Superintendent » Messages to the Community

Messages to the Community

Independent Column Week of 1/22/24

Chewelah School District Seeks Happy Bus Drivers to Greet Students Each Day

One of the benefits of being human is that every day is a new day. Each new day allows us to continue with the good we are doing, make another attempt, or abandon efforts from the previous day. Each day allows us to have a new start to whatever we are trying to accomplish.  What a great way to live! My message today is about something simple but carries a lot of influence in the lives of children.
 
We know that a new day begins best with a smile, a simple sincere recognition, or a small act of kindness.  Although it doesn’t happen as often as we all wish, it would do everyone good if we all got a smile and some kind greeting every day. Our children need this daily routine the most.
 
Educators can never replace parents and families, nor does the education system want to, but the first outside the home contact many of our students have each day is when they get on the bus to go to school. Our bus drivers have this daily responsibility and opportunity to make a difference. They greet and welcome students with a smile or simple questions of concern or care. Our bus drivers know some of the challenges and struggles children face and they are always offering encouragement and best wishes. Children have a similar experience at the end of the day when our bus drivers return them home. The Chewelah School District is seeking happy bus drivers to join our student “welcoming-transportation crew.”
 
Perhaps we hear stories about a bus driver “yelling” at a student. I think many of us can relate. I unfortunately can and I feel guilty now for not following the rules as I should have. We may also hear stories of how bus drivers greet and engage children positively each day. They always give words of support. We all know that teachers know and inspire children but perhaps we may not realize as often that bus drivers do too.
 
The daily routine of greeting, smiling, offering words of encouragement, or best wishes is a common daily routine for Chewelah bus drivers. Would you like to join our Chewelah “welcoming-transportation crew?"
 
The Chewelah School District is seeking five happy bus drivers and/or substitute drivers to greet and welcome children every day. Starting wage is $21.17 and up to 31.23 based on experience. Bus drivers have full health benefits.  Please contact the District Office at 509-685-6800 for more information.

CSD on the Radio

Join us on KCHW 102.7FM on January 17th for a discussion on education.  It will start at approximately 8am.
Flyer for radio program

Independent Column week of September 25, 2023

 

Review & Revise

Sustainable improvement requires reflection, evaluation, and adjustments

During the school year of 2021-2022 the Chewelah School District engaged 29 community and employee stakeholders in a strategic plan development. The results of the committee's work can be viewed on the District’s website. The plan was completed approximately 15 months ago. The time has come for us to review this plan.

The Chewelah School District strategic plan provides direction and focus. In general, strategic plans do not change much because plans of this nature are usually large in scope. The plan also reflects the main purposes of an organization, which, in the case of education, should never change. I can’t imagine a school deciding that student learning is no longer the main purpose.  Nevertheless, within education a plan can provide direction to meet the specific or personal needs of a community. Not all communities have the same needs or culture, nor do they operate under the same conditions or values. This is why strategic plans are essential for organizations to achieve their purposes.

During the years of implementing a strategic plan, however, different conditions can shift. Because conditions or the environments in which we live can change, it's important that plans are reviewed to “keep the main thing the main thing.” (Covey) Some examples specific to the Chewelah School District are that our economy has drastically changed and the social challenges of our students have changed at a faster pace than normal.  Furthermore, the District is in the last year of using the extra funding provided by the federal government when the government imposed the shutdown of our schools. This funding was called Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding or ESSER funds. After this school year the District will no longer have these extra funds. These funds have provided special services and supports that were deficient in our District before the shutdown.

In addition, the Chewelah School District received findings from the CMSi Audit conducted in our District last May.  This audit gave a thorough and careful review of the District’s purpose, initiatives, leadership and best practices in the classroom. It is important that we review these findings from the audit and see where we can apply the recommendations to improve the performance of the District. The strategic plan review will allow us to look at the audit findings and confirm what we are doing right and offer course corrections in areas we need improvement.

The Chewelah School District will review the strategic plan this year. This process will help us to apply the CMSi audit findings, improve policy, revisit our goals, and review resources. One of the many steps in reviewing our strategic plan will be looking at programs and services. We’ll need to evaluate them as well as prioritize them. It is simple to say that they are all important, however the District does not have endless resources. This means we need to prioritize. We would like to hear from you, the Chewelah community, and include your views when we prioritize.

It is not possible to bring everyone together as a community to help us prioritize. Nevertheless, we can hear from everyone if we provide a way to get your feedback. Please take a minute and rank the nine (9) items in order of priority by using this link or QR code. Thank you, Chewelah! https://forms.office.com/r/W2eLAtZuEj


QR code for priorities survey

 

Independent Column week of September 10, 2023

 

Leadership in the Chewelah School District 

 

Developing a culture of meaningful leadership 

 

The Board of Directors for the Chewelah School District sets goals each year. Due to the fact these goals are big in scope, it may take three to five years to achieve them. Big goals do not change much because of the time it takes to achieve them. Nevertheless, updating goals and reviewing goals on a regular basis requires consistent leadership because there are many distractions that make it hard to stay on a course long enough to achieve "big" goals. This is why change can take a long time with pre-established organizations. It is intentional focused leadership, however, that maintains the steady course to obtain success. Once an organization has meaningful goals and those goals are aligned with their purpose and vision, leadership becomes essential for achievement to take root, grow, and produce the fruit or outcomes desired. 

