The $3,000,000 Goodbye: Where We Gonna Go From Here?


Dearest James,

Yes, it’s the summer, but I can’t help it. A bow must be tied around this conversation for the 2012-13 school year – so here it is.

Three years ago, my middle school received a grant for about 3 million dollars to change the way that we did education. And if we applied for this grant now, we would not receive such monies. Why? Because we would not qualify as a Persistently Low Achieving School.

Time’s up. The money is spent. And we now return to the typical middle school funding model, which is there is no funding. Make it work.

And werk it, we will.

If we look at what will happen next year, you will notice some differences – some good, some not so great. I’ll let you make the call.

  • STEM-focused Tech Ed and Yearbook will be during the school day (versus after school) next year because funding the after school bus was gone.
  • Spanish/Drama will move to a 0.8 FTE.
  • Language Arts will receive their own Computer Lab on Wheels (COW).
  • A dean of students, who will be working with discipline, will be replacing our now gone Assistant Principal.
  • In-School Suspension will continue to be a focus of the school-wide discipline policy.
  • A math teacher position was dissolved.

There are some real changes that will be happening next year – hopefully, many things that you will notice.

  • Students entering high school will be better readers. In my class alone, about 70%+ of the students are now reading at a fluency level ‘Z’ (approximately 8th grade level).
  • More students will be used to longer work times in reading and math. At Chinook, these are always two-hour blocks, if you did not pass the MSP.
  • Standards-Based Grading would not be a new assessment technique. Students will have seen it before. They also are used to redoing assessments and tests, if they did not do well the first time.

So what? What about next year?

  • Chinook has officially adopted the SpringBoard curriculum from College Board, as a Pre-AP course. This should help students to become prepared for the Common Core State Standards, particularly at a high school level.
  • Last year, I had the opportunity to visit a Language Arts classroom at Global and an Advisory at ACE. (In fact, it was yours!) It was amazing. We must make moves like that in order to push our students towards success as a service area. I will be talking to both Language Arts staffs this year and pushing for more alignment vertically – as your middle school seeks to support students in their freshman year and beyond.

I think that’s it. I’ve seen so much growth at Chinook in the six years I’ve been there. I can’t wait to see what’s next as this new breed of Thunderbird transforms into a Totem for the next four years.

Happy Summer.



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