FYI From the Superintendent

  • Board Approves All Gender Restroom at VHS

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 11/29/2017 9:15:00 AM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues, 

    Last school year, a team of students appeared before the Board of Directors to request consideration of constructing an “All Gender Restroom” (AGR) at the high school. The board was supportive of the request and asked for the students to research best practices for a process to support such a transition.  The students presented thorough research of other school district AGR transitions and the school board approved a permanent conversion of the men’s and women’s restrooms on the second floor of VHS including a process for preparing our school community for the transition. 

    This decision is in alignment with the district’s ongoing commitment to create an inclusive and safe school community for all students. For transgender and gender nonconforming individuals, gender segregated restrooms are spaces where they can be met with intimidation, harassment and bullying. When a restroom is “all gender” a person can choose a restroom that aligns with their gender identity, and increase personal safety.

    Construction has now started on the second floor restrooms at VHS.  The construction will be complete upon students return from winter break in January when the AGR opens for students. Leading up to this, students, staff and parents will be invited to learn about gender diversity through a number educational events taking place on December 7th and 11th. 

    Some of us who have not learned about gender diversity may need more information about why the option of an AGR is necessary and fully supported by our district when on the surface it seems to impact such a small percentage of our student population. We invite you to learn more about gender diversity and our district’s decision to provide an AGR restroom by joining us for a meeting on, Thursday, December 7th, 7:00 pm - 8:30 in the VHS Commons.  VHS Students, with the assistance of Aidan Key, founder and director of Gender Diversity, will guide us through understanding gender as a spectrum and what the creation of an

    AGR will mean for students.  Aiden Key’s bio is available here. We have also prepared a frequently asked questions document that you can access here

    I continue to be amazed and incredibly proud of our students and school board as we are presented with opportunities be led by our students into innovations and changes that build a culture of compassion and caring. Each day we strive to model and achieve our district mission statement: Equipping every student to engage, thrive and contribute in an ever-changing world. 

    I hope you will join us at the meeting on December 7th.

    Respectfully yours,

     Michael Soltman

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • School Health Clinic Start-up is Amazing

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 10/27/2017 12:10:00 PM

    I am delighted to report that the new Neighborcare Health school-based clinic located in our high school is off to a great start. Clinic services are available to ALL of our students in the district.  The clinic has served over 70 students in the nearly two months of operations and provided 152 medical and mental health visits! Common reasons students visit the clinic are for sports physicals, vaccinations, well child checks, and illness.  The care team keeps space open everyday for acute visits that require same day appointments.  Please feel free to call the clinic for an appointment at 206-548-7550.

    Mental health and counseling services are available at both Vashon Island High School and Chautauqua Elementary School. McMurray students can receive mental health services at either location.  Dental services will start in early November with the first oral health screening day, followed by additional portable dental services beginning shortly thereafter.

    There is now an easy online registration form that you can use to register your student for services at the clinic.  If you have turned in your registration paperwork and haven't received a phone call from the clinic manager, they are quickly working through the 172 registration packets received.

    We are so fortunate to have these services in our schools. 

    Comments (-1)
  • Winter Storm Information 2017-2018

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 10/17/2017 4:30:00 PM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,  

    We are monitoring forecasts predicting a winter storm event for the rest of this week to include high winds and rain. Please monitor local forecasts and prepare your family for the potential of power outages. 

    When we lose power here in the district we continue to operate with emergency generators and passive light through the windows for the remainder of the day.  During power outages our heating systems are inactive.  However, we will have sufficient residual heat in the buildings to make it through a day, and please be sure to send your children to school with coats in the winter.  During power outages you may make arrangements to pick up your children early as you wish.  We will operate transportation on a normal schedule unless it is unsafe to do so due to road conditions. 

    During periods of extreme weather and/or power outages, radio/TV stations will report closures and changes of schedule.  The latest information can be accessed at FlashAlert.net or by calling the VISD District Office at 206-463-2121 for a recorded message, or on our website. 

    We monitor weather forecasts to make decisions about late starts and closures, and whenever possible we will make an early decision by 7:00 p.m. for the next morning.  If snow is predicted, we will usually call for a 2.5 hour late start.  Then, if conditions worsen overnight, we will communicate a closure decision prior to 6:00 a.m.  The following are the three schedule options we consider when inclement weather is expected:

     Regular Schedule with Emergency Bus Routes 

    1. 2 ½ Hours Late - Typical "late start" Schedule 
    1. Schools Closed

    As a general practice, if severe weather conditions develop during a school day, we will keep students at school until they can be picked up by parents, or be sent home on school buses.  We will operate buses on regular schedules unless road conditions are unsafe.

    Please see the following link to the Emergency Weather Bulletin on our website for full details about each of the options above.  Our primary concern is the safety of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff.  Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable winter season.

