Weekly Update from the Superintendent - September 8, 2017

tchurchill Fri, 09/08/2017 - 10:52am
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September 8, 2017

This weekly update includes information from the District Office and department staff regarding District operations and reminders.  It does not include updates or activities from each school site.

Office of the Superintendent:

Self-Reflection Follow-Up – At the all District staff meeting on August 30th I asked each of you to make a list of things you are really good at.  Did you make the list?  If so, pull it out and read it again.  Add to the list if you can.  It should be a growing list.

I also asked each of you to share one thing that you were doing well and one thing that you wanted to improve in your professional practice with the person sitting next to you.  I told you that in a week I would like you to check in with that person to see how they are doing and to share how you are doing. Have you checked in with him or her yet? If not, please make an effort to reach out to that person today.

Remember, when we are publicly accountable to each other we are more likely to stick with our improvement efforts and will make better progress towards our improvement goals.  Make a plan to check in with that person again in a month.  He or she can be your ”improvement buddy” this year.

New MP3 Campus Opens - On Wednesday, the new MP3 campus opened to students for the first time.  There is still some work to be completed on the site, but the District secured the required occupancy permit from the county and MP3 is up and running in their new home.  Congratulations MP3 staff!

School Board:

Next Regular Board Meeting - The next regular School Board meeting is at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Board meetings are held in the Professional Development/Board Room at MHS.  All staff members are invited and welcome to attend School Board meetings.   Meeting agendas and minutes can be accessed via a link from the District web site or at http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/msdwa/Board.nsf/Public

Human Resources: (Kurt Harvill, Director of Personnel, Grants and Risk Management)

Professional Development Grants - In collaboration with MEA we will be opening the Fall Professional Development Grants for certificated staff.  The MEA Professional Development Grant has been increased to $18,000 for the 2017-18 school year and the new CBA language states there will be $8000 total available in the Fall and $10,000 available in the Spring.  However $8385 of this year’s Professional Development Grant was awarded last spring so there is approximately $9600 left.   Consequently the District and MEA have agreed to offer $4600 for this fall and $5000 in spring 2018.  (The money awarded last spring and the two openings this year total $18,000.)   

To apply for a grant please submit a letter of proposal to the District office by 4:00 p.m. on Monday, October 2nd.   Proposals should include (1) how the grant will help professional growth as a teacher/counselor/ or other certified staff and (2) include costs.  Professional Development Grants are appropriate for content based PD, outside workshops and conferences, etc.  Priority is given for Pro Cert work.  

Arranging a Substitute - Please make sure to make arrangements for a substitute as soon as you are aware that you will be out for professional development or any other leaves.  There are a limited number of subs and we share them with other districts.  In an effort to ensure we have adequate coverage in our buildings, Patty Streubel now begins to call substitutes at 6am.  If you don’t know how to use, or don’t have a password for Sub Online please contact your Principal or school secretary. Please limit requests for “day of” substitutes to last minute illness or emergency leaves. Remember if you need a substitute, plan on utilizing a sub for a half day or full day only.  (We do not contract with substitutes on an hourly basis.)

Safe Schools Trainings - Thank you to everyone who has completed the required trainings.  If you haven’t yet completed all of your trainings (including the reading and approving of the staff handbook) please note that you need to finish them before Wednesday, September 13, 2017.  If you are a classified staff member please work with your supervisor for an appropriate time to access the trainings.  The emails from SafeSchools include your user name and a link.  If you need your password please email jdodd@meridian.wednet.edu                  

Business Office: (Daniel Yorton, Director of Business Services)

Open Enrollment for Benefits – The open enrollment period for benefits for certificated and classified staff is from August 26th through September 30. If you plan to make changes to your medical or dental plans, please turn your paperwork into the payroll department by September 30, 2017. If you have any benefit related questions, please contact Tracy Newby at extension 2162 or email at tnewby@meridian.wednet.edu .

