God Bless the Rarrick Family

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Colville Mayor Deborah Rarrick has passed on.

The news has broken our hearts.

Our prayers are with the Rarrick family.

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Good News, Tacoma Dome, ASB, Levy Funds

Tacoma_Dome_Station_en.wikipedia.orgOur Colville Indian Varsity Football team played for state championship this year for the first time in the history of Colville. While we came in a heartbreaking second, losing only by one point or one inch, whichever way sticks in your mind the most, it was still an overwhelming experience for our whole community. Our family was listening to KCRK 92.1 radio breathlessly from the beginning to the end of the game – except when I had to leave the room to calm down. I found myself shouting at the radio for some of the most absurd calls by officials I have ever heard in a football game. A do-over down because the ref’s weren’t ready? Ummm, they blew the whistle didn’t they? They were always ready when we had a loss in yards … but that’s not really what this post is about, let’s hope our team can get there again soon and beat them by yards.

I would like to give my Congratulations to the entire Colville football community for their hard work, dedication, and for bringing so much excitement and team spirit to our community. This includes the cheerleaders, and marching band because they brought even more pride and enthusiasm to the whole football season.

04_28_49---US-Dollar-Bills_web_freefoto.comWhat I want to present in this post is something that I haven’t ever seen in the Colville school district. The ASB club gave each football athlete, cheerleader and band member a $30 food allowance for the trip. My jaw was on the floor when I heard this money was from levy funds that were given to the Colville High School.

This is a first from my experience and I want to say thank you to Principal Kevin Knight for using our Levy funds for the kids so they could have the experience of a lifetime. Mr. Knight explained that many kids would not have been able to go on the field trip because their families couldn’t afford the food allowance. I think it’s clear that Mr. Knight understands the real issues of many families in this district. He showed a compassion and a kindness I haven’t seen from our school officials in this district for many years. I couldn’t have been happier. Let’s hope we hear more use of our levy funds for important things like this that really mean a lot to our students.

School Board Sets Superintendent Salary

Super SalaryDuring a special board meeting on December 9, 2014, the board set the Superintendent Salary for Pete Lewis and signed a three year contract.

This post includes:

– Pete Lewis contract with details

– School Board calculations

– My calculations

– Links to all information at bottom of post

PETE LEWIS’ CONTRACT (link to original at bottom of page)

– $132,000 base salary

– 12 Days paid sick leave each year – eligible for buy back

– 25 days of paid vacation per year – accumulated days may be bought back at 15 days per year

– 30 paid vacation days may be used as salary for retirement calculations per State laws & guidelines.

– Membership dues for AASA, WASA, PDK, ASCD

– Same holidays, and leave granted to other district administrators

– Same medical, dental, vision, insurance benefits provided other district administrators

– Reimbursement for all business travel

– Cell phone service for district business at no charge to the Superintendent

– 1 computer tablet to be returned at the end of the contract

– $400 per month tax sheltered annuity payment

– Yearly comprehensive medical exam

– Residence requirement

– Evaluation and extension of contract yearly

– Disability clause

– Hold Harmless clause

– Savings clause

(Full contract linked below)

Here is the salary information history for Colville Superintendent’s I put together:

Super Salaries in Colville Continue reading

Inspirational Post – You Are Never Too Old!

Old_People__close_up_by_mellisea_deviantart.comEducation is not just for the young and neither is pursuing your goals, no matter what they might be or what your age. I’ve put several links about inspirational elderly people at the bottom of the page for your enjoyment.

I don’t remember where I heard this story, but it goes something like this: A 70 year old man was in college and his 20 year old classmates were asking him questions about why he would want to start college at such an advanced age. One of the youths asked him if he knew he’d be 74 years old when he graduated. The elderly man looked his classmate in the face and said, “Son, I’m going to be 74 years old anyway.”

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In A Fisherman’s Language: An Autobiography by Captain James Arruda Henry
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Continue reading

Why I Hate Standards Based Grading

15a30f91a0b84b7ac737c756e657813e_pinterest.comI’m not going to mince words here, I really do HATE HATE HATE standards based grading. Why? Because it explains NOTHING. The parents, children, teachers and even the administrators cannot explain exactly what a student has learned, or how well they have grasped the subject. Let me give you an example from one of my experiences:

When my daughter received her first standards based report card:

– We didn’t know what the grades meant.

– We asked our daughter what her grades meant to her and she didn’t know.

– We asked the principal and he didn’t know, he told us to ask the teachers.

– The teachers sent us lots of paperwork, but it didn’t really explain our daughters understanding of what she had been taught.

– We went to the administrators office and after a very long conversation using lots of fancy verbiage that we assumed was an attempt to confuse us, make us feel stupid, or make us leave, they finally admitted that they couldn’t tell us exactly what her grades meant.

End of Story.

