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Graduation rates, work readiness, and healthy schools

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.

Below is a reprint of a guest editorial that appeared in The Daily News on September 23, 2018. 

It has been great getting students back in the classroom over the last two weeks.  The positive interaction between our staff and students and the excellent instruction being provided is indicative of the quality education our schools are committed to providing the students we serve.

When I talk with folks in the community they often ask, “How is the school district doing?” The short answer is the district is doing well – and focused on getting better every day.

An indicator of this success is found in the school district’s graduation rate improvement over the past five years.   During this period, our district’s graduation rate has risen from 72% to 88%.  Graduation rates from the past two years have risen above state averages and this year’s rate includes a 6% increase at Mark Morris High School, a 13% increase at RA Long High School and an impressive 46% increase at Discovery High School, our alternative school.

The importance of the high school diploma can’t be understated.  It is our student’s ticket to opportunities in the work force, vocational training, and 2 and 4 year colleges.  We will continue to focus upon providing courses and experiences for our students that meet their unique interests, needs, and career aspirations.

We are proud of the work of our staff and students.  Their hard work and commitment has resulted in gains that we can all be proud of.

While the district has been increasing graduations rates, we’ve also focused on another important aspect of getting a diploma – being “work ready”.  A work ready high school graduate is a young person who can enter the labor market with basic marketable job skills.  To help achieve work ready status students are exposed to career information in middle school.  At this point the goal is to help young people start to form ideas about what type of jobs might interest them.

As kids get to high school the district offers career pathways organized into six broad areas of study. The six pathways include agriculture and natural resources, arts and communications, business and information technology, engineering and manufacturing, health sciences and human services.

From the six broad areas of study coursework is further broken down into sixteen “career clusters”. The career clusters are jobs grouped by similarity. For example, a student can choose to take the manufacturing pathway focusing on construction trades. The student would take specific coursework including classes in manufacturing foundations, computer aided drafting, pre-apprenticeship skills, Microsoft IT academy and more to prepare them to be work ready.

We’re proud of improved graduation rates and efforts to produce work ready young adults, but we also recognize the need for improved programs and educational opportunities.

On October 3rd the district will hold a grand opening event for its new pre-apprenticeship program. The event will be held at Mark Morris High School at 5:30 p.m. The pre-apprenticeship program will prepare students for careers working in the trades after high school through specific coursework and application. The new pre-apprenticeship program will give graduates more career options for a brighter future.

In addition, three Longview schools were the only schools in Washington recognized by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for creating a “culture of health” – R. A. Long and Mark Morris High Schools along with Olympic Elementary recently won these awards.  Creating a culture of health in schools is more than serving nutritious food. A healthy culture means healthy food, exercise, community involvement and a focus on the health of both students and staff members.  The result of a healthy school culture is students performing better on tests, getting better grades, attending school more often, behaving better in class, and earning a high school diploma.

We appreciate your support of Longview Public Schools. The district is working extremely hard to give each child we serve the best education possible.

2018-10-08T13:06:43+00:00October 8th, 2018|

Bud Black: from the Monarchs to the majors

The schools and community of Longview, Washington have long supported the development of outstanding individuals whose contributions have enriched the city, state, nation, and world.  We would like to take some time to highlight some of these notable individuals and the nurturing community from which they came. These bright spots in the Longview community exemplify the values that the Longview School District aims to instill in all of its students and serve as beacons of integrity, passion, and brilliance. Here, we introduce the next of many notable Longview Luminaries.

A 2016 headline in the Denver Post describes Mark Morris graduate Bud Black as a “baseball gentleman, fiery competitor.”

The personality profile that follows introduces the 1975 Mark Morris High School graduate as the Colorado Rockies’ new manager, sharing his varied experiences in baseball—as player, coach, front office special assistant, coach and manager.

The beginnings of Black’s career are in Longview. At Mark Morris he excelled at baseball and basketball, and at Lower Columbia College he still holds school records from the two seasons he played as a left-handed pitcher. Black then took on the wider world, transferring to San Diego State University where, the story goes, he got a scholarship to play after slipping a note under the coach’s door asking for a spot on the team.