 Through the month of September, in order to provide additional support services for staff Tracy Newby is working an adjusted schedule Monday through Thursday 7:00 am to 5:30 pm to include early morning and late afternoon benefits appointment times.  Please contract Tracy to make benefits appointments. 

 Tracy will also be in the buildings and will be available for drop in appointments based on the following schedule:

  • MMS – Tuesday September 12th, 7:00 am to 5:30 pm
  • MHS – Thursday September 14th, 7:00 am to 5:30 pm
  • MP3 – Monday September 18th, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • Bus Garage/Maintenance – Wednesday September 20th, 8:45 am to 12:30 pm (and further as needed)
  • IRE – Monday September 25th, 7:30 am to 5:30 pm

Accounts Payable

Our accounts payable specialist, Cathy Boehringer, is currently out on medical leave.  We are fortunate to have Bonnie Morrill from NWRDC filling in for Cathy from Friday September 1, 2017 through Monday September 12, 2017.  Bonnie is experienced with accounts payable and the Skyward system.  Please continue to forward all invoices to the accounts payable department.  If you have accounts payable related questions, please email Bonnie at bmorrill@nwrdc.net and cc Finance Director Daniel Yorton at dyorton@meridian.wednet.edu.

Transportation: (Mark Dennis, Transportation Supervisor)

Type 2 Training - This is just a reminder for all staff wishing to drive any District vehicle.  A Type 2 training course from Ms. Barbara Walcott is an initial requirement. In addition an annual update is required.  If you want to drive a school vehicle please contact Ms. Walcott to ensure your credentials are up to date.

Maintenance: (Brian Stephan, Maintenance Supervisor)

Work Orders - Just a reminder about our work order system. If you have something that requires the attention of maintenance please notify your building principal or secretary so that they can submit a work order via our maintenance program (School Dude).

Technology:  (Joe O’Brien, Technology Supervisor)

Tech Requests - Between August 31st and September 6th, we received 187 new technology support requests and resolved 81 during that same window. We are currently averaging 40 new requests per day.  That is somewhat higher than normal, but not surprising given two construction projects and half of our staff changing rooms over this summer.  We are processing your requests as quickly as we can, but it will take time to get through them all.

  • Continue emailing support requests to techhelp@meridian.wednet.edu, preferably the same day you realize there is an issue.
  • Please only one request per issue.

Teaching and Learning: (Patti Fouts, Director of Teaching and Learning)

Evaluation Rubric - All Meridian certificated teaching staff are evaluated annually using the Center for Educational Learning (CEL) Instructional Growth and Teacher Evaluation Rubric.  CEL has recently revised the teacher evaluation rubric (based upon ongoing research and feedback).  Beginning this school year (2017-2018), certificated staff will be evaluated on the CEL 5D+ Teacher Evaluation Rubric version 3.0. The administrators in each building will provide certificated staff with an overview of the revisions.  You will find additional, helpful information at the following links.  

Special Services: (Dr. Carolyn Jenkins, Director of Special Services)

Specially Designed Instruction - It is an interesting fact that there are no State or Federal laws, rules or guidelines that require students who have identified special education needs to be taught by a teacher with a special education endorsement. Teachers with that endorsement are required to be case managers and document formulators (IEP), but there is no requirement they be responsible for providing the Specially Designed Instruction.

The reason behind this is to ensure that ALL students are treated as general education students first, with some students having additional support needs. Best practice is an inclusion model where special education teachers and paraeducators provide support to the general education teachers to ensure the students receive the appropriate accommodations and modifications to access the required learning. Special education teachers and paraeducators may also provide additional in-class student support or utilize a pull-out time to teach, enhance or reinforce newly learned skills.

While Meridian still relies on a Resource Room model, there are exciting changes taking place ensuring a more inclusive model for our students with special needs. 

My Favorite FLOTUS Quote of the Week:  “Believe in something larger than yourself…get involved in the big ideas of your time.”  (Barbara Bush)