Walla Walla Sch. Dist.
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Rating Agency Affirms Strong District Credit Prior to Potential Bond Sales - 09/19/18

WALLA WALLA – At last night’s school board meeting Superintendent Smith commended the school board for their commitment to financial stewardship and conservative fiscal practices, maintaining a commendable Aa3 credit rating. Landing within Moody’s Investor Services “High Quality” category, the third party rating agency affirmed Walla Walla Public School’s “double a” rating in their most recent issuer’s comment.

Among many factors, Moody’s called out the district’s credit position as very healthy, noting its strong financial position and healthy local economy and tax base. Most notable was their praise over the district’s negligible debt load of .4%, noting that Walla Walla School District’s debt burden is, “materially below other Moody’s-rated school districts nationwide.”

This favorable credit rating bodes well for the district should the community choose to support the proposed no-tax-rate increase replacement bond appearing on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot. If approved by voters, such strong credit backing helps motivate greater interest from investors, often driving down interest costs at the time of sale. As Smith noted, “I have witnessed first-hand what a positive impact a “double a” credit rating can have at the time of sale. In a similarly-sized bond sale in a former district we were able to save an estimated $5.0M for taxpayers, reducing both the rate and term of the bond.”

The replacement bond appearing on the November ballot, as proposed, is set to maintain the current bond rate of $1.23/$1,000 assessed, one of the lower school bond rates in Walla Walla County. “Should we receive similar heightened interest at the time of sale from investors due to our strong credit rating, taxpayers may actually experience a decrease in rates over current levels due to favorable conditions,” noted Smith.

The replacement bond will renovate Walla Walla High School, Pioneer Middle School, and Lincoln High School and fund specific district-wide health, safety, educational and infrastructure improvements. In addition to the $65.6M generated locally, the school renovation projects are eligible for an estimated $52.6M in State Match funds. All State Match funds will be applied only to the voter-approved projects. Any excess dollars remaining following the completion of the projects will be used to pay down debt to reduce the rate for taxpayers. An 11-member Community Bond Oversight Committee will oversee the entire program to ensure transparency, accountability and fiscal stewardship of the community’s resources. To learn more, visit: http://www.wwps.org/2018bond

 

Walla Walla Public Schools' five year Strategic Plan targets improvement in state test resultsĀ  - 09/18/18

WALLA WALLA -- State Superintendent Chris Reykdal released results of the most recent state tests on Thursday, September 13. A total of 2,990 Walla Walla Public Schools students completed the English Language Arts and math exams, and 1,289 participated in the new Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science during the April and May state testing window last spring.

The tests administered included:

  • Grades 3-8 and high school Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) in English Language Arts (ELA) and math
  • Grades 5, 8 and 11, Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS)

While Walla Walla Public Schools reading and math assessment results still lag behind statewide averages, the recently-released data reveal positive trends in cohort results.

Examination of cohort data, following the same group of students from one year to the next, shows strong student growth, particularly in English Language Arts. This year’s 3rd to 4th and 4th to 5th grade cohorts showed an average growth of 8% in ELA scores. At the middle school level, the 6th to 7th grade cohort ELA scores increased by approximately 8%, and math scores improved by 6%.  Eighth grade also revealed improvement over prior years’ results. With math lagging in comparison at the elementary grades with respect to cohort growth, classroom teachers are in the process of analyzing standards and implementing interventions to ensure students master the grade level content.  

High school students are also administered the SBA assessment, last year being the first year sophomore students took the SBA, previously taken as juniors. While high school ELA and math scores were below the state average, science students scored 15% above their state-wide counterparts.     

The district’s Strategic Plan calls for adopting better aligned instructional materials to support high quality instruction. In the Spring of 2017 new K-5 Language Arts materials were adopted, and in the Spring of 2018 new 6-12 materials were also acquired. These curricular improvements provide teachers and students with rigorous literacy materials, aligned to state standards and provide all students access to Advanced Placement (AP) classes. This year’s ELA cohort growth shows the promise of these new materials. Similarly, the middle school math materials also adopted in 2017, focus on building deep conceptual mathematics understanding and help teachers focus on the learning that is most essential at each grade level.

“Looking ahead, we expect math cohort data will increase, similar to ELA, as teachers collaborate around instructional practices to respond to student data, and new materials for K-5 are addressed in the next year,” said Christy Krutulis, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning.

For a complete look at all district state assessment information, visit the OSPI school report card:

http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/summary.aspx?schoolId=266&reportLevel=District&orgLinkId=3004&year=2016-17&yrs=2016-17

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Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors Regular Business Meeting: September 18, 2018 - 09/14/18

Supporting documents are available via the following link:  https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicHome.aspx?ak=1001835

Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors Special Meeting: September 10, 2018 - 09/07/18

Supporting documents are available via the following link:  https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicHome.aspx?ak=1001835

Walla Walla Public Schools Board of Directors Regular Study Meeting: September 4, 2018 - 08/31/18

Supporting documents are available via the following link:  https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicHome.aspx?ak=1001835