Contributed photo/
                                San Juan Island School District Superintendent Danna Diaz.

Contributed photo/ San Juan Island School District Superintendent Danna Diaz.

San Juan Island School District updates from superintendent | Guest Column

Submitted by the San Juan Island School District Superintendent Danna Diaz

There were several highlights of this month’s school board meeting held Jan. 31:


The meeting opened with the recognition of a successful visit from civil rights activist Dolores Huerta that included screenings of her inspirational biographical documentary, “Dolores.” Over 350 islanders and 300 students attended two screenings. This visit was a triumph for our island community as Ms. Huerta’s accomplishments as an American labor leader are legendary. Ms. Huerta has received numerous awards for community service and advocacy for workers’, immigrants’, and women’s rights. Ms. Huerta’s visit was particularly inspirational to Friday Harbor High School’s LatinX Advocacy Club. These students, through training and participation in state conferences, are learning about advocacy and civic leadership in service to their communities.

In addition, the Friday Harbor Elementary School staff presented their recent success with the new Balanced Literacy Program. Almost a dozen teachers attended the board meeting to share the phenomenal reading growth of their students since September. Balanced Literacy Program Trainer Michelle Murray attended the board meeting and, having spent the day with teachers, stated how pleased she was to work with such a dedicated and committed staff. The Board expressed its admiration for and appreciation of our dedicated staff. Also, a big thank you goes to Valmark and the San Juan Public Schools Foundation for their vital support of the Balanced Literacy Program. Full implementation of the program will require the acquisition of many additional books. San Juan Public School Foundation is accepting monetary donations to support this program.

Upcoming levy election

A resolution was passed to request voter approval for a four-year Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy (formerly called the Maintenance and Operations Levy, or the “M&O” Levy). The state Legislature has raised the state property tax while lowering the amount we can raise through our local levy. Therefore, our local taxing authority will be almost $400,000 less than in prior years. As we move forward to a levy election in April, we ask that voters carefully consider the levy as it relates to funding school programs. A focused, enthusiastic committee will be essential for educating our community on this ballot measure. Please consider participating as a committee member. Contact any school board member if you are interested. View a video from the OSPI Superintendent provides an explanation of the new levy system at (Link courtesy of Beth Spaulding.)

Health requirement update

As of March 5, any student without a complete, up-to-date immunization record; i.e. a Certificate of Immunization Status or a Certificate of Exemption, will be excluded from school. In simple language, a family must either immunize their children or officially opt out through the completion of a Certificate of Exemption. Students whose families file a COE by March 5 can still attend school but should our community experience an outbreak of one of the covered diseases, all non-immunized students must be kept home for the duration of the outbreak. Due to the fact that schools gather so many students together each day, a small outbreak can quickly grow into a serious community health issue. As a community, we need to take precautions to keep our kids healthy.

Adopted Board Values

And, finally, having considered staff and community input, the board has revised and adopted a statement of board values. Below is the final list, not in any particular order:

The school district is an organization in service to San Juan Island School District students. Each part of the organization serves specific needs in fulfilling the mission and vision of the District. The board, in its governance role for this organization, operates from several different values:

• We value instruction and assessment that promotes the achievement and growth of each and every student in the district.

• We value all of our staff and their continued professional development.

• We value the opinions of our constituents and their active involvement that gives our community a voice in operations of the district.

• We value the financial stability of the district.

• We value transparency in decision making.

• We value the understanding and use of technology by and for all students and staff.

• We value data-driven decision making.

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