At WSSDA’s 2019 Annual Conference, Mabton, Riverside, and Clover Park School Districts have been named Boards of the Year in the categories of small, medium, and large school districts, respectively. Picked from among 34 Boards of Distinction, these boards were particularly successful at showing a correlation between data, board decisions, and positive outcomes for students.
The awards were determined at the same time as Boards of Distinction, but withheld until WSSDA’s annual conference. Judges included former and current Educational Service District superintendents, State Board of Education board members, former school directors, and others who are involved in education leadership on a statewide level.
At WSSDA’s annual conference, each Board of the Year received a certificate, trophy, and a $500 check from Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, a Gold Sponsor of the conference.
The following remarks were delivered at the awards ceremony:
The Mabton School Board started off the 2018-2019 school year with a new superintendent and new administrative team. They took advantage of this fresh start to proactively seek training to create a shared understanding of the roles of the board to strengthen the entire board-superintendent team. They questioned why things were being done “they way they’d always been done” and created new agreements and processes focused around Relational Trust, Systems to Support People and Academic Press. They revised their policy approval process to include more local input to ensure the policies fit the needs of the students and staff. This led them to create a calendar for year-round policy review with a focus on policies that support increased opportunities for student success, for example, policy related to graduation requirements.
The Riverside School Board has had a mission over the past couple years to transform the culture of their district and their relationships with the communities they serve. It is impossible to quantify here all they ways in which they did this. They targeted strategies for engaging with previously underserved and neglected populations, inviting those residents to be part of the school community. Breaking bread with people served to be a powerful way to connect for TEAM Riverside, both by bringing community members into the schools for monthly dinners with the board and taking BBQs out to disenfranchised neighborhoods to build trusting relationships.
Riverside has experienced enrollment growth for the first time in 25 years, and they passed their levy at a historically high rate of nearly 70%. Finally, their attention to the areas where they saw gaps in opportunities for students paid off too. A concern about kindergarten readiness lead to opening an early learning center, resulting in a 10% increase in readiness. At the other end of the Pre-K-12 spectrum, there was a 10% decrease in the rate of high school course failures.
The Clover Park School Board made a powerful commitment to equity and inclusion this year. Their multi-pronged approach included a deep dive into gaining a personal understanding of the needs and challenges of their students and the inequities and challenges they face daily. Recognizing that student growth and achievement encompasses much more than standardized test scores, the board developed a definition of student success. Called the Four Pillars for Student Success, this framework supports lifelong learning, collaboration, character, and leadership to provide a strong foundation for students to succeed in school and beyond. This work is supported by professional development for the board and staff in cultural competency and understanding microaggressions, as well as partnering with community leaders for a poverty immersion training. All of this work has translated into impressive progress in shrinking the opportunity gaps for students who are English Language Learners, re-engaging and raising graduation rates of struggling high school students, and providing extended day programs and supports to students with parents in the military.