The budget at South Bend allows for about $14,000 to be spent per student, however Superintendent Mike Morris explained that technology involved with education today is what makes educating so expensive. “When you talk about the $14,000, when I was going to school . . . you didn’t have to worry about computers, copy machines; there’s just a whole other realm of money, a whole other layer of money out there now that schools are responsible for and which is considered basic education, but really not funded anywhere. . . The legislature is trying to define what ‘basic education’ is; it looks completely different now than it did 20 years ago,” Mr. Morris explained.
The district recently ordered about $100,000 worth of computers and devices. According to Morris, the school is purchasing 75 new Mac laptops for student use, but they currently have approximately 125 laptops that are all 4-7 years old and 25 iPads that are shared for all grades.
Morris explained that the school does the best with what it’s given: “It’s hard when you talk about ‘is that enough money?’ You can say no, but it is what it is, you just have to figure out how to do it. . . I think you just have to look at the programs and do your best at meeting the needs of all the kids with what you have.”
The 2009 McCleary decision, in which ruled the court ruled that Washington State must increase funding to public schools has greatly influenced South Bend’s budget. Mr. Morris attributes new funding for all day kindergarten to the court case. “This is the first year that I haven’t gone into it just scared to death, not knowing what to expect from budget, not knowing what to expect in funding. This is probably the most positive budget I’ve had, and I’ve been superintendent here nine or ten years. . .Without that, I doubt that South Bend would have all day kindergarten right now.” Before the state provided funding for all day kindergarten, the state provided funds for half day, and the rest of the costs were paid for by the school district.
Although South Bend strives to get the most out of state funding, the school district still applies to numerous grants to supplement funding. This year South Bend received $16,000 from the McKinney Vento grant, a federal program which provides training, technical assistance, and monitoring to schools with homeless students, according to the Washington Homeless Education Office. Mr. Morris explained that the money will be used for the school’s new Student Success Program, an after school program for grades 7-12. Although the McKinney Vento program gives money to serve homeless children, it will be used for this after school program. “As defined by the state, [homelessness] is really a growing population in this area. . . So we had an idea of what we wanted to do for all kids, and this fit into that.”
Morris explained: “The Student Success Program will be a program that allows teachers to contact a staff member when a student falls behind in assignments and we will be able to bring them into an after school homework club to get them caught up. Rather than the teachers having to continually follow up, we will have a dedicated staff member work with teachers, students and parents in keeping kids on track. The goal is to have a zero “F” level in grades 7-12.”
One change that the district is making will be providing three kindergarten classes. “This year we got all day funding for kindergarten, so that would pay for two teachers for us, but with our numbers we’re at about 49 kids. Last year we went with kindergarten classes of 23 and 24, and that’s a lot of kindergarteners. So, we made a conscience decision this year to have three kindergarten classes, so we’re going to have about 16 or 17 kids in a class. We just think it’s the right thing to do for kids, getting them off to the right start,” Morris explained.
South Bend invests large amounts of time and money into early education programs for children. Mr. Morris said that South Bend administers the birth-to-three program for all three districts. “Birth-to-three is for kids that are developmentally delayed. We work with families to get them support, help them get to doctors, we’ve got the home visitors who go in and talk about best practices and things they can do in the home. . . It’s a very labor-intensive outreach program; we spend time talking with doctors both at Grays Harbor and Pacific County. . . The stats say that if you catch these kids early you can keep about 70 percent of the kids off of [Individual Education Plans] later on. So that’s the premise for that program. We’re real happy with it.” By keeping students off of Individual Education Plans, the district keeps them out of special education and in the general education classroom, saving the district money. There are about 25 kids enrolled in the birth-to-three program from South Bend, Raymond, and Valley, and it’s funded by the state.
In addition to birth-to-three, “We have a junior preschool, and what happens with that is if you turn three in the middle of the year or after September 1st, you don’t qualify for [regular preschool]. So we just kept finding this bunch of kids that, just because of their birth date had nowhere to go because they didn’t qualify for this preschool. So, we generally have 11-15, 16 kids in that and it runs 2 days a week. . . And that’s just our funding,” Morris explained.
South Bend has received several grants to provide quality early childhood education, including a grant four years ago from the Gates Foundation which aimed to improve the transition from preschool through grade three. Since then, Save the Children started an offshoot of the program called Early Steps for Success. “Save the Children pays for a home visitor that goes in on primarily Hispanic families, working on literacy programs in the home. So we’ve got a lot of home visitors, we’re doing a lot to get into the home,” Morris claimed.
“The sooner we can get kids and families in the school system, the better. It makes them more relaxed as time goes on,” Morris explained. “They walk through these doors and they just start developing a comfort level and I really think it just makes the whole transition of education for families and kids better.”
Additionally, the district is waiting to hear back if they’ll receive another grant from Save the Children to provide funding for an elementary after school program. “They’re writing a joint grant for South Bend and two elementary schools down in Illwaco. We should find out any time if we got it or not and that will be a big coup for us if we get that.”
The district hopes to replace the current 20-year-old playground in the near future. “We’re working on funding for a new one, but we’re really conscience of the community and the fundraising; you know our communities get hit from every angle, whether it’s scouts, football, baseball, or whatever going around with their hands out. We’re really making a conscience effort of trying to fund this through grants. I’ve already received a $10,000 grant and we have a good relationship with the Cheney Foundation. I submitted a grant there and I should here in two or three months. The Booster Club is helping with some funds and the district will help with it. . .[The playground now] is 20 years old, nails are popping out, and parts of it are broken. . . We’ve piecemealed it together the best we can, but it’s just time,” Morris explained.
South Bend is also welcoming five new teachers. Chelsi Friese, a Willapa Valley alumnus and Eastern Washington University graduate is teaching the K-6 English Language Learners (ELL) and coordinating the elementary iPad program. Patricia Grave-Verdun, who has taught at Connell and Kennewick, is teaching Business Education and Marketing, as well as serving as the yearbook and DECCA advisor. Jeremiah Alvarez is the 3rd grade teacher, having experience teaching in Federal Way and Naselle. Recent graduate of Saint Martin’s University, Bethany Spradlin is teaching Kindergarten. Also, the new 6th grade teacher is Heidi Delap, who has served as a substitute teacher at South Bend in the past.
|No Related Articles|
You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!
Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: