Several years ago, the Highline School District broke Evergreen and Tyee high schools into small schools.
Evergreen in White Center was divided into Arts & Academics Academy (AAA), Health and Human Services High School (HS3) and Technology Engineering and Communications High School (TEC.) They are all housed on the Evergreen campus but have separate classrooms, separate students, separate teachers and separate principals. The schools even have separate graduation ceremonies.
The idea was students would do better in school if they had teachers and classmates who knew them well and cared about them personally.
On Oct. 10, three students, with the support of a former school board president, pleaded with Highline board members to allow Evergreen campus students to graduate together in a joint ceremony.
They presented a petition they said was signed by 500 people, including 95 percent of Evergreen seniors.
Senior Sinamarietta Vili said the students feel like one family and refer to themselves as Evergreen students.
“We are not divided as friends and family,” Vili declared.
Falling interest rates in the bond market means Highline Public Schools will save taxpayers around $4.6 million on repayment of two construction bond measures passed in 2002 and 2006.
The school board authorized Sept. 26 the district’s finance team to refinance $40-$65 million of the bonds. The team will monitor the bond market and is expected to resell the bonds the week of Oct. 29, if the district can achieve at least a 5 percent savings.
Voters approved a $189.5 million construction bond at the March 12, 2002 election. A $148 million bond was subsequently passed in the March 14, 2006 election. With funds from the two bonds, the district has rebuilt most of its elementary schools and Mt. Rainier High in Des Moines.
District officials are hoping to pass a third bond measure to finance rebuilding or remodeling of the district’s middle and high schools. However, they have held off on proposing another bond because of the poor economy.
With council members Pam Fernald and Dave Bush absent because of illness, the SeaTac Council held a short, non-contentious meeting on Sept. 25.
Lawmakers met with the Highline School District’s dynamic new superintendent, Susan Enfield.
Enfield noted the district had received a “nice bump” in the latest state test scores, particularly in math.
She said the district is forming a new strategic plan and described teachers, principals, family and community partners and central staff as essential elements in providing a good education to students.
Enfield agreed with Deputy Mayor Mia Gregerson that the district has issues with truancy and discipline. She noted that African American and Latino students have a suspension rate three times that of other groups. She vowed to work on the disparity.
Enfield told Councilmember Barry Ladenburg that the district is seeking to graduate all students prepared to enter a four-year college. College should be a viable option but students should choose what path they want to take, she noted. She added that students haven’t been exposed enough to vocational options.
The Southeast Asian American Access in Education (SEA3eD) Coalition is hosting the first, “Southeast Asian American and Asian American Education Summit: UNITE (You and I Together for Education).” The event will be held Saturday, October 6th from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Highline Community College in Building 8.
The purpose of the summit is to bring Southeast Asian and Asian American students, their families and educators together to initiate the dialogue of higher education, promote cross-ethnic solidarity and create unity toward the mission of education.
It will focus on fighting the growing educational opportunity gap that currently exists for Southeast Asian American groups, such as Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, Mienh, Vietnamese, Cham and recent refugees from Bhutan and Burma.
“This summit really is aimed towards the future of our Southeast Asian and Asian American youth and is a promise from us mentors, leaders, families, educators and policy makers that you [Southeast Asian and Asian American youth] are no longer invisible,” said Ekkarath Sisavatdy, co-founder of SEA3eD.
Highline public school students have closed the gap in test scores with other students in the state in math for every grade level.
That was among the conclusions presented Sept. 12 to Highline School Board members by the district’s chief accountability officer, Alan Spicciati.
Spicciati highlighted state test scores achieved by sixth-graders during the spring tests. The state standard was met by 61.9 percent of Highline sixth-graders. The state average for meeting the standard was 61.4 percent, slightly below Highline’s percentage.
He said the district realized it had a problem after the 2006-2007 school year when only 32.9 percent of Highline sixth-graders met the math standard, compared to 49.6 percent statewide.
“It would have been hard to find anyone then who would have bet on Highline catching up,” Spicciati declared.
He noted the district as a whole improved math scores by 29 percent. Latino students gained 30 points.
“If we can do it in sixth-grade math, we can do it anywhere,” Spicciati declared.
The Global Connections High School Wind Ensemble has been invited to participate in the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Music Festival in Washington D.C. and attend the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony.
Global Connections is located on the Tyee campus in SeaTac.
The Global Connections band is one of only four in the country invited to participate with no audition, by recommendation of a national adjudicator.
“Some of our students have never been out of this community. This is an opportunity they never imagined possible,” said Principal Rick Harwood. “Many are children of immigrants who came to America for a better life. To be able to participate in one of the most significant events in American society is huge.”
Nearly eight out of ten Global Connections students live in poverty. The 37 students in the wind ensemble must raise $60,000 in order to make the trip.
More Highline Kindergarteners will learn a second language at school starting next fall. Highline will open new dual language programs at White Center Heights and Madrona elementary schools. Each school will have two dual-language Kindergarten classes starting in fall 2013.
Madrona will offer Spanish immersion. At White Center Heights, there will be one Vietnamese immersion and one Spanish immersion class. Half of the students in each program are native English speakers and half are native speakers of the other language. Students spend 50 percent of every day learning in English and the other 50% learning in the second language.
Each year, the schools will add a grade level as students progress through each grade and new Kindergarteners enter the program every fall.
Hilltop and Mount View elementary schools were the first two schools in the district to offer Spanish dual language programs. The first cohort at Hilltop will enter 7th grade in 2015. Highline plans to expand dual language to middle school at that time.
The leaders of seven King County school districts announced Friday, Aug. 31 that they are joining forces to compete for up to $40 million in federal Race to the Top grant money.
The superintendents of Highline, Tukwila, Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, Renton and Seattle have committed to working together and with their communities to complete the grant application, which is due Oct. 30.
This is the first time the federal Race to the Top competition has been open to districts; previously, the grants had only been offered to states.
Awardees will be announced in December.
The seven districts actively work together as part of the Road Map Project, a region-wide effort to achieve dramatic improvement in student education from cradle to college. The project’s goal is to double the number of students in South Seattle and South King County who are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020 and to close achievement gaps for low-income students and children of color.
Highline Public Schools press release:
Highline public schools made significant progress on state standardized tests in 2012, especially on math exams, where scores are up across the board.
Math: Scores are up in every grade tested at elementary school, middle school and high school levels. Results increased dramatically in several grades, including third grade (+8) and eighth grade (+13)
Science: Test results improved at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Scores jumped13 points at fifth grade.
Writing: Scores increased in every grade level in which writing is assessed. They went up by five points in fourth grade and tenth grade.
Several schools saw significant gains in all subject areas. At Des Moines Elementary, Principal Jenniffer Reinig says closely monitoring students’ progress, embracing the district’s new math curriculum, and teaching to state standards led to improvements.
Des Moines Elementary State Test Score Improvement
Reading Writing Math Science
+7 +19 +10 +22
Donors, partners and supporters of Community Schools Collaboration (CSC) held a Block Party Fundraiser Sept. 7 to support students in South King County. Guests sponsored backpacks for a CSC students, bid in a silent auction, had a meal and drinks, and enjoy live music. CSC supports students in Highline and Tukwila school districts. The CSC Office is at 137 SW 154th St. in Burien.
Community Schools Collaboration provides over 3,000 students annually with academic support, access to health programs, family engagement and youth development opportunities.
Highline Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield participated, and told the Highline Times, "This is one of our greatest community partners. What they allow us to do for kids in our schools we could never do alone and we are grateful. In this day and age every nonprofit is struggling. The more people can do to support organizations like this, the better off our kids are, and their families."