Budget survey prioritizes use of financial reserves, cuts to central administration

An online survey seeking community input on how to address a projected budget shortfall for Vancouver Public Schools in 2019-20 shows most respondents favoring the use of the district’s ending fund balance along with reductions in central administration and support services.

From a list of choices, survey respondents overwhelmingly chose these top four budget solutions:

  • One-time use of ending fund balance, or financial reserves ($3.75 million)
  • 5% reduction in central office/support services budgets ($1.2 million)
  • 15% reduction in central office administrative positions ($800,000)
  • 50% reduction in travel for professional development ($400,000)

The district received 1,836 completed surveys. An invitation to take the survey was sent to district employees, families and community members.

In the survey, VPS requested that participants prioritize budget reductions to address the deficit. They were asked to select from a list of 15 possible solutions that add up to an $8 million funding gap.

“Clearly, survey respondents want to preserve direct services to students,” said Steve Webb, superintendent of VPS. “This feedback will help inform the final budget recommendations, which will be presented to the board on May 28 after review by a district advisory group.” Formal adoption of the budget will take place at the August 13 board meeting.

“Thanks to Senator Cleveland’s securing of $6.5 million in one-time levy equalization money for 2019-20, I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to present final recommendations to the board that minimize the impact on our classrooms and schools,” said Webb.

“Our challenge going forward will be to secure sustainable funding of more than $10 million for the 2020-21 school year to replace the $6.5 million of one-time state money (levy equalization) and $3.75 million of one-time local money (fund balance),” said Webb. “Otherwise, we’ll be right back here a year from now, with fewer options to consider.”

District receives clean audit report

Vancouver Public Schools received a clean audit report for the 13th consecutive year. The official audit released by the Washington State Auditor’s Office evaluates the integrity of district financial statements, internal controls and compliance with state and federal laws and grant funding requirements. There were no findings of deficiencies or management letters calling for significant improvement in any area.

“This report validates our diligence and responsible management of public tax dollars,” said Board President Rosemary Fryer. “We are grateful to this community for its continued trust in our public schools.”

The audit period was from Sept. 1, 2017, through Aug. 31, 2018.

Said Brett Blechschmidt, chief fiscal officer, “Thirteen consecutive years of clean audits can only happen when countless professionals throughout the district take seriously the responsibility of properly handling the public funds with which we are entrusted. Our community has repeatedly and overwhelmingly stepped up to support our students, so it is gratifying to reward that trust with yet another clean audit.”

Survey will gather community’s input for 2019-20 budget reductions

Vancouver Public Schools has a projected budget shortfall next year that will necessitate reductions in staff and support. The overall deficit has been lessened thanks to a one-time addition of $6.5 million from the recently released state’s consensus budget. At this point, the district is anticipating an $8 million shortfall.

The district is asking for input from district families, staff and community members to prioritize the reductions. Participants will be asked to suggest preliminary/recommended reductions from a potential list identified over the past three months.

Survey timeline

  • The survey will be open May 6-14.
  • Results of the survey will be released May 20.
  • District advisory committee discussion will take place May 23.
  • Final budget recommendations, reflecting the survey results, will be made at the May 28 school board meeting.

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Iká pwe ke mochen epwe wor emén epwe ánea ngonuk masowen ei taropwe nón fóósun fénúomw ren ómw kopwe weweiti, en mei tongeni kéri Juanita Yasu, 360-771-5343.

2019 summer arts workshops

This summer, students may participate in a variety of activities, including dance, acting, music and the visual arts.

Location: Fruit Valley Elementary

Dates and times:
July 8–12
9 a.m. to noon

Grade levels: Students in third through sixth grades during the 2018-19 school year

Course description: Students will learn the basics of comedic theatre and practice thinking on their feet and teamwork skills.

