2011-12 back to school
Western Washington University students receiving federal financial aid will be able to receive the same amount of aid if the sequester occurs, as the school has pledged to use reserve funds to offset any possible cuts.
The automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester could go into effect Friday, March 1. For college students using federal financial aid, that could mean less money for school.
The school will draw on its reserves to keep students at their current aid levels through the end of this year and for 2013-14.
Here’s what WWU President Bruce Shepard had to say in a news release:
“The increasing likelihood of federal budget cuts is occurring at a time critical to our students and their families. Western students – those continuing and those anticipating coming — and their families are making financial plans for the next academic year. Western is also in the midst of awarding financial aid. Western is acting today to seek to lessen some of the uncertainty students and families may be feeling,” Shepard said. “This is the right thing to do. The university is strongly committed to our students’ success, and is constantly looking for ways to enhance access and affordability.”
I’m working on a more detailed story about this issue and whether other local colleges will be doing the same for their students.
In case you missed my story about the “No Trespassing” sign across from Fairhaven Middle School that makes indirect gun threats, you can read it here.
Here’s a photo of the sign. A lot of commenters are saying that it’s the property owner’s right and much ado about nothing. What do you think?
The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has released a handy summary of the State Supreme Court’s McCleary v. Washington ruling.
The Jan. 5 2012 ruling found the state wasn’t doing its constitutional duty to amply fund basic education.
Here’s a breakdown of the ruling in the court’s own words:
The Paramount duty of the state is to provide “ample” support for basic education:
Article IX, section 1 confers on children in Washington a positive constitutional right to an amply funded education (page 2).
Ample means more than just adequate:
The word “ample” in article IX, section 1 provides a broad constitutional guideline meaning fully, sufficient, and considerably more than just adequate (p 3).
Lack of revenue does not justify failing to meet the paramount duty:
To ensure that the legislature exercises its authority within constitutionally prescribed bounds, any reduction of programs or offerings from the basic education program must be accompanied by an educational policy rationale. That is, the legislature may not eliminate an
offering from the basic education program for reasons unrelated to educational policy, such as fiscal crisis or mere expediency (p. 54).
At a minimum, the State must fully fund NERCs (overhead costs), transportation, and staff salaries and benefits without relying on local levies or federal funds:
If the State’s funding formulas provide only a portion of what it actually costs a school to pay its teachers, get kids to school, and keep the lights on, then the legislature cannot maintain that it is fully funding basic education through its funding formulas (p. 60).
The presidents of Washington’s public universities have offered to freeze tuition for the next two years if the Legislature will restore $225 million in state funding to higher ed, according to The Seattle Times.
Tuition has skyrocketed at state universities over the past few years; in-state tuition at the University of Washington is nearly twice what it was five years ago, according to the article. But the state is predicting a $900 million shortfall for the next biennium, so that $225 million may be difficult to find.
Read the full article here.
Do you think it’s a valid proposal?
Two Bellingham students are among the top 20 finalists in Washington state for Wendy’s High School Heisman award.
Our two local finalists are Irini Zourkos of Bellingham High School and Hanna Tartleton of Sehome High School.
Nearly 620 students throughout the state applied for the award, which honors students for their achievements in athletics, academics and community and school leadership.
On Monday, Nov. 5, one male and one female student per state will be announced as state winners, with 12 chosen to go on as national finalists. The top male and female athlete will be recognized during the college Heisman Trophy broadcast on ESPN Dec. 8, and their schools will receive $10,000.
More than 700 people showed up at Roosevelt Elementary School the evening of Thursday, May 24, to see student performances and artwork.
It was the Bellingham school’s second annual Children’s Art Festival Extravaganza.
The school’s 430 students each displayed several pieces of art.
Roosevelt also held a dedication ceremony for the Poet Tree — a sculpture created by artist Tony Hermanutz.
Hermanutz donated it to the school.
The documentary “Miss Representation” will be shown Sunday, May 20, at Western Washington University.
The film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. It delves into how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence.
Tickets are $10 general admission, $3 with a student I.D.
Buy tickets at the door, or click here to buy them online.
The trailer for “Miss Representation” is below.
