Sept. 7, 2018
Welcome to the 2018-19 school year!
In this issue:
New superintendent on the job; learning & leading
School Board approves 18-19 budget; addendum will be filed
TEA, TSD sign new, 3-year agreement
Committees to study tech, secondary courses, Future Ready
Summer work completed at multiple sites
Cadre of new teachers joins Tahoma's ranks
Staff members welcome students on first day
News briefs
Coming up in Bear Country
What's for lunch?
New superintendent on the job
Tahoma Superintendent Tony Giurado, who started work in July, speaks during an all-district staff meeting last week.

Giurado sent a welcome letter to all families on the first day of the new school year. If you missed it, check your email!

School Board approves 18-19 budget; addendum will be filed
The Tahoma School Board on Aug. 28 approved the budget for the 2018-19 school year. The annual budget process started in the spring after voters approved the Educational Programs and Operations Levy. 

In early July, the board members met for a lengthy work-study session, where they listened to a presentation about the budget, asked questions and discussed the proposed document. Later that month, the board held a public hearing about the budget. Three community members attended and spoke.

This year’s budget was the first to fall within new state funding and budgeting procedures that are part of the McCleary school funding decision approved by the state Legislature. One element of the new budget rules from the state is a requirement that school districts make four-year budget projections in addition to the annual budget. Another big change is that there is no longer a state salary scale for teachers, which means each school district must create its own salary structure as part of contract negotiations. The Tahoma Education Association and the district signed a new contract last week. Scroll down for an article about that agreement.

The 2018-2019 budget has sufficient revenue to pay for operating costs and leave the district with a healthy fund balance reserve. Unfortunately, the next three years look much different and will force the district to use about half of its reserve funds to balance the budget.

“We continue to strive to be below budget,” Cloud said, noting that she and district leaders seek fiscally responsible ways to best serve students.

Revenue for the 2018-2019 school year is projected to be $118,779,855, which is about $19 million more than 2017-2018, due mainly to increased state education funding. Spending is projected to be $112,241,746, which means about $5.3 million will be added to the district’s reserves for a total fund balance of $23.3 million.

Expenditures include a pay increase in the 2018-2019 year for non-teaching staff, which is part of the current contract and is designed to bring their compensation up to the average of surrounding school districts. Because the new TEA-TSD agreement was not reached before the School Board had to approve the budget, a placeholder of a 3.1 percent increase was included. Now that the new contract has been approved, related budget details are being determined and a budget “extension” (addendum) will be filed with the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is a normal process for many districts, and especially so this year, Cloud told the board.

School Board President Mary Jane Glaser said it is very difficult to compare finances with other districts now, due to the elimination of the state salary schedule for teachers. However, because Tahoma’s per-pupil funding is lower than most other districts in the Puget Sound area, Glaser said she is “fired up,” and pledged to advocate on behalf of Tahoma to area legislators for a fix.

The budget forecast beyond next school year is not rosy, as projected spending exceeds revenue. The district will have to use its reserve fund to balance the budget, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, and is projected to cut its reserve in half by 2022. Cloud said her projections are based on conservative revenue and spending assumptions, which include the reduced level of local levy funding (part of the McCleary funding plan that reduces local levies) and annual state revenue increases of 1.9 percent. The projections also include an annual reduction in state revenue of $3 million because the district’s exemption from complying with lower average class size in grades kindergarten-Grade 3 expires after the 2018-2019 school year. Additional classrooms and teachers would be needed to meet the state’s target class size.

The budget calls for spending reserve funds to maintain classroom technology, which will not be supported by technology levy funds beyond 2018; a technology renewal levy failed last February.

The budget includes funds to purchase additional school buses using an unexpected allocation of state transportation dollars. Cloud told the school board that the district recently received $750,000 from the state Superintendent of Public Instruction’s transportation office in recognition of the district’s excellent transportation efficiency rating. The district was not notified in advance that it had qualified for the funding, she said.

The School Board approved spending $500,000 of the state money to purchase three additional buses. That purchase, along with buying six more buses paid for by reserve and state depreciation funding, could be sufficient to meet the district’s immediate needs, she said. A two-year bus levy that would have added buses to the fleet failed last February.

Education association, district sign new 3-year labor agreement
After several months of bargaining, the Tahoma Education Association and the Tahoma School District last week signed a new, three-year bargaining agreement. The new contract was approved by 98 percent of TEA members, and with a 5-0 vote from the School Board.