    Respectfully yours,

     Michael Soltman

    Michael Soltman

    Superintendent of Schools

    msoltman@vashonsd.org

    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • Thriftway Supports Vashon Schools Foundation!

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 9/15/2017 5:00:00 PM

    Dear Parents;

    We are grateful to Thriftway, a generous partner in our Vashon Schools Foundation 2017 fundraising campaign.  This month your purchases at Thriftway are matched by 1%  toward the Foundation's goal of $350,000.

    We are thankful that our donors have contributed $135,000 toward this goal to date. This year’s funding priorities include:

    • Further develop a culture and program of racial equity
    • Continue to develop STEM and applied science programs
    • Continue to implement programs fostering mental health, social skills, and suicide prevention
    • Support StudentLink programs for alternative learners
    • Update curriculum in science, calculus, algebra and reading
    • Support for students learning English as a second language

    Your donation by September 30th will support our public school students and ensure that their “beyond basic” learning experience continues. Make a donation today or consider a sustaining monthly gift that fits your budget.  Contribute online at vashonschoolsfoundation.org or mail your gift to Vashon Schools Foundation, P.O. Box 481, Vashon, WA 98070.  Your support makes such a difference to our students.

    Best regards,

       Michael Soltman                    

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535 

    Comments (-1)
  • “Making a Difference: An Evening of Inspiration” – Tonight! VHS Theater - $10

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 9/8/2017 12:50:00 PM

    Tonight, film-maker Peter Serko, and special musical guest, Jacob Bain, are presenting "Making a Difference: An Evening of Inspiration" at the VHS Theater. Tickets are $10 at the door.  All proceeds go to benefit Journeymen, a Vashon-based 501c3 providing youth rites of passage, long-term mentoring and community engagement opportunities to boys in our region.

     footnote

    Journeymen recently partnered with Vashon Island School District to bring CIRCLES to all three of our schools. CIRCLES is a no-cost, positive mentoring group for boys and young men featuring weekly in-school meet-ups and epic outdoor adventures.  CIRCLES are a comprehensive character development path for teen/preteen boys and young men featuring weekly, in-school meet-ups (in Groups) paired with fun, dynamic, and challenging group activities outside of the school setting.

    Participants will be supported in their journey to healthy adulthood through our proven effective group mentoring model, collaborative service opportunities, and transformative outdoor rites of passage experiences (ROPEs).

    CIRCLES are currently offered to self-identified male students at Vashon Island Schools at no cost to the school or students and will be expanding into greater Puget Sound throughout the next few years.

    Comments (-1)
  • New school meal payment guidelines

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 8/31/2017 10:30:00 PM

    Dear Parents,

    A new procedure has been developed clarifying food service meal payment guidelines.  Here is a summary of the guidelines for student meal accounts:

     

    1. Students must maintain a meal account balance sufficient to pre-pay for meals.    It is recommended that student meal account balances be maintained at no less than $20. Notices of low balances will be sent to parents/guardians via email two times per week during the school year when the meal account balance is $20.00 or less to allow time for a payment to be made before the funds in the student’s account are exhausted.
    2. Students/Parents/Guardians must pay for meals in advance and are encouraged to use a credit card through Skyward Family Access.  Payments in the form of cash, check or credit card may also be made in all school offices.  Checks are made payable to Vashon Island School District. Further details are available on our webpage at www.vashonsd.org.
    3. Students qualifying the federally funded free or reduced meal programs must maintain an account balance for charges for any a la carte or second entrée purchases beyond the standard meal provided.  Each school office has information about how to qualify for the free or reduced meal program.
    4. Milk is included with all purchased meals.  However, all students, including those qualifying for free or reduced lunch, must pay the a la carte fee for milk if a full meal is not purchased (home provided brown bag lunches and a la carte lunches).
    5. If a student is without meal money on a consistent basis, the administration will investigate the situation more closely and take further action as needed. If financial hardship exists, parents and families are encouraged to apply for free or reduced price lunches for their child.

    For additional important details, please review the entire procedure here.

     Michael Soltman                        

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • Ferry Commuting Guidelines

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 8/31/2017 10:30:00 AM

    Dear Parents and Commuting Students,

    We continue to work collaboratively with Washington State Ferries (WSF) to provide safe passage to Vashon for your students.  Recently WSF has developed information for parents regarding new ferry terminal drop-off procedures, fare and ticketing procedures, and "Guidelines for a Safe Commute".  The informational memo is here.

    It is also required that parents and students read and return the "Guidelines for a Safe Commute".  Please click here to go to the guideline form, read the guidelines, list your names and dates indicating that you have read and agree to the guidelines, and then click "send" to return the form to us.

    We look forward to seeing your student(s) on the ferry soon!

