Key Communicators BulletinSeptember 1, 2016
Like years past, I’ll be sending periodic updates to this group. As a Key Communicator, my hope is to provide you useful information about happenings in the school district in a timely fashion, so that you can help other community members stay informed, stay connected, and stay committed to our schools. Please let me know if you’d like to be removed from this list serve. I also invite you to bookmark our district website (www.hoodriver.k12.or.us). Our website is current and continually updated. If you use Twitter, follow me at @superHRCSD.
Dear Key Communicators,
Welcome to another school year! All summer, our staff members have been busy preparing our facilities, curriculum, technology, and fields so our students and families have the best possible experience as they return to school this week. Our schools look great - but most importantly, our educators are excited to finally be with their students. We’re having a great first week of school!
Rather than focusing on our truly remarkable 2015-16 school year, this Key Communicator Bulletin will focus squarely on the year ahead. If you’d like to get a sense of the many accomplishments achieved last year, I invite you to read the letter I sent to all school district families in August (posted on our webpage - www.hoodriver.k12.or.us - under “Superintendent’s Message”). For those of you who don’t have students in our schools, I urge you read that message.
Topics covered in this edition of the Key Communicator Bulletin:
• Construction Bond Update
• The Opportunity Campaign
• Progress Toward 20/20 Vision
Construction Bond Update
Lots of folks have asked me this summer, “When are you building the new school?” The short answer is, “Definitely not until we have the money.” Adjectives I would use to describe the processes to actually obtain funds after a positive bond election include: onerous, rigorous, exhaustive, consuming and complex. Notice the adjectives that are missing from this list: smooth, fun, and straight-forward. Good thing we have a truly amazing Chief Financial Officer in Saundra Buchanan who has the requisite experience, know-how and work ethic to bring our bond sale to a close.
Bond Sale: The short story here: after months of working with underwriters, bond rating agencies, legal counsel, investors, and banks we had an excellent day selling our bond on the market on August 30th. We are all set to close on the sale on September 13th. You should know that because of our excellent financial performance over the last three years we secured a very strong (A+) bond rating, which translated to an incredible amount of interest in our bonds from investors. Because of that, investors offered above par value for our bond coupons. This means we will likely receive more funding than originally expected (for the same tax rate promised voters). Truly excellent news!
Also, we were able to refinance the remaining debt on our 2008 Bond, saving our taxpayers $694k! This will equate to a lower overall tax rate for you and your neighbors. Another excellent result!
Project Planning and Construction: After the election in May, the District began forming our bond project team. This summer, as a result of a thoughtful Request for Proposal process, the District hired the Wenaha Group based out of Pendleton for project management services. Wenaha has an excellent track record in managing bond projects for Hermiston, Pendleton, Yakima and other similarly sized school districts in the Pacific Northwest. Currently, we’re working on an architect selection process with interviews scheduled in the next few weeks. We have district staff and community members on the selection committee. After an architecture firm is on board, we will develop timelines and a project scope for every project at every facility.
Community Involvement: Throughout the duration of this process there will be meaningful opportunities for the community stay involved, participate and provide input. The goal of this participation will be to provide information to the District’s Bond Project Team, which will be gathered, organized and prioritized according to needs and available funding for projects. Coming soon: we will be launching a section on our webpage to communicate progress on bond projects and opportunities for input. Lastly, the School Board has directed the District’s Finance Advisory Committee - made up of community members, district staff and board members - to provide bond project oversight.
The Opportunity Campaign
Did you know that our community has an incredible 501(3)c Education Foundation serving all county public schools? The Foundation has existed for years and has focused on raising funds primarily to support student scholarships for post-secondary school costs and teacher grants for innovative practices.
Last year, the Foundation took on a new project called the “Opportunity Campaign.” The goal of the Opportunity Campaign is to raise funds to provide activity scholarships for middle school students who would not otherwise be able to afford to participate. The immediate goal is to raise $50,000 per year for three years, with an emphasis on middle school sports access. Thanks to generous support from individuals, the Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital Foundation, and the Hood River Lions Foundation, the Education Foundation was able to meet this goal for the first year! This means that students from disadvantaged backgrounds will now be able to partake in middle school sports programs.
I invite you to check out the Foundation’s webpage and consider how you might support the Opportunity Campaign: http://www.hrcef.org.
Progress Towards the 20/20 Vision
Periodically, I use the Key Communicator Bulletin to report on our progress toward the goals in our strategic plan, the “20/20 Vision.” The 20/20 Vision outlines seven “Collective Commitments,” each with a set of strategies and measurements (https://www.hoodriver.k12.or.us/domain/5).
Here’s an update on Collective Commitment #3: “Identify, Teach, And Assess Student Learning Targets Aligned To State Standards.”
We have three major strategies that support this important commitment area:
1. Implement curriculum renewal processes and identify district-wide priority standards,
instructional strategies, professional development needs, and common assessments.
2. Work collaboratively in Professional Learning Communities (PLC) to align curriculum,
instruction and assessment practices to agreed-upon priority standards.
3. Develop clearly articulated curriculum maps that communicate what students should know
and be able to do at each grade level.
• By October 2016, the percent of all HRCSD students meeting or exceeding Oregon Statewide Assessment in reading will increase. Goal Met: 4.4% increase
• By October 2016, the percent of all HRCSD students meeting or exceeding Oregon Statewide Assessment in math will increase. Goal Not Met: 4.25% decrease
• By October 2016, the percent of HRCSD students meeting or exceeding Oregon Statewide Assessment in science will increase. Goal Met: 5.5% increase
• By October 2015, the four-year cohort graduation rate at HRVHS will improve from 81.4% to 83%. Goal Met: 84.26%
o Note: This is our highest ever cohort graduation rate.
Update on Collective Commitment #3: Last year, we:
1. implemented new English Language Development curricula across our school district towards improving the academic outcomes for our students learning English;
• Did you know that for about 20% of our students, their native tongue is not English? That’s one in every five students we serve!
2. adopted new K-12 Math curriculum materials after a year-long process involving 22 teachers from every school, and a number of principals and community members
This year, we will be:
1. implementing our brand new K-12 Math Program; and,
2. conducting a K-12 science curriculum renewal process where our teachers will review new national standards, our current program, student outcomes, and new curricular materials with the aim of enhancing our science program for the future.
Thank you for all you do to nurture our community’s children and support our schools! I’m looking forward to another great year in our school district – you are a big part of our students’ successes and I invite you to participate in all the happenings in and around our schools.
My best- Dan