Blaine School District coverage
Six Whatcom County high school graduates have received the 2012-13 Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program award, Comcast Foundation has announced.
They were among 90 students named in Western Washington and Spokane.
Comcast asked schools to nominate students who showed leadership abilities in school activities and strong commitment to community service.
The Whatcom County students and their schools are:
- Emily P. Steelquist, Blaine High School
- Patricia M. Castrejon, Ferndale High School
- Fraser J. Shindruk, Lynden High School
- Kaitlyn M. Michaelson, Meridian High School
- Brett T. Copher, Nooksack Valley High
- Janice E. Liang, Sehome High School
The Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program gives $1,000 scholarships to students.
Lynden Christian, Lummi and Windward kicked off graduations in Whatcom County with their ceremonies on Thursday, June 7.
Lynden and Nooksack Valley high schools are up next, with their graduations beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, June 8.
Below is a round-up of high school and college graduation ceremonies this month. Ceremonies are open to the public, unless otherwise noted.
FRIDAY, JUNE 8
Lynden High School: 7 p.m. in the school gym.
Nooksack Valley High School: 7 p.m. at Sid Lambert Field or Kay LeMaster Gym, depending on the weather.
SATURDAY, JUNE 9
Ferndale High School: 11 a.m. at Civic Field.
Western Washington University:
- 9 a.m. College of Business and Economics, College of Fine and Performing Arts, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, and Huxley College of the Environment.
- 12:30 p.m. College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Humanities Division) and Woodring College of Education.
- 4 p.m. College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Social Sciences Division) and the College of Sciences and Technology.
All three ceremonies are in Carver Gymnasium. Tickets are required for seating in the gym, but there will be overflow seating in the Science, Mathematics and Technology Education building with the ceremonies broadcast on a screen. The ceremonies also will be broadcast live on Comcast channel 26 and streamed live on www.ustream.tv/channel/wwu-live-events1.
MONDAY, JUNE 11
Blaine High School: 6 p.m. in the school gym.
Community Transitions (Bellingham School District): 7 p.m. Bellingham Cruise Terminal, Dome Room.
TUESDAY, JUNE 12
Mount Baker High School: 6:30 p.m. at the school’s Bob Tisdale Field.
THURSDAY, JUNE 14
Meridian High School: 7 p.m. in the school gym.
Explorations Academy: 7 p.m. at Squalicum Boathouse. Space is limited so people need to contact Explorations before June 13 if they wish to attend.
FRIDAY, JUNE 15
Bellingham High School: 7 p.m. in the school gym. Tickets required.
Northwest Indian College: 4 p.m. in Wex’liem community building.
Whatcom Community College: 6:30 p.m. in the Pavilion. Tickets are required to sit in the pavilion; however there will be overflow seating in Heiner Theatre with the ceremony broadcast on a screen.
SATURDAY, JUNE 16
Squalicum High School: 11 a.m. at the school. Tickets required.
MONDAY, JUNE 18
Sehome High School: 6 p.m. in Carver Gym at WWU.
TUESDAY, JUNE 19
Options High School: 7 p.m. in the theater at Bellingham High School.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
Bellingham Technical College: 7 p.m. at Mount Baker Theatre. Tickets required.
BLAINE — John Stewart Architects will design a major remodel of the high school’s science building and renovation of two classrooms for Life Skills students.
The Blaine School Board on Tuesday, May 1, approved a $246,280 contract with the Bellingham firm, finalizing its selection in March from a field of four architects.
(Ron Spanjer, superintendent for Blaine School District, said the contract amount is based primarily on a formula from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.)
Voters in the Blaine School District approved a $3 million bond in February to pay for the projects and other work in the district’s schools.
The projects are:
- remodeling and modernizing Blaine High School’s science building, which has just 40 percent of the lab space the school needs, at an estimated cost of $2.4 million.
- renovating two classrooms so the middle school and high school Life Skills programs can be moved out of converted locker rooms to their respective campuses, for $235,000.
Construction for these two projects is expected to begin June 2013, after school ends.
The bond also will pay for:
- retrofitting lighting at the high school to meet federal requirements, for $120,000.
