Battle Ground Sch. Dist.
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News Releases
Battle Ground Public Schools to host Bond Information Nights - 09/29/16

Battle Ground Public Schools will host four Bond Information Nights to provide details and answer questions about Proposition 1, the district's school construction and renovation bond that will be on the November 8 ballot.

All members of the community are invited to the public events, which will be held:

> October 11 at Amboy Middle School, 6:00 p.m.
> October 13 at Prairie High School, 6:00 p.m.
> October 18 at Battle Ground High School, 6 p.m.
> October 20 at Glenwood Heights Primary School, 6:00 p.m.

At the events, school district administrators will present information about the bond and then answer questions. More information about the bond initiative and the Bond Information Nights is available at www.battlegroundps.org/bond.

In July, after nearly two years of work by a group of volunteers on the district's Facilities Improvement Team to create a Long-Range Facilities Plan, Battle Ground Public Schools' Board of Directors voted 4-0 to put the school construction bond on the November 8 general election ballot.

The proposition authorizes the district to issue general obligation bonds of up to $80 million to build four replacement schools and two new schools and replace buildings on other campuses and make other technology, safety, and classroom improvements.

Specific projects on the bond include:
> The replacement of Glenwood Heights Primary and Laurin Middle schools
> The replacement of Pleasant Valley Primary and Middle schools
> The replacement of Prairie High School 500-900 buildings
> The renovation of Amboy Middle's gym and 300 building
> Construction of a new K-4, 5-8 campus in the southeast corner of the district to address overcrowding and enrollment growth
> The addition of covered play areas at Maple Grove K-8, Yacolt Primary and Amboy Middle School; covered bleachers at Prairie's track and field; and upgraded seating and replacement turf at District Stadium
> Safety, technology, educational, infrastructure, and athletic improvements throughout the district

The estimated total cost of the projects is $136.5 million. The bond would fund up to $80 million. State construction funding assistance would help fund up to $56.5 million for eligible projects. The projected local tax rate for the bond is 45 cents per $1,000 of current assessed value. At this projected rate, the additional tax would be $11.25 per month for a home with an assessed value of $300,000. This rate is subject to change based on assessed values.

The board based the bond resolution on Phase I of the district's Long-Range Facilities Plan, which was developed over the previous 18 months by the community volunteers on the Facilities Improvement Team. The team sought community input during the process through community engagement surveys, and used the input it received from the more than 1,900 survey participants to create the plan.

The team created the long-range plan to meet one of the district's strategic goals of providing safe and secure facilities that are equipped to prepare its growing population of students for college and careers. The plan includes three phases over 18 years. Each phase will require local funding through a school construction bond and state funding assistance.

The Facilities Improved Team developed the plan to create a stable tax structure for residents, maximize state funding assistance for construction, and address top facility concerns among residents as identified in the Thoughtexchange survey, including facility condition, overcrowding, enrollment growth and student safety.

From left: FCRC employees Linda Storm, Lydia Sanders, and Martha Bellcoff
From left: FCRC employees Linda Storm, Lydia Sanders, and Martha Bellcoff
Battle Ground Public Schools opens resource center (Photo) - 09/29/16

Battle Ground Public Schools will host an open house on Wednesday, Oct. 12 to celebrate the opening of its new Family and Community Resource Center (FCRC). The event will be held 2-5 p.m. at the center, which is located next door to Summit View High School and the district's administrative offices at 11104 NE 149th St., Brush Prairie. The FCRC is intended to help meet the needs of families faced with housing instability and similar economic challenges.

In recent years, district staff has spent a considerable amount of time fielding requests for a variety of resources to help those in need. Those requests typically include items such as school supplies, backpacks, winter clothes and personal items that enable students to stay focused on their studies.

Several years ago, the district produced a Family Resource Guide with contact information for agencies and organizations that provide assistance for families and students in need. The opening of the Family and Community Resource Center is a natural extension of the district's partnerships with these resources.

"It can be overwhelming trying to navigate all the different potential avenues for seeking help," said district Superintendent Mark Hottowe. "While our teachers, principals and staff have truly gone above and beyond in helping parents and students, the opening of the Family and Community Resource Center represents a consolidation that will provide a reliable place where families can come to be connected with a diverse array of resources to get the assistance they need most."

While a main goal of the FCRC is to assist families experiencing housing instability, it can also help connect families with many other types of resources and is intended to respond to the changing needs of the community.

"It's very important that the Family and Community Resource Center hears from parents, students, the community, and district teachers and staff about the needs of at-risk students and families," said Jill Smith, Battle Ground Public Schools' Executive Director of Federal Programs and Instructional Support Services. "The goal of the FCRC is to provide help where it's needed the most, so above all, that means we're here to listen."

