Battle Ground Sch. Dist.
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News Releases
Overview of current housing development throughout the Battle Ground Public Schools district. Each dot on the map indicates a development of 100+ homes.
Overview of current housing development throughout the Battle Ground Public Schools district. Each dot on the map indicates a development of 100+ homes.
BGPS Facilities Team Recommends Bond Measure (Photo) - 06/25/15
Battle Ground Public Schools' Facilities Improvement Team (FIT) recommended that the Board of Directors consider a bond measure to update aging schools and construct new ones to accommodate burgeoning enrollment. After months of data and information review, the group summarized its conclusions this week at a school board work session and presented its findings to directors.

FIT facilitator Dave Halme told the board it should consider pursuing a bond measure as early as February 2016. "The school district has done a great job maintaining its facilities," Halme said, "but some buildings are reaching the end of their life." The Facilities Improvement Team comprises community and staff volunteers working in collaboration with the district to create a long-term facilities management plan. The plan will provide recommendations to the board of directors for current and new facilities that meet the academic and learning needs of students and keep pace with community growth.

"The school board should consider a bond because we have too little space to accommodate 21st century learning, and this issue will intensify in the next couple of years as our population grows," said FIT member Curtis Miller. "Our kids matter to us and they need to know it. One significant way we can show them is for the community to come together on their behalf."

In its presentation, the Facilities Improvement Team identified three main facility needs: property acquisition for new schools, capital repairs to existing facilities, and modifications to buildings and the installation of portables to accommodate short-term growth. The team also requested that the school board commission the work of gathering the final pieces of information that will help FIT members develop the long-range facilities plan.

FIT members have met 14 times since February to gather information and assess the district's schools and facilities. They examined current facility planning efforts, studied new housing projections and enrollment forecasts and examined a Study and Survey conducted by a professional architectural firm.

Conservative estimates suggest that the district will grow by nearly 7,000 new homes in the next 20 years. In May, there were 1,092 single-family homes under construction, with more than 3,000 houses and 326 apartments planned to be built within the next three years. As evidence of the growth, May was the largest month ever for the impact fees that Clark County and the City of Battle Ground pass on to Battle Ground Public Schools from the construction of new homes. The district received $830,000 from approximately 162 new permits. The money collected from impact fees are designed to accommodate enrollment growth through the purchase of new land or the installation of modular classrooms.

Most of the growth is happening in the southern part of the district, Halme said, where the majority of schools, including Glenwood Heights Primary, Laurin Middle School, Pleasant Valley Middle School and Prairie High School, received a rating of "poor" condition on the architectural study and survey due to the age of existing buildings and some major systems being at end-of-life. These same buildings qualify for state construction assistance that could potentially cover up to half of the cost of modernization and construction. FIT members will review additional information, including cost-benefit analyses of various options for each of these buildings, as the team develops the district's facilities plan.

Besides building improvements, FIT members also learned how 21st century learning and state initiatives are changing facilities needs and classrooms and necessitating technology implementation.

Going forward, FIT members still have much to do. The group will work through the summer and fall to categorize and prioritize facilities needs and seek community input, review cost-benefit analyses and develop a long-range plan. "FIT members have reviewed an incredible amount of data and given a significant amount of time to putting the district on a solid foundation, and for that I thank them," Hottowe said. "This work, combined with community input we collect in the fall, is setting our district on a successful course to providing a 21st century education."

Battle Ground Public Schools will use Thoughtexchange, the tool it used to conduct its spring community engagement campaign, to solicit community input about facilities priorities. The FIT members will use this information and cost-analysis data to create a schedule and budget that will allow the implementation of a facilities plan, including FIT's recommendation that the board consider a 2016 bond measure.

FIT Update slide presentation:$file/FIT%20Board%20Presentation.pdf
Linda Allen, assistant superintendent of human resources
Linda Allen, assistant superintendent of human resources
Battle Ground Public Schools Announces Additional Administrative Changes (Photo) - 06/25/15
Battle Ground Public Schools has announced additional administrative changes for the 2015-16 school year.

Ron Hutchison is coming out of retirement to serve as the interim principal next year at Pleasant Valley Primary School. He is replacing Melissa Mitchell, who recently resigned. Before retiring, Hutchison was the principal at Kelso's largest elementary school, Beacon Hill, for six years. Prior to that he served as a principal in the Hillsboro School District and in Lincoln County School District in Newport, Ore. During his one year of retirement from Kelso, Hutchison worked part-time in school improvement as a leadership coach with Education Northwest and the Oregon Department of Education.

The BGPS Board of Directors approved Linda Allen this week as the assistant superintendent of human resources. "The title more accurately reflects the work that Allen does for the district," said Superintendent Mark Hottowe. Allen has worked in the district's human resources department since 2010 when she became the director of the department. She started her career with Battle Ground Public Schools as a teacher at Amboy Middle School in 1993. She also was an assistant principal and principal at Lewisville Middle School and the first principal at Chief Umtuch Middle School when it opened in 2008.

Read about other administrative changes that the district has announced for next year:
Scott Yingling
Scott Yingling
Battle Ground Public Schools Makes Administrative Changes (Photo) - 06/17/15
Battle Ground Public Schools has announced several administrative changes for the 2015-16 school year. The administrators will begin their new positions July 1.