 

The Chewelah Board of Directors has established goals for the coming years. The Board of Directors is seeking feedback about their leadership. Please take five minutes, scan the QR code or copy the link provided and complete the survey. Thank you.  https://forms.office.com/r/n5qYqBt9mb

QR code for survey

Infographic with school board goals

 

Independent Column week of September 3, 2023

 

Chewelah Supports Children and the Chewelah School District 

Sacrifice: An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more worthy or important.  

 

It is a blessing to everyone to be part of a community that supports children. The investment in our children is worth the sacrifices we make. What makes sacrifice more virtuous is when investors see that their resources are used wisely, responsibly, and appropriately. The Chewelah School District hopes that the families and businesses who make sacrifices to support our school facilities see and believe that the District is delivering and meeting their expectations. Among the many sacrifices made, I am specifically referring to the passing of Capital Levies in the Chewelah School District over the last several years.

 

The foundation of prosperous communities is rooted in families. I see sacrifice being synonymous with family. As a father of five children sacrifices are constant and part of raising a family. A family worthy of praise makes sacrifices to serve others as each individual acts responsibly.  Additionally, when families come together and make sacrifices for a specific and worthy cause great things happen in communities. The Chewelah School District is a primary recipient of the good resulting from the sacrifices of families coming together. Because of the continual support of the families and businesses in Chewelah, the Chewelah School District is able to maintain and provide proper care of school facilities for students. 

 

 The Chewelah School District wishes to thank families and business families for coming together and trusting the Chewelah School District to be good stewards of school facilities. 

Past levy projects

Independent Column July 26, 2023:

 

What is the best financial decision the Chewelah School District can make on behalf of the needs of students while considering the current economic hardship in our community?

 

Levies, Capital Levies & Bonds. How much is too much and how little is not enough?

 

Every community faces the same predicament and opportunity as Chewelah every 3-4 years. The Chewelah School District is approaching the season where decisions have to be made about Levies and/or Bonds. Where some may see levies as an opportunity, others may view them as stressful predicaments. On Thursday, August 3 at 6:30pm at the District Office, the Chewelah Board of Directors will engage in an investigative and fact gathering conversation session with Ken Murphy of ALSC Architects and Cory Plager of D.A. Davidson (Finance). These two individuals are experts in their fields. They are coming from Spokane as consultants to help inform, share options, and answer questions. The Chewelah School Districts seeks to obtain the financial facts, to listen to all stakeholders, and develop the best options for the community to choose. The best way to accomplish this goal is to ensure that all decision makers (voters) have the facts and information necessary to give input to the Board of Directors.

 

An additional layer of challenge for the District regarding the levy is the economy. In the last three years we have all experienced significant inflation over a short period of time. Everyone has experienced price increases beyond the norm. I personally don’t remember anything like this since the early 80s. Our current economic situation has created hardship for us all. For the Chewelah School District, we have spent months and years making plans for facility improvements only to find out that the price we were quoted two years ago is now 40% more or higher. Food prices and services have gone up similarly to some degree impacting our home budgets.  Because of the poor state of our economy, the Chewelah School District is having to make tough decisions like everyone else.

 

Recently, the Chewelah School District had to make the decision to put a pause on the project approved by voters in our last Capital Levy to redo the Jenkins parking lot. The cost to remodel our science classrooms went up over 45%. The cost to redo the parking lot went up around 35%.  In order to complete the science classroom remodel we had to cancel our plans to redo the Jenkins parking lot. We have hope, however, of finding grant funds to pay for the parking lot later. Recently the Chewelah School District was awarded a planning grant to apply for another Small Modernization Grant through the State of Washington. The current project of replacing the HVAC system this summer at Jenkins is funded by a 3.5-million-dollar Small Modernization Grant awarded to the District two years ago. With this planning grant we just received the Chewelah School District will be seeking this same grant to complete other major capital projects in the District. We anticipate including the Jenkins parking lot in this grant.

 

Taxes are not fun, nor are they popular topics to discuss, even though we know they are necessary. Nevertheless, it's part of our reality and we must understand our situation together before we can make decisions as a community.  Thomas Jefferson in his 1801 inaugural address made this statement, “But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.” We all share similar principles and have similar interests when it comes to education. Recognizing the value of taxes, we all share our dislike for them as well. Therefore, we share a common predicament.   The Chewelah community is invited to attend the Work Session meeting on August 3rd to listen, ask questions and give input so we ensure that the best decisions are made. We hope to see you there.

CSD will be on the radio!  Join us on 102.7FM on August 16th for a discussion on education.  It will start at approximately 8am.
CSD radio flyer
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