This is a proposed three-year property tax levy. Voters in District 81 are being asked to approve an excess levy of $4.46 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which would raise an estimated $217.5 million annually for maintenance and operations beginning in 2013 to supplement the district’s state funding. The school district’s current levy of $3.94 per $1,000 of assessed property value is expiring. If approved by voters, the owner of a $150,000 home, for example would pay $669 per year. A copy of the Spokane School Board’s resolution authorizing this levy request can be found here. Information about the levy compiled by District 81 can be found here.
Jurisdiction: Spokane Public Schools District 81
Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Nancy Stowell announced her resignation at the school board meeting Wednesday night. Her last day will be June 30. Stowell has worked in the district for more than 40 years, and became interim superintendent in 2007 and superintendent in 2008 after a national search.
An October debate for school board and mayoral candidates at Ferris High School was promoted as student-led and -run, from start to finish. But few, if any, of the questions were written by students; instead, many were submitted by a handful of adults with ties to the Republican Party, leaving at least two candidates who took part feeling duped, they said.
Bored with his West Valley High School classes, Harrison Calligan thought skipping school with friends might be more challenging. The teen figured out how to block the school’s numbers from his home phone so his mother couldn’t be alerted to his absence, and after lunch he’d leave school.
Eighth-grader Seairra Rice comes from a family of wrestlers, but she’s the first girl in her family to participate in the sport. “She wanted to show the boys she could do what they could do,” said her dad, Chris Rice, who watched his daughter during a recent wrestling practice at Spokane’s Chase Middle School. “She took a lot of flak from the girls at first for doing it, but she pushed through.”
Spokane Public Schools’ board agreed Wednesday to ask voters in February to consider paying more taxes in a levy to compensate for potential state cuts to K-12 education. The region’s largest district is not alone.
Britain Webb has been homeless twice while attending University High School. Domestic violence forced the 17-year-old’s mother and siblings out of their Spokane Valley apartment the first time, Webb said. The second time, their house burned down. Through all his turmoil, school has been a constant. “Going to school is a very big part of life in general,” Webb said. “That’s how you get through it. … Being at school was pretty much the highlight of my day.”
School buses could become scarce in parts of Washington as the state grapples with budget shortfalls. Among the list of cuts Gov. Chris Gregoire is considering: State funds to help transport students to and from school could be eliminated. Although not one of Gregoire’s preferred cuts, it would save $220 million and is on her list of ideas to deal with a $2 billion budget shortfall.
Campaign contributions for elected offices in state, county and city governments are limited to a maximum of $1,600. But smaller political races, such as school board, fire commissioner, park board and water district commissioner, have no limits. Washington voters in 1992 overwhelmingly approved restrictions on donations to legislative candidates and the law was expanded last year to include all county, city council and mayoral candidates.
The Spokane Education Association, the union for more than 3,000 Spokane Public Schools employees, placed ads featuring local candidate endorsements in a publication distributed in the district’s elementary schools – a violation of state law and district policy. In September’s issue of the Kids News, the union’s monthly ad had an explanation of why the union endorses candidates and listed the union’s choices for school board and Spokane City Council. In October, the same space displayed the three endorsed candidates’ answers to three questions.
Despite failing nearly every class since the sixth grade, Tyler Thompson is now a freshman at a Sandpoint high school. When his mother questioned school administrators in two North Idaho school districts about why they were continuing to send her son on to the next grade level every year, she remembers their explanations focused on his size and age – he’s 15 years old, 6-foot-5 and built like a linebacker.
Spencer Enquist knows working in Shadle Park High School’s student-run espresso shop could give him an edge over other applicants at Starbucks. At Bagpipers Bistro, the 17-year-old has learned the importance of customer service; how to operate a computerized cash register and handle money; how to work an espresso machine and make coffee drinks; and the necessity of cleanliness.
Megan Elliott is an experienced elementary school teacher, but she wasn’t prepared for an overcrowded kindergarten class. “We are just actually getting to the point where we can function,” said Elliot, who has 29 children in her class at Spokane’s Whitman Elementary School. “It will be easier when the class is smaller.”
Nutrition directors in Spokane Public Schools, Mead and Coeur d’Alene school districts have worked hard in recent years to make breakfast and lunch options better for students. Pizza, for example, is one of the most popular choices for elementary school lunches; to make it healthier nutritionists use whole wheat or whole-grain crust and low-fat mozzarella. That’s why school nutritionists here feel like they’re prepared for new National School Lunch Program guidelines that go into effect early next year. The program will closely follow new federal nutrition guidelines, which suggest people eat more fruits and vegetables, eat 50 percent more whole grains and switch to fat-free or 1 percent milk.
Students attending Rogers High School might be groaning a little louder than other Spokane teens about the fast-approaching school year. That’s because they start earlier than any other high school in the region’s largest district. Additionally, each school day has been extended by 30 minutes.
The percentage of students taking remedial math classes at Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College is an eye-popping statistic. Of the 2009-’10 graduates from Spokane Public Schools who were admitted to the community colleges, 86.8 percent required remedial math after taking placement tests. For Central Valley School District students it was 92.4 percent, and for Mead School District students, 81.1 percent.
Spokane Public Schools adopted its 2011-’12 budget Wednesday, but reaching the finish line was a challenge, as district officials tried to offset a $13.1 million shortfall. “We certainly have experience reducing our budget,” said Mark Anderson, associate superintendent. But this has been the “toughest budget year, next to the year we had to close an elementary school.”
Spokane Public Schools adopted its 2011-12 budget Wednesday, but reaching the finish line was a challenge as district officials tried to offset a $13.1 million shortfall.
Just two weeks away from adoption of Spokane Public Schools’ 2011-’12 budget, dozens of instructional assistants’ jobs remain on the chopping block. The district administration has balanced the budget and plugged the $13 million hole, and on Wednesday recommended bringing back up to 40 of the 59 positions – all of which are designated to the classrooms of children with mild learning disabilities. The state gave the district $500,000 more than anticipated for special education.
Five Spokane residents want the chance for a voice on Spokane Public Schools’ board of directors. The candidates’ platforms range from one or two issues, such as math curriculum, to a broader view of holding the administration accountable for overall student achievement.
Staci Vesneske, Spokane Public Schools’ assistant superintendent of human resources, is leaving to take a job in a Las Vegas school district.