Oct. 10, 2019
In this issue:

February ballot likely to include two levy measures
Interim superintendent sought by School Board
THS staff studies anxiety to increase understanding
Demographer: Enrollment increase likely to continue
District kudos
News briefs
Spotlight on Tahoma High School
Coming up in Bear Country
What's for lunch?

February ballot likely to include two levy measures
4-year measures would cover gaps in tech, operations funding
Months of work by the Tahoma School Board and district staff to determine the school district’s financial needs through 2024 are nearing a conclusion: On Oct. 22, the School Board will vote on resolutions that ask voters for two levy measures needed to maintain existing programs.

In its most recent meetings on Oct. 4, 5, and 8, the School Board held hours of discussion to analyze needs and resources for the next four school years. The board weighed the impact of new state education requirements, enrollment projections, state funding estimates, and how to maintain and grow Tahoma’s education programs and initiatives.

“These conversations span back a long time,” Board President Didem Pierson said during the Oct. 8 meeting. “Even our budgeting process had this process in mind. … I feel comfortable with the information I have received to work with those (levy) assumptions.”

At its Oct. 8 meeting, the board adopted a new technology plan, which describes how classroom technology will be used to support learning. The board also held first reading of resolutions that would place a four-year Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy on the Feb. 11 ballot and a separate resolution to run a four-year Technology levy in the same election.

The EP&O levy replaces an expiring two-year levy approved by voters in 2018. It provides funding for education services, staffing, equipment and supplies that are unfunded or underfunded by the state. For example, EP&O funds are used to supplement what it costs to provide school nurses, nutrition services, safety and security, special education, athletics, supplies, and many other services and programs.

The Technology levy is designed to restore funds that stopped when voters rejected a replacement levy in 2018. It is based on the technology plan developed in the past year, and would pay for devices such as computers, software, network equipment, along with staffing for teacher training and technical support.
Decisions on levy amounts and rates were made after School Board directors reviewed research provided by the Finance, Human Resources, and Teaching and Learning departments. Included in the research were a series of 10 meetings by administrators with district staff to analyze new state requirements, such as for paraeducator certification, graduation pathways, closing learning gaps, and dyslexia services. Another part of the funding equation is maintaining current programs as well as ensuring work continues on the district’s Future Ready initiative and on social-emotional learning and mental health support.

The School Board will consider approval of a EP&O levy that would collect $17.4 million in 2021 and increase to $22.3 million in 2024. Those collections would not begin until after the existing EP&O levy ends. The anticipated tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value is $2. The Technology levy would collect a total of $16.6 million, spread over four years. The levy rate would be 45 cents per $1,000 the first year and drop to 38 cents per $1,000 the final year. The rates are estimates, based on total assessed property value for the entire school district.

Interim superintendent sought by School Board
District principals, teachers, classified unions send message of support
The search for an interim superintendent is underway, following the Sept. 30 resignation of former Superintendent Tony Giurado and the acceptance of a separation agreement by the Tahoma School Board.

The School Board discussed options for filling the superintendent position during its annual planning meetings on Oct. 4 and 5, held at Central Services Center. The board agreed to seek an interim superintendent to oversee the district until July 2021.

According to the plan, the School Board invited current Tahoma principals and other administrators to apply for the position by Oct. 14. The board will interview candidates and make a selection at its Oct. 22 meeting.

The person selected for the position would be provided support and mentoring in order to guide the school district through the remainder of the current school year and the 2020-2021 school year. The timing provides stability as voters elect two new School Board directors in November and as the district prepares for a levy election in 2020. It also allows ample time to conduct a superintendent search in the 2020-2021 school year.

The other option that was considered by the School Board would have required Acting Superintendent Lori Cloud to remain in that role for the remainder of the school year while the board conducts a formal recruitment process for a new superintendent. Cloud told the School Board she would support what the board decides but prefers to return to her regular duties as assistant superintendent and director of finance and operations. The board agreed, and chose the interim superintendent plan. During the discussion, Cloud said she is not interested in becoming superintendent on a permanent basis.

Giurado’s resignation prompted numerous questions from Tahoma parents and staff, seeking more information about the sudden decision. The School Board issued two statements and posted the separation agreement on the district’s BoardDocs website. Board President Didem Pierson said the decision was made in the best interest of the district and Giurado.

“Ultimately, we simply were not the best match for each other. We want the best for Tony and for the District. We feel this agreement is the right choice for both parties,” she said.

The board heard public comments regarding the resignation at its Oct. 8 meeting. Representatives of the district’s labor organizations (Tahoma Education Association, Public School Employees union and the principals association) delivered a joint statement of support for the School Board. 

