Aberdeen School District

Our Children, Our Schools, Our Future

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  • Weekly Update 2-17-17

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 2/17/2017

    Weekly Update
    February 17, 2017

    Our AHS girls wrestling team will be recognized on Saturday morning for being Academic State Champions.  The team had the highest GPA of all other 2A girls wrestling teams in the state.  This is a great honor and I think the first team in Aberdeen’s history to earn this honor.

    Our high school boys swim team, boys and girls wrestling teams all left yesterday afternoon for the state contests in their respective sports.  It is fun to see so many students make it through the district and regional competition in order to earn a spot at the state meet.  To follow the tournament results online, check out the WIAA website at http://www.wiaa.com/.  

    Best wishes to all our athletes over the next few days. 


    Today and next Tuesday are district professional development days for certificated staff .  The professional development days provide a great opportunity for a lot of work staff need to do in their field.  Having time to reflect with your colleagues and share what works in classrooms is a great way to learn from each other.  I suggested to our Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Governor that we look at extending the time teachers work by providing more professional development days as part of the salary increase that is being discussed in the Legislature.

    We applied for a district-wide Para-educator training grant through OSPI on Thursday.  This grant is designed to assist with training for Right Response, specific program training, ESD classes and Para-educator classes at Grays Harbor College.  It is a $20,000 maximum grant and we should know if we receive any or all of the funds by the end of February or first part of March.

    This past Sunday at the 2017 WSSDA-WASA-WASBO Legislative Conference we received a handout outlining the three proposed budgets – Governor, House and Senate.  It is part of the Aberdeen School Board meeting packet for Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 5:00 p.m, and provides a good overview of the various ideas put forth to meet the requirements of the McCleary lawsuit filed 10 years ago.  This is something that we track very closely in the district office since a compromise budget needs to be passed before any salary allocations can be prepared for budget purposes.  Hopefully, the Legislature can come to an agreement sooner rather than later in order to allow districts to move forward with the budgeting process.

    Aberdeen HS spring sports begin practice on Monday, February 27, 2017.  For more information on the spring sports and requirements to participating in athletics at AHS, please check out the following link, http://www.asd5.org/domain/60.

    Have a great President’s Day Weekend and enjoy the warmer, sunny weather (At least on Friday afternoon!).

    Thank you,


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  • Weekly Update 2-10-17

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 2/10/2017

    Weekly Update
    February 10, 2017

    Staff from the Washington State Auditor’s Office started work in the district on Thursday.  They are typically in the district for three weeks as they review the financials and other requirements during this time period.  It is nice we have a little extra office space for their team that provides a quiet location with internet and phone access.

    The Aberdeen High School Girls Bowling team presented a signed bowling pin thanking the school board for supporting their inaugural season.

    Our schools are helping students focus on a number of different career opportunities after high school and many place banners for tech schools, colleges, military service and more thoughout the hallways and in front of classrooms.  Below are just a few I noticed when visiting schools this week.  

    We are continuing to follow many of the bills working their way through the Legislature.  It is also interesting to see what is occurring at the national level with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) since the new administration has taken office.  I think there will be some major changes in the act that will impact K-12 schools in the 2017-18 school year.  There is one bill that was introduced this week that would eliminate the Department of Education.  That would create some changes.

    Aberdeen High School was busy last weekend with the Skills USA Olympic Region Leadership Conference and the 5/6 grade elementary girls basketball tournament in Sam Benn Gym.  

    (Skills USA Quiz Bowl teams compete in the AHS Community Room)

    (Elementary girls teams getting tips during halftime in Sam Benn Gym)

    Tomorrow, Aberdeen High School will be hosting the Girls Regional Wrestling Tournament in Sam Benn Gym.  Stop by and support our team as many girls are wreslting to earn a spot in the state tournament.  The new Bobcat Mascot was on hand during Tuesday night's boys basketball game.  It will be a familiar presence at a number of future events.

    I will be assisting the interview team at Grays Harbor College next Wednesday as they interview for a new dean for the Bachelor of Applied Science in Teacher Education (BAS-TE) program.  This will be a tremendous opportunity to help promote and support people in our community who are interested in becoming teachers.  It will be similar to the WSU 2+2 program that was very active about ten years ago.  Several of our current teachers went through that program and would be great mentors for the new teachers coming into the profession.

    The Thursday article in the Aberdeen Daily World covered the discussion on the district projects very well.  It is nice to start early with the discussion and allows time for the new superintendent to build momentum with the new college president, Jim Minkler, and the new YMCA Director, Franzine Potts.  Work over the summer and into the fall with TCF Architecture, community members and staff will begin to formalize the plans and costs associated with the various projects.

