School board hammers out details with consultant

POUSLBO — The community will have a say in what characteristics are important in a new North Kitsap School District superintendent. Cascade Consulting Group will host community forums, each with a different target audience, the last week in January (see list). The forums were set in the letter of agreement the board of directors approved at the Jan. 10 regular meeting.

The agreement outlines how Cascade will work with the board of directors to replace outgoing Superintendent Gene Medina. Medina announced his retirement earlier this school year. His retirement is effective in June. The board of directors’ aim is to choose a new superintendent in the late spring to allow a transition period.

Cascade will also:

• use the feedback in the forums to develop a list of criteria possible for candidates;

• screen candidates and conduct preliminary interviews of semifinalists;

• facilitate and participate in the final interview and the board selection process.

The board of directors also heard from the Port Gamble S’Kallam and Suquamish tribes on how they can work together with the school district to make Native American students more engaged and successful learners.

It’s rare for Native American children to see their culture reflected in what they’re learning in the classroom, said Keri Acker-Peltier, director of the Suquamish Tribal Education Department.

The Port Gamble S’Kallam and Suquamish tribes’ cultural standards committee is working to remedy this, she said.

“We’ve developed a culturally relevant curriculum based on agreed standards,” she said. The committee had to consider “what the cultural values are in their tribes and how do we bring their culture into the curriculum?”

Several reading programs, including reading nights at Wolfle and Suquamish elementary schools and a “reading journey” program that will partner elementary students and junior high school students, already are in the works.

The presenters offered the board of directors some suggestions on how the district can improve Native American students’ success.

First and foremost, the district should be aware of the achievement gap between Native American students and non-Native American students, Acker-Peltier said. The group presented data from dating back to the 2000-01 school year showing Native American students generally have lower reading scores on standardized tests. Data from the 2006-07 school year suggests the achievement gap is closing. If Acker-Peltier has her way, the achievement gap would be non-existant.

“We need to be aware of the need for continued support of efforts to close the achievement gaps for Native students,” she said. “We need closer communication with Tribal Education departments, along with individual schools.”

She suggested quarterly meetings between the Tribal Education departments and school board representatives. The board of directors each expressed vocal interest in quarterly meetings, but no action was taken.

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