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District will recommend a different location for possible early learning program
District will recommend a different location for possible early learning program
Posted on 10/19/2017

With an interest in providing quality educational experiences for students in the earliest years possible, the Puyallup School District Board of Directors has asked district leadership to explore the possibility of developing an early learning program in each of the district’s three regions.

During the 2016-17 school year directors of the board committed to diligently measure outcomes for student learning and identify ways to improve student achievement in all grades. Kindergarten readiness was identified as a milestone of particular interest.

On March 17, 2017 Chief Instructional Leadership Officer Vince Pecchia provided the Board of Directors with research on kindergarten readiness including baseline data collected and analyzed by district educators. While the district currently offers some programs to assist preschool children, members of the board have developed a growing interest in providing more opportunity for Puyallup students prior to enrollment in kindergarten.

On October 10, 2017 district leadership held a public forum at Edgemont Junior High to introduce the possibility of a grade reconfiguration in the North Hill schools. The potential grade reconfiguration included locating one of the proposed PSD early learning programs at Mountain View Elementary School.

In addition to providing early learning resources for families, the North Hill grade reconfiguration was intended to effectively balance class loads in a growing community. Because of construction and development in the North Hill attendance areas, enrollment projections indicate future growth which required examining class load concerns. Current facilities are unable to adequately serve students into the near future.

The meeting was well attended and many ideas were shared. The overwhelming response from the audience indicated no desire to reconfigure grade levels at Mountain View and Northwood elementary schools.

Puyallup School District leadership and the PSD Board of Directors are interested in authentically listening to the responses from staff, parents, and community members. Directors have a particular commitment to responding to the expressed needs of stakeholders.

To ensure equal opportunity for all stakeholders and to give everyone a chance to compare their thoughts with others, the district employed a new communications tool called Thought Exchange. Parents and staff members at the three schools impacted by such a change were personally invited via email to join the conversation. They were asked to share their thoughts through a series of three open-ended questions, then consider and rate the thoughts of others.

After one week, 133 participants had joined the conversation. At that point 294 thoughts had been shared with 4,678 ratings applied. Questions included the following:

  1. What are some concerns you have about grade reconfiguration?
  2. What are some benefits of grade reconfiguration?
  3. What other questions do you have about these possible changes?

The responses to these questions showed overwhelming support in leaving the current grade configuration in place. Mountain View Elementary and Northwood Elementary each currently serve students in grades K-5. Edgemont Junior High serves students in grades 6-9 with a current enrollment of 499 students.

The window of opportunity for staff and parents to participate in the North Hill grade reconfiguration Thought Exchange was scheduled to continue through October 25. However it has become clear that little support for any potential reconfiguration can be found. Therefore, it has been determined that the collection of data could be shortened and the Thought Exchange conversation ended early.

Upon review of the data on Thought Exchange and the information gathered in the public forum at EJH, district leadership has decided to discontinue consideration of a grade reconfiguration in the North Hill area. It is being recommended to the PSD Board of Directors that the district explore other locations in order to bring about the board’s vision of early learning support.