Superintendent's Chats

Strong relationships between schools and families play a critical role in the education and success of students and we are committed to continuously building these partnerships.

With a goal of fostering transparent, two-way communication, Superintendent of Monroe School District, Dr. Fredrika "Deka" Smith, extends an open invitation to families for a monthly "Superintendent's Chat." The first half of the meeting will feature a speaker from the district on predetermined topics that attendees chose last school year. The second half of the meeting, family members can ask questions, provide input and share viewpoints on district procedures, practices and policies. In order to accommodate busy schedules, monthly meetings will be offered both in the morning from 10:00-11:00 a.m. and in the evening from 6:00-7:00 p.m.

The Superintendent's Chats will occur monthly, typically on the second Thursday of the month. Meetings are held in the Board Room at the District Administration Office, 200 East Fremont Street, Monroe. The schedule of meetings for the 2019-20 school year is as follows:

October 10 - Monroe High School Schedule Update

Times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Topic: Monroe High School Schedule Update
Special guests: members of the MHS Administration team


Notes:

MHS Alternating 8-period Block Schedule Update from Principal Ed Crow

  • Big undertaking of last year
  • Traditionally a six period schedule but with the requirement of core 24 the traditional schedule needed to be reevaluated.
  • Eight periods helps students that are struggling, students that want to take AP classes, etc. Felt the schedule would meet the needs of ALL students.
  • Four periods a day, classes are longer, and then alternate.
  • Talking to students and teachers, the day feels less chaotic and the day feels calmer. The day also feels like it is moving faster. Both are positives.
     
  • Some things to work out are:
    • AP teachers/classes dealing with fewer instructional minutes over the span of a year.
    • Finding the balance with the new amount of time.
       
  • Bearcat Time:
    • Formed to encourage club participation (district does not have an activities bus, and MHS is not a walking school) and it is working.
    • Club meetings happen during Bearcat Time, increase in club attendance and the formation of new clubs.
    • A number of students with high anxiety are praising Bearcat Time as a scheduled pause during the day.
    • Bearcat Time is also for academic support time to help students stay on track, a really big success.
       
  • At this point it is mainly monitoring but admin are viewing it as a successful implementation so far. Allows for student multiple elective choice, whereas the six period day did not. Advanced music classes were zero periods (before school) without district transportation, which was an equity issue. Those classes are now embedded into the schedule making them accessible to as many students as possible. Added extra furniture throughout the building to create a college vibe and added staff monitoring to the whole building. 

Q: Lunch time is 10:35, is that too early?
A: It is about the same time as first lunch last year and no students complaints so far.

Q: How do the students know what teachers are available when during Bearcat Time?
A: Times are posted on the classroom doors. Times will be M-T, during Bearcat Time. Half of the staff takes lunch first half of Bearcat Time, the other half takes lunch the second half of Bearcat Time. Schedules are posted on classroom doors for students to find a time that works for them. 

Q: Long term vision for electives?
A: Student interest survey combined with teacher interest. Student requests need to match teacher skillset/interest in teaching that elective. MHS will evaluate each year. Looking to grow CTE class sets moving forward, allows students to get a certificate that will allow you to be marketable to local companies when you graduate MHS. Core+ is a growing program as well, a great opportunity for students with the completion of the Advanced Manufacturing Lab. 

Q: If kids have taken high school classes in middle school are they required senior year are they required to have a full schedule?
A: Senior can have a late arrival or early dismissals. A requirement is to have 3 out of 4 classes senior year to walk in graduation. Running Start students can combine (some on campus classes, some at college) others are full-time Running Start students.

Q: Graduation requirements? 
A: Freshman graduation requirement is 30 credits (four opportunities to make-up a class or add a late start or early dismissal Senior year). Current Senior, Junior and Sophomore will stay at 24 credits. 

Open Campus at MHS Update

Open campus has criterion but is going well so far. Markers they have to meet to get off campus privileges. Opened last week, students were excited and numbers are already going down, as expected. Seeing that kids want to stay on campus due to the Bearcat Time/club meetings. Nice as an option and rollout has been smooth. 

