Splinters from the board


October 6, 2021

During the public portion of the board meeting, La Conner resident and former Skagit County Treasurer Dan O’Donnell asked members to address debt service issues at their next meeting. Board president Susie Gardner Deyo, without further comment, thanked O’Donnell for addressing the panel and having submitted correspondence earlier.

District Business Manager Brian Gianello said that in September La Conner Schools has recorded a head count of 579 students, with a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) total of 563. “That’s up from what we budgeted, from our enrollment projection, but down from previous years,” he said. “Part of that is from having a large senior class last year.”

La Conner Middle and High School Principal Christine Tripp provided for board members a list of secondary level course offerings, including classes developed for the district’s expanded career and technology education (CTE) program. “I’m really proud of the La Conner School District for offering the number of classes we do,” Tripp said. “We have a very broad selection of classes for a school district this size.”

Board member Amanda Bourgeois has volunteered to repair the district’s wall mural painting created by the late Skagit Valley artist Joel Brock. Deyo suggested that a commemorative plaque also be displayed with the mural once the repair work is completed.

Deyo facilitated a detailed discussion on strategies to improve student math scores on standardized tests. Nelson and Tripp attributed low scores to the COVID-19 pandemic, administrative changes and an outdated curriculum. “We haven’t had regular instruction for a year and a half,” said Nelson.

Tripp picked up on that theme. “In 2019-20,” she said, “we hit a bunch of hiccups in the road. One of the things I’m confident of is if we successfully implement a new curriculum, I believe we will make some significant strides in our math scores.” Board member John Agen said he appreciated the challenge ahead. “I realize this is a process, not an event,” Agen said, adding that he hopes to see “trends going upward.”

Nelson shared with the board a letter from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) congratulating supervisor Kim Pedroza and the La Conner Schools Transportation Department for having earned outstanding inspection scores the last two years. “They’ve done a phenomenal job and deserve to be celebrated,” Nelson said.

Nelson elaborated on the district’s Equity Policy, stressing its emphasis on knowing each student by name, strength and need. “I’m glad to see how far it’s come,” Bourgeois said of the policy.

The board will next meet in a study session on Oct. 11.


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