What I can’t understand is how so many people believe something is wonderful when nobody can explain what it is or how it works beyond an incredibly generic and non specific concept. The people who love it will tell you it gives them so much MORE understanding of where a student is. Really? Then why can’t you explain my child’s grades when I ask for them?

Here’s another way to explain what’s wrong with standards based grading. Let’s look at the rubrics used by other schools to explain to their staff, students and parents how it works.

Rubrics for Standards Based Grading

I’m inserting links here because they all take a lot of room to explain.

http://www.minnetonka.k12.mn.us/academics/gradingandreporting/reportcards/Pages/GradingRubric.aspx

http://washburn.mpls.k12.mn.us/standard_level_grading

http://www.exemplars.com/resources/rubrics/assessment-rubrics

Pretty clear right? *sarcasm* Every school has a different method for grading. Why is this a good thing? Where are the “standards” in standards based grading?

My child receives a “4” in Washington, but an “8” in Minnesota for the same grade. And then you have different grading rubrics for different subjects. Talk about confusing on a grand scale. They expect us to understand something completely unexplainable – AND they expect our children to understand it too.

The school will run you around with so much double speak on this subject that you are supposed to leave feeling like they are so much smarter than you. It’s not true. I am not stupid and neither are you Do not think you have to accept a ridiculous concept as having any kind of merit when it comes to your children’s futures. If they can’t explain what it means, then it has no meaning.

Grades are a tool used to measure a student’s understanding and knowledge. If a carpenter uses a fluctuating measurement system, anything they make would fall apart. So what good is a fluctuating grading system to our children? Will their futures fall apart if we keep standards based grading in our schools?

Standards Based Grading in Colville Schools (as explained to me in percentages): (if anyone at the school wants to contact me to tell me my chart is wrong, don’t bother.  I get different answers every time I ask and I don’t have room to put in a manual full of explanations – so this is my best interpretation with what I’ve been given.)

4 = 95% or better (A+)

3 = 60% to 94% (C- to A)

2 = 1 to 59%  (D to F – or student wrote their name on the paper.)

1 = Fail

As you can see, the majority of the students will receive a 3, which is anywhere from a C to an A.

The school will tell the parents;

“Your child is doing good, they are getting a 3”.

Well, what the heck does a 3 mean in the first place?

Is it an “A”, a “B”, a “C” or “Nearly failing”?

That statement is worthless when the value of the three is meaningless.

So standards based grading is great if you just want to get through school, but for those students who want to excel, it is bewildering and frustrating on every level.

My son was always grade conscious, but when they went to standards based grading, he didn’t understand his grades anymore and nobody could explain them to him. He became frustrated and apathetic because he didn’t understand what was expected of him and what he WAS doing no longer had any meaning.

For the rest of his school career, he just muddled his way through by pleasing the teachers. This ridiculous system taught him to just ‘do as he was told’. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with actually learning (or teaching?) the subject matter – which is what we thought school was for in the first place.

ANOTHER ANNOYANCE: Continue reading

Bully Petition – Transcripts of Public Comments from School Board Mtg.

TranscriptsThe school board held a regular meeting on March 26, 2014 to address the Bully Petition.  One of the things they discussed during the meeting is a survey that was taken at Colville High School. After the board discussed the survey, they turned to the large grouping of community at the meeting for input.

A few interesting notes about the meeting:

– Many ASB students showed up.

– While the room could hold quite a bit more people than it was set up for, I could not get any school board director to organize it so more people could sit down. I asked them to get more chairs because there were people standing up and people spilling out into the hallways. I asked Director Krista Ohrtman to help get more chairs so people could sit down and she said she wasn’t sure she had the authority do do that. I asked Sid Green for help and he said, “That’s not my job.” By the way, any director has the authority because it’s their meeting. I have seen many more people sit in that room than what it was set up to accommodate for this night.

In my opinion, the board sure seemed to be trying to keep people out of the meeting, or uncomfortable enough to want to leave. The bully incident was scheduled fairly far down on the agenda and didn’t start for nearly an hour. That means, the board left many people who wanted to speak standing for well over an hour. I consider this reprehensible behavior by the board because you never know when someone has a medical condition that makes it difficult for them to stand. The individuals sitting in the hall had a lot of trouble hearing what was going on in the room and weren’t able to speak. Seems like if the board wanted the discussion to be heard, they would have accommodated everyone equally, but that’s just my opinion.

Incidentally, I have since found that a person can do a “Point of Privilege” and ask the board to accommodate these individuals per the Roberts Rules of Order:

Point of Privilege: Pertains to noise, personal comfort, etc. – may interrupt only if necessary!

I also found this on the Attorney Generals page: http://www.atg.wa.gov/OpenGovernment/InternetManual/Chapter3.aspx#.VIBnlMlS9Rk

While the OPMA allows the public to attend all meetings, it does not allow for the possibility of insufficient space. Presumably, if a nearby location is available, the governing body should move there to allow attendance.