"The representatives on the bargaining committee exemplified the spirit of collaboration that the Tahoma School District holds dear,” School Board President Mary Jane Glaser said. “The joint letter announcing the tentative agreement between the district and union, signed by both the TEA President and HR Director, exhibited the importance of relationship and respect that we hold for one another. The school board was honored to approve the contract and to begin the new school year on a positive note."

The contract provides for an average of a 14.5 percent salary increase for certificated staff in the first year. The starting salary for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree will be $54,929. The salary schedule tops out at $107,001 for a teacher with a master’s degree and 90 credits. Cost of living increases are provided in the second and third year of the contract.

“We believe this negotiated agreement will allow us to retain and attract high-quality educators that will continue our rich tradition of providing a world-class education for our 8,400 students,” TEA President David Aaby and TSD Human Resources Director Mark Koch wrote in a join announcement. 

Aaby said that there was much to accomplish during the bargaining process this year because of the McCleary decision and the fact that the two parties were coming out of a four-year contract.

“Both teams approached it in a manner that we kept kids at the center of the table, and also making sure we were going to be able to fairly compensate our teachers but doing so in a way that was going to be fiscally responsible to our taxpayers and the resources that we’ve been given by the state,” he said. “We’re very thankful for the relationship that we have with the district. We’re able to talk openly. We’re able to disagree at times, but we don’t hold it against each other. We’re kid-centered, and at the end, that makes kids win. People will often ask me, who was the winner and who was the loser in these negotiations? The cool thing is there was no loser. Both the district and our teachers were winners in this.”

Classified staff members who belong to the Public School Employees of Washington are in year 4 of a 5-year contract designed to bring employee salaries more in line with surrounding districts.

To read a three-page summary of the new agreement, click here. When the final contract agreement is complete, the district will post the entire contract to the website as in years past.
Committees to study tech, secondary courses, college & career planning
Three committees will soon begin work to study technology use and planning in the district, secondary course work and college and career exploration and planning.

The Technology Model Review will begin this month and is expected to be complete in early December. A structure similar to that of previous model review work will be used, including four primary meetings with added subcommittee work as needed. The district received about 60 volunteer applicants, including more than 40 parents, a number of both certificated and classified staff members, four community members, and five students. The adult applicants were balanced across the elementary and secondary levels.

The Secondary Course Review will begin this month and continue through June. It will examine data for gaps in courses, pathways and achievement; and make recommendations to the board.

The College and Career Exploration and Planning work will begin this month and continue through June. The group will work to ensure that the experiences that Tahoma High School students have:
  • Reflect the vision and beliefs of the Future Ready initiative
  • Core work is aligned with the voice of stakeholders
  • There are structures in place for input and feedback

We will share more about the committee work as each process moves forward.
Cadre of new teachers joins Tahoma's ranks
Tahoma Superintendent Tony Giurado meets with newly hired teachers during their orientation days in August.

Tahoma hired 62 teachers this year, many of whom are experienced educators who have worked in other school districts. 

Staff members welcome students on first day of school
Tahoma Elementary Principal Jerry Gaston high fives a student before the first day of school.
An older Shadow Lake student walks a new kindergartner to her teacher on Friday morning.
A staff members helps a Rock Creek student find her way.
Rock Creek Principal Chris Thomas greets students on Tuesday morning.
Immediate need for substitute custodians, bus drivers
The Tahoma School district is hiring substitute custodians and substitute bus drivers to fill immediate openings.

For more information or to apply, visit our Human Resources online application system here.

New websites for school buildings, district are live
Over the summer, the Tahoma School District switched website providers to a company called SchoolMessenger. The change is meant to help the district provide more up-to-date, mobile friendly websites.

While most of the information that existed on the prior websites has been transferred, we are still working to refine the sites and make certain all links are working. If you can’t find a piece of information you are looking for, or if you find a broken link please call or email your child’s school. (Or, for the district site, contact the Communications Office at or 425-413-3409).

Some features, such as the staff directory, are not yet fully functional and we continue to work to resolve those issues. The master calendar for the district, which is kept on Tandem, is still not flowing to the individual sites. It can be accessed here

A mobile app will be added this fall.