TEA President David Aaby read the statement, which concluded with a call to unite in support of students: “We recognize that we are better together; a unified school system of teachers, support staff, administrators, parents but most of all, our students. Now is the time to come together, to stand as one, to face our challenges and to make one another step toward a better place for our students to learn and to grow.”

Two Tahoma parents also made comments regarding the superintendent’s resignation. Lisa Heins asked whether more information would be available, and said the public is confused about what happened. Parent Tim Osburn said he attended the Oct. 4 and 5 School Board work-study sessions and, as a result of what he witnessed, said the School Board “is doing an amazing job.” He added that he would like to see changes made in the contract of the next superintendent to not pay salary and benefits to someone who resigns or is terminated.

THS staff studies anxiety to increase understanding
Inservice, toolkit of ideas, book study among methods of learning
In the past year, there was a common thread among what Tahoma High School students and staff members asked of administrators -- additional training and time spent learning how to better help students facing anxiety and other mental health challenges.

Data from the annual Healthy Youth Survey and from a year-end response in ninth-grade health and fitness indicated that students wish their teachers had a better understanding of student mental health. “Our staff said the same thing: We don’t feel fully equipped,” said Judy Beliveau, an associate principal at THS. “It scared us, the idea of tackling this, because we don’t want to do it wrong. What if we don’t have all the answers?”

Administrators decided that they would start with anxiety.

“One of the biggest reasons was the suicides ... It really brought to light to us as a school community that kids are struggling,” said Beliveau, referring to the deaths of three Maple Valley teenagers in the past two years. “We want to be as equipped as we can be to work with parents to help kids grow into Future Ready beings.”

The emphasis began last spring, when the high school staff watched the documentary “Angst.” (Note: Details for a community showing of “Angst” are being arranged, and will be shared when they are firm). This summer, they participated in an August inservice featuring a former student, currently attending the University of Washington, who has diagnosed anxiety. The student shared what it was like for her in high school, and talked about what was and wasn’t helpful for her while at Tahoma. Her parents also spoke with staff members about how they struggled to help their daughter while working with mental health professionals and the Tahoma staff.

Administrators also reached out to the district and asked for additional tools and resources for teachers and staff. Marianne Sager, who is the Special Services Coordinator and oversees the district PBIS and MTSS work, provided a “Tiered Toolbox for Anxiety,” featuring Tier 1 (instruction and supports that all students can benefit from) options. Here are a handful of examples:

  • Look beyond the lesson plans and consider the social/emotional/behavior factors that need to be supported in order to help the student find some successes in your environment.
  • Put yourself in the student’s shoes and consider how they perceive your learning environment.
  • Get the student’s perspective. Talk to them and ask them about their viewpoint.
  • Talk to the student’s family.
  • Be willing to adapt what you are doing in class to meet the needs of the student who is struggling. This doesn’t mean making it easier; just adapted to reduce the stress in a creative way.
  • Check in with the student frequently about assignment barriers or stress.
  • Never assume that a student is “old enough to know.” If they knew how, they would be doing it. Also avoid assuming that the student is being “lazy.” Check in with the student to find out what is going on. Ask without judgement or blame.

The toolbox also provides Tier 2 (supports that benefit some students who need additional intervention) choices such as:

  • Be open to learning about the student from other experts. Ask the family about the student’s needs. See if there are outside agencies that have suggestions for supporting the student. Ask the student about what would be supportive to them at school.
  • Speak up when you know that the student’s needs are not being met. Be prepared to adjust and adapt to meet the student’s needs. (Support your colleagues with this, too).
  • Identify the unique barriers that are blocking the student’s success.
  • Hold a team conversation to identify the function of the student’s behavior, and develop a general ed intervention plan that matches the function of the behavior specifically.

Counselor Sharon Wright said that the staff development is having a positive impact. “Our department has noticed that more students are coming in our doors feeling anxious, and some are coming in with a diagnosis of anxiety,” Wright said. “ … Our teachers are eager to learn strategies to help our students in this way. This intentional focus is vital for our teachers, our counselors/support staff, our community and, most importantly, our students and families.”

This fall, more than 30 teachers and staff are participating in a book study outside the hours of the school day about the book, “What Made Maddy Run,” by Kate Fagan. Beliveau initially heard about the book through her daughter, who is a senior in a nearby nursing program. After she read it and found it valuable, she brought it to THS, and Principal Terry Duty, some counselors and other staff members read it.

