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News Releases
VPS bond passes with overwhelming support - 02/15/17

The Vancouver community shows its support for schools on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The $458 million bond measure is currently passing with nearly 70 percent approval.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the capital construction bond measure for Vancouver Public Schools with 69.68 percent. Validation of the measure came a day after the election. An updated ballot count provided the required 27,000 votes to validate the measure. VPS has received a total of 28,660 votes, 19,969 of which were "yes" votes. The election results will be validated officially on Feb. 24.

Said Superintendent Steve Webb, "I want to thank our community members for their continued support of children and schools here in Vancouver. These overwhelming results indicate just how much our public schools matter to this community."

"On behalf of the school board, I want to thank the thousands of volunteers who donated their time and resources to support the bond," said Board President Dale Rice. "It's an honor to be part of the proud Vancouver tradition for passing school funding measures. This extraordinary result is another testament of the ongoing commitment to our young people and the future of our community."

What the $458 million bond will accomplish:
- Rebuild seven aging schools: King, Marshall, Ogden, Truman and Walnut Grove elementary schools; Fir Grove/Vista; and McLoughlin Middle School; and relocate Lieser Campus to a renovated Marshall Elementary
- Build two new elementary schools to alleviate overcrowding
- Construct a larger, permanent school for Vancouver iTech Preparatory
- Remodel and enlarge Sacajawea and Franklin elementary schools; Vancouver School of Arts and Academics; and Columbia River High School
- Enhance safety and security measures at all sites
- Accommodate smaller class sizes for kindergarten through third grade and eliminate approximately 60 portable classrooms throughout the district
- Upgrade heating and cooling systems and improve energy efficiency
- Upgrade roofs, flooring, windows where needed
- Add accessible surfaces for playgrounds
- Create spaces in schools for family engagement and community use
- Restore Kiggins Bowl stadium

The estimated cost of the entire bond program, which includes improvements to every school in the district, is $562.8 million. This total cost is offset by other revenue sources including a $43 million class-size reduction grant from the state, local impact fees estimated at $12 million and state assistance funds estimated at $50 million.

The last bond measure in VPS was passed by voters 16 years ago in 2001 with 63.3 percent "yes" votes. That $87.7 million bond helped pay to replace Eisenhower, Franklin, Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek, Sarah J. Anderson and Washington elementary schools, and build Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

Next steps:
The construction schedule prioritizes eligibility for state assistance funding and completing projects on time and within budget. The scope of the ambitious timeline is anticipated to be six years, from spring 2017 to 2022, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Work will begin right away on designing and permitting for the replacement Marshall Elementary School and McLoughlin Middle School, and a permanent building for Vancouver iTech Preparatory to be located on the Washington State University Vancouver campus. Upgrades and enhancements at 25 district schools will begin this spring and continue over the course of the six-year timeline.

"In 2013, our community asked us to address our facility needs to ensure our students had access to future-ready environments," said Webb. "Over the past two years, we've engaged hundreds of stakeholders in shaping this ballot measure. I'm excited about this work. Public education is vital to good communities, and Vancouver is among the very best. I am grateful to be part of a community that values its schools and reaffirms its commitment in so many ways."

Vancouver Public Schools' mobile Family-Community Resource Center
Vancouver Public Schools' mobile Family-Community Resource Center
Vancouver's mobilization of resources earns national award (Photo) - 02/13/17

Taking outreach services on the road has earned Vancouver Public Schools a Magna Awards 2017 Grand Prize given by the National School Boards Association. The award, one of three in the nation, recognizes the district's mobile Family-Community Resource Center van for mobilizing resources to remove barriers that impede student success.

Approximately 50 percent of VPS students live in poverty. Mobility, inadequate medical and dental care, mental health issues, lack of affordable housing, homelessness and unmet basic needs are just some of the barriers to learning that thousands of VPS students face. Students living in poverty often experience chronic absenteeism, hunger, medical and dental problems and lack of clothing and hygiene items. Those students typically suffer from chronic stress, reducing their ability to focus on learning. Parent involvement also is diminished. To address the issues of poverty and increase family engagement, VPS has created a network of Family-Community Resource Centers (vansd.org/fcrc/), which now are located in 18 of the district's 35 schools.

