Something important happened several weeks ago, and I want to assure the Tukwila school community that I am listening, that I am committed and that we are on an upward trajectory in support of students.
Our teacher and classified employee associations recently passed a vote of no confidence in my leadership. I take their issues and concerns seriously — very seriously. I have responded with a plan for increased communication, including weekly meetings and a listening session with union leaders. Ultimately, it will be my actions that have to speak loudest, and I have outlined several promised deliverables that will support our students and staff and move us forward. To learn more, please visit the district homepage at tukwilaschools.org and select “Current Issues and Concerns: Historical Perspective, FAQs, and the Way Forward” from the announcement section.
Overall, I want you to know:
• I remain steadfastly committed to this district. Tukwila is my community, and I believe its students, staff members and families are the greatest in the world.
• We have ambitious goals for student growth and learning, which involve change, some of which can be uncomfortable. Our staff members are quite capable, and it’s my priority to provide the clear, two-way communication and resources/support they need to help every student succeed.
• I am proud of accomplishments during my leadership here, and I know that we are on a strong upward trajectory.
We are pioneering STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programs and partnerships that are among the most innovative in the country. This includes piloting SmartLabs beginning this year and exploring industry certifications with business leaders from Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft. We are the only K-12 district in the country to partner with the National Science Foundation.
Our graduation rates and student growth are climbing. Our on-time graduation rate has increased by 25 percent in the past two years, with significant gains across subgroups. Our schools have won the state’s and nation’s highest awards for academics, including the Gaston Caperton Opportunity Honor Roll, the state School of Distinction designation and the Washington Achievement Award.
This year, state auditors commended us for significant improvements and a clean audit after resolving dozens of long-standing financial issues that predated my tenure.
• Actions speak louder than words, and I am committed to these deliverables:
On time, on budget, superior-quality bond projects. We are overseeing $100 million in modernizations and expansions at all of our schools, and we are on track for construction that not only meets voter expectations but facilitates 21st century learning. This includes a new birth to kindergarten center that models best national research. (Search “2016 bond” on our homepage.)
Standards-aligned, modern curriculum and materials across grade levels and content areas that include a significant online component for access anytime, anywhere. The Teaching and Learning Department has just completed a revised, fast-tracked curriculum review and adoption plan that is already being implemented this year. (Search “Curriculum adoption” on our homepage.)
A pilot program this year allows students to take home laptop devices to access their lessons and materials (once again, anytime, anywhere learning). We are also committed to creating Internet “hotspots” in the community for connectivity.
Standards-based, online report cards for elementary schools implemented by the start of next school year.
Ten new buses will arrive by May 2017 to transport our students, utilizing safe and dependable equipment.
Continued innovative and cutting-edge partnerships to create dual-credit opportunities and industry certifications for students.
Most importantly for all parents in the district, students are continuing to learn at the same high levels in classrooms right now. It’s my most sincere hope and intent that we adults in the district can work together through these issues without impacting children. I have absolutely no doubt that we all have their best interest at heart, and that mutual value is the best foundation on which to build.
Tukwila School Superintendent Nancy Coogan can be reached at 206-901-8006 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.