That determination paid off. After two successful seasons at SDSU, where Black earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and was later inducted into the SDSU Aztec Hall of Fame, he played 15 seasons in the major leagues—Seattle, Cleveland, Toronto, San Francisco and the Kansas City Royals, when they won the 1985 World Series.

Since retiring from playing, Black has spent some time working in the front offices of the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Angels, but has found his place closer to the game. He served as pitching coach for the Angels, including the team’s 2002 World Series championship, and was manager for the San Diego Padres for eight seasons. He received the National League Manager of the Year award in 2010, after guiding the Padres to a second-place finish in the National League West.

In 2017, Black led the Rockies to their first postseason appearance since 2009 and was a National League Manager of the Year finalist.

Bud Black’s career reflects the hardworking, tenacious spirit he exhibited while a Longview student and that shines through many successful Longview graduates.

2018-09-27T15:45:25+00:00September 27th, 2018|

District seeks Strategic Plan Review Committee members

Longview Public Schools is currently seeking applicants interested in serving on the Strategic Plan Review Committee.  Committee members must be residents of the Longview School District and have an interest in long-term improvement efforts for our schools.

To apply, either:

  • Complete the online application and submit it electronically, or
  • Download the application and return it to the District office, 2715 Lilac St, Longview WA 98632

Applications are due Sept. 28.

2018-10-11T13:01:05+00:00September 11th, 2018|

First day of school is planned for Tuesday, Sept. 11

Longview Public School employees will return to work on Monday, September 10, 2018.

After a day of preparation, the district plans to have children return to school on Tuesday, September 11.

We recognize you may have questions about the start of school and the upcoming school year. Check for your answers here, or contact your child’s school.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to seeing kids back in class on Tuesday, September, 11.

Sincerely,

Dr. Dan Zorn
Superintendent
Longview Public Schools

2018-09-11T14:08:49+00:00September 7th, 2018|

School starts Tuesday, Sept. 11 – parent FAQ’s

A letter to the community from Dr. Dan Zorn,

I want to begin by acknowledging that the past few weeks have been very difficult for all of us at Longview Public Schools.

At a time when we are typically focused on welcoming children back to the classroom, we’ve been immersed in contract negotiations and work stoppages.  It’s been a challenging time for the district and members of the union.

Now that a labor agreement has been reached and school is starting, our teams are focused on healing and returning our attention to helping children learn and grow.

It’s my aim to work closely with teachers and the community to make our district better than ever and mend relationships that need attention.

I know we will reunite around our goal of providing our kids with the best education possible.

Sincerely,

Dr. Dan Zorn
Superintendent
Longview Public Schools

Q. When will school start?
A. Schools will resume classes on Tuesday, September 11.

Q. When will school start for my kindergartner?
A. A representative from your child’s school will call to schedule a WaKIDS interview for the first three days of school.  Your child’s school will have more information about the gradual start for kindergarten students.

Q. Where is my child’s bus stop?
A. Check the district’s bus routing system by visiting longviewschools.com, click on “families”, click on “boundaries and busing”, then click the green Versatrans e-link graphic. Input your child’s grade, home address and zip code and a detailed map showing the bus stop location will be visible in yellow.

Q. When will class schedules be posted?
A. Elementary rosters will be posted by 3 p.m. the day before school starts. Middle and high school schedules can be picked up in the office on the first day of class.

Q. The missed school days will mean a new school year calendar.  When will that be available? 
A. The new school calendar year is not available at this time, wel’l email the updated calendar to parents and post online. We hope to have the schedule out by Wednesday, September 12.

Q. Will Wednesday’s still be early release? 
A. Yes.

Q. When will my schools open house be?
A. Visit your school’s website for detailed information on open house dates and times.

Q. When do classes start for the Broadway campus?
A. Classes will NOT start on Tuesday, September 11 for the Broadway campus. Families will get an email and telephone message detailing what day classes will start.

Have more questions?  Please contact your child’s school.

2018-09-17T09:35:10+00:00September 7th, 2018|

Parent letter – Schools closed Friday, September 7

Dear Families,

Longview Public Schools will be closed Friday, September 7, due to ongoing mediation with the teachers union.

If you wish to see the latest offer to the teachers or want more information on the status of the work stoppage click here.

Free lunch will be served weekdays to anyone 18 and younger from 12 -12:30 p.m., at Monticello Middle School and continue as long as schools are closed.