The book study is a great conversation starter for staff members, Beliveau said (and, could be a wonderful tool for families who would like to open a dialogue with their teens as well). It tells the story of Madison Holleran, who ran for the track team at the University of Pennsylvania. Holleran outwardly seemed to be thriving, but inwardly struggled with anxiety, stress and depression. She died by suicide in the middle of her freshman year of college.

Health and fitness teacher Mitch Boyer, who is participating in the study, said “This book is a glimpse into the minds of a family dealing with the impact of mental health. It is a snapshot into what may seem distant for many of us, but is far too common for us to ignore.” 

“It hits close to home for those of us who experienced similar challenges last year. It is informative and incredibly relevant,” Boyer added. “It is a reminder to take time and truly get to know our students.”
The book study, along with the August inservice, toolkit for teachers and other elements are a good step for the school, he said. 

“Educating our staff on anxiety and mental health is the only way to create the much-needed dialogue on the topic. We need to be more comfortable talking about this because it is increasingly prevalent,” Boyer said.

English Language Arts teacher Joscelyn Strasser said the book touches on the difference between social media and the internet as opposed to real life. 

The author writes: “At the same time, existing online often feels less risky, less challenging, than existing in the real world, where things often become messy. Online, you can just plug in and edit everything. Plus, there is no body language that you’re forced to interpret. When you try and build a relationship in person, or meet a group of friends, you face the possibility of awkward pauses, confusing body language, and the disappointment of not saying precisely what you mean.”

“I appreciate Fagan’s observation about the influence social media can have on our ability to interact in person,” Strasser said. “This idea of the messiness of real interaction is necessary, I think to our growth as human beings.”

The book study has helped her keep the August training in mind and also to keep thinking about the world students live in, she said, referring to a quote from page 84 of the book: “And I needed her to validate my other layers of self-worth.” 

“I love this idea that, as adults, it’s our job to help our students be, learn and build multiple layers to who they’re becoming,” Strasser said. “One of the reasons Maddy suffered is because she was always an athlete – that was an essential part of her identity – and then what (that) meant and looked like shifted when she experienced college. I think it’s important for all of us to remember to help our students cultivate a well-rounded sense of self.”

In the book, Fagan mentions that college sports complexes have training rooms, trainers and doctors ever-present for physical injuries, she said, but that most don’t have services for mental health. “I would love to see both the high school and the district take note of this division and make caring for mental health a more visible part of our environment and community. … I hope that both the high school and the district continue to make tending to one’s mental health visible.”

Demographer: enrollment increase likely to continue
Continued population growth in the Puget Sound area means there will be more students enrolling in Tahoma schools over the next few years, according to research from demographer William Kendrick in a report to the Tahoma School Board.

Kendrick provided his demographic report to the school district in February 2019, but could not deliver it in person to the School Board until now, due to other commitments. He told the board that some of the data in the report has changed, but not enough to alter his conclusion: Tahoma will continue to grow, but slower than in previous years.

“I would expect growth in Tahoma over time,” he said, pointing to five- and 10-year projections. However, maximum estimated growth is not predicted to exceed 1,000 students in the next five years unless there are unexpected changes, such as a shift in the urban growth boundary that would open more areas for housing development. Kendrick said his moderate growth model indicates the district could add about 600 students in the next five years.

Kendrick offered pages of data about birth rates, home construction, the economy, and population trends. He also provided a chart that shows the average number of children per household in King County school districts. Tahoma has the highest number of children per household in the county by a wide margin, with 56 students per 100 homes, based on the 2010 census. He predicts the current average is higher.

The report will be useful as the district begins looking at enrollment trends and facilities needs over the next 10 years, when an ad hoc student housing committee begins its work. The committee will report back to the School Board in April with recommendations for accommodating enrollment growth.

In other business Oct. 8, the School Board:

  • Approved the new district technology plan, which was developed with guidance from a Technology Model Review that took place last school year. The plan forms the basis for how technology will be used in the classroom to assist students. It is the basis for determining funding that is being requested in a Technology levy that the School Board will consider placing on the Feb. 11 election ballot. That decision will be made at the Oct. 22 School Board meeting.

  • Reviewed proposed resolutions for a Technology levy and Educational Programs and Operations levy that will be voted on during the Oct. 22 meeting.

  • Approved a contract to re-roof the playshed at Shadow Lake Elementary School. Garland Roofing is the successful bidder for the project, which will cost $41,565 and will be paid for using "warm, safe and dry" dollars from the 2013 bond measure.

