Submitted by Kari McVeigh
San Juan Island School District Superintendent
The 2019-2020 school year is winding to a close, and what a year it has been!
We started last summer with our Aerospace Design team under the guidance of teacher Dan Garner, becoming international champions and we end this school year with our First-Second grade Science Team under the guidance of teacher Sue Kareken and Paraeducator Dena Royal, becoming national champions. That these two honors bookended our year is a great reminder of our purpose and of how amazing our students and staff are!
Last summer, we welcomed two new administrators, Elementary School Principal Caspar Van Haalen and Special Student Services Director Becky Bell. Both of these administrators have become integral members of our leadership team and vital community members. As we end the school year, we will welcome new High School Principal Martin Yablonovsky and new Superintendent Fred Woods. With our uncertain pandemic future, this leadership team will be exactly what our district needs to lead us through these trying times.
Last fall, the district embarked on a strategic planning process that yielded two strong five-year goals and cultural belief statements to guide how we work together on behalf of our students and families. We are definitely pointed in a great and inspiring direction.
In February, you, our beloved community, once again put your faith in our work and the needs of our students by passing the Capital and Tech Levy. This will allow our district and our students to maintain their state-of-the-art technology infrastructure and programs for students and staff and keep our schools safe and modern. We certainly appreciated your foresight as we dispensed laptops to all students and staff for our teleschooling journey. Thank you once again!
This spring, our elementary, middle and high schools each received recognition for work in improving student learning. This was a strong validation for the hard work and dedication of our amazing staff.
We also finalized plans to move the old Head Start building to a new location between the STEM Building and Turnbull Gym by the end of June. It will now become the Griffin Bay School and with this new location, the school can offer a more centralized service in a much larger physical space. Griffin Bay School will now have room to grow!
Oh, and did I forget to mention that this spring we also created our teleschooling model for the COVID19 school closure, a model that helped to ensure little learning loss for our students. We were one of the very few school districts in the state that had teachers teaching and students learning almost immediately. I am grateful for the inspiring creativity and ingenuity of our staff and the immensely positive feedback from our families.
As we end this school year, we are preparing a very tight budget for next year that does not raise class sizes nor cut programs. We do not yet know the degree to which the economic downturn will have on our future budgets, but we expect it could be devastating. Next school year, we will keep things as normal as possible given all the uncertainty still in the air.
Our new superintendent will be meeting with parents and staff as he determines the course ahead for what the 2020-2021 school year might look like. Stay tuned.
On a personal note, I want to thank each of you for the tremendous amount of support and encouragement I have received these past two years as your superintendent. Truly, I could not have done it without you. Although I am re-retiring as a superintendent, I am not retiring as an active community member! I hope to be able to participate with each of you as we all strive to make our island the best it can be. Thank you for this opportunity to serve.
Be well, safe and healthy my friends!