Bellingham School Board Receives Excellence in Equity Award

The Board of Directors of Bellingham Public Schools received the Excellence in Equity award from the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) today at the their conference in Bellevue.

Bellingham school board members Kelly Bashaw, Douglas Benjamin, Camille Diaz Hackler, Jenn Mason and member-elect Katie Rose accepted the award.

“This is a great honor that not only recognizes our school board, but also our superintendent, staff and community for our collective commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion,” school board president Camille Diaz Hackler said.

The board’s application cited the school district’s efforts to reduce costs and increase access for students and families. One initiative referenced was Project Free Education, which has helped reduce direct costs to our families by nearly $1 million either by removing direct costs or adding services and supplies. Other examples include investments in early childhood, Traffic Safety Education, and the new Central Kitchen. The district believes its efforts to increase opportunities and reduce barriers for all students contribute to rising graduation rates, especially for low-income and Latinx students, which have improved significantly since 2010.

The board also highlighted the many ways Bellingham Public Schools celebrates equity with students and families including special events, field trips and storytelling. The district consistently writes, photographs, films and shares stories that shine a light on the incredible examples of our strategic plan, The Bellingham Promise, in action, including these stories about the first annual Whatcom Youth Pride parade, staff participating in summer study of indigenous ways of knowing, our engagement event with south Asian families and a video about our bilingual educator academy.

“Just this week, we received the first monitoring report on our new Race and Equity Policy, Executive Limitation-10, which we adopted in August. While our focus on equity has been strong for many years, our board felt having a policy was an important accountability tool,” Ms. Diaz Hackler said.

Superintendent Dr. Greg Baker also attended the award ceremony. “I’m so proud of our board members. They are strong champions of equity and amazing advocates for our students, staff and schools. As you see them in our schools and around our community, I encourage you to congratulate them and thank them for their continued support and service,” Dr. Baker said.

See the school board’s full application for the Excellence in Equity award here.