The Washington School District begins the new year continuing to push its mantra — “We care. We contribute. We Learn.”

“This school year to date has been much about living that mantra,” said Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer. “The strategic plan has been launched and outlines the initiatives we want to focus on in the next five years.”

Two of the biggest goals have been moving forward throughout the course of the first semester.

“The entire staff is participating in professional learning associated around becoming trauma informed,” she said. “We have learned about restorative practices, mindfulness, de-escalation techniques, self-care, mental/emotional health, and strategies in which we can use all throughout our schools.”

VanLeer said these topics will help the district better serve students and staff.

“Our professional development days have been largely focused on these areas so far this year,” she said.

In the area of facilities and learning environments, the district is moving forward with two major projects — new safety and security vestibules and the construction of a new elementary school off Highway 100 East and St. John’s Road.

“After many design meetings, we are currently out to bid and seeking construction proposals on the security vestibules at all schools,” VanLeer said. “We will be out to bid for the site work associated with the new elementary school site on Jan. 6 as well. The building construction package will be out to bid as well in the coming weeks.”

Communication

VanLeer said the district also is in the beginning stages of developing a new communications plan.

“We will be developing some surveys to help us determine what our students, parents and patrons feel is being communicated well and what we may need to improve,” she said. “Our strategic plan indicates our desire to put forth some targeted communications to incoming kindergarten parents, and then specific pieces also at third-, seventh- and ninth-grades as well.”

The superintendent said those types of communications are currently being discussed and constructed and will include information that pertains to all students/parents in those grades.

VanLeer said the district has been, and will continue to be, community-minded. One of the highlights this past semester was the strong participation in the Franklin County Area United Way campaign.

“Our district put its best foot forward by being a Top 10 contributor to the Area United Way,” she noted. “With community partnerships (business, parent and service organizations alike) we are happy our employees were so generous in their giving to this worthy cause.”

Another highlight from the first semester VanLeer said was the “clean” audit report with no findings.

A project announced last semester with planning to get underway in the new year is a Parent Summit scheduled for November 2020. This will be a conference or workshop-style event for parents in the school community.

“The planning team is set to meet monthly to plan the logistics, solicit proposals for presentations, select presenters, market and advertise for the event, work on hospitality and other aspects that will make the event special for those who participate,” VanLeer said.

“These are just a few of the big things going on districtwide and certainly shouldn’t overshadow all of the hard work happening in the buildings each and every day with our students, teachers, support staff and leaders,” she added.