blog.
Below are some comments released by various education groups.
The Mt. Baker FFA Forestry team recently won 4th place at the National FFA Forestry Career Development Event in Indiana.
Team members included: senior Jameson Strachila, recent graduate Gavin McGovern, Bryce Postleawit, Carsen Monaghan and Gabe Jacoby. Strachila also placed 14th as an individual, and McGovern placed 18th.
In all, 37 teams competed in events including: tree identification, identifying a block of wood, and an interview about the Endangered Species Act and the importance of protecting those species.
According to Todd Rightmire, FFA advisor, this is the highest a Washington State team has placed in the national event.
This is the fifth time the Mt. Baker FFA has advanced to the national competition, after winning state titles each year since 2007.
Windward High School is in the running for the Clorox Power A Bright Future grant competition, but they need the public to help them win.
The school is trying to win a $50,000 grant to support the “afternoon music production seminars.” The program connects teens with musicians and teaches them about playing, reading and recording music.
People can help the school in its quest for the grant by voting for their project on the Power A Bright Future Web site. Voting is open until December 9 and people can vote once a day. To vote for Windward’s project, click here. To see a list of all projects in the competition, click here. People can also vote via text messages by sending “clorox1845″ to #44144 (fees may apply).
This is the third year of the grant program. Four schools will receive $25,000 grants and one school will receive $50,000. Projects include pretty much every aspect of schools, from academics to extracurricular activities.
Winners will be announced in January.
Note: The bond, if the board approves it, will be on the February ballot, not the April ballot. The month has been corrected below.
The Blaine School District will be asking voters to approve a replacement maintenance and operations levy in February.
The school board approved putting the levy request on the ballot at a meeting Monday night, Oct. 24.
The four-year levy would bring-in between $6.1 and $6.5 million each year from 2013-2016. When voters approve a levy, they are approving the maximum amount of money a district can collect in property taxes from residents – the tax rate may fluctuate, but the bottom-line amount the district receives can’t be above the approved amounts.
The estimated tax rates go from $1.62 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value in 2013, to $1.68 per $1,000 in 2016. The projected levy tax rate for 2012 is $1.45.
The main reason for the increase in the tax rate is due to the state allowing school districts to collect more money from tax payers, in an effort to offset some of the state-level budget cuts. The current maintenance and operations levy accounts for about 25 percent of the district’s budget, according to Superintendent Ron Spanjer.
The district is also considering putting a $3 million bond measure to voters in April February. While the school board has not officially approved putting the measure on the ballot yet, members did give the district the go-ahead on working toward that goal.
The proposed projects the bond would pay for include: remodeling the high school science building, relocating the middle school and high school Life Skills programs to their respective campuses, retrofit lighting at the high school, upgrade heating at the middle and elementary schools and expand the security camera system at the elementary and primary school campuses.
This is the third time the district has attempted to get a bond passed to make repairs at the high school. The last attempt in April was a $32 million bond request, and 59 percent of the voters supported it. Bonds need at least 60 percent of the votes in order to pass.
The school board will consider the bond measure at the November meeting.
The Western Washington University plastics engineering program has been the subject of much speculation after a couple of news and blog stories surfaced speculating the program would be disappearing.
According to Paul Cocke, director of university communications, the program is not disappearing, but enrollment is limited currently in one of the specific areas of the program.
Over the last year, the number of faculty members in the vehicle engineering technology tract within the plastics engineering technology program (PET/VET) has dropped from 6 to 4. The professors left and their positions have not been refilled due to the university freeze on tenure and tenure-track faculty.
Enrollment will continue to be limited until the university can figure out how to handle the situation, Cocke said.
The PET/VET program is connected to the Vehicle Research Institute.
The Feed the Need 2011 Community Food Drive is underway, and Bellingham Christian School families are making a large donation.
The school had gathered more than an estimated 1,000 pounds of food by Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 19. School Principal Bob Sampson sent out the following email to the school community, sharing his delight at being trapped in his office due to the amount of donated non-perishables.
The food drive continues through the end of the week, with food and cash donations accepted at any Whatcom County Haggen store or Industrial Credit Union branches.
Wow! Instead of being trapped out of my office, I’ve been trapped in my office all day today because of food, food, food. It’s really a pain to get out of my office; that’s a good thing. Fortunately the 2nd grade brought me water, the 3rd grade brought me snacks, the 4th grade helped me get some things from the copy machine and the middle school were around to say hello and keep me company.
Great job on the food drive over these last two days! It’s amazing what we can do with only one day notice and two days to work on it. In just two days we’ve easily brought in more than 1,000 pounds of food to give to the Community Food Drive.
Several students commented that they forgot their food at home on the kitchen counter or by the door. That’s okay, Haggen Grocery stores will be collecting food through Friday.
Well done everyone. The heart of Jesus is that we help the poor and needy. This was a good opportunity to show our students one way to choose Jesus. And we’ve taken part in blessing our community. Amen! That’s our mission–to be a positive impact on our community.Mr. Sampson