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Last updated Nov. 7, 2018

Returning graduates of Sunnyland

A Message from Dr. Greg Baker Superintendent of Schools

The Bellingham Promise is our district strategic plan, collaboratively developed in 2012 with staff, students, families and our community, and reviewed and updated on a regular basis. Within this document, you will find some of our work priorities organized by key strategy. Throughout our district, schools, departments and individual staff have a variety of goals and priorities in support of The Promise. Not every work priority is included here, but these represent most of our major districtwide initiatives.

 

 

 

 

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Two girls in a classroomEquity, diversity and inclusion are ongoing areas of focus for Bellingham Public Schools. We are going through a process of updating The Bellingham Promise, our strategic plan, to determine how to best show our commitment to these values.

At the time of printing, we are preparing to update The Promise; nevertheless, we are excited to articulate our priorities around this work and include them here.

Top 5 Priorities

  • Update The Bellingham Promise to reflect our ongoing work and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Support the school board in adopting an equity policy and continue to review data broken down by various demographics.
    Continue to improve our staff professional learning with opportunities to increase culturally responsive practices like GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design).
  • Support the new position of Student Equity and Inclusion Coordinator to provide equitable support services to underrepresented students and families throughout all high schools.
  • Launch the Teacher Academy in two high schools that will support the development and recruitment of diverse teachers.

Other Important Priorities

  • Implement listening sessions with diverse staff, led by district leaders.
  • Engage and develop partnerships with the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, Western Washington University, the University of Washington, and others, to support social and racial justice education.
  • Increase investment in Autism in Mainstream Settings (AIMS) program at the elementary school level to include students with autism in mainstream classroom settings.
  • Increase opportunities for Community Transitions program in collaboration with Western Washington University, allowing college campus access for our students ages 18-to-21 receiving special education services.

 

Great Teaching with Strong Support

A teacher and studentAcross our system, we focus on ensuring high-quality instruction for all our students by purposefully supporting teachers to advance their learning. We are committed to offering meaningful professional development for all our staff, including principals and district leaders. After our introductory year with 1:1 technology (one laptop per student) at Squalicum and Options high schools and Kulshan Middle School, we have added additional 1:1 technology across all of our middle and high schools. Roosevelt and Carl Cozier elementary schools are experiencing an infusion of classroom technology resources in grades 3 to 5. At all remaining schools, staff will focus on learning new tools through demonstration devices and support from educational technology coaches. We are also implementing new curriculum for middle school science and Pre-K to eighth grade social-emotional learning.

Top 5 Priorities

  • Expand 1:1 technology integration to include staff learning at all remaining elementary schools and deploy student devices to all remaining high schools (Bellingham, Sehome, Squalicum) and middle schools (Fairhaven, Shuksan, Whatcom), and to two elementary schools (Roosevelt and Carl Cozier).
  • Implement new social-emotional learning (SEL) curricula for grades Pre-K to 8 as part of a broader district-wide focus on SEL.
  • Implement new middle school science curriculum in grades 6 to 8.
  • Continue a strong emphasis on multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) in elementary schools; expand to middle schools this year and beyond.
  • Continue efforts to provide high quality professional development for staff through early dismissal Thursdays and Friday teacher work days throughout the year.

 

Other Important Priorities

  • Continue to refine the high school schedule based on feedback, including implementing a 30-minute student advisory period at the end of the school day in all high schools.
  • Develop and refine grading practices for high schools.
  • Continue to eliminate split-grade classrooms in elementary schools and support smaller class sizes particularly in grades K to 3 in schools with higher poverty. Provide additional administrative support in elementary schools.
  • Support world language opportunities at elementary schools.
  • Identify a free, online resource for Washington state history curriculum.
  • Explore new health curriculum for high schools.
  • Continue to work with higher education partners such as Western Washington University, the University of Washington and Harvard University to learn about best instructional practices and support leadership development.
  • Begin adoption and implementation of new middle school social studies curriculum.
Early Childhood Education

A boy smiles at the cameraInvestment in a strong early childhood program is a top priority. Through voter support, Bellingham has been providing full-time kindergarten for all students since 2010. In 2015, we expanded our Promise K program that grants educational opportunities to students who have not had access to high-quality early learning. The GRADS student parenting program expanded to the new Options High School and includes children up to the age of five, while continuing the program at both Sehome and Squalicum high schools. Our Title 1 preschools are in their third year at Alderwood and Cordata elementary schools and continue to provide inclusion opportunities.

 

Top 5 Priorities

  • Increase early childhood support staff for kindergarten and continue Promise K early-entrance kindergarten opportunities for children who are age 5 or younger, who are not currently enrolled in a preschool or kindergarten and who need early learning support.
  • Provide support, training and development for teachers of preschool through first grade to enhance high-quality instructional alignment including teachers from neighboring school districts.
  • Increase coordination of early childhood programs and support for teachers and administrators through our early childhood specialists.
  • Continue to explore and expand early learning opportunities such as GRADS, birth to age 5, and Title 1 preschool.
  • Offer parent education opportunities like Play and Learn through community partnerships.

