Note From the Superintendent
Dear ESD parents, guardians and staff,
As we move into the wintery weather months, one of the most common questions that I receive is, “How do you determine the use of a “snow day”?
First, we continually monitor the weather when snow is predicted or falling. If road conditions are questionable, Eric Engle (ESD Transportation Director) and his team drive roads early (starting at about 4:00 am), to determine traction level and the potential for improvement or worsening of road conditions. Monitoring of the real-time and forecasted weather continues throughout the morning. A two-hour delay is the default request to buy time to further determine if weather/road conditions will improve in time for safe transportation of our students. During a delay, Eric’s team will go back out and drive the roads again to determine the conditions of the roads. If road conditions improve, students are transported at the two-hour delay time. If road conditions worsen or are deemed unsafe for bus transportation, then school is canceled.
Information about a delay or school closure is sent via Blackboard to all parents/guardians and posted on our ESD Facebook and website. Each year, we build in one “snow day” within the school calendar. Because we used our one “snow day” on December 20th for the 2019-2020 school year, all staff and students will need to attend May 22nd. If there is another time this year that we need to close schools due to poor road conditions, the school year will be extended. Ensuring that students make it safely to school is our top priority.
National Board of Education Month: Please take time to thank our amazing ESD School Board Directors Tosha Woods, Meg Ludlum, Jason White, Dan Shissler and Jennifer Hackett. They volunteer multiple hours in service to ESD. Additionally, they are committed to supporting our district within our community, and they lead the direction that ESD takes towards meeting the needs of our students and promoting academic growth and achievement.
A huge thank you to Dr. Andre Dickerson, Director for the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement, at Central Washington University and CWU student Champayne Ryder Jr. for their help in celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.at Ellensburg High School's annual MLK assembly. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "The time is always right, to do what is right." Also, we appreciate ESD's Board of Education proclamation, as shared by ESD Board Director Jason White. This proclamation shows ESD's support for the values demonstrated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
ESD is set to break ground on the building of the new Mt. Stuart and new school on the Winegar property sometime the first week of April. We are thrilled to start this process!
Please join us in welcoming Cindy Ramsey into her new position as Assistant Transportation Director. We are confident she will continue to lead the transportation team in a positive way.
Ellensburg High School
ESD School Board Director Jason White
CWU Student Champayne Ryder Jr.
Dr. Andre Dickerson, Director for the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement, at Central Washington University
Challenges for the upcoming 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years include budgetary reductions. Ellensburg School District was negatively impacted by decisions that were made by legislators after the McCleary Case was resolved in June of 2018. Ellensburg School District’s general budget was affected most by:
1.Elimination of giving ESD extra funding for more experienced staff: Staff Mix Factor Eliminated
2. ESD’s levy rate was cut from $3.40 per 1,000 of assessed value to $1.50. Levy revenues went from approximately $7 million dollars collected to $4.3 million dollars collected.
3. SEBB: Educational Service District 105 estimated that Ellensburg School District will need to take about $1.6 million dollars out of the general/levy fund to pay for the state’s new health insurance plan.
Additionally, approximately 81% of ESD’s general/levy budget goes towards salaries and benefits. For the past two years, in order to hire and retain highly qualified staff, pay increases were given to all ESD employee groups.
After analyzing the financial information that we currently have, ESD will need to initiate reductions to the general budget. We anticipate a reduction of at least $250,000 dollars in spending for the 2020-2021 school year. More significant reductions will need to be made for the 2021-2022 school year, if ESD does not receive financial help from legislators. Our best hope is that legislators will fully fund state mandates like the new SEBB state health insurance plan and bring back the “staff mix” factor.
During upcoming Board meetings, beginning in February, we will be discussing the budget and reviewing this information at a greater length. We will also be setting up various opportunities in the future for all stakeholders to provide input into the process of identifying priorities for our budget for the next two years.
We have appreciated our strong partnership with the Ellensburg community and believe that by linking arms as a strong team, we will successfully continue to move forward together to ensure that every student graduates from ESD ready to embrace life’s challenges.
ESD Bond Project Update
ESD Board Ends/ Outcomes for Students
During the 2019-2020 school year, we will be focusing on empowering every student to achieve our district-wide outcomes which are also called our Board Ends. We call these outcomes the Board Ends because our Board of Education will be supporting these outcomes with both policies and allocation of resources.
Board of Education ENDS/Outcomes for Students
Board End #1: Solid Academic and Future Ready Skills
Implementation of New Literacy Resources: We now have a viable and coherent curriculum that is used across all grade levels and within all elementary schools. Teachers in ESD elementary schools are using the newly adopted Fountas and Pinnell curriculum. These resources promote opportunities for students to routinely meet in small groups with educators and experience “guided reading.” As a result, students have multiple opportunities to practice and develop their reading skills.
Promotion of Inclusionary Practices like Co-Teaching: ESD recently received a grant from the state that supports co-teaching. Co-teaching is a model where a general education and special education teacher routinely plan and teach lessons together to benefit all students. Opportunities to promote student voice and connection are also in place across all schools through students’ participation in “community circles."
Board End #2: Successful Citizens in an Ever-Changing World
Project-based learning in our elementary schools is off to a great start second semester. Shannon Selzler, first grade teacher at Valley View, and Karen Foley, fourth grade teacher at Lincoln, are currently creating projects where students study different animals and raise money to make life better for these animals. For example, the students in the first grade team at Valley View are choosing one animal and are studying their habitat, food sources and conditions that cause these animals to be endangered. Shannon’s class is focusing on the Arctic penguin. Her students are finding innovative ways to collect pennies and plan to raise enough money to become official zoo sponsors of the Artic penguin.
Board End #3: Strong Connections with: Peers, Staff, School and local Community
We continue to train staff in the use of community circles within ESD classrooms to give students a safe place to have a voice, make friends and reinforce positive social and emotional skills. One teacher recently shared that she saw her students creating their own community circle on the playground in order to resolve their conflict. Some administrators also routinely use the community circle protocol during their staff meetings, so that all faculty members have a voice in problem solving and celebrating successes.