    Several elementary school concerts are taking place over the next few weeks.  Last evening, Stevens Elementary School students in grades 1, 2 and 3 performed to a packed house in the AHS Auditorium.

    Have a great weekend and enjoy the warmer weather (and rain).

    Thanks again,


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  • Weekly Update 2-3-17

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 2/3/2017

    Weekly Update

    February 3, 2017


    We are getting busy in the district office planning for the 2017-18 staffing, preparing for the upcoming summer programs and following the legislative agenda to see what impacts that will have on school district budgets over the next two years. 


    It is the time of year when summer employment opportunities are becoming available for students.  Below is a link from the Washington State Department of Ecology for Ecology Youth Corps (EYC) workers in the Grays Harbor area.  The minimum wage for these summer jobs is $11 per hour.  The jobs are available for 14-17 year old students and the window to apply for the summer EYC jobs is between February 1 and April 3, 2017.  Students can check with their school counselor to get more information, however the Department of Ecology encourages and prefers students to apply on-line.



    The planning for a new Stevens Elementary will be the major focus for the day when TCF is here on Tuesday.  The will be meeting with representatives from the district, the YMCA, Grays Harbor College and the City of Aberdeen during the day to get additional input on a joint recreational facility.  This, along with work at AJ West, Miller JH, Robert Gray and Aberdeen High School will all be part of the long-range plan being put together for your review.


    We are looking at some space challenges over the next few years at the elementary level with larger primary classes.  This will be a discussion to have over the next few months and years as we plan the bond for the replacement of Steven's Elementary along with some other district-wide improvements.


    Our second semester is off to a good start with a number of new enrollments in all schools.  We have a history of graduating students at Harbor High after the first semester, but also pick up a number of students who will be able to finish their graduation requirements in order graduate this June. 


    The Aberdeen School District Career and Technical Education (CTE) General Advisory Committee met at Miller Junior High School this week and had a tour of the Miller Robotics and STEM programs. 



    It is exciting to be moving forward with the Grays Harbor College Bachelor of Applied Science in Teacher Education program.  Over the next few weeks we will be interviewing for an associate dean for the program.  That person will then work on hiring additional staff to fill out the program needs.  This is a great opportunity for our region that will help with the teacher shortage as more teachers consider retirement.


    Thanks again and have a great weekend.





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  • Weekly Update 1-27-17

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 1/27/2017

    Weekly Update

    January 27, 2017


    Student activities continue along with classroom instruction as Aberdeen High School, Harbor High School and Miller Junior High School finish the first semester of the 2016-17 school year today.  The new semester starts on Monday, January 30, 2017.  This weekend there are numerous events taking place including several sporting events and the Bobcat Music Booster's Annual Auction on Saturday evening in the AHS Commons beginning at 6:00 p.m. (See the poster below)


    On Tuesday, we received official notification that Robert Gray Elementary School is exiting their Focus status effective with the 2017-18 school year.  The exit criteria is based on the average of a school’s performance over a three year period, beginning with the 2013-14 school year and ending with the 2015-16 school year’s results.  Great job to all the staff and students at Robert Gray!


    Tuesday I attended the Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. luncheon at the Grays Harbor County Club to listen to the mayors in Grays Harbor.  It was very informative and interesting to hear what each city’s focus is for the upcoming year.  The general theme was to improve infrastructure and to work on enhancing the growth of local businesses. 


    We are continuing to develop the 2017-18 budget.  Our certificated staffing projection for next year is nearing completion.  I will be spending the month of February working on the classified staff budget.  My goal is to have the majority of the budget finished and ready for review by the board and the new superintendent in July.


    At our regional superintendents’ meeting on Wednesday, we heard a review of the legislative progress to date.  There are many links to the legislative process that are available to community members who have an interest in the process.  I have included a link to both WASA and WSSDA legislative updates for to keep abreast of the latest news from each of these organizations.  There is also a link to the legislative page for updates on what is being heard in various committees in, "Whats happening on the floor."


    WSSDA - wssda.org/Legislative/LegislativeUpdates.aspx (click on the latest 2017 Session Updates)

    WASA - http://wasa-oly.org/ (click on Government Relations, This Week in Olympia)

    What's happening on the floor - http://leg.wa.gov/


    Thanks again and have a great weekend.


    Sincerely, Tom

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  • Weekly Update 1-20-17

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 1/20/2017

    Weekly Update

    January 20, 2017


    Next week is the end of the first semester!  It is amazing how fast the year is moving along as we now are entering the last five months of the 2016-17 school year. 


