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Feb. 11 School Board Report

I attended the school board meeting earlier this week, and there were two agenda items involving the highly capable program. Awesome!

The first agenda item was a first reading to revise “Policy and Procedure 2190 Highly Capable Programs.” Though mostly a routine business item, one point stood out to me. Tahoma School District (TSD) is adding new wording, directing “prioritizing equitable identification of low-income students; use of multiple objective criteria and multiple pathways for identification…[and] use of subjective measures only to support identification” (from a draft copy displayed at the meeting. The previous wording of the policy can be found at https://go.boarddocs.com/wa/tahoma/Board.nsf/Public#) This revision of policy is in direct result to a recent new state law, requiring that public school district prioritize identification in such a way.

School board director Malia Hollowell asked if any populations are currently underrepresented in TSD’s highly capable program, and Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Dawn Wakeley responded that the population with the most significant disproportionality is students receiving free or reduced lunch. Although I was sad to hear that this is a disconnect TSD has, it did not surprise me. Similar situations are common nationwide. I am pleased, however, that TSD is taking steps to improve. One of those steps includes recommending those students for full testing if they score close to the cut-off on the screener.

The second agenda item about highly capable students was approving the grant application for state funding. I learned that the state grant is not a true grant; as in, it’s not a limited amount of funding dependent on an application. Rather, the paperwork the state requires before giving highly capable apportionment funds is more of a way to ensure reporting from districts on their highly capable programs. TSD always fills out the paperwork, so we always get the money, which for the current school year is $289K.

My final note is not about highly capable students specifically, but it is worth mentioning. The school board will soon begin its process for determining its new 5 year goals, and they are seeking public input. There will be a “community café” in March, as well as a survey sent to families. Please look for opportunities to make your voices heard!

Michelle Smart
PATH President

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