Tonasket School District

Weekly Update ~ 10/22/2021

"Focused on Learning and Linking Learning to Life"

Be Positive

Be Grateful

Be Involved


Capital Project Update

  • The work on the CTE shop could start in 2 to 3 weeks. Based on the drawing for the rebar specs being approved by the building department.

  • I am currently working on approval of the contract adjustments to complete the groundwork on the ES modular. You should see progress on this project soon! Thank you for your patience!

Powerful Teaching and Learning

Administrations are involved in a Character Strong training for administrators. We are currently in the process of having those we lead do a survey to help us identify where we need to grow.

District Culture and Climate

I have had a lot of conversations lately with staff and community members concerning the COVID decisions we are making as an organization. First, the primary responsibility for these decisions rests with me as your superintendent. Listening to input from many channels is part of this process, but it is clear that there is no consensus in our community or in our nation on how to best chart a path through this pandemic. I am working on a detailed statement on this for our community and will be discussing it at the Wednesday school board meeting.

Parent and Community Engagement

  • On Monday we had a group of parents protesting in front of the school. These past months, managing COVID - 19 has been very difficult for educators and also for families. While we might not all agree with the right path forward during this pandemic, I share in their frustration with how our state has managed this pandemic.

  • I also am very glad that I live in a country that allows peaceful protest and appreciate the efforts of these parents to have their voices heard. I encourage them to go to Olympia and take their voice to our Governor and State Department of Health who are responsible for the rules that schools are mandated to follow during this pandemic.

  • Last year we created a brochure for anyone needing to contact the school. It is a helpful guide to know who to contact for information and assistance at the school. You can find them in the school building offices. It is also on our website under the Contact Us tab (link provided below).
  • This week’s Monthly Migrant Meeting highlights from Tyler Graves: Last night we held a drive-in movie event here at the elementary school parking lot. There was a wonderful turnout of families and staff that made the evening a real success to be a part of. Although everything didn't go quite as planned, we learned a few things and will do things better next time. Okanogan Highlands Alliance was a major part of the evening. Through the education wing of their organization, they partnered with us to bring an educational film to the families that attended the event. We had around 45 families in attendance and filled the parking lot to the brim. There was talk about doing another event in the spring!

    We had announcements from all three principals and a survey was handed out by Mrs. El-Haj to get feedback about how the middle school is doing. Pablo's Tacos served the food and Mr. McCullough was even serenaded by Lourdes! It was a beautiful evening and we look forward to the next meeting on November 18th.

    Thank you to everyone for their help in pulling this night off. Lourdes and Maribel for making all the pre-order food calls, Martha for organizing the food tickets, Mrs. Roach for helping with handing out drinks, the OHA crew for setting up the screen and microphones, Suzette for being there with helping hands, and everyone else for having a positive mindset and making the evening extremely enjoyable.

  • At this month’s Supt’s On for staff and the community, we discussed COVID, Principal Appreciation Month, and spent most of the time discussing Critical Race Theory. My focus was to make sure our school and community understood what the terms really mean, and to help them understand what CRT is and what it isn’t. I made it clear that CRT is not being taught in our schools, but we do teach history and civics in a manner that looks at the positive and negative aspects of our history.

Creative and Innovative

Congratulations to Jim Caddy, Amanda Jenkins, and April Cole! They all received a North Central Education Foundation Teacher Classroom Grant for $300 for their “Phenomenon for Families” Project.

TEA and PSE Updates

The coaches are going to be meeting next week to start negotiations on the extra-curricular contract. It was last approved in 2012.

Staff Updates

  • Theresa McKinsey has been hired as the district’s School Covid Testing Coordinator. She will be coordinating and managing COVID testing, documenting, and working with the DOH.

  • We have a new Student Assistance Professional, Susan Hinger. She is an NCESD employee working with both the Oroville and Tonasket districts to expand behavioral health support systems (including mental health and substance use) through a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework.


  • I am getting questions on the use of saliva tests for screening of students and staff when exposed to COVID. This is the response from our Okanogan Health Department Health Officer:
    “I read more literature and all that I can find is that there are similarities in the performance of saliva testing and nasal testing for PCR studies in symptomatic individuals. (He is saying that saliva tests are only effective for symptomatic individuals). I would not recommend using saliva tests for a school screening program or for exposed and asymptomatic individuals. We know that nasal swabs do not cause cancer, the materials are used in many other tests and are not unique to the COVID nasal swabs.”
    James Wallace, MD, MPH
    Health Officer
    Okanogan County Public Health

  • COVID - 19 Test Concerns The following articles were recently shared with me by our local ESD in response to questions about concerns about the use of nasal swabs.

What Every Employee Needs to Know Reminders

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