School boards are being recognized this month on a national level for their work and contributions.
And it’s no different in the Puyallup and Sumner school districts, where elected board members work to implement policies for student learning and achievement.
“(Our school board) is an extremely professional group,” said Tim Yeomans, superintendent of the Puyallup School District. “The board is very authentic when garnering input. They do an outstanding job of recognizing accomplishments of people in our community, our staff and our students. They do well at pointing out what is done well. Every board meeting includes board highlights. It’s a very positive and affirming environment.”
The Puyallup school board consists of five members who represent specific areas within the district. The members serve alternating four-year terms.
Pat Jenkins was elected for Position No. 3 in November 2011 and will serve through 2015. Dane Looker also was elected that year and will serve Position No. 2 through 2015.
Jenkins and Looker join Chris Ihrig, the board president who has served since 2009; Greg Heath, the vice president who has served since 2001; and Pat Donovan, the legislative representative who has served since 2009.
All directors represent the district at large.
“I think we have really stressed this past year communication across the district with our constituents,” Ihrig said. “One of the things we’ve been striving for is a deeper level of engagement around the activities that the district is trying to impact. We try to be as inclusive as possible with community partners and stakeholders.”
Yeomans said the board had a “gigantic achievement” this year, when their actions saved taxpayers $23.2 million in the next 13 years by taking advantage of historically low interest rates and refinancing a portion of the 2004 school bond.
“The board has been really instrumental in having a focus on the district’s strategic direction focusing on the improvement of instruction and student achievement,” Yeomans said. “Over the past three years, there were strong increases of graduation rates at all three comprehensive high schools.
“Lastly, for the fourth year in a row, (board members) were recognized by the Washington State School Directors Association as a Board of Distinction,” Yeomans said. “Our board has received it four years in a row. We’re one of nine large school districts receiving it.”
As part of the Jan. 14 meeting to recognize the board, the directors instead turned recognition to the countless groups in the community who helped those less fortunate during the holidays. One in particular was Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, which donated 1,000 winter coats to children in the school district.
Meanwhile, the Sumner School District Board of Directors celebrated at its Jan. 16 meeting by presenting Mountain View Middle School with books.
Starting this year the Sumner school board is narrowing down candidates to hire a superintendent.
“The board has hired a consultant after interviewing firms and posting for a new superintendent has just gone out,” interim Superintendent Craig Spencer said. “We’re getting resumes. We’re planning interview for early March, and we’re hoping to announce a new superintendent in early April.”
A new superintendent would start July 1. Lee Goeke is the search firm hired to vet qualified candidates.
Spencer said he is proud of the work board members are doing.
“The combination of veterans and brand new board members has helped make for a strong school board,” he said.
The Sumner School Board consists of five members from separate areas of the district. Each serve four-year terms.
Elected in fall 2011 were Casey Chamberlain and Paul Bucich, who were selected by their peers to serve as vice president and president, respectively. Other board members are Richard Hendricks, Sherm Voiles and Mike Pavlik.
Pavlik has served 22 years on the board.
Bucich said the board hopes to hire a new superintendent by April.
“We would like someone who can be a leader, who can facilitate conversation with the community, and someone who can take us to the next level of quality education for our students,” he said.
Other challenges that face the board include implementing national Common Core standards and figuring out how to provide the best education with the amount of funding allotted to the school district from the state, Bucich said.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.