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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
December 2, 2016
This week has been the start of the winter concert programs throughout the district. The Aberdeen High School ASL class held their concert on Tuesday evening in the high school auditorium. Our Miller JH and AHS orchestra students performed Thursday evening, also in the auditorium. Over the next two weeks the Miller World Rhythms and Bands, AHS Band and the Miller and AHS Choirs will all be performing winter concerts.
The SAT test will be given at the high school tomorrow with the ACT the following weekend at AHS. Many of the elementary schools will also be having several events, including their Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) December meetings, before the break.
The high school administrators will be providing an overview of the trimester schedule for the upcoming school year and the corresponding changes being recommended for Policy 2410 – Graduation Requirements. Much discussion has taken place at the high school over the past year and a half. It will be a great overview on Tuesday.
The elementary schools are planning for the AVID Summer conference next June/July. Staff from each elementary will be attending as the buildings work on having all teachers trained over a multi-year period. The AVID program will provide strong study skills for all students at the elementary level that will carry over into junior high and high school.
It is always great to have artwork from the schools on the walls and display boards in the district office. As you can see, it adds great color to our district spaces and brightens up the day everytime we past by the artwork. Thank you to the students and teachers for sharing - from Kindergarten through high school!
The Study & Survey should be completed by the end of the month. I will ask the architects to come and present the findings to the school board as they move forward with Phase II of the project which includes a number of conceptual drawings that can be used in developing the plans for a new elementary and several other projects throughout the district.
We are beginning the budgeting process for the 2017-18 school year. Fortunately, our situation is not like the headline in the Seattle Times, Seattle schools project $74 million shortfall next year, could mean teacher layoffs.” (http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/seattle-schools-project-74-million-shortfall-next-year-biggest-since-1970s/). Our budget may be a little lower based on the amount we receive from the state for levy equalization, but teacher layoffs are not in the plan at this point. Much of what is going to impact our budget will slowly come out during the upcoming legislative session. I am very interested to see what is in the governor’s budget that will be released later this month.
As a UW graduate from many years ago, I still get the newsletter from the Department of Biology. I found this short video showing some of the changes in instruction taking place in the large lecture classes. I think worth viewing if you have time. https://www.biology.washington.edu/articles/active-learning-uw-biology
Another thing I do is listen to podcasts in the morning at the gym. This morning I heard one on cyberbullying that really impacts our students today. It hit home for me now that we have two grandchildren who will be growing up in a digital world. Working together, I believe we can all help our students learn how to be responsible and respectful citizens in the world of online social media. http://www.komando.com/listen/episode/2054/cyberbullies-have-new-and-vicious-ways-to-attack-you-and-your-family
Next Friday is the first home contest for the newly formed AHS Bowling Team. It should be fun and great for the home team to have support at their inaugural tournament.
Have a great weekend as we move into the final month of 2016.
Thank you, Tom
November 23, 2016
Even though it is a short week, we still have a lot going on in the district.
Winter sports are well under way at Aberdeen High School with students preparing for the season in boys/girls basketball, boys/girls wrestling, boys swimming and girls bowling. For more information on our high school sports programs, visit the website at http://www.asd5.org/domain/886. For information on the Miller Junior High sports programs, check out the website at http://www.asd5.org/Domain/209.
Last weekend saw the final performances for the production of The Sound of Music. The cast presented the show to over 300 elementary students on Thursday morning that was well received. This is the second time we have scheduled a show for our elementary students. I believe it is a fantastic way to get our younger students excited about the arts and aspire to be involved in High School Theater as they get older. Tamara Helland does a great job of selecting plays that maximize the number of students who are able to participate. Great job to the cast and crew for their outstanding performances.
We had our district discipline committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon with an overview of the new discipline laws presented by staff from the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP). This was well attended with representation from all levels in our district. We will be continuing to meet as we work on several new policies that address the new discipline laws.
I met with the Aberdeen High School leadership class on Monday to see how we can work together on developing a social media presence using Facebook, Twitter and possibility Instagram. It was a fun meeting and the students were enthusiastic about the possibilities.
For links to highlights and more great articles on Aberdeen students, check out the In The News section on our district home page at http://www.asd5.org/Page/1.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.
November 14, 2016
Congratulations to the Aberdeen High School students and advisor Ms. Kohlmeier for all their efforts in this year's Foodball competition with Hoquiam. It was exciting on Monday evening for the students from both schools as they reported the results from their work over the past ten days.
(Aberdeen students in the final stages of compiling Foodball totals)
(Great teamwork between to the two high school leadership teams to benefit our community through the annual Foodball competition.)
Aberdeen celebrates winning the 2016 Foodball competition with Hoquiam! Congratulations to all the students from both schools who work hard to collect food and funds for families in need in our county. I am honored to be part of this community and help support this great student project.