Start Time Conversations

What time school starts in the morning. We starting talking about it in 2016 but a big part of the concern was zero hour at the time. Currently start time at MHS is 7:50 a.m. Didn’t land as something to take on as a community as the feeling was the eight period schedule would eliminate zero period. Also most districts were moving from an earlier start time than we already had in place. This last year at School Board Community Conversation students advocated to re-engage in the conversation about start times. We have reopened the conversation on start times and are moving forward in the thinking, there may be a survey in the future. Be on the lookout as it impacts 100% of our students. Please help advocate for participation! Have to evaluate funding, transportation, staffing, etc.
Q: What would happen with sports if the day is pushed? Please put thought into that.
Q: Do any districts we compete with, have they moved to later schedules? 

Open Q&A

Q: Vaping in the MHS boys bathroom - what is being done to address this? Are we checking the bathrooms? 
A: MHS staff is aware of the problem, have two full-time security people in the hall during the day, looking into the known areas of where vaping is happening. State Law has changed in what can be done if a student is caught vaping. MHS links students with Chris Jury, district Prevention/Interventionist, to educate on the risks and dangers associated with vaping.  

Q: Concerns with Honor program at the middle school level: Clustering instead of separate Honor classes. The communication/identification of HiCap students is not functioning right now. The theory makes great sense, but it is not working/functioning. PPMS and HRMS made the switch to Honors for All, parents reporting that it is not working. Students reporting as ungraded, optional extra work, not enrichment. Not a smooth transition and kids are not enjoying. Cluster model requires a lot of training for teachers to do it well.
A: HiCap program evaluation taking place this year. 

Q: Parents from SVEC - PTA has raised money to put in a water bottle filling station - difficult time getting it rolling. Have been told it is not a priority, what are next steps they can take to implement the station. First request was November of last year. Ed Crow reported that they are waiting for the same installation are in the same waiting period. 
A: Dr. Smith will follow up with Facilities/Maintenance and report to Karen or Gary. 

Q: Admin building move, what’s going on?
A: At this point, the vacant ‘medical building’ 31,000 square foot building that has been on the market for awhile, the building needs a lot of work, gutted and redone. The School Board has approved a letter of interest at this point (non-binding) but official label of making the interest public. One of the concerns is the monthly cost, but it breaks down to $1.83/sq foot which is low compared to local retail space rental costs. The short, longer term plan will be to purchase the building. Renting temporarily. The building is not big enough to be used for SVEC. Choosing this building will allow us to move in a few months vs. the few years it would take to build a new building. Written in the lease gives the district to buy-out at the current price. Looking at all of the district land assets that the district owns and what can be done/should be done. No draft lease yet, only a signed letter of intent.

Q: Wagner Center - how does that play into moving parts?
A: Currently Cornerstone Academy rented the building via the facility use process, not long term. It is currently up for bid to rent: https://www.monroe.wednet.edu/about/school-board/public-comments

Q: Moved from Cornerstone to Public School process this year, how do we screen school pick-up by people on emergency contact list? Regular dismissal time - how to identify who is picking them up after school?
A: Will share concerns with the school office and school administration teams. 

November 14 - Family Access and Website 101 + Q&A

Times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Topic: Family Access and Website 101 + Q&A
Special guests: District Operations Coordinator Heather Jackson, Hidden River Middle School Assistant Principal Johnathan Judy and Monroe High School Assistant Principal Hugo Molina


Notes:

Introduction of Special Guests: 

  • Jonathan Judy (HRMS Assistant Principal)
  • Hugo Molina (MHS Assistant Principal)
  • Justin Blasko (Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Teaching)
  • Kim Whitworth (Chief Academic Officer)
  • Heather Jackson (District Operations Coordinator)


Start Time Review Committee Update

  • First meeting on 11/13
  • Great turnout, 20-25 attendees
  • Summary of meeting to be posted to website soon: www.monroe.wednet.edu>community>committees 
     

