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Recognition of our School Board and Budget Update

Dear Staff, Students, Families and Community,

Happy fall, and I hope you’ve had an opportunity to enjoy this amazing weather. It’s been a great start to our school year! Thank you for everything you do to support our students and schools. This message is to update you on some good news about our school board as well as the budget process.

First, kudos to our school board: Bellingham Public Schools Board of Directors was recently chosen as a Board of Distinction by the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA). Out of the 295 school boards in Washington state, only 29 boards in our state received this distinction.

Bellingham school board members Kelly Bashaw, Douglas Benjamin, Camille Diaz Hackler, Jenn Mason and Quenby Peterson received the award.

The annual Boards of Distinction program honors school boards that demonstrate effective use of the Washington School Board Standards. The standards, developed and adopted by WSSDA in 2009, promote research-based governance practices that lead to high levels of student and district achievement, and help close opportunity gaps.

Our board members are strong advocates of our students, staff and schools and provide outstanding stewardship. As you see them in our schools and around our community, I encourage you to congratulate them and thank them for their service.

I’d also like to give you a quick update on budget. We are starting to hear from our leaders in Olympia about the next biennium budget (2019-21). The state superintendent just released his budget plan (you can see details on OSPI’s website or watch a 11-minute video), and we expect to learn about the governor’s budget proposal in December.

While the McCleary decision, the legal case brought before the State Supreme Court in 2011, has changed the landscape for preK-12 education funding, there is still more to do. The state superintendent has recommended that local school levies have enough flexibility to provide for the educational opportunities communities expect, or to increase preK-12 funding in other ways. If the legislature does not act proactively in its next session, then many districts, including Bellingham, will be preparing for budget reductions. The funding model for school districts has always been complex, and we remain optimistic that the state will come through with solutions.

I have started my annual tour around the district where I visit every school twice – once to meet with every staff and a second time to engage with all PTA or parent groups. These meetings have led to rich and interesting conversations about what’s working well and what wonders people have, spanning a number of topics, including budget, technology in the classroom, attendance area adjustments and facility improvements. If you haven’t seen me yet, you may be seeing me soon. Feel free to ask me about budget or anything else happening in district.

Thank you, and again congratulations to our outstanding school board!

Have a great weekend!

Greg Baker