Location: Lincoln Elementary

Dates and times:
July 8–12
9 a.m. to noon

Grade levels: Students in fourth through eighth grades during the 2018-19 school year

Course description: Students will have the opportunity to explore color through pastel, paint and photography! Students will learn to mix their own unique colors, learn about artists and explore painting techniques.

Location: Lake Shore Elementary

Dates and times:
July 8–12
9 a.m. to noon

Grade levels: Students in second through eighth grades during the 2018-19 school year

Course description: Students will increase their piano skills, learn the basics of composition and create songs of their own. Created songs will be put on a CD.

Location:
Lincoln Elementary

Dates and times:
July 8–12
9 a.m. to noon

Grade levels: Students in third through sixth grades during the 2018-19 school year

Course description: A variety of dance styles, including ballet, modern and jazz, will be explored in this workshop. Students will work individually and in partners to strengthen their dance technique and choreographic skills.

Location:
Eisenhower Elementary

Dates and times:
July 8–12
9 a.m. to noon

Grade levels: Students in fourth through eighth grades during the 2018-19 school year

Course description: Students will learn sheet music reading skills, harmonization, dynamics and choral singing techniques as they join together to form a choir.

Location:
Eisenhower Elementary

Dates and times:
July 8–12
9 a.m. to noon

Grade levels: Students in second through sixth grades during the 2018-19 school year

Course description: Students will use yarn, string and thread to create 2D images on paper. Students will learn weaving patterns and techniques to create balance.

Summer arts workshops are offered free to students currently enrolled in Vancouver Public Schools.

To register for these free opportunities:

Questions? Please email Ann Medellin.

New elementary school naming

In May 2019, students, staff members, families and community members suggested potential names for a new elementary school.

The final name will be announced in June.

Projected to open in fall 2021 behind the site of the current headquarters of the Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries, the project-based learning school for approximately 500 students will focus on arts and innovation. Construction is funded through a bond measure that voters approved in 2017.

Young historians advance to national contest

Vancouver students demonstrated their knowledge of the past at the 2019 Portland regional History Bee competition held at Columbia River High School in late March. Fifteen Vancouver students qualified for the National History Bee after battling through four rounds of history questions. Seven also qualified for the U.S. Geography Olympiad.

Eighth-grade division

  • Dylan Kopitzke, Alki Middle School: qualifier for Bee and Olympiad
  • Ian Levitre, Alki Middle School: qualifier for Bee
  • Padraic O’Shea, Jefferson Middle School: qualifier for Bee and Olympiad

Seventh-grade division

  • Joshua Wuethrich, Alki Middle School: finalist and qualifier for Bee and Olympiad
  • Shaylin Murphy, Vancouver School of Arts and Academics: qualifier for Bee

Sixth-grade division

  • Maxwell Houston, Vancouver iTech Preparatory: finalist and qualifier for Bee and Olympiad
  • Ethan Martillo, Jason Lee Middle School: qualifier for Bee

Fifth-grade-and-younger division

  • Aaron Barron Pintor, Walnut Grove Elementary School: champion and qualifier for Bee and Olympiad
  • Owen Sawyer, Harney Elementary: runner-up and qualifier for Bee and Olympiad
  • Jonathan Kunz, Lake Shore Elementary: finalist and qualifier for Bee and Olympiad
  • Jace Hastings, Felida Elementary: finalist and qualifier for Bee and Olympiad
  • Alexander Hardin, Walnut Grove Elementary: finalist and qualifier for Bee and Olympiad
  • Greg Blau, Lake Shore Elementary: qualifier for Bee
  • Jerod Zhao, Felida Elementary: qualifier for Bee
  • Reagan Fieweger, Felida Elementary: qualifier for Bee

Columbia River teacher Dave Douglas is the director of the regional competition.

The 2019 National History Bee and Olympiad will be held in Rosemont, Illinois, in June.