According to A Way Home Washington,a nonprofit organization that advocates for the end of homelessness, more than 35,000 public school students in the state are in homeless situations. In Clark County alone, there were approximately 2,300 such students during the last school year in which data was available.

"We are excited that we'll be able to connect families with resources to help their children be successful students," said Lydia Sanders, Battle Ground Public Schools' Family and Community Resource Services Coordinator. "We've partnered with other local community service organizations for years, and the Family and Community Resource Center will be a hub from which the district can provide real help to those in our district who are most at risk and in need of assistance."

The FCRC is a continuation of the district's joint efforts with the Battle Ground Education Foundation, an all-volunteer, nonprofit community organization whose purpose is to leverage community resources to help maintain quality education for all students in Battle Ground schools.

The Family and Community Resource Center can be reached at (360) 885-5434 and
is open from 8:00 to 4:30 Monday through Wednesday, 8:30 to 6:30 on Thursdays, and 8:30 to 2:30 on Fridays.

Prairie High School production poster for Shrek the Musical
Prairie High School production poster for Shrek the Musical
Prairie High School Set to Perform Shrek the Musical (Photo) - 09/28/16

Prairie High School drama is set to present "Shrek the Musical" beginning Oct. 28 at the high school. Produced by special arrangement with Musical Theatre International, "Shrek the Musical" is a fairy tale adventure that brings all the beloved characters you know from the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film to life on stage and proves there's more to the story than meets the ears.

Come and witness the tale of an unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking Donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Throw in a short-tempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude, and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you've got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there's one on hand... and his name is Shrek.

Featuring music by Jeanine Tesori and the book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, the show runs Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 3-5. Performances will be at Prairie High School, 11311 NE 119th St., Vancouver. Tickets cost $6 for students, $12 for adults, and $8 for senior citizens and are available online at https://www.greateventseats.com/battleground.

The performance dates and times are as follows:

Friday, Oct. 28, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 29, 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 29, 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 4, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 5, 7:00 p.m.

Glenwood Heights Kindergarten teacher teaching students to walk through the hallways quietly
Glenwood Heights Kindergarten teacher teaching students to walk through the hallways quietly
Teaching Positive Behaviors Puts the Focus on Learning (Photo) - 09/22/16

The students at Tukes Valley Middle School are more than a little excited about the prospect of watching counselor Josh Cornwell pick bits of pie out of his beard. In fact, many of them will be on their best behavior this school year while competing for a chance to make that happen.

That's because Battle Ground Public Schools has implemented a district-wide, research-driven approach known as Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS). The PBIS program seeks to recognize students for exhibiting the expected, positive behaviors that are conducive to an effective learning environment. It's part of the district's focus on social-emotional learning, the process by which children and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

In the classrooms of Battle Ground's schools, students are taught behavioral expectations in a manner similar to how they are taught reading or math skills. Within the first few days of school at Glenwood Heights Primary, for example, students lined up by grade and followed their teachers from station to station where they watched demonstrations on what is expected from them in the different parts of the school and then demonstrated the positive behaviors back to their teachers. At the school bus station, students carefully boarded the bus and then sat side by side in the seats as they listened how they are expected to talk quietly, stay seated, and be respectful.

The ultimate goal of implementing PBIS is to build positive relationships between students and staff, providing the necessary support for all students to be successful in school. "By implementing PBIS across all schools and grade levels throughout the district, students become versed in a common language of established expectations that can be carried forward over the course of a student's entire academic career," said Tamra Scheetz, one of the district's two PBIS coaches.

The results have been impressive so far, significantly reducing the number of behavior referrals in the schools that first implemented the approach. In turn, this means that more classroom time can be focused on teaching academics instead of on correcting behaviors that would otherwise pose significant distractions.

A major piece of PBIS is the reinforcement of positive behaviors. Across the district, schools have developed a system where students earn special privileges or rewards for demonstrating positive behaviors. Staff have surveyed students to develop the most meaningful and motivating rewards. For example, students can earn additional recess time, have lunch or shoot hoops with a favorite teacher or staff member, or even enter a drawing for the chance to pie a staff member in the face at an assembly.

When students are recognized for a positive behavior, they are given a small token or a stamp that can later be exchanged for one of these privileges. At Tukes Valley Middle, students are given passports in which to collect their stamps. Some rewards are managed by individual classroom teachers, while other, larger rewards are managed by administration.

To engage older students in the PBIS process, teachers might ask them to create posters or produce short videos that help teach fellow students the behavior expectations. To help define and communicate the expectations, each school is creating a PBIS handbook based on a district template.