The mobile FCRC serves students at the other 17 district schools without onsite FCRCs. Working with school counselors, teachers, building administrators and community partners, mobile FCRC coordinator Nicole Loran-Graham collects and deploys resources to meet needs when and where they're needed. Community partners including non-profit agencies, the faith community and other service organizations generously provide needed donations and services.

Loran-Graham is expanding FCRC resources to reach children and youth at the schools they attend. She is establishing monthly fresh food pantries; setting up clothing and personal hygiene closets with donations from faith-based partners, local fire departments and social service organizations; referring families to Vancouver Housing Authority Section 8 program, which gives preference to VPS families; and hosting FCRC pop-up shops, inviting school personnel to shop for items they need for their students (e.g., school supplies, back packs, clothing, hygiene items, cleaning supplies).

The mobile FCRC van also is equipped with Wi-Fi, providing online access to assist families in searching for housing, job opportunities, childcare, medical providers and other resources.

"We can't do this work alone," said Dale Rice, Vancouver Public Schools' board president. "On behalf of the school board, I'm incredibly grateful to the hundreds of partners, volunteers and organizations who are committed to the success and wellbeing of our community's children. Together, we can transform lives."

Poverty and mobility have a profound effect on student success. In Vancouver Public Schools leaders have responded with a grassroots effort--directing more support to struggling schools and engaging community partners to remove barriers to learning. Vancouver's "it takes a village" approach is transforming student lives. Achievement gaps are closing, mobility is stabilizing and graduation rates are rising (64 percent in 2010 to more than 80 percent in 2016). The community schools model, which the mobile FCRC helps facilitate, engages local partners in a shared vision that all students can succeed.

The award will be formally announced at the National School Boards Association conference in March.

Planning and preparation save lives at school - 02/10/17

On Feb. 2, at 4:25 p.m., a student collapsed during wrestling practice at Hudson's Bay High School. The student was unconscious and struggling to breathe.

This scene could have ended in tragedy, but thanks to the quick action of the well-trained coaching staff, the student is alive today.

"This is a great example of how school staff trained in CPR, the availability of an onsite AED and quickly accessing 911 can save a student's life," said Pete Adams, firefighter/paramedic and public information officer for Vancouver Fire Department. "Without question, the school staff put their training into action and it led to the best possible outcome."

Vancouver Public Schools' athletic department uses designated safety coaches to ensure that key staff are prepared and trained to react quickly and efficiently in an emergency.

The safety coaches oversee that every coach for every sport at every school has met the following requirements:
Current First Aid/CPR/AED training; required every two years
A completed emergency response plan, which includes school locations of Automated External Defibrillators, emergency contact information for every athlete, health plans and medications for applicable students and other medical supplies

Last week, the emergency response plan helped the Hudson's Bay wrestling coaches respond quickly when the student collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. While one coach began chest compressions, 911 was called and a trainer retrieved the AED. The student's health plan was pulled and the mother was contacted. Meanwhile, the AED was used alternately with chest compressions until first responders arrived. During the emergency, additional coaching staff went into the hallway to calm the crowd of concerned students that had gathered. The student who collapsed was transported to the hospital where doctors credited the quick actions of school staff for saving the student's life.

Last May at Columbia River High School, coaching staff and school administrators responded to a similar emergency when a student went into sudden cardiac arrest. Their quick action using the emergency response plan also was credited for saving the student's life.

Deadline approaching to vote on school bond measure - 02/07/17

Just one week remains to vote on Vancouver Public Schools' bond measure, Proposition 2. The election is Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Ballots may be returned by:

-Mail (postmarked by Feb. 14)

-Drop box or at the Clark County Elections Office by 8 p.m. on Feb. 14

-Drop-off at one of the ballot deposit locations available only on Election Day (see https://www.clark.wa.gov/sites/all/files/elections/2017/drop%20site%20locations.pdf for more information)

For the results of the election to be considered valid, at least 26,996 people must cast votes either for or against the measure. A 60 percent supermajority, or 16,198 "yes" votes, also is required for the bond measure to pass.

The bond measure, if approved, would allow Vancouver Public Schools to improve and upgrade every school in the district.

