Superintendent's Update

October 2021

Hello Ellensburg Staff, Families and Friends!

Good afternoon,

I hope you have had a chance to enjoy the vibrant red, orange and yellow fall colors and crisp clean air. Great happens here in ESD, and it has been wonderful to have our students back in-person in our schools. As you know, our beautiful new Mt. Stuart is open, along with our new Early Learning Center. We will be having an Open House at Mt. Stuart to host tours for our community, parents and ESD staff on October 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. We invite you to join us.

Also, the plan is to have our Lincoln staff and students housed in the new Ida Nason Aronica building beginning Monday October 25. We have been working closely with the City of Ellensburg to support a smooth transition and appreciate our partnership with them. The remodeling process at the Lincoln Elementary building will then go full throttle to renovating and upgrading this valuable Ellensburg treasure. This issue features:


COVID 19 Update and Test to Stay Program

ESD Levy Resolutions

Attendance Zone Committee

Grading for Equity Book Study

Ellensburg Healthy Youth Coalition Survey


Fly Casting with the Aquatic Ecosystem Class

National Principals Month

EHS Homecoming

COVID 19 Update

Thank you to our ESD staff, students and parents for their collaboration and support of the necessary requirements outlined in the ESD Health and Safety Requirements. This document, as well as the ESD COVID 19 dashboard can be found at

An update on the compliance of ESD with the Governor's proclamation includes the Test to Stay Program. Test to Stay is a new program that was designed by the Department of Health (DOH) as a way to keep students in school when a positive COVID case is identified within a student's classroom. If you did not get the opportunity to respond to the survey by the October 15th deadline, parents can still sign up anytime for the Test to Stay Program this year. Just go to, select your child's school, and click the Test to Stay link that is posted on the front page of every school's website. This link will provide the annual program permission form, which parents can sign electronically without requiring a visit to the school. For more information on Test to Stay click here

For parents who do not choose the Test to Stay option and their students are not vaccinated, these students who are identified as close contacts will need to be sent home to quarantine for the number of days designated by Kittitas County Public Health. Please see the attached Flow Chart. Again, these are requirements and guidelines that were designed by the Department of Health and Kittitas County Public Health and adopted by ESD in order to mitigate risks and support health and safety at school.

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Board Approves Resolutions for Replacement Educational Programs and Operations, and Tech Levies Election Resolution

At the Board Meeting on October 6, the ESD Board of Directors approved resolutions to put the Educational Programs & Operations (EPO) Levy on the February 8, 2022 ballot for our voters. These levies not new taxes, but a replacement of the levies expiring December 2022. The proposed replacement levies provides local funding for critical needs, staffing and technology not covered by state and federal funding. Levies support all Ellensburg students.

Cost Information for the Educational Programs & Operation (EPO) Levy

EPO levy makes up approximately 10 percent of our current revenue. Levy failure would result in significant reductions in staff, programs, and services for students.

The estimated tax rate for the EPO levy is $2.50 per $1000 of assessed value, starting in 2023.

What the Educational Programs & Operations Levy Funds

The EPO levy funds programs and positions not funded or fully funded by the State, including the following:

Teaching and Learning

  • Building budgets and extended learning, which provide activities like 5th Grade Camp, as well as Winter School opportunities to help students who are behind. This allocation also funds the District swimming program.
  • Curriculum and professional development, to ensure our students have the resources they need and that our teachers are continuing to learn and grow in their expertise.
  • Special Education Program costs.
  • Substitute costs.

Health & Safety

  • Security
  • Districtwide drug & alcohol/mental health/suicide prevention programs.
  • Long term staffing needs for both classified and certified personnel, which include nurses, counselors, mental health specialists, and family liaisons.

Extra-Curricular Activities and Programs

  • Orchestra
  • Choir
  • Band
  • Boys and girls sports, including football, soccer, volleyball, swim, cross country, basketball, wrestling, bowling, baseball, softball, track, and golf.
  • Coaches and extra-curricular advisors

The Technology Levy, which will appear as a separate measure on the ballot, will allow the District to continue with the current model of funding and replacement of necessary instructional technology improvements. With the last Technology Levy, which expires in 2022, ESD was able to meet the goals of equipping every student in grades 5-12 with a device, upgrading the District network and WiFi, as well as putting multiple laptop carts, projectors, document cameras and desktop computers in our schools.