– As an FYI – I gave up my seat for someone else to sit in and sat in the hall for the meeting, so I wasn’t able to speak.

As always, I apologize for mistakes with anyone’s names.

School Board President Sid Green Ok (garbled) go on. (Inviting public comment). Paul?

Paul Brozik One thing I would say would be that – One thing that happened at the high school would be that when doing survey’s with the students is that for one, the teachers take them more seriously and the students take them more seriously to know that there really is an issue in the – possibly by doing this – by putting the (garbled – excessive audience noise on tape) complete.

Sid Green The whole idea is we put the survey out there, whether they take it seriously or not, we can’t force them. You know, we can’t sit behind them and say take it seriously. And you’re going to get that.

Student Plus isn’t the whole idea of there being an issue still kind of speculative at the moment? That was one thing that raised the concern in the first place.

Sid Green Whether there is an issue?

Sid Green That’s …

Sid Green You don’t think there is?

Student I personally don’t. I love all of my teachers, I interact with them amazingly. I have no problems. Continue reading

Bully Post

bullying_01_gopixpic.comI believe bullying in the Colville School District is an issue that needs to be addressed. Bullying can come from students, teachers, staff or administration. If you have a story about bullying that you would like posted, please contact me.

For this first post, I would like to discuss a bully situation that was widely discussed in our community. In February of 2013, a very brave student named Paul Brozik addressed an issue he was having on change.org. I have posted the text of the petition at the bottom of this post along with the link.

I think it’s very important to know how our school board addressed this issue. In short, I believe they buried it.

– The board had a “non” meeting to talk with the public. This means that they spoke with members of the public, but did not have a quorum of the board (3 or more members) attending, so that they did not have to post minutes of the meeting.

– The board spoke with Mr. Brozik and his family about the issue in an executive session. Our board members believe that anything they discuss in executive session may never be talked about again, so this is how I believe they muted themselves.

NOTE: Many public organizations will release minutes of their executive sessions, so it is legal for the public to know what goes on in executive session. If a public records request is submitted for executive session documents, those documents fall under the open public meeting laws and they must be turned over to the public. Unfortunately for the public, our board does not take minutes in executive session and doesn’t share the minutes or the documents – at least they have not shared them with me when I have put in a request.

– The board allowed comments in a public meeting and the subject has never been brought up again.

– I don’t have any information about reprimands of any kind. All I know is the teacher is still teaching at Colville.

I personally like the teacher discussed in this bully incident, so I was disappointed to hear she might be bullying other students. During the “non” meeting/public discussion there were several conversations about teachers that some people thought were bullies and other people thought were great teachers, so there seems to be quite a big divide in some cases with individual teachers.

As children, both my husband and I were bullied by teachers. My children have been bullied by teachers. In my opinion, my family and friends are continually bullied by the Colville administrators and school board, so bullying is one of the reasons I started attending school board meetings regularly. I have started this blog to communicate this information to the community. There have been many times that I see one thing happening, but the public is told another by our district, or the information is buried so the public cannot see it. It’s time to have all sides of the stories are out there for everyone to see. This petition is a huge part of getting the word out to the community. The petition explains the bully incident best and the multitude of comments below the petition add quite a bit to the story of bullying in the Colville school district.

Petition Text and Comments https://www.change.org/p/colville-high-school-fix-take-care-of-unprofessional-teaching-and-unjust-practices-at-chs
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Cancelled Superintendent Search Transcripts

imagesPen_flickr.comI think it’s important for the public to know the reasons why our board members make the decisions they do. So I have transcribed the portion of the November 24, 2014 school board meeting Agenda item 5.05 Superintendent Search. These are the comments by the board that concluded with their decision to cancel a full and open search for a superintendent position.

Sid Green 5.05 Superintendent Search. Sandy?

Sandy Moore Giggles (garbled) you were going to call on me. Like you were going to tell me before hand you were going to call on me. So

Sid Green Absolutely

Sandy Moore So! Superintendent Search. We had a very, I thought,  informative (garbled – but she is speaking about the public forum for Superintendent Selection Process link can be found at bottom of this post). We had a lot of people show up at the auditorium of Colville High School and share their views about where we are with the superintendent search and where we should go. We got a lot of great input. We as a board have not had an opportunity to talk about it since that meeting and this is our first meeting since then and I would like to have this chance to talk among ourselves about where we think we should go from here.

The way I saw (garbled) at the meeting was that we had a series of options.

– One was to hire a search firm and do a national search.

– Another option would be to do a search without hiring a firm so that was another issue we covered.

– We could also offer Mr. Lewis a contract extension but continue to look for another superintendent as was suggested by one member of the audience.

– We could offer Mr. Lewis a new contract for less than three years to give us more opportunity to evaluate where we are

– Or we could offer a full contract.

So I see that as kind of a measure of options out there on the table. I’d be interested in hearing input. I certainly have my own opinion, but I’ll open it up for discussion first. Continue reading