- upgrading heating and ventilation at the middle and elementary schools, for $165,000.
- expanding the security camera system at the elementary and primary school campuses, for $80,000.
These projects are slated for this summer.
“We’re on track,” Spanjer said.
Deb Cummings, a beloved Blaine educator who encouraged children to dress up as their favorite book characters and who was praised as a dynamic leader, has lost her battle against an aggressive cancer. She was 46.
Cummings died Friday, April 6, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.
The Ferndale resident was diagnosed in July 2009 with angioimmunoblastic T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare and aggressive cancer.
Cummings, an award-winning educator, was in remission after undergoing two stem cell transplants but died from a mold infection in her lungs that was a side effect of treatment.
“We’re all very saddened by the loss of Deb Cummings,” said Ron Spanjer, superintendent of the Blaine School District. “She was an inspiration to so many in her fight against this awful disease. It was an astounding focus on her part to do everything possible to beat this.”
Cummings started as a physical education teacher in Coupeville School District in 1991. She began working in the Blaine School District as a PE teacher in 1994 and then served as principal for Blaine Elementary School from 1996 to 2006.
In 2006, she became the director of curriculum and instruction for Blaine School District. She kept her title but had been on medical leave for about 2½ years.
On Monday, friends and colleagues remembered Cummings as someone with a big personality who inspired others, who drew together people of different backgrounds, who went the extra mile to support children in their education and the adults teaching them.
“One of the most amazing things about her, she was exceedingly outgoing, a real extrovert. She never met a stranger — ever,” said Susan Holmes, a friend, former colleague and now member of the Blaine School Board.
“Whatever she did, she was a leader,” Holmes added. “She was a very focused educator.”
Aaron Smith, principal at Skyridge Middle School in Camas, described Cummings as a great advocate, especially for underprivileged children.
“Deb loved life and she loved all people and all kids,” said Smith, who met Cummings when he took an administration class she taught at Western Washington University and later became a colleague in the Blaine School District.
He added: “She was an advocate for all kids and was willing to do whatever it took. Her personality and her positive attitude were absolutely infectious.”
Cummings also was known for facilitating a unicycling group for elementary school students in Blaine. People might have seen them riding in the Fourth of July parade in Blaine, and in the Ski to Sea parade.
Cummings, a collector of Hot Wheels and Coca-Cola paraphernalia, loved celebrations — at school in the form of encouraging children to dress up while principal of the elementary school, and on her property in a pole barn that Cummings had turned into a social center for friends and staff to mark successes and milestones.
“She was very generous with sharing this building she had put together — just for that reason to bring people together, and to celebrate anything,” Holmes said.
REMEMBERING DEB CUMMINGS
A service for Deb Cummings, an administrator in the Blaine School District, is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Blaine Performing Arts Center, 975 H St. It is open to the public.
An autism specialist will give a talk in the library at Blaine Middle School, 975 H St., on Tuesday, April 17.
Nancy Rosenberg’s talk is titled “Preventing Challenging Behaviors in Your Child with Autism: Strategies for Families.”
The free event, which is open to the public, is 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Childcare will be provided in room 14 of the middle school. Pizza will be served 5:30 to 6 p.m.
To learn more and to register, contact Randy Elsbree, director of federal and special programs for the Blaine School District, at 360-332-0722 and email@example.com.
Details are online at www.blaine.wednet.edu.
Voters in all seven school districts in Whatcom County, as well as the city of Ferndale, have until Tuesday, Feb. 14, to return ballots for the special election for school funding and a sales tax increase.
Ballots must be postmarked or received by Tuesday to be counted.
The school districts are asking voters to approve different types of levies — replacement measures for technology as well as maintenance and operations, and new requests to pay for technology and small renovation projects.
Blaine schools are asking for a yes vote on a $3 million bond as well, with $2.4 million of that to remodel Blaine High School’s science building.
In Ferndale, voters also are being asked to increase the city’s sales tax by two-tenths of 1 percent to raise money for road repairs.
The levies and sales tax need a simple majority of more than 50 percent to pass. The bond needs 40 percent voter turnout from the last general election and 60 percent approval to pass.
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.