"Kids will rise to expectations if the bar is set high enough," Cornwell said . "The PBIS program is a great way to acknowledge the students who are doing the right thing, but may have been overlooked in the past."

Battle Ground School District Receives Initial Water Testing Results - 09/19/16

Battle Ground Public Schools has received initial results for water testing indicating elevated levels of lead in water at some sources on six campuses. Some samples from Amboy Middle, Captain Strong Primary, Chief Umtuch Middle, Maple Grove, Yacolt Primary, and the Lewisville campus were found to have lead contents above the federal Environmental Protection Agency's recommended limit for lead of 15 parts per billion.

The district has taken immediate action to prohibit drinking from sources that tested above recommended limits for lead, and is following federal guidelines for addressing elevated lead levels and follow up testing.

"We are concerned about the health and safety of our students, and have taken measures to address the results as swiftly and efficiently as possible," said Mark Hottowe, Battle Ground's superintendent.

The district has shut off water sources that showed elevated levels of lead and is changing those fixtures. Following replacement of the fixtures, the district will conduct follow up testing according to federal guidelines. The district will be working with the principals at each of the impacted buildings to make appropriate accommodations to make sure students have adequate access to drinking water.

To be thorough, Battle Ground Public Schools conducted testing at every source of drinkable water across the district. The district drew samples from more than 2,000 sources following federal recommended guidelines for testing.

The results the district has received to date represent approximately 20 percent of the more than 2,000 samples. The district will address additional results as it receives them.

Battle Ground will continue ongoing testing as part of its maintenance plan and commitment to providing a safe environment for students and employees.

Teacher Natalie Keller and the Tukes Valley Middle School Green Team after being presented with their Silver and Gold level certifications
Teacher Natalie Keller and the Tukes Valley Middle School Green Team after being presented with their Silver and Gold level certifications
Tukes Valley Middle School makes bein' green look easy (Photo) - 09/16/16

It's been said that it ain't easy being green, but that didn't deter the students at Tukes Valley Middle School. After earning a Bronze Level certification from Washington Green Schools just last year for its school grounds and gardens project, the Green Team at Tukes Valley quickly rose through the ranks, earning two additional certifications for its efforts over the past year.

The Tukes Valley Green Team received a Silver Level certification in Waste and Recycling for its plastic bag collection efforts and Gold Level certification in Water for work the students did on the creek near the school. More than 30 students participated in Green Team projects and activities over the past year.

"It's quite impressive for a club that's just two years old to have already achieved Gold Level status," said Natalie Keller, a 7th grade science teacher at Tukes Valley and the Green Team's staff leader. "The Green Team provides students with the ability to make a real, powerful difference in the school and community. That difference will be influential for years to come, long after the students have graduated from the school itself."

The school celebrated its newest green achievements during the first school-wide assembly of the year, during which Clark County Green Schools Environmental Outreach Specialist Michelle Picinich presented the Green Team with its Silver and Gold Level certificates.

As part of its Waste and Recycling certification, the Tukes Valley Green Team collected plastic bags and film for the Trex Company Challenge. The team was commended for its education efforts to keep plastic bags out of curbside recycling bins. Plastic bags can clog recycling sorting machines, resulting in costly breakdowns.

Now that the Green Team is certified in three environmental categories and Tukes Valley is a Gold Level school as a result, the Green Team will need to get certified in the remaining three Washington Green Schools categories if it is to achieve the highest Platinum Level designation. The remaining categories are Energy, Healthy School Buildings, and Transportation.

"I will never forget a comment one student made the first year Tukes' Green Team began," Keller said. "The student looked over the nature trail and said, 'One day, when I'm a dad and my kids go here, I'm going to point at the nature trail and tell them I did that!' The changes the students make in our community and the pride it gives the students is the true accomplishment of the Green Team."

Battle Ground Public Schools is proud of Tukes Valley for progressing through the Green School designations and encourages other schools in the district to seek their own certifications.

CAM Academy teacher Alexis Scott assists student Emersyn Christenson
CAM Academy teacher Alexis Scott assists student Emersyn Christenson
CAM Academy earns state accreditation (Photo) - 09/16/16

It took 15 months, a mountain of data, and a whole lot of teamwork from staff and families to achieve the milestone recognition, but CAM Academy has earned the distinction of being accredited by the Washington State Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD). Accreditation is a quality assurance process that requires a school to be evaluated by an external entity to determine if standards are met and improvements are being made for continuous growth.

