On October 6th, the Highline School District kicked off their Community Forum – Listening Tour at Tyee High School in Seatac. As part of updating its Strategic Plan, the District gathers insights from students, staff, families, and the community.
In October and November, there will be five (5) in-person Listening Sessions, and two (2) Zoom online meetings. The District will process feedback and present its analysis in January 2023. Approximately 20 parents and community members attended, and nine (9) made public comments.
The Session began with an introduction by Director Carrie Howell, who started her teaching career in Highline at Tyee in 2001. A year ago, she was appointed to the position of Director of District 4.
Dr. Ivan Duran, who has now been at HSD for three months, introduced himself and explained the purpose of the Listening Sessions concerning the Strategic Plan. He mentioned the Entry Plan, which can be reviewed on Highline schools website.
He praised the Highline Promise (to know students by name, strength, and need). He presented the five main Goals for the District (School Culture, Growth & Mastery, Digital & Media Mastery, Bilingual & Biliterate, and High School Graduation).
He also promoted approving Proposition 1. The Bond will rebuild three schools (Tyee, Evergreen, Pacific) if it passes the November 8th ballot.
They posed two questions and passed out Feedback Forms to answer the following questions:
- How has the Promise been true for our students?
- What does the school district need to do to make the Promise true for every student and ensure that every student succeeds?
Attendees had a few minutes to write their answers and discuss their thoughts together before making public comments.
Public comments provided insights and feedback from parents and community members regarding the following:
- Big Picture & Choice Schools are valuable options. The Highly Capable evaluation process initially overlooked her child – is a single testing an accurate assessment?
- Inclusivity is important, and so is taking responsibility for your own family.
- The importance of family and community involvement.
- Highly Capable Program – two children in the program. What is the student experience in/after middle school? How will the academic challenge/engagement continue?
- Dual Language – The District is supportive of Spanish-speaking families.
- Children who feel happy and welcomed will thrive better.
- Testing Scores are decreasing every year, and it’s a major concern.
- Kids are not being challenged in the science classes they attend in person.
- Mentioned that 55,000 families left Washington public schools last year for homeschooling and private schooling – why?
- The success of non-public school kids does not seem to matter or concern the District; Highline’s Promise is “missing the mark” by not reaching out to families who unenrolled their kids.
- Dual language is a worthy goal, but currently, only 1 in 3 are passing English Standards. Where is the academic focus?
- Student graduation rates are high, but are they prepared for college and beyond?
- Running Start program is important.
- Unvaccinated volunteers were not welcome during covid.
- Student surveys are too invasive — too much medical-type information is being collected.
- Covid shutdown created community difficulties and student challenges.
- District made “naive” decisions during covid.
- Will be a long recovery time, so we need to have high expectations.
Dr. Duran and Director Howell listened only and did not comment other than expressing gratitude at the end. Highline staff collected Feedback Forms from attendees.
There will be more Listening Sessions in the coming weeks. Be sure to attend! Hear what is being discussed and add your voice by telling Dr. Duran which areas need attention by the Highline School District.