We apologize for any gaps in service that were caused by the transition, and thank you for your patience as we work to provide a better product for parents and community members.

The new websites can be found at the following links:

New communication product in use
In addition to the website transition described above, the Communications Department has also transitioned the district to a new tool by SchoolMessenger called “Communicate.” It is already in use, helping staff members send email and phone messages to families and fellow staff members. 

The district will soon offer text messages to parents, which will be on an “opt-in” system. In coming weeks, we will share further details about text notifications and how to opt your phone number in as a recipient.

The Communicate product is also sending automated Nutrition Services balance updates and attendance calls, the latter of which had persistent errors under the company the district previously used. School Messenger has a good reputation among other school districts that utilize the product. We know that the erroneous attendance calls at the secondary level in particular were frustrating to parents and staff alike, and we look forward to a reliable system under SchoolMessenger.

Parents invited to college savings seminar
Tahoma High School will host a session about "Saving & Paying for College," from 6:30-8 p.m. on Oct. 4 in the performing arts center. Parents with children of all ages are invited to attend.

Topics covered will include:
  • Current and future costs of college
  • The value of education
  • Saving strategies
  • The value of having a plan
  • 529 plans
  • Types of financial aid
  • Expected family contribution
  • Student loans
  • Tax opportunities
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Community members invited to fire department open house
Maple Valley Fire and Life Safety is inviting area residents to the department’s annual Open House event, which will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Fire Station 81, 22225 S.E. 231st St. 

The event will include lunch, a bouncy house, a kids’ firefighter challenge, the smoke trailer, prizes and more.

Overflow parking will be available at the Maple Valley Park and Ride, which is on the northwest corner of Highway 169 and 231st Street. 
WEB leaders welcome new students to middle school
At both Summit Trail Middle School and Maple View Middle School, leaders with the W.E.B. (Where Everyone Belongs) Program welcomed sixth-grade students to their new schools last week. Designed to forge mentor relationships, make new students feel more comfortable and lessen bullying, the program is in its second year at both Tahoma middle schools.

Students gather for W.E.B. activities in the gym at Summit Trail last week.
Leaders with the W.E.B. program distribute sixth-grade schedules.
Teacher and W.E.B. adviser Katrina Alegado smiles while getting students into small groups.

THS Cross Country, Track coach named to “Coach of the Year” list
Tahoma High School girls track and field coach Jeff Brady, who also leads the cross country team, was recently named as the Washington state Girls Track & Field High School Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. 

The organization selects one boys coach and one girls coach from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to honor each year. The selection is based on the coaches’ teams’ performances throughout the season, including team score and placement at state championships, margin of victory, performance against rankings, individual championships and how their team’s performances stacked up against prior years.

FRIDAY, Sept. 7
THS football vs. Kentlake, 7 p.m., Maxwell Stadium (MVMS)

TUESDAY, Sept. 11
Tahoma High School "Powder Puff" football kick-off meeting, 6 p.m., THS

Tahoma High School open house, 6 p.m., THS

THURSDAY, Sept. 13
Shadow Lake Elementary open house, 6 p.m., SLES

FRIDAY, Sept. 14
School Board work study session, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Central Services Center
Cedar River PTO family night, 6 p.m., CRES

SATURDAY, Sept. 15
School Board work study session, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Central Services Center

TUESDAY, Sept. 18
Summit Trail Middle School open house, 6:30 p.m., STMS

TUESDAY, Sept. 25
Cedar River Elementary open house, 6:30 p.m., CRES
School Board meeting, 6:30 p.m., Central Services Center

THURSDAY, Sept. 27
Lake Wilderness Elementary open house, 6 p.m., LWES

Rock Creek Elementary open house, 6:30 p.m., RCES
"Saving & Paying for College," open to parents with children of all ages; 6:30-8 p.m., THS PAC

What's for lunch?
The Tahoma School District does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups The following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination:
Title IX Officer
Director of Human Resources
25720 Maple Valley Highway
Maple Valley, WA 98038
ADA Coordinator
Director of Human Resources
25720 Maple Valley Highway
Maple Valley, WA 98038
Section 504 Coordinator
Director of Special Services
25720 Maple Valley Highway
Maple Valley, WA 98038
Tahoma Matters staff Wendy Castleman:
Tahoma School District
25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd. S.E., Maple Valley, WA 98038