    Best regards,

    Michael Soltman                           

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • Capital Projects Update

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 8/29/2017 12:30:00 PM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,

    Our facilities department has been busy at work this summer completing the first phase of projects covered under the bond proposal that passed last April. Here’s a birds-eye glimpse of work underway. For more details, please visit the Capital Projects Updates page of the district website or Click Here

     

    At Chautauqua Elementary we have defined the scope and parameters for an extension of the Kindergarten Playground. The new area will extend north from the existing playground and create more natural area for creative play. A small performance area defined by trees will include a small shade awning to enhance the sense of space.

     CES Playspace

    New lights have been installed in the covered playground behind the school. In the gym, sound panels have been hung that will tremendously improve acoustics--something direly needed as the space doubles as an auditorium for school-wide assemblies.

    At McMurray Middle School new carpet is being installed in classrooms throughout the school’s classrooms.  In the photo below carpet tiles are being installed. 

     McM Carpet

    The McMurray gym floor has been completely refinished, including new lines defining the courts.  This fall new lights will be installed.

     McM Gym Floor

    Our community committee and facilities team are busy touring high school stadiums as they investigate turf options for the Vashon Island High School track and field. Most recently, the group toured Mercer Island High School stadium as it undergoes a turf replacement of field turf with cork infill. The visit was particularly informative as the team was able to see all components of the field including the paved e-layer or pad, types of turf backing, and different combinations of turf blade. More field visits are planned with construction slated to begin in the spring or summer of 2018.

    The VHS Gymnasium has received a new coat of paint inside and out (photo below), new exterior doors and the gym floor will receive paint touch ups and a new seal coat. New bleacher seating caps have arrived with installation set to begin in late September. Roofing replacement is complete on both the gym and building F.

    VHS Gym

    Signage for the VHS entry has just received permit approval. Stay tuned for more on this…we are very excited!

    We are grateful for your support of the bond that is enabling completion of this important work. I will continue to keep you updated on progress both through this communication and on the Capital Projects Update (link!) web page.

    Warm Regards,

     Michael Soltman

    Michael Soltman

    Superintendent of Schools

    msoltman@vashonsd.org

    206-463-8535

     

     

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Save the date for the annual commuter picnic

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 6/29/2017 1:00:00 PM

    Dear Commuting Families,

    Once again we are scheduling a commuter picnic at Lincoln Park in Seattle to meet with our continuing and new commuting families.  It is scheduled for Thursday, August 31st, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at picnic site #3.  I'll have our principals with me to meet you and talk about the coming school year, and we usually get the ferry people to attend as well.  As usual, you'll bring your own meat course to BBQ, a beverage, plate/cup, and a side dish or dessert to share.  More details to follow.

    Southworth Commuters - I am open to scheduling a similar event over on Kitsap as well.  It could be an evening picnic, or a dessert event, or ???  If you have an idea and a location that you could pitch to me, we can begin to put a plan together.  It would be great to start a tradition with Kitsap families this year.

    Best to you for a great summer,          

       Michael Soltman                          

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)
  • Neighborcare Clinic

    Posted by Jodi Burwell on 6/22/2017 1:00:00 PM

    Dear Parents and Colleagues,

    I am pleased to announce that, during the 2017-2018 school year, Neighborcare Health will open a school-based health center at Vashon Island High School, thanks to a grant through King County Best Starts for Kids. Currently, Neighborcare Health operates twelve K-12 school-based health centers in the Seattle Public School District.

    The school-based health center will provide a full-range of comprehensive health care, in alignment with national guidelines, as well as Washington State law. Students will have access to primary care medical services, mental health counseling, dental care and health education beginning September 2017. The center will be based in a yet-to-be-determined location at VHS, but open to all students enrolled in the Vashon Island School District and open throughout the school year before, during and after school Monday through Friday.  Further, mental health services will be available on the Chautauqua and McMurray campuses as well.

    A grant from Best Starts for Kids, along with patient insurance coverage, will cover all school-based health center operations including construction of the new school-based health center.  With the exception of utilities, VISD carries no expense to maintain the clinic.  The school health center will serve all students without regard to ability to pay, however, insurance plans will be billed if patients are insured.

    We have prepared a document that provides answers to frequently asked questions. To see that document, CLICK HERE.

    To view a Neighborcare Health brochure about school-based health centers, CLICK HERE.

    We are delighted that this school-based health clinic will be available for our students and families.  Neighborcare has become a trusted partner in our community providing quality medical care with the highest degree of professionalism and patient-centered care.  Join me in welcoming Neighborcare to our schools in September 2017.

    Respectfully yours,                 

      Michael Soltman                          

    Michael Soltman
    Superintendent of Schools
    msoltman@vashonsd.org
    206-463-8535

    Comments (-1)