Mike Hamilton, who has been the principal at Kalama Middle/High School for 14 years, will take over as principal at Battle Ground High School. He replaces Tim Lexow, who is resigning after serving the district for 20 years. Hamilton, who lives in the Battle Ground district, began his career teaching in the Tahoma School District and Evergreen Public Schools before transferring to Kalama. Read more about Hamilton on the BGPS blog:

Ryan Cowl, currently the assistant principal at Tukes Valley Middle School, is taking the helm at CAM Academy this summer. He is replacing Colleen O'Neal, who is retiring this month with 28 years of service. Cowl began his career with Battle Ground Public Schools in 1996 as a special education teacher at Captain Strong Primary School. In 2008, Cowl moved to Tukes Valley, where he served as assistant principal of both the primary and middle schools until 2012 when he took on the role full time at the middle school. Read more about Cowl on the BGPS blog:

Assistant Principals
Damen Hermens, who is currently a teacher at Evergreen Public Schools' Covington Middle School, will be the assistant principal at Glenwood Heights Primary. He is replacing Sue Fine, who resigned this year. Hermens also has taught at Evergreen's Cascade Middle School and Washougal's Jemtegaard Middle School. He has a master's in teaching and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Washington State University--Vancouver.

Erin Thompson is taking over as assistant principal at Tukes Valley Middle School for Ryan Cowl, who is moving to CAM. Thompson is currently an English teacher at Columbia River High School in the Vancouver Public Schools district, where she has served since 1998. She also has been an English teacher at Skyview High School and served as an adjunct faculty member at Washington State University--Vancouver. She has a masters of education from Washington State University and a bachelor of arts in education from Western Washington University.

Scott Yingling is taking over as BGHS Assistant Principal for Lee Bradford, who is retiring in June with 38 years of service. Yingling is currently the dean of students at South Kitsap High School in Port Orchard. Before becoming the dean of students, Yingling taught theater arts at South Kitsap High School. He graduated from Central Washington University in 2004 with a degree in secondary education and theater arts and a minor in English.

District administration
Sandy Mathewson has been hired to be the director of social-emotional learning, a new role dedicated to supporting mental health, prevention and intervention and special services. She will manage support for prevention and intervention of substance abuse, help with special services and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) services, and coordinate the district's $2.5 million Project AWARE grant with a focus on mental health. Mathewson has been director of Prevention and Youth Services at Educational Service District 112 since 1993. Prior to that she was an intervention specialist in the Camas School District.
Project Aware grant:
Tukes Valley Middle School's Green Team builds a nature trail through the green space adjacent to the campus in an effort to achieve Green School Certification.
Tukes Valley Middle School's Green Team builds a nature trail through the green space adjacent to the campus in an effort to achieve Green School Certification.
Tukes Valley Students Create Outdoor Classroom, Earn Green School Certification (Photo) - 06/11/15
Tukes Valley Middle School has earned Washington Green School certification as a Level 1 school in the category of school grounds. The school celebrated the achievement last week at an assembly, during which Clark County Environmental Services presented the school's Green Team with a certificate and Green School flag.

More than 50 middle school students participated in Green Team each week after school to create an interpretive nature trail and outdoor classroom in the green space adjacent to the campus, which was opened in 2008 on land that was formerly used for agricultural purposes. "We wanted to turn this amazing space into an outdoor classroom that would enrich students' classroom experiences. It will be a great resource for teachers and students to run field studies and study ecosystems," said fifth grade teacher Amanda Jones.

Students worked all year to restore the trail and green space to its native state with plants that are indigenous to the area and habitat suitable for birds and other fauna. "We volunteered so that we could make a difference at our school and make it greener," said fifth grader Juliann McCabe.

Students began the project in the fall by studying ecosystems and learning about the plants that are native to the area and would attract birds and pollinators and would force out invasive species. Students designed a plan for the green space that included an interpretive nature trail and then got to work removing debris and garbage. Some students attended a Clark County student environmental summit.

Tukes Valley teachers Amanda Jones and Natalie Keller coordinated with Clark County Conservation District, who awarded a grant to the school for the purchase of trees for the project. The organization also provided tubing to protect the young trees from rodents, such as voles, that live in the green space.

The school used the grant funds to purchase trees from the Battle Ground Public Schools' Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education (CASEE), and then worked with CASEE high school students, the Conservation District and BGPS facilities to plant the trees and build a bark trail. Community members contributed a sign for the Natural Trail and bird feeders.

In future years, the Tukes Valley Green Team plans to extend the nature trail and create a garden as it continues through the levels of Green School certification.

Science teacher Natalie Keller is looking forward to incorporating stream surveys into her science classes by using the stream that runs through the site. "This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time," Keller said. "We study ecology, and students will be able to go into our ecosystem and do biodiversity studies. We're opening up a much more meaningful, applicable science curriculum."

Battle Ground Public Schools is pleased that Tukes Valley has earned the Green School designation and is encouraging other schools in the district to seek certification.

Watch a slide show that students created to document their story online at and a video on the BGPS Video YouTube channel that highlights student efforts to achieve Green School certification: