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Bremerton School District busy in 2007

By WESLEY REMMER

Staff writer

In a year that brought a little of everything, the Bremerton School District will reflect on the past and plan for the future as the curtain draws on 2007. The lawsuit filed against BSD in November undoubtedly adds intrigue to the coming year as, despite end-of-the-year turmoil, the Dare Not to Swear program remains a smash success, a new building was added to Mountainview Middle School, Crownhill Elementary celebrated 50 years of academia and the always anticipated WASL results were released. The Bremerton Patriot rings in the New Year with a review of these — and other — hallmark school-related events.

‘Dare Not to Swear’

off and running

The “Dare Not to Swear” campaign unveiled by Bremerton High School has gained an immense amount of notoriety since its debut.

The Dare Not to Swear campaign was spearheaded by Bremerton High School teacher Madonna Hanna last fall after her fashion marketing class discovered something alarming in a survey they constructed in the spring of 2006. Hanna’s fashion marketing class students discovered an alarming amount of swearing taking place at Bremerton High School. Hanna and her class decided to do something about it.

“We kept finding in the surveys that there’s too much swearing going on in our school,” Hanna commented in October of 2006. “I figured why not start a social campaign to do something to address the fact that we have a swearing problem at our school.”

The Dare Not to Swear campaign has taken off, gaining state-wide notoriety over the past months.

Marquis Bittinger, a student, believes the Dare Not to Swear campaign has made a difference at school.

“The program is definitely a great thing for students at our school,” Bittinger said. “Hopefully not swearing will become second nature to students here.”

Bremerton schools bag prestigious Magna Award

When the American School Board Journal announced its grand prize winners of the 2007 Magna Awards, the Bremerton School District was honored for its work in early education. The district’s “Starting Early for Success” program, which targets preschool children and kindergartners, earned one of only three prizes awarded nationwide. Just six years into the ever evolving program, 52 percent of Bremerton kindergartners - compared to the previous number of 4 percent - know the alphabet’s letters before starting school. As a result, the kindergarten curriculum has had to be advanced.

“Across the country there’s a recognition that you front-load the system,” said Bremerton Schools Superintendent Bette Hyde. “You want kids growing up from day one saying, ‘I can learn!’” Hyde gave tremendous credit for the program to Special Programs Director Linda Sullivan-Dudzic, who began the concept when she worked as a speech pathologist for the district. “It began with Linda building trust in the community,” Hyde said. “Some wonderful partnership building was done.”

Bremerton joins the Newark Central School Board in Newark, N.Y., and the Educational Service Center of Franklin County in Columbus, Ohio as a grand-prize winner.

New teachers

welcomed to BSD

The Bremerton School District hired more than 20 new teachers before the 2007-2008 school year began. Bremerton High School led the way with seven hires and Kitsap Lake Elementary made five. Here are the new teachers and the schools they joined: Kelli Andrews, Laura Bossom, John Elsbree, Elizabeth Hartness-Reese, Julianna Hockstein, Danitza Nicklow and Jenna Shallenberger - Bremerton High School; Amanda Aurand, Toby Tebo, Sonya Turner, Cyndi Wallace and Paula Wood - Kitsap Lake Elementary; Sandra Gessner-Crabtree and Emily Watt - Armin Jahr Elementary; Corinne Bittinger - Crownhill Elementary; Heather Read - West Hills Elementary; Joneva Mata - Renaissance High; John Kovacs - West Sound Tech; and Nicole Barrera, Sandra Beattie, Kayleen Goddard and Jon Horwath - Special Education.

WASL results: some good, some bad

Results of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) tests were released in September. While Bremerton school’s struggled in some areas compared to the rest of Washington State, they saw improvements in others.

In the 20 categories measuring reading, math, writing and science in third through eighth and tenth grades, the state scores went up in 12 areas, down in seven, and held steady in one other. The Bremerton results have eight scores going up with the other 12 down.

“We have a high mobility factor and a high poverty rate, both of which likely to yield lower scores,” said Bob Hamilton, the district’s special education and assessment director. “We’re not making an excuse, but those are the facts.”

Hamilton pointed out many areas where the Bremerton schools are doing well. For example, seventh grade scores have risen significantly in all areas in the past few years. “When you look at those numbers you can see that we would not have reached those levels by chance,” he said. “I think this shows the success of the focus on instruction that Linda Sullivan-Dudzic and our staff are using at that level.”

Another area of significant success is in 10th grade test scores for African-American students, which are higher across the board than the state average among that group.

The district had a more positive change than the state in seven categories, but in five areas where the state scores climbed, Bremerton’s fell, and those are the areas where the district lags the farthest behind the standard.

29.7 percent of eighth graders passed the math exam in Bremerton, down from the 34.1 percent in 2005-06. The statewide numbers went up to 49.5 percent, but are now 19.8 percentage points ahead of Bremerton.

Bremerton lags 15.7 percentage points behind the state in seventh grade writing, where the district fell from 55.9 percent to 52.4. That score is however significantly higher than where the students were in the 2003-04 year, where only 39 percent passed the test.

Science is the area where scores are the lowest both statewide and in the Bremerton schools. Bremerton is ahead of the state average in the fifth grade scores at 39.7 percent. The state is at 36.4 percent. Bremerton scores dropped in the eighth and 10th grade science exams, with the both grades reporting the lowest percentage since 2003-04.

The other area where the district is leading the state standard is in fifth grade reading, where Bremerton is at 71.9 percent.

“We’re continuing to work very hard to do the best we can for every student,” said Sullivan-Dudzic, the special programs director.

Towards that end, every elementary school in the district is offering before or after school programs at no cost for children who have failed, or are in danger of failing the WASL. Additionally, during the regular school day teachers are looking to give students extra time in areas of need.

At the middle school, administrators have studied every student’s schedule and are examining places where supplemental instruction can be offered.

At all levels of the district teachers are holding weekly meetings to talk planning and to exchange strategies for motivating students.

“We’ve got the improved curriculum, and we’ve done the best teacher training,” Sullivan-Dudzic said, “now we’ve got to get the students motivated to be fully involved in the curriculum.”

To view all the WASL scores you can go to www.k12.wa.us and follow the links to the Bremerton scores.

t Kitsap Lake Elementary earns “School of Distinction” status

“We’ll fly our banner proudly,” said Lyle Burbidge, principal of Kitsap Lake Elementary School. The banner in question declares Kitsap Lake a “School of Distinction,” an honor bestowed upon the students and staff by State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Terry Bergeson on Oct. 10. Burbidge travelled to an awards ceremony in Des Moines to receive the award personally from Bergeson, with Kitsap Lake joining 85 other schools on the elite list.

Kitsap Lake’s dramatic improvements in test scores in reading and mathematics over the past six years earned the award.

“We created this award to honor and celebrate the amazing progress schools have made, and continue to make, in helping our students acquire the knowledge and skills that will serve them the rest of their lives,” Bergeson said. “The increased performance recognized by these awards is evidence of the educational transformation taking place in our schools.”

Kitsap Lake is one of 51 elementary schools among the award winners, putting the school in the top five percent in the state. The test scores used to determine the awards were WASL scores from fourth, seventh and 10th graders over the past six years, the only grades for which six years of data are available.

In reading, 87.3 percent of the students passed, up from the 52.5 percent posted during the 2000-01 school year. The math score climbed even more, going from 33.9 percent all the way to 72.7 percent. Although not considered in the award criteria, the school’s writing score jumped from 45.8 percent to 74.5 percent over the same period.

“To me, it’s a big thing,” Burbidge said. “It gives the recognition to the right people, the teachers and the staff. We have a great staff, and we’re trying every day to get those students engaged in their learning.”

Burbidge also noted the vital role the parents have played in the school’s success. “I’ve worked in a lot of schools,” he said, “and this one has the best parent participation of any.”

The school banks on exceptional parent involvement to help its students reach higher levels and attain loftier goals. A series of parent curriculum nights are planned. “We want to get our parents more knowledgeable about what we’re asking the kids to learn,” Burbidge said.

t Mountainview made over

When school resumes in January, Mountainview Middle School sixth-graders will enjoy the school’s new look. As 2007 comes to a close, the new sixth-grade wing gears to open.

The building’s design was carefully planned to match the existing structure, both inside and out, and its state-of-the-art technology rivals that found at Bremerton’s Olympic College. Teachers will wear voice enhancement devices to amplify their voices and overhead projectors have been replaced by document cameras and ceiling-mounted video projectors. The classroom lights, as a means to save power, are motion activated

Bremerton school board President Cynthia Galloway, during a tour of the new building in November, was impressed with what she saw. “It’s really nice, Galloway said. There’s lots of space.”

Students will have more work space in the library as modifications were made to its original design and a fitness room, in a vacant space, will soon be available for use. Both additional projects were completed under projected budgets, Principal Jerry Willson said.

Vicki Collins, Bremerton school board member, said the changes in the library made a huge difference in the learning environment.

“They have more room now,” Collins said. “And chairs that rock.”

t Crownhill Elementary turns 50

When classes first began at Crownhill Elementary in 1956, lunch cost only 35 cents. But as teachers, students and parents have come and gone, and food prices risen, Crownhill’s excellence has remained a staple in the Bremerton community. In June the school celebrated its 50th birthday by hosting a special birthday party in which current and former students, community members and staff joined for a sing-along and birthday cake.

t Bremerton School District faces lawsuit

Francis Haddon Morgan Center (FHMC) is a state-run institution for people with developmental disabilities and is home to 11 such Bremerton area students.

On November 21, parents of the FHMC children filed a lawsuit against the Bremerton School District after the Department of Social Health Services’ (DSHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) implemented a plan to have all 11 students removed from the public school system and placed in a segregated learning system.

The plan would force the students to learn at FHMC rather than at a public school and according to parents would cause “irreparable harm” to the students.

The parents, represented by Disability Rights Washington (DSW), believe the removal of disabled children from public schools constitutes discrimination and that, moreover, it is against the law.

According to the district, the move is to be only temporary and that classroom space - not discrimination - is the catalyst behind the movement.

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