Franklin Pierce Schools

Winter 2014

Frankly Speaking . . .

From the early days of our nation, public education has played a vital role in shaping and developing young people to fully participate in our American democratic society.  In addition to preparing them for productive work and fulfilling lives, public education has also been expected to accomplish certain collective missions aimed at promoting the common good.  These include, among others, preparing youth to become responsible citizens, forging a common culture from a nation of immigrants, and reducing inequalities in American society.  Public education has been, and continues to be, the “Great Equalizer.”

There is no better long-term economic investment for our state and country than ensuring strong public schools. The caring and hard-working FPS staff do whatever it takes to maintain safe, secure, and well-kept facilities, stay abreast of and use the most effective instructional strategies, efficiently feed and transport our students, work collaboratively to determine and provide the necessary support for students who need it, and stay within the annual budgets allocated.  I can assure you that you can be as proud as I am of the work being accomplished by the students and staff throughout the school district in which you reside.

As we complete the first half of the 2013-14 school year, we are continuing to see the escalating student academic achievement we had worked and hoped for within all of our schools.  Despite the fact that our challenges are not diminishing, we are still making progress meeting the many and varied needs of our students. Our efforts are making 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 and the support of our citizens.

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

  • School/Community/Business Partnership – Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Childcare Center Partnerships, YMCA, Pierce County Library System, UWT, PLU, Kiwanis, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Mid-County Leaders
  • Ford MS students selected to All-State Band and Choir;
  • 21 African-American students earning Elizabeth Wesley Merit Awards;
  • Kicked off the second year of the PEP (Parkland Education Project) program partnering with PLU to have 300 5th graders from our four westside elementary schools spend an entire day on their campus;
  • Celebrating Focus on Education Week with a very successful “Your Public Schools in Action” Tour highlighting our STEM offerings at all three levels;
  • Making overall gains toward meeting the state average for all grades in reading, math and science;
  •  Our district’s ELL program met all three of the required AMAOs (Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives) for all our schools under the Title III accountability system of NCLB;
  • Our district’s elementary reading RTI process continues to be a model worthy of study and replication throughout the state and throughout the country according to the US Dept. of Education;
  • Making significant progress on all components of our District improvement plan;
  • Fall student athletes compiling a cumulative GPA of 3.22;
  • 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 WA Alternate Assessment System (WAAS) Portfolio Assessment;
  • District meeting all requirements on the annual OSPI District IDEA Determination Summary (Special Education), the highest level possible and requiring no sanctions;
  • Maintaining a strong fund balance despite challenging economic conditions;
  • Applied for and were successful in receiving multiple state and federal grants including those for STEM programs, energy efficiency, and safety/security;
  • Overall suspensions are down and attendance and on-time graduation rates are up (Class of 2013 - FPHS 91.2%, WHS 85.5%);
  • FPHS selected as 1 of 4 schools in the State to be designated as a STEM Lighthouse School;
  • Ford MS Principal Heather Renner being selected as Middle School Principal of the year by the Association of Washington School Principals;
  • Another successful Helmet Bowl attended by a large crowd witnessing an exciting and competitive game as FPHS went on to defeat WHS and the Captain’s Council collected over 400 items and over $100 to donate to our local FISH Food bank;
  • 50+ students attending the Pierce County Skills Center; 100+ students taking college classes through Running Start
  • The School Board has now incorporated the use of electronic tablets (iPads) and we have converted our Data Notebooks to a digital format;
  • We have added a new School Board member, Mr. Doug Carlson, to our great Team and have not missed a beat;
  • FPS Board of Directors recognized at the annual WSSDA Conference as a 2013 Board of Distinction for the fourth year in a row.
As you can see, your schools are alive and well serving the needs of our children, our families, and our community.  You can be proud of what we are accomplishing and your trust and continued support is greatly appreciated and never taken for granted.

Top 10 Reasons for Supporting Public Education 

10. An educated population is the cornerstone of democracy. This nation's well-being depends on the decisions of its educated, informed citizens.

9. Education reduces costs to taxpayers. For every dollar spent to keep a child in school, the future costs of welfare, prison, and intervention services are reduced. It can cost less to educate a child now than to support a teenage parent or a repeat offender in the future. Education monies help to secure the future of all citizens.

8. Public schools are the only schools that must meet the needs of all students. They do not turn children or families away. Public schools serve children with physical, emotional, and mental disabilities, those who are extremely gifted and those who are learning challenged, right along with children without special needs.

7. Public schools foster interactions and understanding among people of different ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

6. "Education is the best provision for old age"-- Aristotle. The future support of our aging population depends on strong public schools. In 1954, there were 17 workers to pay the Social Security cost for each retiree. Now, there are only three for each retiree. It is likely that the productivity of these three workers per retiree will depend on the strength of our public school systems.

5. More than 95 percent of our jobs require at least a high school education and the majority of living wage jobs currently require education or training beyond high school. There is no question about the need for an educated work force.

4. The nation pays a high price for poorly educated workers. When retraining and remediation are needed to prepare a worker to do even simple tasks, the cost is paid by both employers and consumers. This process raises the price of American products and makes it more difficult for this nation to compete in the world marketplace.

3. The cost of dropouts affects us all. This nation loses more than $240 billion per year in earnings and taxes that dropouts would have generated over their lifetimes. Well-supported public schools can engage all students in learning and graduate productive and competent citizens.

2. Children are our nation's future. Their development affects all of us. Good education is not cheap, but ignorance costs far more.

And the Number One reason to support public education. . .
1. Public education is a worthy investment for public funds. We can invest now, or we can pay later.
-- from the Illinois Coalition for Public Education.

In a special election taking place on February 11th, the Franklin Pierce School District has two very important measures on the ballot. Proposition 1 is our 4-year Educational Programs and Operations levy renewal that provides over 20% of our annual operating revenue funding such things as classroom teachers, safety/security personnel, student transportation, programs for special needs students, textbooks, classroom supplies, library materials, arts and athletics. Proposition 2 is our 4-year Instructional Technology levy renewal. This is a capital levy that will continue to fund the acquisition, installation, and modernization of instructional technology equipment, infrastructure, systems and facilities all to enhance student learning. This issue of the Views will provide you with additional factual information on both of these important upcoming measures. Don’t forget to exercise your civic duty by registering and voting by February 11th.

Please stop in at any of your local schools to visit or attend an activity.  I guarantee you will be pleased with what you see.  Stay warm, stay healthy, and don’t forget to send in your ballot on February 11th.

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