Each month, Dr. Zorn reaches out to our business community via the Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce newsletter with information about the successes and challenges of our public schools.

The improvement of student achievement is the primary goal of Longview Public Schools.  However, we are increasingly aware that for some of our students we must first address their behavioral and emotional challenges if we are to have success increasing their academic achievement levels.

This is why we have instituted a Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) approach throughout our schools.  The PBIS core belief is that students must be taught what specific behaviors are expected. It also stresses that it is most effective to view student misbehavior as a learning deficit that must be filled.

Despite PBIS actions, we frequently deal with student behaviors whose solutions lie outside of the proactive management structures we have in place. We are working towards more effectively addressing this area of concern, with the knowledge that professional intervention is required to meet the needs of our behaviorally-challenged students.  To secure this support we are exploring the expansion of partnerships with local school districts, mental health providers, medical professionals, and community based organizations.

Through a partnership between Educational Service District 112 and all Cowlitz County school districts, the Quest Academy will be opening in the Fall of 2016.  It is a day treatment program designed to meet the behavioral, emotional, and educational needs of our students with the most extreme behavioral and mental health challenges.

Longview Public Schools is also partnering with Columbia Wellness to provide school-based mental health services. Through this partnership, Medicaid-eligible students receive mental health therapy with trained mental health professionals at school.  This approach is of great value to our students and the school community.  Our primary challenge with this project has been recruiting skilled mental health professionals to provide the services.

Through our work with a number of groups and organizations such as the Child Wellness Coalition, Youth and Family Link, The Healthy Living Collaborative, Strengthening Families Program, Cowlitz County, Longview Parks and Recreation and local family health practitioners, we are creating partnerships that show great promise in better serving our students with the most challenging issues.  We are grateful for these partnerships as we work towards our shared goal of helping our children to be ready to learn and achieve.

Internally, our district has made the expansion of school–based social/behavioral services a priority.  Our hope is that, as funding becomes available, we will be able to provide additional personnel focused upon meeting the social and behavioral needs of our students.  This focused support and the partnerships described above will help us better address the needs of our students, resulting in increased student achievement levels and reduced dropout rates.