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So far Pat Nuzzo, Communications staff has created 22 blog entries.

Building a safer mouse trap

Recently, students at Ogden Elementary were challenged to use their problem-solving skills to build a mousetrap, but it wasn’t the typical “better” mousetrap. The young would-be engineers were asked to design and build a device that would keep a mouse safe from danger.

The assignment was just one project students have explored in their school’s makerspace. Making, now in its second year at Ogden, engages students in their learning by allowing them to experiment, create and find solutions to problems.

Principal April Whipple and teacher/makerspace coach Rob Harsch shared the Ogden makerspace experience at the March 27 school board meeting. Ogden is a district pilot site for Vancouver Public Schools’ vision of flexible learning.

“Making has a clear focus on the four Cs—collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking—along with project-based learning,” said Whipple. “With this vision, we’re thinking about flexible learning spaces and putting students at the center of their learning.”

The makerspace, a dedicated room outfitted with supplies, tools and workstations, is used by teachers and students on a rotating basis. In addition, a mobile maker kit allows teachers to do project-based learning in the classroom. Everything in the makerspace connects back to learning standards. Professional development provides teachers the capacity to embed the practice across all curricular areas.

“We always try to infuse science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics in everything we do,” said Harsch. “We want our students to fully explore, be creative, invent, tinker and discover who they are in this amazing space.”

Educators at Ogden are looking to the future with construction of their new school only one year away. The new school will have two makerspaces—a “messy” space for design and construction and a clean space for robotics and electronics.

“We are taking what we’ve learned to impact the design of the new Ogden,” said Whipple. “We want to make sure the four Cs, project-based learning and students are at the center of learning throughout the building and the curriculum.”

New electronic flyer distribution system coming soon

We have good news!

Vancouver Public Schools is launching a new electronic flyer distribution tool called Peachjar. To view school-approved digital flyers, simply click the “Extra” button on your school’s website. You’ll find it located under your school activities tab.

This system will save our schools tons of paper and reduce copy costs by thousands of dollars. On top of that, posting school flyers in this electronic backpack removes a significant administrative burden from teachers, office staff and volunteers.

No action is required on your part. You will receive a welcome email from our service provider (Peachjar) that includes a username and password. This is provided to give you the opportunity to manage your account and flyer delivery preferences. You do not need to login to receive or view school digital flyers.

To ensure smooth delivery of this communication, we suggest you add VPS@peachjar.com to your email contacts. When you receive your first eflyer, be sure to click “always display images.”

This system is used exclusively for distribution of school-approved flyers. Your email address will not be shared or used for any other purpose. Thank you for supporting our efforts to ensure parents are well informed about school programs, activities, and events.

For more information, please visit flyer distribution on the VPS website.

Designing new schools and upgrading others: It’s all in a day’s work

Bond-funded upgrades and design work for several replacement schools and the new Vancouver iTech Preparatory building are making daily progress throughout the district. An update on the projects was presented to the board of directors at the Nov. 14 school board work session.

Core planning teams from McLoughlin Middle School and Marshall and Ogden elementary schools have been meeting with architects to create preliminary designs of their schools. Careful consideration for the spaces of each school includes input from staff groups representing early learning, special education, teaching and learning, safety and security, maintenance and custodial, nutrition services and family-community resource centers.


Vancouver iTech Preparatory

“Working with the core team is critical,” said Lydia Burns, LSW architect, who shared site, building and floor plans for iTech Prep. She said spaces throughout the new three-level building have been thoughtfully planned to reflect the importance of project-based learning and collaboration for students and teachers. Construction on iTech is planned to begin next summer.


Peter S. Ogden Elementary School

Karen Knauss, LSW architect leading the work at Peter S. Ogden, echoed the importance of working with the core team. Ogden’s design reflects the team’s desire to develop spaces that empower learners, including an outdoor education space separated from play areas. The Ogden team also envisions a school community that is the hub of the neighborhood. The school’s commons area will be both a dining and gathering space for students by day and available for community gatherings after school hours. Construction of Ogden is scheduled to begin next summer.


McLoughlin Middle School and Marshall Elementary School

McLoughlin Middle School and Marshall Elementary will be rebuilt as two separate but connected schools. LSW architect Brent Young explained that the schools will have separate entrances and learning spaces, but share a kitchen and mechanical rooms for efficiency. The McLoughlin/Marshall core teams are designing a space that is welcoming and nurtures a respect for diversity and sense of belonging. Their goal is to create a community within the school while also emphasizing the school as a hub for early learning, parent engagement and family-community resources. Construction of McLoughlin/Marshall is planned to begin next fall.