  • Approved installation of a glass-and-aluminum wall in the counseling and attendance office areas at Tahoma High School. The addition will reduce noise in the office areas. Skanska USA, which built the high school, will perform the installation at a cost of $45,905. The funds for this project are also coming from the 2013 bond measure.

  • Approved purchase of five school buses that will replace buses that have reached the end of their useful service life. Three of the buses are full size and two are smaller buses that will be used for special education students. The buses cost $582,327.86, and are paid for using state bus depreciation funds.

  • Reviewed Policy 3130, District Attendance Areas. The policy guides how the school district reviews school attendance areas and makes adjustments made necessary by population and enrollment changes. The changes allow the district to convene a housing committee as needed and adds two more criteria to consider for attendance area boundaries: Minimize disruption of students’ established learning programs; minimize the number of times a student must change school boundaries.

  • Reviewed Policy 3120, Enrollment, to update requirements regarding enrollment of homeless students and students of military families.

Summit Trail leadership offers cheery greeting
Students from leadership classes at Summit Trail Middle School heard about an initiative from Character Strong that called for greeting fellow students during arrival time, and wanted to participate. So, they made “Smile” posters to help spread kindness, and welcomed their peers as they arrived at school. “It was so awesome, because other students started joining us!” leadership adviser Katrina Alegado said. “What a great way to start the day!” From left are Calvin D., Emily C., Kaitlyn C., Madison J., Katrina Alegado, Lexi D., Samantha G., Makena W., Kaylin W., Lauren A., Paige P., and Norah D. Dubbed the “Smile Crew,” the students hope to continue the practice throughout the year.

THS students build skateboard racks
Tahoma welding students in the advanced classes fabricated and welded these locking skateboard racks, which were the idea of former CTE director and assistant principal Douglas Burnham. The racks were completed during the 2017-2018 school year but installation was delayed while administrators worked to determine the best locations. Senior Scott Gourley, along with 2018 graduates Jeremy Waler, Jacob Bishop and Malcom Dillon designed and fabricated the racks. Students can use a padlock to secure their skateboards during the school day, said Scott Newton, who teaches metals. The racks are now located at the east and west entrances to the building.

Benicio Bryant to sing at THS football game
Tomorrow’s football game will feature a special appearance by Tahoma celebrity and “America’s Got Talent” finalist Benicio Bryant. 

While attending last week’s Homecoming football game, Bryant talked with Principal Terry Duty, who asked whether he would consider singing the National Anthem. Bryant agreed, and will kick off tomorrow’s last home game with his rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The Tahoma Bears take on Auburn Mountainview in their last home game at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, in Maxwell Stadium at Maple View Middle School.

"Spooky good" literacy event at MV Library Saturday
Families with children from birth through age 12 are invited to the first "Lifting Literacy" event of the school year, from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Maple Valley Library. Please join us for trick-or-treating around the library, games, snacks, prizes, free books and Halloween stories (stories at 10:30 a.m.). Tahoma reading specialists will be also available to talk about your child's particular needs. 

It will be a spooky good time!

Lifting Literacy events are sponsored by the Maple Valley Library Guild and the Maple Valley Rotary. For additional dates in this series, please see the flyer posted in the event discussion.

Note: The library guild's big book sale will also be happening during this event, so families are invited to stop in and shop while at the library. Proceeds of the sale support programs such as Lifting Literacy.

Girls Generation Robotics and STEM fair
The Bear Metal Booster Club invites you to attend the Robotics STEM fair and Girls Generation Robotics Competition at Tahoma High School this weekend.

The STEM fair will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the commons on Saturday. The robotics competition will take place throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Contests will feature 42 teams from surrounding schools and districts.

Teams will compete for the title of “Girls Generation Champion.”

Bear statue at THS to be dedicated Monday
The “Papa Bear” statue in the roundabout on the east side of Tahoma High School will be dedicated in a brief ceremony organized by the City of Maple Valley.

The dedication will be at 3 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21 at the roundabout. Details are still being coordinated, but may include performances by student groups and light refreshments.

October count numbers released
Each fall, Tahoma and other school districts report their official enrollment numbers to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The October enrollment numbers are used to calculate state funding, which is based on the number of students in each district.

The total enrollment for full-time equivalent (FTE) students* is 8,613. By school, the breakdown is:

Tahoma High School: 2,375
Maple View Middle School: 1,060
Summit Trail Middle School: 1,118
Cedar River Elementary: 614
Glacier Park Elementary: 712
Lake Wilderness Elementary: 784
Rock Creek Elementary: 719
Shadow Lake Elementary: 490
Tahoma Elementary: 740

While Tahoma generally uses the FTE enrollment numbers for planning purposes, the district also reports the total headcount numbers to OSPI. For October 2019, the district headcount is 8,846, which includes Running Start students and students who attend district schools part-time, such as home-schooled students.

