By Chuck Cuzzetto, for the KP news

I want to take this opportunity to update you on a few activities going on in your school district. Now that we are past daylight savings time and have less daylight, please use caution when driving in school zones and make sure your students are wearing appropriate clothing for the weather conditions.

Snow Routes

It seems that in some years we go right from summer to winter. This year may be an extreme example of that. Our emergency bus routes are now available on the district website at psd401.net/. Please take a minute and review them and make sure you ask transportation or your school if you have any questions.

SAT Scores

Washington students’ combined average score on the SAT (1545) is the highest in the nation — tied with Vermont — among states in which at least 45 percent of the eligible students took the test, according to figures released by the College Board. The percentage of students tested is significant because generally the more students who test, the lower the overall average score. However, Washington has been an exception for the past decade.

Washington again had the nation’s highest score in math (528), was tied for second in writing (500) and was third in reading (517) among states with a participation rate of 45 percent or more. The ranking is based on students taking the SAT who were 12th graders in the class of 2012.

Peninsula students again outperformed the state and nation and had significant gains over last year. District-wide math scores grew from 520 to 543, writing remained above state and national averages at 519, and reading was at 542, up from 533 in 2011.

Advanced placement (AP) results were higher as well. We had 11 percent more students taking AP exams; with 18 percent more receiving college ready scores (3, 4 or 5). These results are nearly double the state and national trends.

Financials

As we close our “books” for 2011-2012 and are firmly into the 2012-2013 school year, we are beginning to look at the 2013-2014 school year and budget cycle.

At the Federal level, the prospect of sequestration of funds (freezing) is very real. If sequestration is triggered in January 2013, federal education spending will be cut by 8.2 percent, according to the most recent estimates by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

This will amount to about $4 billion in cuts to education programs: Title I will be cut by $1.2 billion; IDEA will be cut by just under $1 billion; and Teacher Quality State grants will be cut by $200 million.

At the State level, Randy Dorn, Superintendent of Public Instruction, has requested an additional $4.1 Billion in his 2013-15 biennial budget request to Gov. Chris Gregoire. He cited last year’s McCleary decision as being very clear that the state must achieve full funding of basic education by 2018.

Dorn’s budget fully funds phases I and II of the full funding plan during the 2013-15 biennium. His budget request also includes additional money for teacher evaluations, dropout prevention and using data to better inform instruction. His overall 2013-15 proposed biennial budget was $18.9 billion. In the 2011-13 biennium, about $13.6 billion was spent on K-12 education.

At the local level, with the support of our local taxpayers passing the levy in February 2011, we have been able to maintain an adequate fund balance and avoid further reductions to programs and staffing for the 2012-2013 school year. We will begin budget deliberations for 2013-2014 during the next few months.

Upcoming Opportunities to Meet

We have scheduled two open agenda meetings for you to meet with me and ask questions or provide input.

As we did last year, we are conducting a series of Superintendent Forums. This year we have also added a series of “Coffee with the Superintendent” meetings for those of you that cannot make the evening forums.

The first informal “coffee” will be held Tuesday, Dec. 11, 9:30 a.m. at our district office (Educational Service Center).

Thank you again for your support and involvement in making this a great district.

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