To serve our communities, Lake Washington School District must be closely connected with the community. In fact, to “Engage our communities” is one of the district’s five goals. That engagement takes a number of different forms: community representation in district decision-making and advisory groups; community input into district decisions; partnerships with agencies, business, and government; and volunteers in our schools.
||Connection to Strategic Goal(s)
||How Often they Meet / Meeting dates|
|Community Tech Advisory Committee (CTAC)
||To provide feedback on LWSD’s use of technology.
Safe and Innovative Learning Environments
Three times per year
|Design and Construction Advisory Committee
||To provide industry expert advice on new school design and construction to ensure alignment with district design standards and the district's goal of making school buildings effective and efficient in design, construction, and operation.
Safe and Innovative Learning Environments
|Three times during the design phase of each project: concept design, schematic design, and design development.|
|Instructional Materials Committee
||To recommend instructional materials to the board of directors, which must vote to adopt specific curriculum for the district.
Ensure academic success for every student
Monthly during the school year.
|School / District Communications Advisory
||To bring together district communications department staff members with individuals doing communications for schools and PTSAs to share information and best practices.
Engage our communities
|Three times x / year|
Special short-term Task Forces
These groups provide input on major issues or decisions facing the district. They often include a mix of parents, community members, and staff members, such as principals. The Long-Term Facilities Planning Task Force recently concluded its nearly year-long work to develop strategies to address the district’s aging schools and its need for more classroom space for its rapidly growing enrollment.
LWSD Schools, especially at the high school level, partner in many different ways with local businesses to enable students to do project-based learning and to learn more about potential careers. The district’s STEM Signature Programs connect with local businesses and organizations to provide students with real-world opportunities to learn. The TEALS program brings technology professionals from companies like Microsoft into district computer science classes, benefitting teachers and students alike. Other programs in different schools encourage internships for high school students and other problem-based learning opportunities.
As a school district serving families in Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, and King County, it’s important to coordinate with our local cities. In particular, we look for ways to share resources to benefit our schools and communities. We have field partnerships that enable shared costs and shared use. That makes sense for schools that only use play and sports fields for limited hours on weekdays while city parks departments use the same kinds of fields during the afternoons and evenings and on weekends. City recreation programs also make use of school buildings to offer programs outside of school hours. By sharing our resources, together with our city partners, we can serve families and our greater community better and more cost effectively.
Our district also benefits from the expertise and professionals at social service and healthcare agencies in our area. While we are in a relatively affluent area, there are families in our district who can use additional help. Hopelink, for example, organizes the Pantry Pack program that ensures students, who might not get enough to eat at home, go home for the weekend with a backpack of food they can make themselves. We also contract with such organizations to offer services in school to students. For example, Youth Eastside Services (YES) counselors provide counseling, drug & alcohol and other services in our schools. Beginning this year, Evergreen Health social workers will work with students in our four comprehensive high schools.
Our district has a very involved parent volunteer corps, providing tremendous support to the district’s schools every day. Our volunteer office is involved in recruiting and placing volunteers for specific school needs, such as in the health room or for health screenings. In addition, the LINKS program recruits community volunteers to act as academic mentors, lunch buddies, classroom helpers, tutors, health room helpers, or AVID volunteers. AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) is a national program designed to better prepare students for college. The facilitators work with a small group of students one or two days a week for one hour.
Periodically, district departments take the time to undergo a program review, or an in-depth review of their work and operations by an outside third party. This kind of review includes gathering feedback from the people served by that department as well as documenting their current efforts. This kind of review can provide invaluable information that enables the district to improve its functions in that area. In May 2015, the district completed a review of the communications department, done by the National Schools Public Relations Association. In September 2015, the district's special education program began a review, conducted by the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative.
It’s important to hear regularly from our parents and community, to learn what is working as well as what might be improved. The district has a regular random sample telephone survey that is ongoing during the school year. That survey provides the district with information on a quarterly basis that can let us know if there are changes in our community’s opinion of and experience with the district. Each year, an online survey provides all parents and community members with the opportunity to weigh in on how we are doing as a school district. Information from that survey is provided to schools, for use in their Continuous Improvement Planning, and is used at the district level for planning as well. An additional program survey each year asks specific questions about new or continuing programs or initiatives in the district. That information helps the district adjust its strategic plan each year.