July / August 2017
Posted on 07/01/2017

Now that the 2016-17 school year is in the books, I can honestly say that Franklin Pierce Schools has never before seen the level of achievement and graduation rates we are getting at the present time.  Even though our challenges are not diminishing, we are still making progress meeting the many and varied needs of our students. We continue to beat the odds. Our efforts continue to make a positive difference in the lives of our children and their families.  The success we are having has everything to do with the vision of the School Board, the expertise of our district leadership, the commitment of our dedicated staff, the support of our parents and community, and the efforts of our incredible students.

It has truly been a banner year for Franklin Pierce School District. Starting with your overwhelming support (67.5% approval) of the largest bond ($157 million) ever passed with the largest turnout of voters ever (18,000+) casting their ballots, to the closing of the achievement gap as demonstrated by our exceptional on-time graduation rates, our students have displayed success in the classrooms, prowess on the athletic fields, creativity on the stage, and good judgement in their leadership.

Beginning in the summer, the work to ensure the 2017-18 school year is ready to support the learning needs of our students gets underway.  Professional development on instructional strategies and leadership, work on curriculum and assessment, installation and maintenance of information technology systems, summer feeding programs for students, and the preparation of our facilities and vehicles all take place in the limited timeframe we have to get ready for the opening of school.  It is done with amazing proficiency, efficiency, and within the allotted budgets.

As a result of our bond and previous capital levy, numerous facilities projects will also be taking place throughout this summer. We will begin installing the final phase of our learning walls in the classrooms at Ford Middle School and Franklin Pierce High School. The old gymnasium at Ford will be demolished in preparation for the construction of a new, larger and improved facility for that campus. The Washington High School gym (Pat Dome) will see replacement of its old wooden bleachers with new, more comfortable, resin bleachers in the WHS school colors. Principals and district staff will be meeting regularly with our architects throughout the summer to begin developing the educational specifications and initial design of our five replacement elementary schools. We will be breaking ground to construct the new Brookdale and Collins schools next summer in July 2018.

Our schools, staff, students, and district have demonstrated success on a variety of levels this year including, but not limited to:

Congratulations to Dr. Tim Enfield, who successfully defended his research in November and participated in the WSU Commencement Ceremony on December 10th in the Beasley Colliseum to receive his doctoral degree;

Director of Public Relations/PIO, Willie Painter, received one of the prestigious Pacific Lutheran University Alumni Awards for 2016;  

Keithley Middle School was recognized by the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils and the State of Washington as a National Champion School for their commitment to physical fitness and wellness education. The award came with $100,000 for equipment for a brand new fitness center at the school;  

Multiple district staff conducted presentations at statewide, regional, and national events;  

Our two comprehensive high schools, FPHS and WHS, were both recognized by U.S. News and World Report with Silver Medal designations among the nation’s top 10% of high schools nationally (22,000) and top 6% of WA high schools (606) based on graduation rates, state assessment performance, and how well they prepare students for college;  

37 African-American students earning Elizabeth Wesley Merit Awards (the most we have ever had) and garnering over $16,000 in scholarships and incentive awards;  

Kicked off the fifth year of the Parkland Education Project (PEP) program partnering with Pacific Lutheran University to have 300 5th graders from our four west side elementary schools spend an entire day on their campus;  

Celebrated Focus on Education Week with a very successful “Your Public Schools in Action” Tour highlighting our strong instructional models and our many facility needs at FPHS, Ford Middle, and Central Avenue Elementary prior to our bond election;  

FPHS Football, Girls Soccer, and Volleyball all qualified for the first round of 2A State playoffs;

Having a nationally recognized JROTC program earning the highest attainable rating of “exceeding standards”;

100% of students with severe disabilities meeting state standard on the Washington Alternate Assessment System (WAAS) Portfolio Assessment;

Maintaining a strong fund balance despite the uncertainty of future economic conditions and state and federal support;

Participating with the National Center on Intensive Intervention at the American Institutes for Research in federal i3 grant implementing data-based individualization in math (DBI);

Our district employees contributed over $9,000 in our workplace campaign to support the United Way of Pierce County and help break the cycle of poverty in our community; 

Experienced the largest voter turnout we have ever seen (over 18,000 ballots cast) in our most successful bond election campaigns approving our measure of $157 million overwhelmingly with 67.5% approval; 

Achieved a Class of 2016 on-time graduation rate of 90% (FPHS 93%, WHS 87%) for our comprehensive high schools (state average is 79.1%, national average is 83%), our district’s overall rate of 85.2% with tremendous movement and success of all subgroups performing well over the state averages; 

Expanded the AVID program at all the middle schools and high schools; Another successful Helmet Bowl attended by a large crowd (>1,000) witnessing an exciting, competitive, and wet game as WHS went on to defeat FPHS and the Captain’s Council collected over 500 items to donate to our local FISH Food bank;

75+ students attending the Pierce County Skills Center; 

District Athletic Director Wendy Malich was elected Chair of the Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association (WIAA) Executive Board; 

Superintendent served as the Past President of the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) for 2016-17; 

College and Career Readiness Director Sly Boskovich served as the Past President of WAVA (an association of Career & Technical Education Administrators); 

We will be adding a section of Advanced Placement Physics at FPHS with 18 students (a course that we have not offered in almost 20 years); 

The Franklin Pierce Early Learning Center, after its first full year in operation, has become a model program around the state. Our ELC Headstart and ECEAP programs scored a Level 4 (highest possible) for the Early Achievers Program administered through the Washington Department of Early Learning; and, 

Keithley Middle and the district were recognized by Gov. Jay Inslee with the 2016 Gold Star Award for our exemplary performance in signing up eligible students for the College Bound Scholarship program at a rate higher than the state average.  

On the horizon, you will see continued focus strengthening our core instructional programs, more sophisticated collaboration with the analysis of student work, instructional decisions based on appropriate data, and the use of research-based interventions for extended learning. We will be working on deepening our efforts in closing the achievement gap, reducing/eliminating disproportionality for suspensions, and continuing to increase our effectiveness and efficiency in all departments. Additionally, you will see a stronger focus on equity, cultural competence, and family engagement and outreach, ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences), and trauma-informed practices at all of our schools. We will be laying out the course of sequencing, staging, and constructing the new facilities our public has generously allowed us to do over the next 5-7 years. We will also be readying our campaign for the upcoming renewal of our 4-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy and Technology Levy. These measures will maintain the current tax rates. In the meantime, we are staying the course and moving forward with the same passion and fervor we have in the past.