New technology coming fall 2019 | Español | Русский

As a result of feedback from students, parents and staff members and a review of different options, Vancouver Public Schools will provide Chromebooks instead of iPads to high school students starting fall 2019. We believe that these laptops, which use Google’s Chrome operating system, will better match the work products expected of students at the high school level.

Our goal is that by the 2020-21 school year, when an enhanced district network with more access points will be operational, students will have the option of using either Chromebooks or their own laptops. Schools also will continue to have some iPads available for students to use as needed for projects, and we will continue to provide iPads to students with specific needs that are best addressed by specific iOS applications.

Both students and parents again will be asked to sign an agreement on the safe, responsible use of technology. The same financial terms outlined in that agreement will apply for damaged or lost Chromebooks.

The cost of the Chromebooks is comparable to that of iPads and cases and will be met through the technology levy that voters authorized in February 2019. Those levy dollars can be used only for technology.

The move toward Chromebooks is an important step in our ongoing efforts to prepare students for college, trade schools, training programs and, ultimately, the workforce.

Iká pwe ke mochen epwe wor emén epwe ánea ngonuk masowen ei taropwe nón fóósun fénúomw ren ómw kopwe weweiti, en mei tongeni kéri Juanita Yasu, 360-771-5343.

Como resultado de los comentarios de estudiantes, padres y miembros del personal y una revisión de diferentes opciones, el Distrito Escolar “Vancouver Public Schools” proporcionará ordenadores portátiles, llamados “Chromebooks” en lugar de iPads a los estudiantes de la preparatoria a partir del otoño de 2019. Creemos que con estas computadoras portátiles, que utilizan el sistema operativo Chrome de Google, se podrán realizar mejor los productos de trabajo que se esperan de los estudiantes a nivel de la preparatoria.

Nuestro objetivo es que para el año escolar 2020-21, cuando una red mejorada del distrito con más puntos de acceso esté en operación, los estudiantes tendrán la opción de usar “Chromebooks” o sus propias computadoras portátiles. Las escuelas también continuarán teniendo algunos iPads disponibles para que los estudiantes los utilicen según sea necesario para los proyectos, y continuaremos proporcionando iPads a los estudiantes con necesidades específicas que se abordan mejor con aplicaciones iOS específicas.

Se les pedirá nuevamente a los estudiantes y padres que firmen un acuerdo sobre el uso seguro y responsable de la tecnología. Los mismos términos financieros descritos en ese acuerdo se aplicarán a los “Chromebooks” que sean dañados o perdidos.

El costo de los “Chromebooks” es comparable al de iPads y la cubierta protectora, y se cubrirá a través del impuesto a la tecnología que los votantes autorizaron en febrero de 2019. Estos dólares fiscales se pueden usar sólo para la tecnología.

El cambio al uso de “Chromebooks” es un paso importante en nuestros esfuerzos continuos para preparar a los estudiantes para la universidad, escuelas de comercio, programas de capacitación y, en última instancia, para la vida profesional.

Исходя из результатов опроса учащихся, родителей и сотрудников, а также после рассмотрения различных возможных вариантов Ванкуверские государственные школы, начиная с осени 2019 года, будут предоставлять учащимся старших школ лэптопы Chromebook вместо планшетов iPad. Мы считаем, что эти лэптопы, использующие операционную систему Google Chrome, лучше подойдут для выполнения работ на том уровне, который ожидается от учащихся в старшей школе.

Наша цель заключается в том, что, когда к 2020-21 учебному году в районе начнёт работать более мощная беспроводная сеть с большим количеством точек доступа, учащиеся смогут по своему выбору пользоваться лэптопами Chromebook или своими собственными лэптопами. Школы, по-прежнему, будут предоставлять ученикам планшеты iPad по мере необходимости для работы над проектами, кроме того, мы будем продолжать предоставлять планшеты iPad ученикам с особыми нуждами, поскольку специальные приложения iOS наилучшим образом соответствуют потребностям этих учеников.