    Harbor High School graduation last evening was outstanding.  Some of the students who graduated at the semester had to overcome many obstacles in order to reach this milestone in their life.  I find it refreshing that we have options for students who need something a little different than the traditional high school setting in order to achieve their goal of a high school diploma.  Congratulation to all.


    Over the break and the past few weeks, we have installed the security door locks with the remote camera access at Miller and Harbor High/Hopkins.  This completes all of our buildings.  Staff now lock the doors once students arrive in the morning and access is granted only after video confirmation by someone in the main office.  It seems to work fairly well and even though there may be increased wait times, I have had positive comments on taking these security measures.


    Building principals and secretaries had training this week on the new Blackboard call out system.  This web-based program is set up to send voice, text and email alerts to parents, students, and staff.   Messages can also be sent to the Blackboard App for Aberdeen.  The app is available in the Apple and Google Play stores.  Search under “Aberdeen School District No. 5” in order find the app.  You should also see the district logo which confirms you have the correct Aberdeen School District.


    Our girls bowling team hosted their last home meet of the year yesterday in Aberdeen.  It was very well attended by several high school staff members, friends and parents of our bowlers.  It was also a great way to end the year with a convincing win over Capital from the Olympia S.D.  Several members of the team would like to attend the next school board meeting to share a little about their experiences this year. 


    Elyssa Louderback and I are finalizing the enrollment numbers that will be entered into the budgeting software from OSPI.  This will be available once the Senate and House budgets are released and OSPI has time to update the program with any adjustments on salaries, benefits, staffing ratios and more.  It typically takes 2-3 weeks for OSPI to make these changes.  In the meantime, we are able to put together the expenditure side of the budget.  This is something that we work on as a district knowing what our expenditures are to date, along with what we projected as expenditures for this school year. 


    I have set up the meeting with representatives from Grays Harbor College, the YMCA, the City of Aberdeen and our district to discuss the building concepts of a joint gymnasium/recreational center with the architects from TCF Architecture.  TCF will also be sharing the results of the District Study and Survey with the school board on Tuesday, February 7 in the regular meeting beginning at 5:00 p.m. in the Community Room at Aberdeen High School.


    It is always great to have student art work up in the district office.  Thank you to the students at Robert Gray Elementary for sharing some of their art over the holiday break and into January.


    Have a great weekend and thanks again for your ongoing support of our schools and programs.


    Sincerely, Tom

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  • Weekly Update 1-13-17

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 1/13/2017

    Weekly Update

    January 13, 2017


    The January Aberdeen Rotary Student of the Month was Jake Metke.  Jake is the fourth student of the month honored by Rotary for their service to the community, excellent academics and involvement in extracurriculuar activities.  Congratulations to Jake and all the students who have been or will be selected as the student of the month by Rotary.


    Elyssa Louderback and I were able to meet with Alan Gozart this week to review the plans for Stewart Field.  Mr. Gozart will be at the next board meeting on Tuesday, January 17, to share a breakdown of costs and share his thoughts on the best approach to replace the roof, add lighting and provide storage and restroom facilities at Stewart Field.


    I often visit our schools during the week and enjoy talking with students, teachers, principals and other staff who work daily to provide a great learning environment for everyone.  This week, a teacher and student brightened my visit just by the shoes they were wearing.  It is always wonderful to leave a school with a smile on my face after seeing what such a simple piece of attire can contribute to brightening someones' day! 


    Our district Consolidated Program Review (CPR) took place on Wednesday.  We had eight staff from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) who met with district staff and visited several schools and programs throughout the day.  We had a number of accolades and a few areas that need to be addressed to be in compliance.  Thank you to all that were instrumental in collecting the data from all the programs and uploading documents to the CPR website.  Overall, it was a good review and helpful in making sure we remain in compliance with federal programs and guidelines.


    TCF Architecture is putting the final touches on the Study and Survey.  The architects are planning to be in the district on Tuesday, February 7, to update the board and provide an overview of the work they are doing for a new Stevens Elementary School.  The team from TCF plan to meet with the staff at Stevens to get input on the educational program needs and spaces needed in a new school.  They will also meet with representatives from the YMCA, Grays Harbor College and the City of Aberdeen to review the Grays Harbor College site for a combined school gymnasium-college recreational center complex.  This has tremendous potential to be a great project for the community as part of the process of building a new elementary school.


    All elementary schools are focusing on AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) instructional practices and will be adopting a college in each classroom.   Stevens Elementary has been in the practice of adopting a college in their classroom for several years.  In 2015, my daughter and her boyfriend from Edinburgh, Scotland were guest speakers in Mrs. Collins classroom and shared their experiences at college and what it allowed them to do in their lives.   It is exciting to see what various teachers have acquired from their "adopted" school to help decorate, both inside and outside, their classroom.  Below is just one example of what I found when I visited classrooms on Thursday.  I know of at least one teacher in the district who may have contributed to this elementary display - or definitely approved of their choice!


