Local school districts have been improving facilities and preparing programs for the upcoming year during their summer break.
These include changes at Pinewood Elementary in Marysville and Kent Prairie Elementary in Arlington.
Marysville officials plan to expand their AVID program district-wide, while Arlington staff are emphasizing the “growth mindset” for students.
Classes for students in both districts begin on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Arlington School District
“A lot of what we are doing to prepare has to do with one word: ‘growth,’” said Arlington superintendent Chrys Sweeting, referring both to the ‘growth mindset’ and population growth in the city.
Staff have been reading about and preparing to implement a ‘growth mindset’ culture, said Sweeting.
“In a growth mindset you see mistakes as part of the learning process,” she said.
This is compared to a ‘fixed mindset’ where if you don’t know something you’ll never be able to learn it.
“Sometimes we’ll hear ‘I’m just not good at math.’ And we want to emphasize that everybody can be good at math if they work at it,” said Sweeting.
“Learning is about striving, not about having the answers right in front of you,” she said.
Last year the district focused on encouraging school attendance and plans to continue that initiative, said Sweeting.
“In order to learn students have to be at school,” she said.
As the city grows, the district is preparing it’s schools for the increasing population.
They’ve added portables to Kent Prairie Elementary and moved the ECEAP program away from Eagle Creek Elementary to free up some space there as well.
“We’ve also hired a large number of people this summer,” said Sweeting, with a total of 44 certificated staff members hired.
Security measures such as phone box systems at nearly all the schools and additional fencing around Arlington High School were also installed throughout the summer.
Supplies will be provided by the district again this year.
“This is the third year that we will provide supplies for all of our students and we are still very proud of that,” said Sweeting.
Marysville School District
Marysville’s AVID program, meant to help get kids ready for college or a career when they graduate, is being expanded to all schools this year.
AVID is a national program meant to prepare students for post-graduation success and to close the achievement gap.
While the program has been offered as an elective at the district’s secondary schools, this will be the first year it is integrated into elementary schools.
“Specifically, teachers in fourth- and fifth-grade will be helping to create that college or career readiness culture,” said Amy Price, AVID coordinator for the district.
“We definitely feel that the best practices that AVID teaches are for all students,” she said.
Twenty-five students from the program graduated in 2018 and 29 graduated in 2017.
“The majority of those graduates will be first-generation college students,” said Price
In 2017, for example, she said 27 of 29 students are going to college, and another to the military.
The school district is rearranging Pinewood Elementary with three portable classrooms and a portable office.
“We don’t have any more kids necessarily, but we have smaller class sizes,” said Greg Dennis, facilities supervisor.
“Our office is in the middle of the campus, so from a security perspective if you park in the lot here you have to walk through all these buildings just to sign in,” he said.
Preschool classrooms are also moving from Kellogg Marsh Elementary to the former Mountain View High School campus.
“Next week we’re going to get a 2,400-square-feet covered play area installed,” said Dennis.
The district also cleared out trees at Marshall Elementary, “because we had transient activity happening in there,” said Dennis.
They plan to restore the area to a play field.