Lieser and Truman

Other replacement school projects underway are Lieser Campus and Truman Elementary. The current Marshall building will be remodeled after the new Marshall Elementary is completed. The Lieser programs will relocate to the remodeled Marshall school in early 2021. The core team at Truman is in the beginning stages of design work with Bassetti Architects. Construction for Truman is expected to begin sometime during winter 2019.

More upgrades

Upgrades and improvements at other locations are underway throughout the district.

  • Accessible playground surfaces at Chinook and Washington elementary schools
  • New bleachers at Fort Vancouver High School
  • Sidewalk repairs at Hudson’s Bay High School
  • Heating and cooling improvements at Lincoln, Minnehaha and Harney elementary schools
  • Fiber wiring upgrades at the maintenance building

Recently completed upgrades include:

  • Sealing the exterior brick at Alki, Discovery, Gaiser, Jason Lee and Jefferson middle schools
  • Roof replacement at Gaiser Middle School
  • Track resurfacing at Skyview High School
  • Sidewalks at Chinook and Roosevelt elementary schools and Alki Middle School have been repaired; new trees will be planted before winter break

Stay up to date with ongoing projects or subscribe to Inside VPS e-news at vansd.org.

A message from the superintendent

Dear families, guardians and students:

At Vancouver Public Schools, we work hard everyday to ensure that our schools are inviting, respectful and safe learning environments for each student. We want all children and their families to know they are valued members of our culturally rich and diverse learning community.

In light of recent action by President Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, we want to reaffirm our commitment to providing safe and supportive schools.

Our state constitution is clear, stating “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.” All children are entitled to a free public K-12 education, regardless of their citizenship status. The school district does not ask about or know the citizenship status of its students or families and does not report it.

Educating the children and youth of this community is our priority. And our mission—empowering each student to develop the knowledge and essential skills to become a competent, responsible and compassionate citizen—is our ultimate goal.

How we can help
Teachers, counselors, principals and support staff can help reassure students and families about their concerns. If your child is experiencing anxiety and stress, please inform your principal or another administrator. We have dedicated staff members who can help. We want all students to come to school and know that they are safe.

Our values
Vancouver Public Schools and its employees stand together to educate the children and youth of this community. We believe that a free and appropriate education is a right for all children. We teach and learn together, because through education all things are possible.


Superintendent Steve Webb

Un mensaje del Distrito Escolar “Vancouver Public Schools”

Estimadas Familias, Tutores y Estudiantes:

En el Distrito Escolar “Vancouver Public Schools”, trabajamos arduamente cada día para procurar que nuestras escuelas tengan un ambiente acogedor, respetuoso y seguro para cada uno de los estudiantes. Queremos que todos los niños y sus familias sepan que son miembros valiosos de nuestra comunidad de aprendizaje culturalmente rica y diversa.

A la luz de la reciente acción del Presidente Trump para terminar el programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA, por sus siglas en inglés), queremos reafirmar nuestro compromiso de proveer escuelas seguras y solidarias.

Nuestra constitución estatal afirma claramente “Es el deber primordial del estado proveer amplias medidas para la educación de todos los niños que residen en nuestras fronteras, sin distinción o preferencia de raza, color, casta o género.” Todos los niños tienen derecho a una educación gratuita del Kindergarten al 12vo grado, sin importar su estado de ciudadanía. El distrito escolar no pregunta por, ni sabe el estado de ciudadanía de sus estudiantes o familias y no lo reporta.

Nuestra prioridad es la de educar a los niños y jóvenes de esta comunidad. Y nuestra misión—incentivar a cada estudiante a adquirir conocimiento y habilidades esenciales para convertirse en un ciudadano competente, responsable y compasivo—es nuestra máxima meta.

Cómo podemos ayudar
Los maestros, consejeros, directores y personal de apoyo pueden ayudar a calmar las preocupaciones de los estudiantes y familias. Si su niño está sintiendo ansiedad y estrés, por favor informe al director de su escuela o a otro administrador. Tenemos miembros del personal dedicados que pueden ayudar. Queremos que todos los estudiantes asistan a la escuela y que sepan que están seguros y a salvo.

Nuestros valores
El Distrito Escolar “Vancouver Public Schools” y sus empleados permanecen unidos para educar a los niños y jóvenes de esta comunidad. Creemos que una educación gratuita y apropiada es un derecho para todos los niños. Enseñamos y aprendemos juntos, porque por medio de una educación, todo es posible.


