Earlier this school year, fourth- and fifth- grade students at Norman Rockwell Elementary had a special video chat with Tom Angleberger, a New York Times best-selling author.
Superintendent Message - November 2019
What are the implications for being the second largest district in the state? This is a question I recently posed to our District Leadership Team as we reflected on our new rank within Washington school districts.
You may have just reread that first sentence thinking it’s potentially an error because just five short years ago the district was only the sixth largest district in the state. That is a short trip to second place as we welcomed over 31,100 students this fall.
To help you digest that enrollment figure a little more, let me give you some fun facts for perspective:
- This year, 12 of the 19 King County school districts experienced enrollment growth with Lake Washington, Seattle, Northshore and Auburn representing 87% of the King County growth
- Of that 87%, Lake Washington accounts for about 40% of the growth, which is the fastest growth of any district in the Puget Sound area
- Since 2008, our district has grown by 31%
- On average, our district has grown the size of a large elementary school every year for the past eleven years
District growth is not unusual, but the growth trajectory of Lake Washington is. So, back to my original question – what are some of the implications for a growing district? What are the things we need to pay attention to the most as we ride this wave?
Here are some of the themes that emerged as we thought about the future together:
Three Cs – Communication, Collaboration and Culture – People must stay connected to each other, to our schools, to our communities and to our district through communication and a sense of unity as we continue to grow. The aspect of community will be more important than ever as our size grows.
Space – We are out of space and will continue to need to build, buy and brainstorm ways to accommodate more students. With the passage of our Capital Projects Levy last February, we have projects underway to continue adding space to some of our existing buildings. Because of the 2016 Bond passage, we recently opened four new schools, three rebuilt and enlarged (Mead, Kirk, Juanita Pt. 1) and one brand new (Timberline Middle). What’s next? Our upcoming Facility Advisory Committee will tackle those questions and provide us with feedback, ideas and collective great thinking about future possibilities.
Infrastructure and Supports – Because our district has grown so fast we need to make sure we have the right supports in place for all students to be successful and have access to great programs and services. We have challenging complexities in our school district related to overall population growth. We have over 1,100 new students just this year. That’s 1,100 more chairs, more books, more meals, more computers, more paper, more bus seats – MORE. Our services need to grow along with our enrollment to support a growing student population, and space is not the only consideration.
Thankfully, all these themes align well with the priorities outlined in our Strategic Plan – ELEVATE. This document is specifically designed to help us navigate through the next three years and beyond as we continue to stay true to our Mission, Vision and Values.
We have some of the best challenges there are for any school district – growing and thriving communities, more students coming to our schools and the need to increase the great work we do to educate every one of them in a great space for learning. We have a lot to be thankful for as we continue to move forward into the second quarter of the school year! And as always, we are #Proud2bLWSD and #414AllKids!
Dr. Jane Stavem, Superintendent