Cost Information for the Technology Levy:

This levy would authorize an excess tax levy to be made annually for six years commencing in

2022 for collection in the years 2023 through 2028 in the aggregate total amount of

$7,600,000 for the District’s Capital Projects Fund. This levy would support the modernization and remodeling of school facilities by making certain instructional technology


The proposed six-year replacement Technology Levy would extend from 2023 to 2028, and would provide:

  • Additions and replacements to our current technology and replacement schedule
  • One full time Educational Technology position
  • Additional necessary funds for Ida Nason Aronica technology, including yearly purchases
  • Digital signs for schools, including external reader boards
  • Additional money for curriculum-specific platforms
  • Schoology and related Learning Management Systems
  • Additional software/hardware

We will be sharing additional information on our website and will be offering informational presentations for the public. Stay tuned for more information, and please vote by February 8, 2022!

Join Attendance Zone Committee!

In 2022-2023, Ellensburg School District plans to open Ida Nason Aronica as its own school, with all Lincoln students returning to their newly renovated school. In order to provide streamlined and effective transportation, ESD will establish attendance zones for each of the four elementary schools. After compiling multiple sources of data, initial boundaries for the four elementary schools have been created with support from the District's transportation consultants, Education Solutions (Edulog). The roles of the ESD Attendance Zones Committee will include:

  • Reviewing the drafted boundaries that have been created and providing feedback to the District regarding these boundaries; and
  • Collaborating to create protocols for Board approval that would be in place for the 2022-2023 school year.

This collaboration could include addressing and brainstorming solutions for questions like:

  • Would there be options for parents to choose to attend a school outside of their attendance zone?
  • What would the transition from the current system to attendance zones look like?
  • What other concerns might arise and need potential solution?

If you would like to apply to be on the Attendance Zone Committee, please fill out an application.

Grading for Equity Book Study

We are excited to launch a new learning opportunity for teachers and administrators as we dive into the book “Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms” by Joe Feldman. Jen Kuntz, Director of Teaching and Learning, and I will be hosting these sessions.

During this book club, participants will read two to three chapters between classes and keep a journal of what resonates with them and what questions they have. There will be multiple opportunities to discuss findings related to the relationship between equity and grading practices. We also plan to layer in information about Mastery Learning and the work that the WA State Board is doing on this topic and the implications for future grading practices in ESD.

Teachers can also earn up to 10.5 clock hours for participating in this professional development opportunity, and staff who are interested in participating are welcome to join. Classes will be hosted using Zoom during the following dates and times:

One Tuesday afternoon and then the rest Monday afternoons: 11/2, 11/29, 12/13, 1/ 10, 1/31, 2/14, 3/14

Time: 4:00-5:30

The goals of the program are to:

  • Help teachers and administrators identify barriers to equity related to grading practices;
  • Learn more about alternative approaches to grading; and
  • Consider implementing at least one different approach to grading and giving students feedback during our sessions together in this book study.

This book club will be a great opportunity to better understand the opportunity gaps that students come to school with and to see how grading practices could greatly widen or close these gaps related to student learning and motivation. If you are an ESD teacher or administrator, who is interested in this class, please sign up using this link. Additional enrollment procedures will be sent to teachers who sign up on this link.

Ellensburg Healthy Youth Coalition Survey

Community Survey

The Ellensburg Healthy Youth Coalition, a partnership between the Ellensburg School District and Washington Health Care Authority, is seeking your input regarding youth substance use in our community. Your participation in this survey will help inform our implementation of programs in our schools and our community to prevent youth substance use. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Together we will build a stronger and healthier community.

English Survey

Spanish Survey

Aquatic Ecosystems Class Studies Yakima River from Every Angle(r)

If you were driving by Ellensburg High School recently, you may have seen students out in the lawn with fly fishing poles, and wondered what was going on? Sunny afternoons of fly casting are all part of the Aquatic Ecosystems course designed by former EHS Science teacher Dave Hodges and now taught by EHS Social Studies teacher Eric Wickwire.

