Arlington School District is planning to implement their second year of equity improvements to the district meant to create a positive environment for all students.

School board members heard an update on the plan as it enters its second year during their Aug. 15 study session.

“We’re making sure that all our students feel like they belong and are achieving at their highest level,” said Kerri Helgeson, director of equity and student well-being.

One of the goals of the plan is to close the academic achievement gap, which is a disparity in achievement between marginalized student groups and non-marginalized student groups that is persistent for most U.S. schools.

Helgeson said that each school will continue to look at their data and identify goals for themselves, with ongoing checks each semester.

“We will have continued monthly reviews of attendance and I see discipline as well,” said Helgeson.

Each building will also have a more structured system this year.

“We’re going to be building equity teams,” said Helgeson, which will include two facilitators in each building and three in the high school.

Those facilitators will also help staff train on how best to create a good environment for students.

The plan also hopes to target school curriculum for improvements.

“This is the one of the survey questions we asked, if students see themselves in the curriculum,” said Helgeson, who added there were students who don’t.

Last year “elementary teachers were trained in Since Time Immemorial,” she said, which is a local history unit that focuses on Native perspectives.

For this year the district is hoping to purchase a broader range of diverse books for the school libraries and encourage diverse faces reflected in the schools.

The district hopes to recruit and retain a diverse and competent staff as well.

“We can only hire who applies, so how do we reach out to a broader group and get them to apply in Arlington?” said Helgeson.

She said they will be looking for strategies on how to do that and updating job descriptions to align with the equity plan.

The equity plans also calls for continuing to strength relationships with families.

Student support advocates are working at the two high schools.

“Hopefully we can get back to some in-person family nights in our schools,” said Helgeson.

Students entering high school also get a ninth grade home visit.

“They share and answer questions and establish this connection. They’re doing a lot. Every day they do a lot,” said Arlington School District Superintendent Chrys Sweeting. “One of the parents shared with me that this is great and was wondering if we could extend it to 6th grade some year."

One of the other goals of the plan is to demonstrate that the district values and respects diversity.

There will be various recognitions at schools and the board meetings for events such as Orange T-Shirt Day, a day that raises awareness of the Native boarding schools, or Autism Awareness Week.

“This is where it is important to listen to our students and if they feel like they belong,” said Helgeson.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.