Superintendent Update  November/December 2017

    Image result for the original book the wizard of oz

    The book was written in 1900 and the film adaptation made in 1939. This classic, The Wizard of Oz, was entertaining and has been loved by children and adults alike for over a hundred years.  While there are many themes in the book and film that could be debated, two that I have always appreciated are the simple messages to be thankful, and cultivate what is good in each of us.  Dorothy begins by wishing for something that is “over the rainbow,” and ends with saying that there is “no place like home.”  The Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow all wish for something more, (Heart, Courage, and Intelligence) but in tough situations realize that they really already have these things.    It is interesting that both the book and the film were made during times of great upheaval in the United States.  The book came on the heels of the Great Economic Panic of 1893 and the film of course came out during the Great Depression. 

    As we approach the holiday season, it is a time to reflect and be thankful for what we do have and face changes and challenges by cultivating the many resources that we have been given. Here are some specifics:

    Nearly 250 Learners: We are blessed to have nearly 250 students that are eager and engaged.  We have such a unique opportunity to work with students in kindergarten through twelfth grade in one building and are yet small enough to meet the individual needs of each of these students.  While we have grown nearly 70% over the last 10 years, we still have a strong student focused culture. 

    An Excellent Staff: Our staff is qualified (over 70% have master degrees), and they care about students and meeting their needs.  Their dedication, creativity, and enthusiasm makes a difference in the lives of students every day! 

    Great Volunteers and Supportive Community: Every year hundreds of parents, grandparents, and community members serve in our school.  We just concluded our Harvest Party today.  Page Logan did a great job putting this together and we had over 20 parent volunteers for just this event. Last week we had the Fall Fling Jazz Night and another large group of parents helped to put this event together.  There are many who participate weekly, reading to students, helping in classrooms, helping to serve lunches, and serving on committees. 

    Now for some challenges:

    The State’s New Funding Model: As I study this new model, I believe that we will actually have less money to spend on things that benefit our great students here in Trout Lake.  Washington Legislators are touting how much new money will be invested in education in our state through 2021.  This is true, but like most things the devil is in the details.  Jim Kowalkowski, superintendent in the rural Davenport School District, (near Spokane) and head of the Rural Education Center, expresses his and my concerns very well, 

     “I believe (the new funding model) will lead to more disparity between rich districts and rural districts. Losing the Salary Allocation Model (SAM) and the Staff Mix (which helped poor rural districts at least offer the same base salary as most other districts) are going to be devastating. Richer districts will have more resources to offer more competitive salaries. That is not equity, that is tragic. We will now be forced to hire “the least expensive teacher” rather than the best qualified teacher. The SAM and Staff Mix worked well and should have been kept with the increases in salary for teachers in 2242 ( the new ed. Funding law). The loss of levy capacity (Trout Lake levy capacity will be reduced by one third to one half) will create significant hardship in many rural districts as well. The “increase” in state funding will mostly be categorical so many of the programs we currently use levy dollars for (sports, field trips, enhanced staffing, robotics, student run business, Glacier Graphics, Destination Imagination, outdoor school, technology enhancements, new curriculum purchases, building enhancements, etc.) are all at-risk.

    This new state funding model will require some changes in the way that Trout Lake School District runs local levies. One thought is that the district may need to run several smaller levies, instead of one larger Maintenance and Operation Levy as it has done for the last 20 to 30 years.  This may be able to keep our local funding stable.   

    Winter: Trout Lake winter is just around the corner. My weather consultant is calling for conditions much like last year. Make sure that your K-12 Alert contact information is up to date.  If you need help with this, call Robin Dearden in the office.  When winter weather hits, our staff begin driving roads at 5:00am in order to make a good decision regarding school delays and closures.  Since we have students in our school from wide geographical areas, the weather conditions at your location may be very different from those in Trout Lake and surrounding areas.  If you believe conditions are unsafe for your children, please feel free to keep them at home even though the school district has made a decision to not close school.  We want you to be comfortable in sending your children to school in winter weather.

    Once again, I am thankful for all that we have as a district and confident that we have the expertise to continue to move forward as a district. Have a great holiday season!  As always if you have questions or concerns never hesitate to contact me.