All of the Edmonds School Board members present at Tuesday night’s meeting spoke with shaky voices and glassy eyes during board member comments. Moments before, they had accepted the resignation of Susan Phillips, board member since 2007 and current president of the board.
Phillips had been absent for a number of the previous meetings. In her letter to Superintendent Nick Brossoit, she explained that her husband, Ron, is currently facing heath challenges. She is now resigning from the school board so that she can focus all of her attention on her husband.
“I understand that the Board by resolution is officially excusing my absences from the Board meetings due to this family priority and that support is very thoughtful,” she wrote. “Still, I find myself wanting to be able to bring better focus of my attention and energy on my husband’s health and supporting my family. In this light, I am trying to shed as many other responsibilities as I can.”
Board members present at the meeting expressed their appreciation for Phillips and the work she has done on the board.
“She set the stage as a really active member of the board,” board member Gary Noble said. “She does a wonderful job and I am very, very sad to see her leave.”
“She always had a big global picture of the schools and did so much work on behalf of our community,” added board member Diana White. “She really didn’t get the recognition that she deserved—well, she didn’t really want it.”
At the end of the meeting, Brossoit distributed papers to the board explaining the process of identifying and appointing a new board member, which must be complete within 90 days. The board will discuss its next steps at the next meeting. At White’s suggestion, the board agreed to identify which projects Phillips considers to be her top priorities so that they can continue working on those in her honor.
The heavy atmosphere at the end of the meeting was in stark contrast to the celebration that opened the meeting. As a part of Classified Appreciation Week, proclaimed by Gov. Jay Inslee to be March 10-14, the board recognized 10 classified employees within the district who had been nominated by their principal or administrator. The audience space of the room was full of people desiring to share the moment with the honored staff.
Those recognized hold various positions, from receptionist to head custodian to paraeducator, but all were described as being indispensable to their school and as people who frequently go above and beyond their job description to bring the highest level of service to their constituents.
The first of four reports updated the board on workforce diversity and was given by Debby Carter, executive director of human resources. She reported that, through targeted outreach, the district has been able to increase minorities in its applicant pools by 3 percent, which is important because getting people of color to apply for these positions is the first step in hiring them.
A report by Assistant Superintendent Patrick Murphy discussed a study that reveals that taking an AP-level class and not being successful does not necessarily improve your chances of getting into college when compared to taking a regular level class and doing well.
“The number-one reason you should take an AP class is because you’re interested or want to learn more about a subject,” he said.
However, he did say the study indicates that colleges will note avoidance or or dropping an AP class. If you are enrolled in an AP class and are struggling, the student should seek help before dropping the class. Also, if there is a subject that a student is very interested in but there is no AP class offered for it, students should seek out other avenues, such as enrolling in a class at a community college. Colleges like students that push themselves in a subject that interests them, he noted.
Jean Mirabal, executive director of student services, updated the board on the consolidation of intensive services programs at Edmonds and Seaview elementary schools. The consolidation will be delayed until the fall of 2015 to minimize the number of students directly effected by the consolidation. Additionally, affected students will be given the option of following the program to the new school or to stay in their original school for their remaining elementary years with appropriate support.
Currently, Mirabal’s recommendation is to move the Edmonds Elementary School intensive services program to Seaview Elementary, as this would impact the fewest students and Seaview has more room to accommodate additional students.
Lara Drew, executive director of student learning, announced that the Smarter Balanced assessments will be given to students starting March 18 on the Chromebooks recently purchased by the district. Although she is not concerned about the technology aspect of the test, she acknowledged that this will be very new for the students and that the district will have a lot to learn from the students who take these tests.
– By Natalie Covate