 

Other Important Priorities

  • Continue to focus on social-emotional learning integration through new curriculum using Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) data.
  • Develop effective support models for students entering kindergarten to meet higher standards. For example, keep kindergarten class size ratios the lowest and add more adults in classrooms at the beginning of the school year.
  • Create Early Childhood Parent Educator position in partnership with and financial support from RAM Construction and the Chuckanut Health Foundation.
  • Purchase developmentally-appropriate materials for kindergarten and first grade to enhance learning for all students using play as an instructional strategy and to build child development.
Student, Family and Community Engagement

A community event at Eliza ApartmentsBellingham Public Schools is always growing partnerships and expanding communications with our families, stakeholders and community members. Our committees and advisory groups give recommendations for program enhancements. Our school board holds community linkages several times a year to gain insight into our schools. The Family Partnership Program, which supports homeschooling families, continues to grow. The family engagement team connects with families at our Family Resource Centers, (FRC) which are located at Shuksan Middle School and Carl Cozier Elementary School. The FRCs link families with a number of resources, including translation and interpretation services, food banks, technology, homeless support and more. We strive to be open and authentic in our partnerships with families, staff, students and the community to deliver on The Promise.

 

Top 5 Priorities

  • Continue to improve and invest in our website to support all families by offering translation tools and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility enhancements.
  • Engage families and communities in the planning of our new elementary schools and facilities and adjusting attendance areas for elementary and middle schools.
  • Engage with all families at events like Family Tech Night to improve technology literacy and support families and students.
  • In partnership with the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation, continue to support families with resources at the Family Resource Centers.
  • Continue to visit the homes of all new families to the district who speak languages other than English to better connect them to our schools, district, community and resources.

Other Important Priorities

  • Expand the implementation and accessibility of the application Seesaw (elementary) and ApParent (middle and high) to connect families with the classroom.
  • Adopt and implement a new Language Access Policy to support and communicate with families who speak languages other than English.
  • Create an Understanding and Serving Students with Dyslexia Advisory Group to support our students with dyslexia.
  • Continue to hold school board community linkages to delve deeper into targeted groups and issues.
  • Create an updated app to support easy access to Skyward, bus routes, menus, forms, and other frequently-used sites and webpages.
One Schoolhouse

Students work on artOne Schoolhouse describes how we approach our work in Bellingham Public Schools to ensure all children will be cared for and respected. We have made strides to eliminate opportunity gaps for children by expanding Project Free Education. School supplies are provided at all levels. Progress continues on our bond projects with the passage of our February 2018 bond, which includes funding for new Alderwood, Parkview and Sunnyland elementary schools, a new auxiliary gym for Shuksan Middle School and new turf fields for soccer, baseball and softball at Bellingham, Sehome and Squalicum high schools. We look forward to opening our new Central Kitchen in fall 2018 and the new Sehome High School ahead of their original completions schedule in January 2019. With our One Schoolhouse approach, we ensure that children in all schools have an exemplary educational experience.

 

Top 5 Priorities

  • Continue to expand Project Free Education by reducing costs for high school students by paying for graduation expenses, including caps, gowns and tassels and offering a driver’s education/traffic safety course to students at all four high schools.
  • Invest in a new districtwide coordinator of after-school activities, athletics and enrichment in partnership with the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation.
  • Plan and design Alderwood and Parkview elementary schools, athletic fields for high schools, Gordon Carter Environmental Education Site and auxiliary gym at Shuksan Middle School to increase opportunities for students.
  • Adjust attendance areas to balance enrollment and enhance diversity.
  • Continue to build community partnerships to increase equity and access for all students.

 

Other Important Priorities

  • Invest in family passes at high school sporting events to decrease game fees for families.
  • Partner with local community colleges to reduce costs for students.
  • Continue to reduce or eliminate fees for Advanced Placement (AP) exams for high school students.
  • Increase library media services and support at all elementary schools.
  • Build partnerships, financial support and grant funding through the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation to help all students.
  • Begin construction of improved transportation facility for school buses.

 

 

Innovation and Flexibility

A teacher and student look at a laptopEvery child is exceptional in their own way. We offer an array of educational and vocational options to support a diversity of life choices. A child’s post-secondary pathway may involve studying at a four-year university or a two-year community college, pursuing a technical certification, or heading directly into the workforce, among a myriad of other paths. To prepare our students, we support a technology-rich learning environment to ensure students and staff have access to relevant and effective learning tools, content and curriculum. We continue to support and integrate effective programs, such as International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID).

 

Top 5 Priorities

  • Expand 1:1 student technology programs, supported by our technology levy, to all our middle and high school students, as well as in-classroom device access for Carl Cozier and Roosevelt students, grades three through five.
  • Welcome students to a newly constructed Sehome High School during the 2018-19 school year, providing many new flexible learning environments for our students.
  • Provide technology professional development for teachers through in-building educational technology coaches as well as time for building-based and individual learning.
  • Begin to provide healthy scratch-cooked meals from our new Central Kitchen.
  • Enhance instruction with new student and teacher instructional resources and new curriculum adoptions in science, social-emotional learning and AP course opportunities.

 

Other Important Priorities

  • Continue to offer a wider selection of athletic, visual and performing arts, and elective courses for our high school students through our extended schedule.
  • Improve transportation safety resources providing real-time bus location and rider information.
  • Launch a new Forest School Program at the Gordon Carter Environmental Education Site on Lake Whatcom, in partnership with the North Cascades Institute.
  • Continue to expand Career and Technology Education (CTE) course offerings at middle and high schools, including traffic safety, sports medicine and plan for a new culinary arts program.
  • Support staff and student use of Seesaw, a digital portfolio and home-to-school communication platform, at all elementary schools.
  • Fund STEM kits and teacher professional development for computational thinking in grades K-5 through support from the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation and an OSPI computer science grant.