    Thanks again and have a great weekend. 


    Sincerely, Tom

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  • Weekly Update 1-6-17

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 1/6/2017

    Weekly Update
    January 6, 2017

    Welcome to 2017.  This will be a busy time of year with a number of projects moving forward over the next few months.  I will be meeting with the architects from TCF on Tuesday, February 7, to review their work on the Study and Survey along with some initial drawings for a new elementary to replace Stevens. 

    Thank you to Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. for hosting the annual "send-off" of our elected state representatives on Thursday.  We heard from each of the members from both the 19th and 24th districts.  I wish them well as the take on many challenges during this session and work together for the benefit of our state and local communities.

    The high school administrators’ will be working with their staff to plan for and implement the 5-period trimester beginning with the 2017-18 school year.  For more information on the new high school schedule, click here.

    The district Consolidated Program Review (CPR) takes place with an onsite visit from OSPI staff next Wednesday, January 11.  This involves a review of all our federal programs and related grant areas.  They also review our required notifications and postings as outlined by the Office of Civil Rights.  While a number of areas have received a “desk review,” the site team will visit with district staff as well as visit several school buildings in the district.

    Our annual review from the state auditor’s office will begin in late February and continue into the first part of March.  This involves a review of our district policies, fiscal health and human resources practices.  This audit always includes a review of the Associated Student Body (ASB) funds since they deal in cash for many of the fundraisers and other projects involving staff, students and parents.  We typically receive the final report in May that we will bring to the board for review.

    I am meeting this afternoon with representatives from Grays Harbor College, the YMCA and the City of Aberdeen to discuss the potential site for a new school to replace Stevens.  The preferred site is the land adjacent to the Bishop Center at Grays Harbor College.  We could potentially swap the land we own to the south of Lake Swano with the land near the Bishop Center.  It would be fantastic to have an elementary next to the college as they start the new bachelors degree program in teaching this fall.  This will be an ongoing discussion that will continue with a new superintendent.

    Have a great weekend as we begin to see a change in the weather.

    Thanks again and have a outstanding start to 2017!

    Sincerely, Tom

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  • Weekly Update 12-21-16

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 12/21/2016

    Weekly Update
    December 21, 2016

    This morning started off with the shutting down of the heating system at Central Park Elementary due to the smell of propane around the tanks.  As you know, we delayed school an hour at Central Park in order to have the company diagnose the problem.  The Central Park Fire Department also was onsite to make sure everything was cleared before the heating system was turned back on.  This was completed by 8:50 a.m. and our maintenance staff helped set up blowers to remove any of the remaining propane smell in the building and classrooms.

    Jim Sawin shared the board action taken on early retirement letters for certificated staff with the Aberdeen Education Association (AEA) leadership this morning.  It will be a big help for the district to know who is planning to retire at the end of the year and have their letter in writing to the HR department.

    Thank you to Mr. Martinson and the Sign-making class at Aberdeen High School for making a new sign for the entrance to Miller Junior High.  Our maintenance staff picked up the sign and placed it on the original supports last week.  Thank you to everyone for creating a long-lasting welcome sign for Miller.

    It sounds like the process for the superintendent search is moving along well.  I understand the consultants are planning to update the board on the survey results and prepare a brochure over the holidays that will be available for applicants.   A link to the brochure will also be available on the district website.

    Several concerts and school events were held throughout the district the past few weeks.  We also have the honor of a visit from the Robert Gray Glee Choir in the district office.  It was also a special treat to meet their director who wore his special concert attire!  Thank you!  Stevens students were treated to a special staff luncheon on Tuesday prior to the winter break.  As you can tell, they were all excited!

    I will contact TCF Architecture to see if they will be able to come to the January 17, 2017, board meeting to update us on the Study and Survey and share what they have found out concerning the land at Grays Harbor College as a potential site for a new Stevens Elementary.  It will be good to discuss the possibility of site drawings that could be shared with the community, college, district staff and more.  I am also following up on the potential costs associated with the replacement of the roof at Stewart Field along with options for new bleachers and lights.

    There are a number of sporting events and practices taking place over the holidays.  Yesterday the girls’ basketball team played Montesano at home and tonight the boys play at Montesano.  The girl’s wrestling team is at a tournament today in Hoquiam and will continue to have practices over the holidays, as well.
    (The GBB team warms up prior to their game against Montesano on Tuesday)
    (The AHS Bowling Team practices for their first home match in January)

    Have a great holiday and a fabulous start to the New Year.