*These FTE numbers are rounded to the nearest student.

Families invited to Halloween Carnival
Tahoma High School's FBLA will host its 14th annual Halloween Carnival, from 5:30-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23 in the commons at THS.

With games and candy provided by FBLA, FFA, FCCLA and HOSA, the event will offer a costume contest at 6 p.m., as well as ice fishing, face painting, a bean bag toss, golf and a cupcake walk.

Children up to age 12 are welcome, and families are asked to bring a canned food or cash donation in support of the Maple Valley Food Bank and Emergency Services.

Backpack Buddies to host fundraiser
Community members are invited to “Bunco for Backpack Buddies,” a fundraiser to benefit the nonprofit group at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 at Shepherd of the Valley.

Tickets are $25 and include dinner, dessert, game play and one ticket, which can be used for one drink or one entry for the raffle baskets at the event. To purchase tickets, visit eventbrite.com and search “Backpack Buddies.”

Backpack Buddies provides food for Tahoma students who might not otherwise have enough to eat over the weekend. Families can opt their children in to receive food through the program. For more information, click here.

District conducts annual earthquake drill
On Oct. 2, all Tahoma campuses participated in the yearly earthquake drill. Students, staff and any visitors in the buildings used the “Drop, cover and hold” method of earthquake protection until the “all clear” was sounded. Each building or facility then followed evacuation procedures and gathered outside at their appointed locations. 

Teams of staff members swept the buildings to ensure that all people were safely outside. Attendance was taken and each building communicated with the district office via two-way radio. Students and staff did well, and the drill was successful.

Tahoma schools complete other types of drills on a regular basis throughout the year, including a minimum of three fire drills and three lockdown/intruder drills per year, as well as the earthquake drill and bus drills.

“Clue: On Stage” to open Nov. 8
Tickets go on sale this week for Tahoma High School’s fall play, “Clue: On Stage.”

The play will show at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8, 9, 15, and 16; and also at 2 p.m. on Nov. 9 and 16. All showings are in the performing arts center at the high school. “Clue” is directed by Paul Rempfer.

Coming up later this year, THS drama will present two musicals: “Mamma Mia!” in the winter and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the spring. Those two productions will be directed by Melissa Bean with musical direction by Ken Riggs.

Band Boosters to host bazaar
Community members are invited to the Tahoma Band Boosters Holiday Bazaar, which is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 at the high school. Admission is free, and the event features more than 100 vendors, live entertainment, concessions, a bake sale and more.

For more information, click here for their website: http://www.tahomabandboosters.org/holiday-bazaar.html Or, visit the event on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/TBBHolidayBazaar/

Students celebrate Homecoming 2019: assemblies, spirit week, game, dance
A combo including singer Ian Duarte, Ethan Buck on sax, Cole McKittrick on guitar, Signe Nelson on electric bass and Micah Hays on drums, performed the song "When I Ripped my Pants," from Spongebob.
In keeping with the Homecoming space theme, teacher Mike Seger played the role of an astronaut emcee, "floating" during the beginning of the assembly.
Glowing dancers entertained the crowd during the opening act of the assembly.
The senior Homecoming Court included Peyton Raybon, Ashley Eman, Nadya Miller, Kylee Campbell, Austin Prince, Nic Olson, Joshua Scarry, Michael Gasper and Callie Gerona.

Girls Generation STEM fair and Robotics Competition, Oct. 12 and 13, Tahoma High School

Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum, 6:30 p.m., THS PAC

FRIDAY, Oct. 18
Glacier Park Elementary PTSA Movie Night, 7-9 p.m.

MONDAY, Oct. 21
"Papa Bear" statue dedication, 3 p.m., east side of THS

TUESDAY, Oct. 22
School Board meeting, 6:30 p.m., Central Services Center

THS FBLA Halloween Carnival, 5:30-7 p.m., THS commons

FRIDAY, Oct. 25
Tahoma Elementary School PTO Fall Dance, 6-8:30 p.m., TES

Lifting Literacy at Maple Valley Library (see brief above; costumes encouraged), 10 a.m.-noon, maple Valley Library

FRIDAY, Nov. 1
Backpack Buddies Bunco fundraiser (see brief above; tickets required), 5:30 p.m., Shepherd of the Valley

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: wcastlem@tahomasd.us
Tahoma School District | 425-413-3400 | Visit our website
25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Rd. S.E., Maple Valley, WA 98038