Students in the Edmonds School District will be able to earn a varsity letter in community service this year.
Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Patrick Murphy briefed the School Board about the new program during Tuesday’s School Board meeting.
The varsity letter in community service was a byproduct of the District’s decision not to retain the senior project. The Board and District sought ways to continue to provide incentives for students to participate in community service, which was a component of the senior project, Murphy said.
The program is administered by the United Way of Snohomish County and does not cost the District anything. Students will apply through the United Way and their hours are verified by community volunteers.
Students would benefit by being able to list the letter/community service award on college, job and scholarship applications.
Murphy talked to some of the District’s career specialists about the program.
“They’re excited,” Murphy said. “This is just one more thing in their tool chest.”
Two other school districts in Washington and at least one in Michigan have similar programs. Students in the Edmonds School District must complete 145 hours of volunteer service in 12 months.
“It’s about the same amount of time that student-athletes spend on a varsity sport,” Murphy said.
There are other guidelines to ensure that students don’t double dip with their required service hours for a class for graduation. Students must also have at least a 2.0 GPA.
The participation among the students in other districts varies and seems to be related to the degree school staff promotes the program.
Murphy acknowledged that the program doesn’t supplant the senior project and added that “this is an ongoing conversation that our Strategic Direction Committee is going to be having.”
Murphy also discussed the District’s High School and Beyond Plan, which also was a component of the senior project. The High School and Beyond Plan still remains a state graduation requirement.
The District has been looking at beefing up its offering with a web-based program called Naviance. The District was considering two options and the consensus was that Naviance was preferred.
The program focuses on four areas: Career, college, personal/social and academic. Some of elements of Naviance the District already is doing but others would be new to the District. The Northshore, Everett and Shoreline school districts use Naviance.
One of the questions the District is debating is who would be in charge of the program/where would it be housed.
Over five years, Naviance costs about $300,000 with start-up costs of $80,000. The decision to purchase the Naviance might have to be made before the District’s typical budgeting process, which was part of the reason Murphy was bringing the issue to the Board on Tuesday.
Boardmembers noted that the cost of the program is significant and they wanted to be sure that the program was feasible and that staff would be able to implement at least some of the elements next year if the District goes ahead with it.
Murphy said some counselors are clamoring for the program, while others expressed similar concerns to the Board.
“If we do this, it needs to be good,” Murphy said. “Somebody needs to own it.”
Murphy plans to come back to the Board with more information and the Board is expected to make a decision on Naviance before this year’s winter break.
In other Board news:
– Executive Director of Student Learning Lara Drew reported on the survey results on whether parents were interested in only receiving an electronic report card.
Most parents replied that “they really still were interested in getting a paper report card,” Drew said.
Almost 59 percent replied that if the District posted their student’s report card online, they still wanted a printed report card mailed home.
“Families still want kids to come home with the report cards in hand,” Drew said. “We recommend continuing with paper versions for all students.”
The number of families without email addresses or who declined to provide email addresses were 2,641.
The survey also indicated that families were concerned about the delay in receiving elementary report cards at the end of the academic year in June. The District and the Edmonds Education Association will be meeting to review the elementary process for distributing report cards.
– The Board approved a project and preliminary budget authorization for the playground and parking pavement improvement project at Brier Terrace Middle School. The budget is for $100,000. The 2014 Capital Construction Bond identified this project, which will replace or upgrade damaged and worn out paving at key locations. The Capital Projects Office will initiate preliminary design and cost estimates and upon completion staff will bring a recommendation to the Board for construction budget authorization and a call for bids.
– The District recognized student artists, whose work appeared in the 2014-15 Edmonds School District Artwork Calendar. This was the 23rd year of the student artwork calendar but only the second time it was published in full color. A grant from the Foundation for Edmonds School District allowed the District to publish in full color. The calendar featured the most number of artwork ever.
– By David Pan