Family Access 101

  • Skyward App available (has some components of Family Access)
    • Android and Apple: search for Skyward
  • How to access Family Access: 
    • on homepage www.monroe.wednet.edu, scroll down click Family Access 
    • under ‘families’ drop-down, choose Family Access
  • Make sure when you access the Family Access log-in page you see the correct Monroe School District logo
  • No Family Access account? Apply for here
  • Forgot your password? Log-in? Click here
  • Reviewed how to navigate Family Access

Website 101

  • Pointed out where to find the website 101 video
  • How to access school newsletters: www.monroe.wednet.edu, choose school, click about, click your ‘school mascot’ news
  • For Peachjar flyers, www.monroe.wednet.edu, scroll down, click the Peachjar logo, choose your school in the drop-down. Peachjar quick links are also at the bottom of each school specific website that directs to that specific school. 


Went over ways to stay connected: 

  • subscribe to district newsletter list (scroll to bottom of www.monroe.wednet.edu, enter email address)
  • social media (@MonroeWaSchools on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram)
  • text messaging (choose text messaging from the ‘families’ drop-down on www.monroe.wednet.edu)

Audience Q&A

Q: Is there a way to view cumulative GPA on Family Access?
A: Not currently available due to the variation of when grades are uploaded to Skyward/Family Access. Please contact the counseling office for a current cumulative GPA report.

Q: Online payments, how to access?
A: www.monroe.wednet.edu, scroll down to ‘online payment’ button or click ‘online payments’ link in the drop-down menu on the top right corner when logged into Family Access

Q: Request for an activities/sports bus for students at HRMS, possibly PPMS.
A: Will pull numbers (how many sports students would utilize a bus) and look into budget cost for future seasons.

Q: Request from high school swim team: access to longer and/or more practices in the pool (currently utilizes Sky Valley YMCA and Snohomish Aquatic Center).
A: Will look into options.

Q: How does news get to MHS twitter and Facebook page?
A: Coaches/parents get information to MHS AD, she passes along to school social media managers.

Q: Request for more information or review communication practices at MHS.
A: Will add to MHS agenda to review and discuss.

Q: Canvas tutorials for parents?
A: New portion of the website just launched: www.monroe.wednet.edu, ‘families’ drop-down, ‘online resources’

December 12 - Parent/Student Survey Results + Grading, Assessment & Curriculum Update

Times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Topic: Parent/Student Survey Results + Grading, Assessment & Curriculum Update
Special guests: District Communications Office, Assistant Superintendent - Learning and Teaching Justin Blasko, Chief Academic Officer Kim Whitworth, Chain Lake Elementary Principal Ana Apter and Salem Woods Elementary Principal Stephanie Penrod


Notes:

January 9 - Makerspaces, Library Update and Digital Learning Program

Times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Topic: Makerspaces, Library Update and Digital Learning Program
Special guests: TBD


Notes: 

February 13 - District Safety and Security Update

Times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Topic: District Safety and Security Update
Special guests: TBD


Notes: 

March 12 - Construction and Capacity Update

Times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Topic: Construction and Capacity Update
Special guests: TBD


Notes: 

April 16 - Healthy Youth Survey and Monroe Public Schools Foundation

Times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Topic: Healthy Youth Survey and Monroe Public Schools Foundation
Special guests: TBD


Notes: 

May 14 - Food Service (Nutrition, Lunch Balances, Summer Lunch, etc.)

Times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Topic: Food Service (Nutrition, Lunch Balances, Summer Lunch, etc.)
Special guests: TBD


Notes: 

June 11 - Supterintendent Chat Program Eval and Topic Setting for 2020-21 School Year

Times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Topic: End of Year Celebrations, Supt Chat Program Evaluation and Topic Setting for 2020-21 School Year
Special guests: TBD


Notes: 

We welcome families to join us as much as their schedules allow!

To further foster open communication, we encourage each school's parent group (PTA, PTO, etc) to select a representative who could serve as a liaison. This representative will gather questions, input and feedback from the school's parent community, bring those topics to the Superintendent's Chats to share, and report back to the school's parent group on a monthly basis. If you are unable to attend a meeting, but have questions or feedback, please reach out to the parent representative at your school.