Sincerely,

Dr. Dan Zorn
Superintendent
Longview Public Schools

2018-09-06T16:27:03+00:00September 6th, 2018|

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I find out if school is back in session?

A: Updates are posted each day to the Work Stoppage Update page. Information about whether or not school is in session the next day will be posted by 5 p.m. so that families can make plans for childcare.

Q: What is the mediation process and how is it helping this situation?

A: Mediation is an informal dispute resolution process. The mediator’s role is to guide the parties (in this case, Longview Public Schools and Longview Education Association (LEA)) toward their own resolution. Through joint sessions and separate caucuses with parties, the mediator helps both sides define the issues clearly, understand each other’s position and move closer to resolution.

A mediator is appointed by the state of Washington and meetings between the two parties needing resolution assistance is dependent on the availability of the mediator. In this situation, with many districts throughout the state requiring mediator services, mediator time with each district may be limited. Longview’s mediation sessions are based on the availability of the mediator.

Q: Why are sporting events still taking place even though classes have been cancelled?

A: There are a few reasons. Coaches work under a different contract than teachers and are not in salary negotiations. Longview Public Schools and LEA mutually agreed that sports activities would continue even in the event of a work stoppage in an effort to help participating students maintain healthy, scheduled activities. Additionally, if a sporting event is cancelled, there is no opportunity to make up this games/match against another school that may not be affected by a work stoppage.

Q: There have been rumors that the district added more administrator positions. Is this true? How many administrative positions were added to Longview Public Schools this year compared to last?

A: No, this is not accurate. Only one administrator position, a director of curriculum, was added this school year. The position directly supports teachers and students by ensuring essential content and skills for each grade level and course are put in place; and that teachers and students receive updated instructional resources that support student learning, and professional development for teachers. Other administrative positions are not new staff but rather reclassification of existing positions.

Q: Why are some school districts giving teachers a bigger pay increase than others?

A: The amount of money that districts have to bargain with is not the same across the board. School districts will not receive the same amount of funding for the same amount of teachers. This means that one district’s ability to provide a salary increase may be dramatically less than another district located right next door. While all school districts are set to receive a standard amount of funding per teacher, some districts are set to receive additional funding based on the new formula set up by the Legislature.  Longview received zero dollars of additional funding, while other districts revenue increased as much as 24 percent.

Q: Where is the money that was allocated to Longview from the McCleary “fix” going?

A: The one-time, $6 million dollars Longview Public Schools received in 2018-19 as a result of the McCleary decision is allocated in the budget as follows. These numbers have been independently verified by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI):

  • Teacher Salaries: $3,043,272
  • Support Staff Salaries (para-educators, bus drivers, food service workers): $1,021,138
  • Staff Benefits: $2,221,763

Q: Why can’t the district just give teachers a raise now and then evaluate future costs later?

A: Longview Public School revenue is projected to increase $6 million in 2018-19, but it is expected to go down by $2 million the following year. Over a third of Washington’s school districts are going to lose 50% or more of their local levy funding due the new school funding system.

Districts are required to plan ahead: the Legislature added a requirement for districts to create a four-year budget plan to help school districts navigate changes brought about by the new McCleary legislation and to ensure sustainability. For months now, districts have been working with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and their Educational Service Districts to determine the level of salary increase that they can afford on a long-term basis. Each district must continue to make a thorough examination of what they can afford based on their own unique situation, regardless of agreements being reached in other districts.

* Information obtained from the Washington State School Directors’ Association

2018-08-31T16:39:22+00:00August 31st, 2018|

Career Pathway broadens Career Technical Education reach

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.

Over the past several years, Longview Schools have worked to ensure that courses are offered to our students that align effectively with their career aspirations. To this end, we have adopted a Career Pathway model in which students are able to identify course options that will meet their future career preparation needs. As part of these efforts, we are now providing more Career Technical Education (CTE) course offerings to our students. As a result, we have seen our enrollment in CTE course offerings increase by 28 percent over the past three years.