"I am rooting the course in the Yakima River basin, which is supposedly the only 'Blue Ribbon' trout stream in the state," says Wickwire. "We will learn about geography, geology, ecology (plants and animals), the river, insects, fish, fishing, and how the river is managed."

Wickwire, whose Masters degree is in the science of natural and cultural resources management, explains that the fly fishing exercises are lessons in "physics and energy transfer while learning to cast." When it gets too cold to fish on the lawn, students will learn to tie several types of flies that imitate aquatic insects, while learning about those insects and their life cycle. Students will also build fly rods that they will get to keep at the end of the year. Students from previous classes have gone on to study aquatics in college and work in local fly fishing shops.

The course will also include a few field trips to our watersheds where students will apply their learning to the real world. Recently the Aquatic Ecosystems class, along with the AP Environmental Studies class, visited the Cle Elum fish hatchery and the salmon spawning grounds in upper Cle Elum. "It was amazing!," says Wickwire. "Hands-on, place-based, project-oriented learning at its best!"

There's Always a Pal in Principal

October is National Principals Month, and we are delighted to celebrate our ESD leaders who tirelessly dedicate multiple hours and expertise to make all our schools engaging places for students to learn and grow. The principals here in ESD are world class and exceptional at empowering and inspiring their staff and students to succeed and to make excellence a habit.

Please join us in thanking:

Lincoln Elementary

Principal Joanne Duncan

Assistant Principal Del Heistand

Mt. Stuart Elementary

Principal Kathi Keefer

Dean of Students Bill Lorenz

Valley View Elementary

Principal Rob Moffat

Assistant Principal Kelly Rotter

Morgan Middle School

Principal Michelle Bibich

Assistant Principal Kevin Kjorsvik

Dean of Students Briley Cameron

Ellensburg High School

Principal Beau Snow

Assistant Principal Ole Hall

Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Cole Kanyer

Assistant Principal Neil Musser

Your commitment to Ellensburg students, families and teachers makes all the difference!

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EHS Homecoming

Family, friends, students, community members, and Bulldog alumni gathered on Friday, Oct. 8 to celebrate Homecoming 2021. The EHS Marching Band was in fine form, opening the festivities with the National Anthem and providing musical encouragement with skill and enthusiasm throughout the game.

At halftime, the princesses of the Royal Court were driven onto the track, where princes waited. A huge shout out to a cadre of jeeps donated and operated by local volunteers, who included: Dan Buchanan, Kyle Buchanan, Leo Oltman, Dale and Lynn Leslie, Jake O'Neil, Neil O'Neil, Cooper Naboychik, Travis Paul, and Ken Pless.

Following the presentation of the entire Royal Court, the top honors were announced with the crowning of Queen Dylan Philip and King Damon Mallick. Following the royal announcements, the crowd enjoyed a fireworks display, which was generously donated by Alpha Pyrotechnics.

While the football team was slightly edged out by Prosser in a brutal overtime battle (final score 20-26), it was a great night for the Bulldogs. From “tough enough” pink socks and shared coats, to their respectful responses to on-field injuries and graciousness in defeat, the Dawgs always prove they are a class act worth coming home for!

On Saturday afternoon, EHS staff administered over 400 COVID tests to students to meet state mandates and to ensure the health and safety of all participants at the dance. A huge thank you to Kittitas County Public Health's team led by Candi Blackford and all of the EHS administrators for their die-hard commitment to our students and making this Homecoming dance possible. Kudos especially to Haley Naboychik who truly out did herself in organizing all of the Homecoming activities and inspiring joy and a sense of normalcy for our students. We are so happy that students were once again able to participate in milestone events like Homecoming.

Thank you again to the students, teachers, coaches, parents, volunteers and community partners who all did their part to make this a wonderful Homecoming celebration.

Finally, our days are getting shorter and daylight hours are dwindling. As you travel through town, please be on the lookout for children. For example, please stop when you see bus lights flashing, and watch for bicycles and bouncing balls. The children of this community are our most precious resource.

I appreciate American philosopher Allen Bloom's assertion that, "Education is the movement from darkness to light." Even though the days are shorter, we keep moving into the light to deliver an excellent education to every ESD student.


Jinger Haberer