Superintendente Steve Webb

В свете последних принятых президентом Трампом мер по прекращению действия программы «Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)Отложенные меры в отношении лиц, въехавших в страну в детском возрасте» мы хотим ещё раз подтвердить наше обязательство о предоставлении безопасных и оказывающих поддержку школ.

В конституции нашего штата предельно ясно изложено: «Первоочередным долгом штата является предоставить всем проживающим в его границах детям широкие возможности для получения образования, без отличия и предпочтений по расовой принадлежности, цвету кожи, сословию или полу». Всем детям начиная с Киндергартена по 12-й класс предоставляется право на бесплатное государственное образование, независимо от их гражданства. Школьный район не спрашивает или не знает какое гражданство имеют наши ученики или их семьи и не предоставляет сведений об этом.

Обучение детей и юношества в нашем районе является задачей первостепенной важности. Исполнение нашей миссии предоставить возможность каждому ученику приобрести знания и необходимые навыки для того, чтобы стать компетентным, ответственным и проявляющим сострадание к другим гражданином является нашей главной целью.

Update: Sept. 7 outdoor activities

Outdoor activities are approved for Thursday, Sept. 7, except for students with asthma, respiratory infections, heart and lung disease and diabetes. These students are to remain indoors unless they have written permission from their parents to participate in outdoor activities and athletics.


Update for Wednesday, Sept. 6

This update posted Sept. 6 at 11:33 a.m.

The Vancouver area remains under an unhealthy air warning Wednesday. Students will remain indoors for recess and physical education until further notice. After-school activities and practices will be moved indoors or canceled. Outdoor athletic games scheduled for Wednesday will be postponed. District administrators will continue to monitor air quality on a daily basis.


Air quality update

Due to poor air quality from regional forest fires, all schools are holding recess and physical education classes indoors today, Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Currently, the National Weather Service is reporting an air quality warning in effect until 10 p.m. tonight. After-school athletic practices will take place indoors or be canceled. Tonight’s Columbia River and Skyview girls soccer games are postponed until further notice. For more information, please check with your school and/or coach.

A decision about tomorrow’s activities and schedules has not been made at this time. Please watch the website for updates. Any changes to regular school hours and/or scheduled activities will be communicated as soon as they are known. If there are no changes to the regular schedule, then no information will be reported, and parents and staff will know that schools are operating on regular schedules.

Heat advisory article, posted Sept. 3


Debido a la mala calidad del aire por los incendios forestales en la región, todas las escuelas tendrán el recreo y clases de educación física dentro del edificio el día de hoy, martes, 5 de septiembre.

Actualmente, el Servicio Nacional Meteorológico está reportando que la alerta por mala calidad del aire se mantendrá en efecto hasta las 10 de la noche del día de hoy.
Las prácticas deportivas después de clases tendrán lugar adentro o se cancelarán. Los partidos de fútbol femenino de las escuelas Columbia River y Skyview quedan pospuestos hasta nuevo aviso. Para más información, por favor consulte con su escuela y/o entrenador.


Ikenái, Oru, Sept. 5, meinisin sukkun repwe efisi ar recess me P.E. nón imwen sukkun pokiten mei nimengaw masowen enienin ásepwán.

Ewe national weather service mei awora esinesin pwún eninenin en ásepwán epwe nimengaw tori nepwinei kunók 10. Ach kei sukkun re kan awora ar practice núkkún resapw mwo practice. Nepwinei, an nengin kewe urumwot ren soccer seni ekkewe sukkun Columbia River me Skyview repwe ne mwo útiwitino. Sipwapw esinesin iká inet epwe fiis ar kei urumwot. Ren tichikin póróus, checki an noumw na sukkun me/iká póróus ngeni néún na coach.


Сегодня, во вторник, 5 сентября по причине плохого качества воздуха, вызванного региональными лесными пожарами, во время всех школьных перемен и занятий физкультурой учащиеся будут находиться внутри здания.

В настоящий момент Национальная служба прогноза погоды предупреждает о плохом качестве воздуха сегодня вплоть до 10 вечера. Занятия спортом после школы будут проходить в помещении или будут отменены. Сегодняшняя игра между футбольными женскими командами старших школ Колумбия Ривер и Скайвью откладывается. За получением дополнительной информации обращайтесь в школу своего ребёнка и/или к тренеру.

Heat advisory for Tuesday, Sept. 5

Posted Sunday, Sept. 3

A heat advisory issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to continue through Tuesday evening, Sept. 5. Administrators at Vancouver Public Schools are monitoring the situation, which is currently classified as a “red flag warning” due to hot temperatures and dry conditions. Smoke from regional forest fires is affecting air quality.

