School board hears update on career, technical education
October 29, 2020
The Wahkiakum School District Board of Directors met Oct. 20 to learn about a new arts committee, hear about a recent assessment of the Career and Technical Education Program, and get an update on the technology director’s response to the recent failure of their primary domain controller.
Wahkiakum Principal Stephanie Leitz gave an overview of a comprehensive local needs assessment of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program that had been completed by the school.
“You can see what we are focusing on and how we rate ourselves in this assessment,” Leitz said. “We feel like we have a high percentage of students accessing CTE classes, but we don’t have the variety we would like to offer.”
A teacher recently received approval to teach an industrial math class that will count as CTE credit, and they are hoping to incorporate application based Algebra 1 and 2 classes in the next year.
Their assessment also considered issues of equity.
“We do not want our students to think that welding is only for males who want to go directly into the workforce,” Leitz added. “We want people to know that any student in our school can learn to weld.”
The board accepted the assessment and approved a Perkins V Grant, which supports the CTE program, providing additional funding and access to other grants.
Leitz said that the funds had been used in the past to provide extra training for Vocational Ag Teacher Kyle Hurley, and that the district planned to apply the money they receive this year to help pay for a PlasmaCAM the school had already purchased.
Director Robin Westphall gave the board an overview of a recently organized arts committee.
“One of the reasons I wanted to be part of this board is to bring more arts into the district,” Westphall said.
She spoke of her own experiences with art in school, noting that “it balances you, it gives you different perspectives, and different skills.”
Westphall said she had invited teachers who are specialists in the arts and one parent to meet with her about coming up with a three year plan. She said that their goal was to offer teachers something they could incorporate into their curriculum, using things that exist online that would incorporate science, math, language arts, writing, and more.
“Research has demonstrated that the arts...is huge in the area of social and emotional learning, and I think during the pandemic, in the situation we are in now, it can only benefit students,” Westphall said.
She said that in speaking with members of the community she had also learned that there was a belief that the district was not teaching the arts.
“That’s not true, but we can certainly add to what is available to all the students,” Westphall said. “This group of people is very committed. We will be meeting twice a month until we get the job done, and we will report back in May or June.”
This led to a discussion about committees, which ones the school district already has, which ones were needed, who will sit on them, how many people to have on a committee, and how frequently they should meet. Nothing was settled.
Paul Ireland, who is in charge of technology at the district, gave an update on the primary domain controller, which had gone down last month.
He said that with help from the ESD 112, he was successfully able to migrate off the failing domain controller and into a virtual machine, and along with some other work, build up more failure resistance.
They have also improved the firewall for more optimal traffic flow, he said.
“We are heading the right direction,” Ireland said. “The downside is that I have no physical location for our machines.”
Superintendent Brent Freeman said that work on a couple failing HVAC systems was set to begin and Principals Leitz and Nikki Reese gave updates.
“Some students are attending on Fridays to get extra help, and during their at home days,” Leitz noted, but added that attendance continued to be a struggle on remote days.
“We are encouraging kids to remember that it’s a school day and that they need to complete their assignments and turn them in,” she said.
Leitz also said that the SAT and PSAT have been given, and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) was scheduled.
“We’ve been able to offer our kids opportunities that most districts can’t due to covid-19,” she said.
In other news, the board approved a Highly Capable grant outline presented by Leitz as well as an out-of-endorsement special education teaching assignment for Joe Strandjord.