BELLINGHAM — “The Boy Mir: Ten Years in Afghanistan,” will be shown 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, at Squalicum High School as part of a student’s senior project.
Bahara Naimzadeh, a first-generation Afghan-American, is presenting the documentary in the forum at the school, 3773 E. McLeod Road.
The event is open to the public. Admission is free, but donations to UNICEF’s Right to Education Fund will gladly be accepted.
The documentary by British filmmaker Phil Grabsky tracks the life of an Afghan boy from age 8, shortly after the fall of the Taliban, to 18 as he comes of age in his war-torn country.
Naimzadeh said she wants to spread the magic of the film and to educate people about the needs of Afghanistan, where she still has family.
“It’s an important cause for me with my family situation,” she said.
Click here to see the official theatrical trailer.
Update: I’ve updated the early release section. New comments are in italics.
The Bellingham School Board approved the three-year teacher contract Thursday night, Sept. 8.
The Bellingham Education Association, the teacher’s union, approved the contract Tuesday.
According to a press release from the district, the contract contains the following:
- Time for parent-teacher conferences built into the calendar. For elementary schools, fall conferences will be offered on three Wednesday early release days – Oct. 5, 19 and Nov. 2, both in the afternoon and evening. Part of Oct. 28 is also approved for conferences, if needed, and some of March 23 (a teacher workday and non-student day) can also be used for conferences with families that need it. Middle school students will have conferences at the same time as in the past – the five days leading up to Thanksgiving Break – but how the conferences are structured may change for the 2012-13 school year.
- Elementary teachers will be released from classes for two days to do district-directed elementary assessments. Substitute teachers will be used on those days.
- Increased number of early release days for middle and high schools. One elementary early release Wednesday each month was changed to districtwide early release days. Early release days for middle school conferences were added before Thanksgiving. A districtwide early release day was also added right before Spring Break. There is at least one districtwide early release day per month, except for September. Some of the days will be used for teacher professional development, collaboration and work time; some of the time is traded for working evenings during conferences and senior culminating project presentations.
- Early release day is added prior to spring break as a trade to teachers for working during conferences.
- Teachers have four work days/collaboration days throughout the school year. One was the day before school started. Three of the four will mostly be building-based work, with teachers collaborating, doing professional development, or working on their own stuff. The fourth day includes district-level work. Three of the days will be for professional development, collaboration and planning within school buildings. The fourth day is for teachers to do whatever they need to do, at school or somewhere else.
- The district will cover the 1.9 percent salary reduction that was enacted by the state Legislature for all public school teachers. In the second year of the contract, teachers will get a 1 percent raise, and a 1.75 percent raise in the third year.
- Money for teachers who have large class sizes has been eliminated, and much of the individual teacher money for professional development, with it being used to cover teacher salaries. About 75 percent of the combined funds, which is about $575 per full-time teacher, is being moved to salary, leaving about $192 per full-time teacher for individual professional development funds. In the past, teachers with large class sizes were able to get additional pay.
- The district will pay an additional $5 per month per full-time district employee for health insurance. The amount will increase by $5 per year of the contract.
Calendar changes include:
- The last day of school is June 20.
- The following Wednesdays are early release for all students: Oct. 5, Nov. 2, Nov. 23 (this was always early release for all), Dec. 7, Dec. 16, Jan. 11, Feb. 8, March 7, March 30, April 18, and May 30.
- The teacher work day in January was moved to Feb. 3.
The BEA was on strike for one day during contract negotiations, moving the first day of school back a day. During the strike, the BEA said the main sticking points related to early release days for conference time (which had not been included in the calendar), professional development time, and class sizes. The district said at the time that most discussions were related to salary.
An updated 2011-12 school calendar is available here.
Bellingham School District elementary schools won’t start the weekly early release schedule until Wednesday, Sept. 14.
School starts for students in grades 1-12 on Wednesday, Sept. 7. High school students start at 7:45 a.m., elementary students start at 8:30 a.m and middle school students start at 9:15 a.m.
The elementary early release schedule, which gives teachers from 1:15 p.m. onwards to work on necessary items, was not impacted by the teacher strike. (It was always scheduled to start the 14th).
Kindergarten students will start on Monday, Sept. 12.
A new Bellingham School District calendar should be available by the end of the week.