"We enjoyed working with our local Educational Service District and the Association of Educational Service Districts to achieve accreditation," said CAM Academy Principal Ryan Cowl. "We had four very knowledgeable educators come into the school and review everything from school culture and climate, academic rigor and curriculum to the opportunities students gained during their high school experience. The ESD interviewed students, parents, administration and staff as a way to provide our school with positive feedback and recommendations for future improvements."

The AESD accreditation program was established more than 40 years ago to ensure that Washington's high schools were adequately preparing students for college. Over the years, the State Board of Education opened the accreditation process to all grade levels. Washington state does not require schools to be accredited; however, about 400 of the nearly 3,000 public, private and charter schools in the state currently have the designation.

To earn the accreditation, CAM collected and analyzed student performance data such as school climate surveys and academic, attendance, and community engagement data; assessed its programs for areas of improvement; collaborated with staff, students and families to set goals; documented the school's direction, achievements and challenges; created an improvement plan; and participated in an external review.

In its accreditation report, the AESD Accreditation Panel commended CAM Academy for:

A strong staff belief that in order for students to be successful there must be a strong system of communication with families. The new 'branding' of CAM Academy is an example of this communication process with all stakeholders.

All school stakeholders, including students, are engaged in creating a culture of excellence. Additionally, student interviews indicate that the administration and teachers are always willing to help and that students want to succeed and push each other to do better.

Ryan Cowl, CAM's new principal, accepts change as a normal and positive process and fosters a spirit of collaboration and reflective practice through feedback.

Professional learning is seen as a collaborative activity. Staff have regular scheduled time to collaborate around common professional learning opportunities.

CAM Academy met or exceeded every goal area for school year 2015-16.

There is a focus on retention of students through increased opportunities (e.g., Advanced Placement classes).

"I am very proud of the contributions of our staff, students and parents through the accreditation process," Cowl said. "It is worthwhile, meaningful and exciting to learn things that reinforce the work we are doing and allow us to achieve positive growth academically, socially and emotionally. It is a privilege to work with such a great community and school district."

Tukes Valley Instructional Coach Meredith Gannon has won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
Tukes Valley Instructional Coach Meredith Gannon has won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
Battle Ground Teacher Wins Highest National Recognition in Teaching (Photo) - 09/06/16

Battle Ground Public Schools is pleased to announce that Instructional Coach Meredith Gannon has won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The award, which is administered by the National Science Foundation, is the highest national honor that a teacher can receive.

"I am honored to receive the Presidential Award, as it serves as an affirmation of the work I have done to advance environmental education in my community," Gannon said. "This award is a recognition of the support and professional growth provided to me by my students, colleagues, and family members."

Gannon will receive a $10,000 award and a commemorative Presidential certificate at a recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. While there, she'll have the opportunity to meet with fellow STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educators, researchers and policy leaders.

Gannon is an instructional coach at Tukes Valley Primary, where she helps teachers to incorporate the most effective teaching methods into their instructional practices. Prior to her work at Tukes Valley, Gannon was as an instructional coach at Glenwood Heights Primary School and Maple Grove K-8 School. She also spent 10 years teaching at Sacajawea Elementary School for Vancouver Public Schools, which is where she worked when she was nominated for the Presidential Award.

As a third generation teacher, Gannon said that teaching is part of her DNA. After completing an undergraduate degree in political science, Gannon worked in the private sector for several years, logging tens of thousands of air travel miles every year. But she found the experience of constant travel and sitting at a desk unfulfilling, she said, and knew immediately that teaching would be her next career move.

In the classroom, Gannon prefers leading students in hands-on projects versus using traditional teaching methods. She often pulls the outdoors into her lessons, for example taking advantage of a local stream where students test water quality, examine macroinvertebrates, and observe environmental changes.

"Using outdoor learning, I strive to help students make strong personal connections with the natural world and empower them to use their knowledge and skills to make positive contributions to our society," Gannon said.

Her students have presented their findings at Watershed Congress, a City of Vancouver event that focuses on education, discovery and stewardship. Gannon also has coordinated Salmon in the Classroom programs and field work opportunities. While working as a teacher at Sacajawea Elementary, she coordinated the implementation of a solar panel array through her Solar 4R Schools Grant.

Gannon's passion for teaching is contagious. In fact, her husband decided to follow in her footsteps, abandoning his previous career in favor of becoming a fourth grade teacher.
Gannon has a B.S. in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's degree in teaching in elementary education from Washington State University Vancouver. She is a National Board Certified Middle Childhood Generalist.

To date, Gannon's other awards include the Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence and two local Teacher of the Year awards. As Sacajawea Elementary's Green Team advisor, she received the Department of Education Green Ribbon School Award and five Washington Green School Awards. She has also worked as an author of Washington's learning standards for Environmental and Sustainability Education.