Voters can drop off ballots at one of the following locations until 8 p.m. Tuesday:
- Blaine Public Library, 610 3rd St.
- Deming Public Library, 5044 Mount Baker Highway.
- Everson branch of Whatcom Educational Credit Union, 106 E. Main St.
- Ferndale City Hall, 2095 Main St.
- Lynden Public Library, 216 4th St.
- Meridian Middle School, 861 Ten Mile Road, in Laurel.
- South parking lot for Whatcom County Courthouse, 201 Grand Ave. in downtown Bellingham.
The Bellingham Herald published articles on all the items on the Feb. 14 ballot in Whatcom County. To read those, which provide details on the levies, tax and bond requests, click here.
Even though the Ferndale School District had the only two contested school board seats in the county, some people have been asking me about the results from the rest of the districts.
Here is a break-down of candidates and vote totals for all seven Whatcom County school boards.
As of Wednesday evening, Nov. 9, about 45,800 ballots have been counted, out of about 117,000 registered voters. I don’t have a break-down of number of ballots per school district.
Bellingham School Board (all races uncontested)
Camille Diaz Hackler – 14,191
Ken Gass – 14,776
Kelly Bashaw – 14,529
Blaine School Board (all uncontested)
Campbell McClusky – 2,767
Todd Berge – 2,776
Charles Gibson – 2,747
Ferndale School Board
Kevin Erickson – 4,697
Stuart McKay – 3,377 – vs. Jeffrey Marks – 1,844
Hugh Foulke – 3,109 – vs. Tim Ballew – 2,028
Lynden School Board (all races uncontested)
Dominic Shiu – 2,935
Gary Vis – 3,271
Kevin Burke – 3,016
Stephan Jilk – 3,080
Meridian School Board (all races uncontested)
Craig Wasilewski – 1,623
Marty Gray – 1,557
John Bosche – 1,532
Mount Baker School Board (all races uncontested)
Gary Chadwick – 2,085
Ellen Dodson – 2,099
Trish Hart – 2,071
Russ Pfeiffer-Hoyt – 2,111
Nooksack Valley School Board (all races uncontested)
Cheryl Thornton – 1,331
Chris Haugen – 1,310
Mark Olson – 1,300
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.
Three Whatcom County schools – Wade King Elementary, Blaine Middle and Nooksack Valley High schools – are School of Distinction Award winners this year.
The award recognizes schools that have made large improvements in student achievement. Across the state, 99 schools received the honor this year, the fifth time the awards have been given out.
Awardees are chosen based on looking at data from the state standardized tests over the last five years. The schools with the largest gains in all subjects are honored.
The awards are given by the Center for Educational Effectiveness, the Association of Educational Service Districts, the Association of Washington School Principals, Phi Delta Kappa-Washington Chapter, Washington Association of School Administrators, Washington State ASCD and Washington State School Directors’ Association.
Update: The Bellingham School Board will meet in executive session at 7 p.m. on Thursday to discuss “property acquisition,” something that is allowed o occur behind closed doors under state law. The regular meeting will start around 7:30 p.m.
School is back in session, which means school board meetings are about. Several districts and schools have meetings this week:
Bellingham School Board – Regular meeting; Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m. at the district office. The board will go into executive session at the start of the meeting to discuss “property acquisition.” The regular meeting will start about 7:30 p.m. Agenda
Ferndale School Board – Study session to discuss facilities, board goals and the 2012 levy; Wednesday, Sept. 21, 3:30 at the district office. Agenda.
Lynden School Board – Regular meeting; Thursday, Sept. 22, 6 pm at Lynden School District office/Lynden High School. Agenda
Mount Baker School Board – Regular meeting and worksession; Thursday, Sept. 22, 4 to 8 p.m. at the district office (please note the time change).
Whatcom Community College Board of Trustees – Regular meeting; Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2 p.m. in Laidlaw Center Boardroom, #143. Agenda is available for download here.
And next week, there are even more!
Blaine School Board – Worksession and regular meeting; Monday, Sept. 26, 5-6:30 p.m. (worksession) and 7 p.m. (regular meeting).
Meridian School Board – Regular meeting; Wednesday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m. in Meridian Middle School’s library.