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  • Weekly Update 12-16-16

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 12/16/2016

    Weekly Update
    December 16, 2016

    Today was another day where we were short substitutes across the district.  As we have mentioned a number of times previously, this is and will continue to be a challenge over the next several years.  If you have a 4-year degree and are interested in substituting, please contact the Human Resources Department in the Aberdeen School District office.

    Our winter sports are well under way with numerous events taking place each and every week.  The high school band concert that was canceled last week was rescheduled for this evening beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the high school Auditorium.  Last Tuesday was the first choir concert for the Miller Junior High and high school choirs.  Our new choir director organized a great evening of entertainment and is looking forward to planning her next concert now that the first one is behind her.

    Next week is a short, three-day week with classes Monday through Wednesday.  We are out for the winter break from Thursday, December 22, through Monday, January 2.  Students return on Tuesday, January 3. 

    Jim Sawin and I continue to meet with the district discipline committee to review both policy and practice.  This is a good group with positive input on how we can move forward with some of the policies we will be bringing to the school board and working with each building team to come up with a model that will be consistent across our buildings.  This is part of the work needed to implement the laws passed in legislatiion that take effect in the 2017-18 school year.

    The governor’s budget that was released on Tuesday provides a glimpse of what may be a fairly long legislative session.  It radically changes the funding model for teachers, classified staff and administrators.  It also impacts local levies over a two-year period that will need close tracking since Local Effort Assistance (LEA) will also be impacted.  As more detaila become available from the Senate and House budgets, some of the questions that were created by the governor’s budget will start to be more focused for our budget planning.

    Have a great holiday and enjoy time with family and friends.  It is a good time of year for me to reflect on all the outstanding programs and opportunities we have in our district for students and staff.  Many areas go unnoticed, but all areas are important components that help make our district a great place to work, live and teach.  Please know that, while I am looking forward to retirement, I have truly enjoyed my tenure in Aberdeen and will always treasure the friendships and people I have interacted with over the past seven years.

    Have a great weekend.


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  • Weekly Update 12-9-16

    Posted by Tom Opstad at 12/9/2016

    Weekly Update
    December 9, 2016

    This has been a challenging week to try and predict what our coastal weather will bring in terms of school delays or closures.  Last evening with the onset of snow, we canceled our winter band concert and wrestling match.  Hoquiam canceled the girls’ basketball game.  Tonight is the boys’ basketball game at Hoquiam and it should be a go given that we will see warmer temperatures and rain most of the day and throughout the weekend.  The other events will be rescheduled over the next few days.
    (The AHS Jazz Band practices early in the morning as they prepare for their winter concert)

    Dee Anne Shaw and Jim Sawin have been working with Northwest Leadership consultants on setting the calendar for the process of hiring the new district superintendent.  It is a fair amount of work behind the scenes and they are both doing a outstanding job coordinating with the consultants.  As of this Friday, the position is posted on the WASA website.  The staff and community input link live at Superintendent Search Survey.  You can click on the link to fill out the survey or navigate to the survey from the district homepage.

    We are in the beginning stages of our budget development for the 2017-18 school year.  I will provide more information each month with much of the work posted after the first of the year.  At this point, our enrollment looks to remain fairly steady district-wide as we work on the projections for next fall.

    Our district website is transitioning to a new Blackboard look from Schoolwires (a buyout by Blackboard) with the help of Matt Mahon from the technology department.  It is a more friendly mobile site that can be viewed on a smartphone.  The district also has an app that can be downloaded in the Apple and Google stores.  If you search for, Aberdeen School District No. 5, you will find the app to download (it is also by Blackboard Inc.).  The icon associated with the app will have the familiar students reaching for the stars logo.

    The STEM program at Miller Junior High School is now the home for 4 new MakerBot Replicator 3-D printers for education.  The STEM and art programs at Miller will be looking to encourage student creativity to help create, design and invent new, better or not-yet-thought of items that can be printed in a 3-D manner on these new additions to the program.  One of the unique and creative opportunities for 3-D printing is in the world of prosthetics.  There is a program called E-Nable, that allows local communities with 3-D printers to create and assemble the pieces for fingers and hands.  Click here for more on this type of program and even a TED video on 3-D printing!
    (One of four new 3-D printers at Miller Junior High School)

    In the next few days we will look at rescheduling some of the events canceled on Thursday.  We are still sending our second group of sixth grade students to Seattle for the Nutcracker performance today.  The main roads are clear and should be even better by the time our buses get up to the Seattle area and return home this evening.

    Thanks again and have a great weekend.



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