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Sweeting gives State of the District

 

Courtesy Photo

Chris Sweeting

Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Chrys Sweeting talked about future goals and the current state of the district in her first Arlington State of the District on Jan. 26.

Many of the district's student assessments show positive results, said Sweeting. The goal for all assessments is 100 percent, she said. The district isn't there, but they are above the curve in many places, she added.

"Overall in English/language arts, in all grades the Arlington Public Schools performed above the state level [for the 2015-16 school year]," said Sweeting.

The district's science performance in their fifth- and eighth-grade assessments are also both above state levels.

The math assessments show a more "varied" result, with some grade levels above state level and others below, said Sweeting.

"This is one of our areas of opportunity," she said.

The four-year graduation rate (students who graduate four years after starting ninth-grade) for the district is 79.8 percent. The five-year graduation rate is 86.3 percent.

"We still want 100 percent," said Sweeting, adding the district does have good graduation numbers.

The state's 24-credit requirement to graduate is coming soon as well, and is currently scheduled for the class of 2021 in Arlington.

Sweeting hopes to make those 24 credits easier to get. "We're looking at some creative options to earn additional high school credit," said Sweeting, including options like middle school courses that provide credit or work-based learning.

The district is also currently considering a program called "Open Doors," said Sweeting, which she hopes to implement.

The program is meant to re-engage students age 16 to 21 who have lost touch with school.

"It will provide a unique pathway for students who find the traditional program not compatible for their learning, or they've dropped out and think 'well there's no way to come back,'" she said.

The program is meant to give them a way to return to their education and get a degree.

Last year saw the opening of AMTEC North, run by Everett Community College at Weston High School.

"It is an opportunity we have right here in Arlington," said Sweeting, for students who want to pursue manufacturing jobs.

The district also continued to work with the Sno-Isle Tech Center.

"Students have the opportunity to learn about digital computing, culinary arts, fashion, construction, or being a firefighter," said Sweeting.

Even with those options Sweeting said she hopes for more vocational options for Arlington students.

"I would like to see us increase the opportunity for our students to earn industry certification and those opportunities where they can go right into a vocation after graduation," she said.

Maintaining facilities is also important for the district, said Sweeting.

"It's important for us to be accountable to those resources, that we're using them wisely and being good stewards, that were taking those facilities that taxpayer money built and taking care of them," she said.

Last year, Haller Middle School received a new gym floor and Eagle Creek Elementary saw roof improvements.

In the immediate future, the Arlington High School track is looking like it needs a replacement, she said.

According to the district's last facility plan, Post Middle School is also aging, said Sweeting.

"That is the number one need for being replaced, so we are looking at that need and considering that need," she said.

An advisory committee is currently considering a future bond. "We have some planning for a possible bond in 2018 in the works," said Sweeting, although that is not set in stone yet.

The Trafton Elementary School property could be sold soon, said Sweeting. The building was retired as a school but the district still owns the property and has been looking for a buyer.

The district also has to deal with an aging bus fleet and will likely have to find some "creative solutions" to help catch its fleet up, said Sweeting.

 

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