On January 8, 2007, Washington State Governor Gregoire delivered her annual state of the union add`ress citing education as her number one priority in state government. She spent thirty minutes during a joint session of state legislators outlining her early childhood, Math WASL1 and higher education student tuition freeze agenda. Oakville School District has higher aspirations, to become a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School district. This will occur by tapping the natural talents and environment right before our eyes rather than from state mandates.
Dr. Brian Metke quickly sized up the administrative talent within the district and, in the summer of 2006, recommended an administrative team that required the addition of an experienced fiscal officer. Accommodating this opening required that existing administrators take advantage of their instructional expertise whereby EACH principal has an active leadership role in both administrative and instructional practices by returning part-time in the classroom. Long time math and business teacher, Mr. Tom Phimister, was also recommended by the high school principal, to assume the middle school helm as a ''teaching principal'' to match the elementary and high school principal/teacher assignments. This fits one unique blue ribbon philosophy that ''administrators should be teaching and teachers should be given more administrative responsibility'' throughout the district. This philosophy fits the small rural class size of Oakville School District2 and sets a proper example for other school organizations that ''teaching comes first'' while support services are indeed secondary to direct student instruction (all school personnel are educators).
The Oakville School District operational budget received an additional boost this past year in the Spring '06 passage, with only a six vote local mandated majority margin, of a $ 125,923 each, two year supplemental levy. This can be attributed to a determined team effort3 in prescribing a sound 50/50 general/capital outlay fund to enhance K-3 staff while communicating a renewed pledge to paying back a $ 79,000 inter-district capital transfer loan. A capital projects scoreboard was erected outside the elementary school to tabulate project progress to the public for neglected plant projects that include new roof, bus, carpet, heaters, sidewalk, kitchen, well, and lights.
The 2006-07 school budget now provides student opportunity for real, authentic student experiences across ALL grade levels ranging from community K-3 library field trip, 4-6 music concerts, 7-9 Puget Sound explorations and 10-12 summer work and trip abroad student excursions. These opportunities occurred because classified and administrative staff agreed to no salary increases and matching grants were aggressively located for each class level endeavor.
Additionally, stabilized student enrollment4 now ensures consistent state funding enabling three staff members5 to be added, fall of 2006, to partially replace overall staff loss in 2005.
To retrieve additional revenue, timely Title VII (Indian Education), HOST reading specialist supplemental grants, Gear Up, as well as a competitive $100,000 state facility upgrade roofing project spearheaded by the elementary principal and 2151 Century Coordinator6 were submitted and approved resulting in an additional $190,000 to the district.
Unfortunately, past internal fiscal discord accompanied by miscommunication in the fiscal realities of the district, along with the misunderstanding surrounding the expectations and components of an ''eight hour work day'' has promoted a passive collective bargaining relationship with certified staff presently working without a collective bargaining agreement. The December 31, 2006, county treasurer's balance for the district is only $ 28,509. Fortunately, to date, due to creative monthly fund juggling placements, Oakville SD has not acquired any loan interest bearing warrant charges from the county treasurer's office.
While the financial outlook is stabilized, student performance record is mixed. For the first time all three Oakville Schools are listed on the federal Average Yearly Progress (AYP) list. Overall district records reveal poor third grade student achievement, middle school student attendance and math performance, and low high school graduation rates.
Yet, under these handicapping conditions, 2006 senior performance is noteworthy. For the second time, through the special efforts of senior advisors,7 required senior project exhibits were presented to the community and staff as a condition for receiving a high school diploma. The middle school and elementary schools followed suit in holding graduation exercises to celebrate significant benchmark student performances. These building level right-of-passage ceremonies will institutionalize higher student expectations, K-12.
Additionally, summer work and remedial opportunities for sophomore students are prescribed as this is the first class in Washington State history required to test satisfactorily in reading, writing and math WASL scores. Now the majority have already met this requirement.
We have received feedback regarding the Effective Schools,8 ''Wednesday Block'' literacy and elementary ''WOW'' alternative class and staff development opportunities. Ongoing testing, through various assessment and survey instruments, are regularly conducted to monitor student advancement, overall program effectiveness and adjustment.
One major goal is to better promote and participate in Chehalis Tribal social and education events hosted at the reservation. Proposed statewide Native American curriculum authored in partnership with Evergreen College and the Tribe, will go a long way in fostering a better understanding of cultural as well as academic expectations. Only through a respectful partnership can we provide the best educational opportunities for all students under our combined jurisdictions.
Recognizing that existing district policy is over two decades old the board, with Washington School Board Association guidance, began the review, revision, and adoption of sections 1000 (Board) and 6000 (Support Services) of district polices. The goal is to have all policy sections upgraded in accordance with present state and federal statutes by summer of 2008.
There is no doubt in this educator's mind that Oakville School District's future is bright. Most school settings would be envious of our small adult-student ratio and vast building space with which to provide multiple, authentic, education experiences to our youth. Given all of this, Oakville should continue to progress to the forefront of excellence within the state of Washington.