Please monitor the VPS website for updates to this message.

The health and wellbeing of our students and staff members are our highest priority. We will monitor the temperature of our schools and classrooms as well as the air quality outside. While most of our schools are fully air conditioned, some areas of our older schools are not. Maintenance and custodial crews will work to cool those schools overnight, and a plan to move students to cooler areas of those schools will be enacted as soon as classrooms become too warm.

Playgrounds and athletics
During high temperatures and/or poor air quality, students will not go outdoors for recess. After-school athletics will not hold practice outdoors during high temperatures and/or poor air quality. Student athletes should check with their coaches to find out if practices will be held inside or canceled.

How parents can help
Please make sure your child has a water bottle. Water bottles can be refilled throughout the day at school. Also, make sure your child’s school has an up-to-date health plan alerting the staff of asthma or other health concerns that could compromise your child’s safety during high temperatures and poor outdoor air quality.

VPS school buses are equipped with tinted windows to keep them cool. Windows will be lowered to allow maximum air flow inside the bus.

For more information

Clark County Public Health

National Weather Service
Heat safety: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/heat/index.shtml

Red Cross
Heat wave safety: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/heat-wave-safety

Revised homework policy reflects learning needs of students

Above: A parent and child spend time reading together. In the district’s new approach to homework, which eliminates mandatory homework assignments for children in kindergarten through third grade, 20 minutes of daily reading is encouraged.

New homework guidelines for Vancouver Public Schools will allow time for younger students to enjoy family learning activities after the school day is over.

The guidelines align with the learning needs of students. Said Layne Manning, director of curriculum, “We are supportive of assignments that directly connect to classroom learning so students are set up for success. We are asking teachers to consider the needs of each student.”

The guidelines modify homework assignments for children in kindergarten through third grade. Teachers can still provide practice sheets and recommend after-school activities to reinforce lessons, and 20 minutes of daily reading is encouraged. Students at these grade levels will not be penalized for unfinished homework assignments, however.

Guidelines for older students are focused on the amount of time students should be expected to spend on homework.

“We encourage families to spend their time together in creative, fun and interactive activities,” said Manning. “Reading, cooking or taking a walk together are activities that lead to conversation and learning. We also encourage teachers to recommend activities that will help parents help their children in reinforcing specific skills that relate directly to what they’re learning in the classroom.”

The changes reflect current research, which shows that homework assignments given to children in primary grades offer few, if any, educational benefits. For some students, homework can create stress and anxiety if the assignments are time-consuming; difficult; and take them away from opportunities for physical and creative activities such as sports, the arts and reading.

“VPS teachers are committed to educating the whole child and creating a healthy balance for children and their families,” said Debra Hale, executive director of teaching and learning.

Specific revisions to Regulation 6133 concerning homework aim to improve instruction and enhance achievement. Homework assignments should be a constructive tool for teaching and learning and be geared to the needs and abilities of students. The guidelines will be rolled out in the fall.

Guidelines for assigning homework

The frequency and duration of mandatory assignments:

  1. Kindergarten through third grade—students should not be required to complete homework assignments. Encouragement should be provided to engage in family home learning activities such as reading to and with their child, outside play, puzzles and games, etc.
  2. Fourth and fifth grades—two to four homework assignments per week, each lasting not more than 15 to 45 minutes, that will take into account the student’s developmental age, learning goals and program of studies
  3. Sixth through eighth grades—three to five assignments per week per student, each lasting 45 to 75 minutes
  4. Ninth through 12th grades—three to five assignments per week per student, each lasting 75 to 120 minutes
  5. Students enrolled in special K-12 programs, including language immersion, Highly Capable, Honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and College in the High School, may have additional assignments in accordance with program goals and requirements.

State laws, district policies will continue to protect transgender students

A statement from the state superintendent assures that Washington schools will treat transgender students “consistent with the student’s gender identity.” Washington state law continues to protect transgender students from discrimination in school, in spite of a recent change in federal guidance on the matter.

Read the full press release from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

District policies also prohibit discrimination, as well as bullying, harassment and intimidation. Behavior that infringes on the rights of any student will be dealt with appropriately according to district policy.

At Vancouver Public Schools, we work hard every day to ensure that our schools are inviting, respectful and safe learning environments for each student. We want all children and their families to know they are valued members of our culturally rich and diverse learning community.

Originally posted 2/23/17. Updated 3/16/17.