The first semester was a productive one for the Washington School District which opened its Confluence incubator space at the Four Rivers Career Center and checked off many of the projects promised as part of the $15 million zero tax rate 2016 bond issue.
The district also earned high marks — 97.5 percent — on the its annual Performance Report Card (APR). The district earned 136.5 points out of 140 points possible.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said these are just some of the “points of pride” from the past semester.
“It is nice to set goals and then see progress,” said VanLeer. “From an achievement standpoint, we’ve seen success, but we continue to look for ways to improve student learning, both directly and indirectly,”
VanLeer said these points of pride provide a sampling of accomplishments as a result of these efforts.
“Not only do we set goals to improve instruction, support and curriculum, but we also make strides as we complete projects relating to the facilities or capital projects designed to preserve or enhance the learning environments for our students and staff,” she said.
Going forward, VanLeer said these efforts will continue.
“We are in the process of developing our next strategic five-year plan,” she explained. “We are re-examining our vision, mission and we will develop new goals and strategies.”
VanLeer said new goals will provide focus as the district executes its continuous improvement model.
“We’ve accomplished a great deal in the last five years, but the work never stops, needs change and our students change,” she said. “Ensuring their needs are met takes all of us working together and we look forward to the endeavor.”
In late January, the district will send out a simple stakeholder survey to solicit feedback from students, parents, staff and community members to guide school officials in their planning efforts going forward.
“This feedback will help us prioritize the work,” said VanLeer, adding that more information will be forthcoming regarding how to participate.
This past semester, juniors and seniors enrolled in the Global Business and Entrepreneurship CAPS (Center for Advance Professional Studies) class began utilizing the Confluence, the new incubator/maker space at the career center.
The Confluence also is being utilized by other technical/CAPS courses, staff and community members for a variety of reasons.
VanLeer said the space is designed for ideation, prototyping, marketing, conferencing and pitching concepts, solutions and/or products.
Students meet with business partners here to solicit authentic feedback, advice, mentoring or other means of assistance, she said.
“During the week of Nov. 6, approximately 156 people from the business community visited our students in this space,” she said.
In November, the district learned it earned 100 percent of the points possible in the areas of Academic Achievement, College and Career Readiness, Attendance and Graduation Rate on its annual report card.
According to the report, Washington is above the state average on the ACT in all areas — English, reading, math, and science.
The high school also had a 72 percent increase in Advanced Placement course participation, with 50 percent earning qualifying scores for college credit.
Achievement test scores are above state average in English Language Arts, math, and science for all grade levels (eighth-grade math not included due to state test vendor error).
The Four Rivers Career Center also is above state average in all academic attainment areas and the district reported increased enrollment in technical and advanced professional studies courses by 84 students from 2016 to 2017.
Completed as Promised
The Washington School District has checked off the list of improvements promised when voters approved a $15 million zero tax rate bond issue back in August 2016.
The majority of the issue was about moving and refinancing existing lease debt into bond debt. But approximately $1.34 million was slated to be used for roof replacements, building repairs, safety and security upgrades, and some classroom renovation, among other projects.
VanLeer said most of those improvements have been made..
Also completed was the converting of lease payments to the debt service fund by means of general obligation bonds to secure operational funding to maintain educational services.