Jan. 19, 2016
Happy New Year! We are kicking off 2016 with some remarkable celebrations in the Tukwila School District: A huge (huge!) leap in graduation rates, Thorndyke Elementary’s School of Distinction Award (the state’s highest award for student growth), an incredible family engagement event for English Language Learners—and did I mention that Gov. Jay Inslee made his first official business of the New Year a visit to Foster High because “what’s happening at [Foster] is exactly what we need to have happen across the state of Washington?”
Looking ahead, we expect even more greatness for the rest of 2016! One of the most important upcoming events that will shape our future is the Feb. 9 election. The Tukwila School District has two levies and one bond measure on the ballot. (If you need any information, please visit our homepage, www.tukwila.wednet.edu, or call me at 206-901-8006.) The two levies will maintain critical school programs and provide classroom technology. The bond will fund repairs and maintenance of building infrastructure like roofs and heating/ventilation systems. It will also allow us to expand our schools – classrooms are already overcrowded – and we expect significant growth in the next decade.
In my column last month, I discussed how we will create more space at Foster High and Showalter Middle if the bond passes—with a new academic wing at each devoted to hands-on math, science, technology, and art labs. This month, I want to talk about our innovative plan to create more classroom space at elementary schools.
First, some context on the need. We have simply run out of room! At the beginning of the year, we almost had to place a class at Tukwila Elementary in a modified staff conference area. If we want to have smaller, appropriately sized student/teacher ratios, we need to expand. When the community bond committee came together to look for space solutions, members had three choices: Expand current elementary schools, build a new comprehensive elementary school, or invest in an early learning center. As it turns out, our current elementary campuses are not large enough for expansions. Between the new-construction options, the early learning center was projected to cost less AND provide some critical educational benefits—a real win/win.
We are calling the new facility the Birth to Five Center (the exact location will be determined if the bond passes, and we will be able to look for land centrally in the district). It will house all of the district’s preschool and kindergarten classes, hence moving those students out of their current schools and creating space there. Better yet, there will be many positive (fiscally responsible!) benefits to our K-12 educational program and the entire Tukwila community:
Dr. Nancy Coogan, Superintendent