Visit http://vansd.org/reschools for more information on the measure.

School election is Tuesday, February 14 - 01/31/17

Voters will decide the outcome of a bond measure (Proposition 2) for Vancouver Public Schools in two weeks. Ballots were mailed to voters who live within the district's boundaries on Friday, Jan. 27. The election is Tuesday, Feb. 14.

Ballots may be returned by mail (postmarked by Feb. 14), deposited in a drop box or at the Clark County Elections Office by 8 p.m. on Feb. 14 or dropped off at one of the ballot deposit locations available only on Election Day (see https://www.clark.wa.gov/sites/all/files/elections/2017/drop%20site%20locations.pdf for those locations).

At least 26,996 people must cast votes either for or against the measure to validate the results of the election. That number is 40 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last general election.

In addition, a 60 percent supermajority--16,198 "yes" votes--is required to approve the bond measure.

If approved, the bond measure would allow Vancouver Public Schools to:

* Improve and upgrade every school in the district.
* Qualify for state assistance funds.
* Take advantage of 40-year historic low interest rates, saving taxpayers money.
* Remove portables and add permanent classrooms to relieve overcrowding and support smaller class sizes.
* Replace King, Marshall, Ogden, Truman and Walnut Grove elementary schools; McLoughlin Middle School; and Fir Grove/Vista. It also would relocate Lieser Campus to a remodeled Marshall school building.
* Partially remodel and/or enlarge Columbia River High School and stadium, Vancouver School of Arts and Academics and Sacajawea and Franklin elementary schools, and renovate Kiggins Bowl.
* Build two new elementary schools and a new, consolidated Vancouver iTech Preparatory.
* Construct safe, secure entrances at schools throughout the district.
* Upgrade roofs, flooring, windows and heating and cooling systems where needed.
* Add accessible surfaces for playgrounds.
* Modernize to support technology needs.
* Create spaces for family and community use.

The proposed $458 million bond measure is projected to increase temporarily the bond tax rate by $0.09 per $1,000 of assessed property value for three years.

When combined with the existing bonds, the bond rate is projected to be $1.52 per $1,000 of assessed value for tax collection years 2018--2020 and then drop to $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed value starting in 2021.

For the owner of a median-priced $225,000 home, the change in the VPS bond tax rate is approximately $20 per year for three years.

The three-year educational maintenance and operations levy, approved by voters in 2016, will cost $2.68 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2018. The technology levy, approved by voters in 2013, will cost $0.23 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2018. With approval of the bond, combined local school tax rates would be $4.43.

More information on the bond measure can be found at http://vansd.org/reschools.

Vancouver Public Schools' previous bond measure was approved by voters in 2001.

VPS to request emergency waiver for school-day closures due to January storm - 01/25/17

Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb will request an emergency instructional-day waiver, subject to school board approval on Feb. 14, from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The request is based on the state of emergency declared by Gov. Inslee in response to the January winter storm, which necessitated for safety reasons the closure of schools on Jan. 11, 12, 13 and 17.

Washington state requires 180 days of instruction (or an average of 1,027 instructional hours). Winter weather events in December have caused VPS to use all four emergency closure makeup dates built into the board-adopted 2016-17 school calendar. Those days are Jan. 30 (semester break) and June 19, 20 and 21.

The four lost days due to the January storm would extend the school calendar to include June 22, 23, 26 and 27. Consideration for the waiver include potential hardships for families who have planned and purchased summer vacation travel, high school students who depend on summer employment and employees who enroll in continuing education programs. The district ensures that it can meet the requirement for an average of 1,027 instructional hours.

OSPI has statutory authority to approve or deny instructional day waivers. Once OSPI verifies its decision, VPS will publish the updated calendar as quickly as possible.

If approved, the waiver would excuse students only from making up the four lost days. The district is working with employee bargaining groups on a plan for teachers and staff members who were off duty during the snow closures to makeup those days.

To minimize lost instructional time during the first semester, VPS has extended the semester to Feb. 2. First-semester finals will be held Feb. 1 and 2. Second semester will begin Feb. 3. Presidents Day, spring break and graduation dates remain unaffected.