Since 2016 we have upgraded our manufacturing lab and equipment to meet industry standards and acquired a virtual welder to augment the welders already available to our students. Technology and software used in our business programs have been upgraded and our construction trades and technology course was redesigned to more effectively reflect the workforce needs of our community and region. This fall, we are excited about the opportunities our newly developed Pre-Apprenticeship in Building Trades program will provide our district’s students. We are also adding courses in audio productions, culinary arts, and medical science careers. These new offerings augment the more than 25 other courses previously designed to meet our students’ career needs. We have aligned many of our courses with those offered at Lower Columbia College so that career based options can be taken in high school to simultaneously earn high school and college credit.

As we look toward the future, we have plans that include expanded industry certification availability in our CTE programs, further alignment of our pathways and courses to those in Lower Columbia College, and continued work with the local business community to expand our partnerships to include more work-based learning, internship, and pre-apprenticeship opportunities for our students. We recognize the importance of exposing our students to the trades, industries, and businesses within our community. Consequently, we are working hard to help our students who wish to immediately enter the workforce to attain the skills and experiences to do so.

We are proud of the work we have done to better meet the future career needs of our students, particularly those who do not plan to attend a four-year university upon graduation. We also recognize the importance of continuing to improve upon the career options provided our students and are anxious to work with the Kelso/Longview business community to assure that this happens.

2018-08-23T13:44:11+00:00August 23rd, 2018|

Summer training prepares staff for coming year

staff trainingSummer vacation is in full swing, but Longview staff are busy preparing for the coming school year.  Representatives from Broadway Learning Center and Kessler, St. Helens, and Northlake elementaries recently attended a week-long Conscious Discipline class.

Select Longview staff have received Conscious Discipline training since 2015.  This behavior management program focuses on student self-management and creating a ‘school family’ to enable student learning.

The seventeen attendees – a mix of administrators, teachers, and classified staff – were able reinforced strategies to connect with students, create structures, and work with students showing emotional distress.

“This group can’t wait to get started again in August,” said Kessler Elementary principal and class participant Noma Hudson.

 

2018-07-10T15:28:41+00:00July 10th, 2018|

Graduation: Revel in the beauty that surrounds and seek the joy that can be found

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.

Last month, Longview high schools graduated 437 seniors in front of proud family members and friends. It was my honor to address the crowds gathered on Saturday, June 16 at Longview Memorial Stadium for Mark Morris and R. A. Long high schools commencement ceremonies. Exercises for our Discovery High School students were held Tuesday, June 12 at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. I am incredibly proud of all of our students and staff and would like to share the message that I shared at this year’s graduation ceremonies.

On behalf of the Longview Public Schools, I’d like to welcome each of you to this graduation ceremony.  This is an incredibly important day for our students.  Their high school graduation is their first step into a bright and boundless future.  Thank you for all that each of you have done to support them in this accomplishment.

As I reflect upon the world our students will enter, I would describe it as a place of challenge, discord, beauty, and incredible joy.  I challenge our graduates to enter this world ready to persevere through the challenges, engage respectfully with whom you might disagree, revel in the beauty that surrounds, and seek the joy that can be found.

Beauty and Joy are everywhere but are often veiled by the challenges faced, and the conflict experienced in our daily lives.  Breaking through this veil requires a steadfast commitment to actively seek and purposefully choose to find the beauty and joy of life.

Beauty can be found in the family and friends held dear, in the forests and water that surrounds, in the music heard, in the gardens planted, in the friendships made, or in the art created.

Joy can be found in the skip of a happy child, in the sunlight on our backs, in the sound of the rain on the roof on a cold winter night, in the smile of a friend.  It can be found in the exhaustion that comes from a hard and honest day’s work, in the love of a family, in the books read, in the lessons learned, or in the relationships created.

Through a focus upon persevering through challenges, engaging respectfully, reveling in beauty, and seeking joy, the promise that this world holds can be realized.

I challenge each graduate to remain steadfast in your resolve, apply the lessons you have learned, and remain open to the beauty and joy that surrounds you.  Today, enjoy your celebrations, embrace the love you share, and accept the adulation that comes from the achievement and perseverance that is represented by the high school diploma you have earned.  As you move on, a beautiful and joyful world awaits if you simply step into that world with a willing desire to seek and find the beauty and joy that is abundantly present.

Good luck and please be safe this weekend.  Thank you.

 

2018-06-25T12:58:49+00:00June 25th, 2018|
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