February 27, 2018
Since the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, numerous student-led events are being planned across the state and country. It has come to our attention that students may be planning to walk out of class in the coming weeks to honor those who have lost their lives due to school violence.
Advocating for an issue can be a powerful learning experience; it is also a good lesson in democracy and the right to have a voice in government. A large number of students in some of our neighboring districts walked out and held demonstrations last week. We acknowledge that only some of our students may participate in future events while others may choose not to be involved.
We want to ensure all students feel safe and respected no matter what they choose to do. We ask that student groups work with their building principals out of respect to their fellow classmates, school staff, and the educational process. In the event that a student does choose to walk out, teaching and learning will continue and classes will operate on normal schedule. It is a violation of school rules to disrupt the educational process. Students who arrive late or miss class will be marked tardy or absent.
We encourage parents to talk with students about protesting and their participation. If your child plans to attend an upcoming event, follow the school’s guidelines for acceptable attendance procedures and the excusing of absences.
Our first priority is to keep all of our students safe. We will continue to keep you informed about any other local events that may impact the school day.
Please feel free to reach out to any of us if you have questions.
Chad Collins, North Mason High School
Anne Crosby, James A Taylor High School
Jo Warren, Hawkins Middle School
Dan King, Belfair Elementary School
Jason Swaser, Sand Hill Elementary School
Dana Rosenbach. Superintendent
February 23, 2018
Dear Students, Families and Community Partners,
It was indeed a tragedy, when we heard about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the students, staff, families and community who are suffering in the aftermath of this tragedy. This incident serves as an important opportunity to talk about our school and district safety plans. While the education of our community’s children is the world’s most important work and our primary mission is to educate students, our greatest responsibility remains to keep students and staff safe when they are in our care.
We work closely with staff and community partners to help support students and families in many ways. When it comes to safety, we have a strong partnership with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office and the Mason County Fire Department. We seek their advice often and implement their recommendations. We are fortunate to have a resource officer, Deputy M. Colbenson, assigned to our district. He works cooperatively with all the schools in the district. We also coordinate with local emergency responders to ensure our procedures for fire, earthquake, lockdowns and all other safety drills are current and reflect best practices for student, staff and visitor safety.
We have improved entrance security at all buildings. Each district site has a Dual Band radio and we conduct radio checks every month to ensure lines of communication are open.
Safety is about more than immediate physical needs; it is also about maintaining a strong safety net for those who need extra support. We have full time counselors in each of our schools. We have an additional grant-funded partnership to offer mental health support to students. Efforts continue to ensure all of our students have trusted adults to talk with when they are hurting, and our staff have the skills to reach out to help when they see someone struggling. One of the ways we do this is by focusing on social-emotional learning for students in all grades. We have trained “Threat Assessment Teams” at each school helping to identify indicators and proactively respond to issues and individuals. Each school site conducts regular lockdown, fire and earthquake drills on a regular basis. This keeps each site ready and prepared should the need arise.
Finally, we maintain a safety tip line. If students, parents or community members have information, tips or concerns regarding a safety issue in our schools, they are encouraged to visit Safe Schools Alert for confidential, anonymous, communication with our safety staff. This includes concerns a student may hear at school or see on social media.
Ensuring that our schools are safe and welcoming places is a collective commitment between us all. We work every day to reach out to children who are most in need of extra love and support. I know that no amount of work in school safety will provide 100% assurance that all safety issues will be resolved, but I want to assure you that we take our responsibility seriously. If you have specific concerns or feedback, please share them with any school principal, district administrator or myself.
Thank you for your continued support in helping us provide meaningful and relevant education in a safe and secure environment.
January 18, 2018
When Implementing Compensation Regionalization, Please Do No Harm
North Mason School District is located in a beautiful part of the state and enjoys strong community support of its efforts on behalf of our children. The staff are dedicated and hardworking. We are working with our legislature for the health of our district as a result of the policy implementation of regionalized compensation funding. As currently applied, the regionalization funding formula places our district at a serious disadvantage with regard to hiring and retaining qualified staff.
Currently, our district has been slated for no regional compensation funding enhancement. However, we share borders with several districts who are receiving significant enhancements to compensation funding. North Mason shares a border with Central Kitsap, Bremerton and South Kitsap school districts, all slated to receive an 18% enhancement. It is also important to note that part of our district is in Kitsap County. In addition, we share a border with Peninsula school district receiving 12%. This inequitable compensation funding is disastrous for our district and it is unique across the state when geographical barriers are considered.
We are losing our teachers to neighboring districts due to this inequitable funding of compensation. Already more than 10 teachers have resigned effective at the end of the school year to pursue employment in a neighboring district. This is not including retirements and signals a potential serious exodus when qualified teachers are in short supply.
In addition, one teacher resigned as of the holiday break. This early resignation has uncovered an additional concern. If teachers are able to abandon their contracts as other, more lucrative offers occur, signed contracts have no value and districts such as ours could face the loss of staff at any time, negatively impacting our staffing, and potentially interfering with our ability to maintain small class sizes and/or offer a complete course selection at the high school and middle school level. Such destabilization of district staffing could mean that on any given day, we have a classroom full of students but no teacher in place. The deadline for signing a teacher contract no longer means anything.
Our children deserve continued access to a quality education, to the same basic education afforded students in neighboring districts and across the state. As it currently stands, implementation of this regional compensation model for school employees endangers our ability to ensure our students access to a basic education in North Mason.
We ask that compensation funding be revisited, to include consideration for the needs of rural, high poverty districts to ensure that a basic education, including compensation, is amply and fairly funded for all students in our state, including ours. At the very least, we ask that the extreme difference in compensation between our district and our neighbors be corrected. Nowhere else in the state are there districts that share borders and have no geographical barriers that see an 18% difference in compensation funding.