Учеников и их родителей снова попросят подписать соглашение о безопасном и ответственном использовании компьютеров. Финансовые условия, описанные в этом соглашении, остаются прежними в отношении повреждённых или утерянных лэптопов Chromebook.

Цена Chromebook сопоставима с ценой iPad и футляров, и они будут приобретены за счёт налогов на компьютерные технологии, которые были одобрены избирателями в феврале 2019 года. Эти деньги могут быть истрачены только на компьютерные технологии.

Переход на Chromebook является важной ступенью в нашей постоянной работе над подготовкой учащихся к учёбе в колледже, профессионально-технических учебных заведениях, учебных программах и, в конечном итоге, к работе.

Tell us about your school!

Is your child excited to go to school?
Do you feel welcome at your child’s school?
Does the school keep you well-informed about school activities?

We’re asking for your feedback about your child’s school and want to hear your thoughts about important school characteristics including academic preparation, student support, family engagement, safety and accessibility of school leaders.

Take the survey now!

Things to know about the survey

  • It will take approximately five minutes to complete.
  • You will be able to stop, save and come back later to where you left off.
  • Your answers are strictly confidential so you can provide candid responses.
  • Your identity will remain confidential.

What we do with the information

After the survey closes, we will report the findings to principals so that they can use the results to shape their school improvement plans. Engaging in ongoing two-way dialogue is essential as we work together to provide our students with the best possible education.

Technology for all students leads to recognition for Vancouver Public Schools

The Consortium for School Networking selected Vancouver Public Schools for its Community Leadership Award for Digital Equity, defined as access to devices and high-speed internet and the promotion of digital leadership.

Thanks to a two-time voter-approved technology levy, all VPS students in third through 12th grades have access to individual iPads or laptops. To support the use of those tools, the district installed Wi-Fi networks on school buses and secured a grant to cover the cost of hotspots for families who do not have internet at home. VPS also has developed programs and resources to empower staff and students in using technology for teaching and learning and to engage families and the community.

Said Superintendent Steve Webb, “Vancouver Public Schools is committed to ensuring that all students have equitable access to technology and the knowledge to integrate those tools into meaningful learning. We are continuing to fulfill the community’s direction to make technology part of our strategy for preparing students for college, careers and life. We are grateful that voters reaffirmed their support of this work by reauthorizing the technology levy last February. Future-ready learning tools produce future-ready graduates!”

VPS is the third recipient of the award, and the first recipient from Washington state. The district was honored in Portland, Oregon, in early April and received a $2,000 honorarium.

The Consortium for School Networking is a professional association for school system technology leaders.

Pictured above: A student uses an iPad in a coding program at Salmon Creek Elementary.

Vancouver Public Schools honored as one of best districts for music education

Vancouver Public Schools recently was honored with a Best Communities for Music Education award from the nonprofit National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. The award recognizes commitment and dedication to music and the arts as part of a well-rounded education. VPS is one of 623 districts across the nation and one of just five in Washington state to be recognized.

VPS’ award-winning and nationally recognized staff leads comprehensive music programs across the district. Vancouver offers musical opportunities to all students from kindergarten through 12th grade, including general music instruction, band, choir, orchestra, music recording, musical theater, extracurricular classes and programs and an arts school. Dedicated arts funding, district-level coordination, professional development for teachers, an instrument inventory, auditorium spaces and artist visits support and enrich the opportunities for students. VPS schools also benefit from strong community engagement in music education through support from music booster clubs, local colleges and performing groups and nonprofit organizations. While many districts cut arts programs during the Great Recession, VPS expanded arts access and opportunities.

“We consider arts part of the core curriculum, and music education is flourishing in Vancouver Public Schools,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “Thanks to the commitment of our students and their families, the dedication of our staff and the support from the community, music enriches learning and gives students unique opportunities for creativity and expression.”

The NAMM Foundation, supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants, advances active participation in music making by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs.