June 13, 2016
Good afternoon HRCSD Educators,
As we start our last week with students, I want to thank you for another great year in our school district. My own kids woke up this morning yelling, “Last Late Start!” I don’t know why not having “late starts” in the summertime is cause for celebration… but they are PUMPED!
We all know that maximizing each student’s academic and social progress is what we’re all about. Hopefully you’re already taking a moment to reflect upon, and celebrate, your students and the growth they’ve made over the course of this school year. Some have made miraculous growth with seemingly little effort, while others have worked overtime to achieve incremental gains - most lie somewhere in between. Regardless, I’m sure that you have made a positive difference in your student’s lives over the course of the school year.
I can’t possibly rehash all the amazing successes over the course of this school year, but there are a few district-wide accomplishments that required the efforts of our whole educational community that we should all take pride in.
I know you’ve all played a part in successes such as these and so many more. Of course, we also experienced setbacks and some students just didn’t respond like we dreamed they would. Just like any professional in any occupation we can always improve and like our students we can always learn and grow. Reflection is a requisite for true excellence.
- We have one overarching district goal: “Every student graduates with the knowledge and courage to learn, serve, and pursue their dreams.” Educators at HRVHS continued the foundational work of everyone else in the district by graduating 84.3% of their seniors on time in 2015. That is the highest 4-year cohort graduation rate on record in our school district, blowing away the state average and any high school with similar demographics!
- Hundreds of teachers sought to improve their practice in the Hood River Academy. We’ve come a long way from the dark years of having $0 in our budget for professional development.
- The AVID and Juntos programs continue to expand across our secondary schools, helping to build a culture of college and career for our students and families of color with great success. For example, 13% more students of color enrolled in advanced coursework at HRVHS this year!
- Our school board voted to adopt and purchase a new K-12 mathematics curriculum for next year and beyond. Jane Osborne facilitated the work of 21 teachers from every school in researching, piloting and selecting new materials, assessments, and online intervention platforms. Thank you to everyone who participated in that important work.
- The Dual Language program at Mid Valley continues to blossom and expand, and students in these classrooms are making significant progress! For example, only 12% of elementary students in the dual language program ended the year in the “high-risk” category in Spanish Reading on easyCBM - compared to the 27% who started the year as high-risk!
- A new alterative school program was launched at the high school and is set to expand in 2016-17. Did you know we’ll be running a jump-start program for incoming 9th graders this summer? 8th grade students identified by their teachers as “at-risk” for school failure will have the opportunity to start their 9th grade year ahead of their peers with a half-credit under their belts before Day 1 at HRVHS.
- We were able to get our budget back on track after 3 years of major operations program reforms with sweeping changes to I.T., transportation, energy use programs and more. Over this time - and with sacrifices from other areas of the educational program - we’ve added significant teaching FTE to the elementary schools to bring down K-3 class sizes by nearly 10% since 2013-14. Next year we’ll be adding:
- 6.0 Licensed FTE in the elementary schools for music, PE, and counseling;
- 1.5 Licensed FTE to the middle schools for foreign language and additional math sections;
- 1.5 Licensed FTE to HRVHS; and,
- Additional extra duty contracts for Robotics, Lacrosse, eCar, Media, FFA, & AVID.
- In the ultimate measure of our community’s support for the work you all do, our capital bond measure was approved at a high watermark for our school district - 72%! We’ll be working throughout the summer to sell the bond, hire project managers, architects and contractors, and get critical projects going as quickly as we can. Thank you for being the ambassadors of excellence to our community!
- And, if all this doesn’t make you feel good about all the hard work and dedication you bring to your important work… how about state championships in Boys Soccer, Wrestling, Track, and Skiing?! And… an HRV robotics team placing at Worlds? And… we launched weather balloons, kids created amazing media projects, 5th graders bombed the slopes at Meadows on ski day! And… the individual and collective triumphs of our Speech and Debate Team, strong finishes for Baseball and Water Polo, a Navy Cup Championship for Girls Lacrosse. And… we had Grease at HRV for goodness sake - and it’s still the word!
Have a wonderful summer of fun and reflection - and thank you for a tremendous school year.