It is again amazing to me how fast time is flying by. This week we will be in the middle of November and moving closer to the Thanksgiving Holiday. As noted at the last board meeting, the high schools are completing their fall testing for students in a number of areas. Seniors are preparing for the end of the school year and the numerous graduation requirements.
The Grays Harbor College teacher program is now well underway. Registration for the fall of 2017 will take place in January and there will be a number of applicants applying to fill the 30 openings within the first few weeks of open registration. There are a number of our current Para-educators who have their AA degree who plan to apply and should have a great opportunity locally to earn their bachelor’s degree in teaching.
I attended the Aberdeen High School play on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed the high school's production of The Sound of Music. Thank you to our director, Tamara Helland, and all the students who helped make this an outstanding evening of entertainment. Our band director, Dan Patterson, directed the student musicians who provided excellent instrumental orchestration for the show. If you have an opportunity to attend the upcoming weekend shows, it will definitely be a great evening.
(Students ready in the pit for the start of The Sound of Music)
(Final curtain call on Saturday evening at The Sound of Music)
We have had a number of inquiries for the board search consultant to work with the school board in selecting a new superintendent. As I have mentioned before, this is an outstanding school district with excellent staff. It is truly been a wonderful experience and an outstanding way to end my career as I move into retirement..
Thanks again and have a great week.
November 4, 2016
Today we are moving right into Foodball. It will be a flurry of activity in both Aberdeen and Hoquiam over the next ten days as students work to provide food and funds for our local food banks. While it is a competition between the two districts, it is for a great cause and all students can feel good about supporting this worthwhile goal.
The Aberdeen High School Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band performed their annual Pops Concert Tuesday evening in the AHS Commons. Thank you to Dan Patterson, Director, and all the students who provided a great evening of music.
The district administrators are working on the upcoming Consolidated Program Review (CPR) that will take place in the spring by a team from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). This review includes the following areas;
Thursday, Miller Junior High held it’s annual “Connections Breakfast” for all 6th Grade teachers. This is a way for the teachers, whose students they had last year, can to ccme to Miller and visit with their former students who are now in 7th grade. It is fun for both the students and the teachers to reconnect in this manner.
The Aberdeen School District production of The Sound of Music is just a week away. The first performances will be on Saturday, November 12. This will be the first year the play will be run on two weekends to allow for more audiences.
Next Friday is Veteran’s Day and a non-school day. Several assemblies will be held on Wednesday and Thursday in observance of this national holiday.
I noticed the local news stations, Seattle television station KING5 News, and the national NBC Nightly News ( The November 3, 2016, story is titled, FBI Warns of Growing Number of "Virtual Kidnapping" Scams) both had broadcasts on the phone scam that occurred with one of our families this week. Hopefully, getting the word out will provide some guidance to families if they get a similar phone call. It is very concerning that this type of scam is taking place, not only in our community, but across the country.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the remaining sunshine (or no rain!) today as the rain will be here soon!
Thank you, Tom
October 28, 2016
The month of October has flown by as we wrap up the final few games of our fall sports and prepare for the annual Foodball competition with Hoquiam beginning next Friday. I have a feeling November will pass by quickly, as well, with the many activities planned for the month.
Many of our fall sports are wrapping up this week with the final home volleyball and football games this week. We have a great tradition of recognizing our seniors at the final home game of the season. Last night, the volleyball team ended their season with a win over Rochester. Tonight, the football team will have a competitive game against Centralia. Winter sports turnout for boys swimming, boys and girls basketball and wrestling begin Monday, November 14. Girls bowling turnout begins Monday, October 31.
The Sound of Music performances will be November 12, 13, and 20 @ 2 p.m. with evening performances on November 12, 18 and 19 @ 7:00 p.m. Tickets will be on sale at the Aberdeen High School office and at Harbor Drug in Hoquiam, Harbor Shoes in Aberdeen and at the door prior to each show. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Tuesday I attended the Grays Harbor College Student Government meeting to discuss the proposed collaboration between the school district, the YMCA, and GHC in building a combined recreational facility as part of the new elementary school to replace Stevens. It was a good initial meeting with a number of questions from the students on how this would be structured and be a benefit to the college population. We will have follow up meetings with the student council as more information becomes available.
The ASB officers at A.J. West Elementary voted to purchase water bottles for every student during the Red Ribbon week. The Red Ribbon organization supports a safe and drug free environment for all students.
At our ESD superintendents’ meeting on Wednesday, there was much discussion about the upcoming legislative session and the impact it will have on budgeting, staffing and a number of other issues that are part of the McCleary lawsuit. I have started the initial stages of the 2017-18 budgeting process with our district Cabinet members. We will post our budgeting timeline on the website once it is completed.
Have a great weekend as we wrap up the last few days of October. It sounds like Halloween this coming Monday will be wet and rainy!
Thank you, Tom