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Lines blur between vocational, academic programs at White River

The lines between traditional vocational education programs, now known as career and technical education, and academic programs are blurring, White River High School Assistant Principal Greg Borgerding said.

“College ready is work ready,” he told the White River School Board at its April 14 meeting.

Between White River and Collins high schools, many CTE courses offer dual-credit, high school and college credit, while others are considered Advanced Placement courses.

White River offers approximately 37 electives at any one time.

Courses are divided into four areas – family and consumer science, agriculture, business and marketing and technology and industry.

Borgerding said the district is trying to stay current by offering courses designed for today’s job market. The district is currently working to offer classes in health, technology and green construction.

The board also signed a resolution to partner with the Pierce County Skills Center, which would go hand-in-hand with the program. The cooperative will allow students to take courses at other schools not offered at their home school. For example, White River does not offer courses in marine engineering or robotics, but through the cooperative they could enroll in those classes at another campus, and vise versa, students can come to the Buckley campus to take courses not offered at their school.

White River is one of 10 Pierce County districts participating.

In other business, the board:

• announced an executive session, for April 28 at Superintendent Tom Lockyer’s home and its next regular meeting May 12 in the board conference room. Both begin at 6 p.m.

• reminded the audience Tuesday is an early release day for WRHS and April 28 is an early release day for all schools.

• honored the district’s PTAs and WRHS student Jacob Klein for their work on February’s levy. The district passed the four-year levy with a 68 percent yes vote, and 47 percent turnout. The board also presented Apple of Distinction awards to Levy Committee Chair Carolyn Norris and Herb Entz.

• learned about the district’s work on a Student Online Assessment Resource, a data-based tool to help teachers with assessment and instruction. According to Meagan Rhoades, staff searched the country for a tool and found a data program from a Burlington Edison, Wash., group that is willing to work with White River to design a program to meet its expectations.

“Typically you buy a program and it is what it is,” Assistant Superintendent Janel Keating said, but this company is allowing White River leeway. The program will take daily information and display it in a number of ways to help teachers better use assessment toward instruction.

Rhoades said it will provide instant data for instruction, take assessment data and help predict how students will do on state assessment tests, and eventually provide a standards-based report card. It will also have the flexibility to regroup students for intervention or special programs.

• approve out-of-state travel for WRHS teachers Jennifer Gillig-Bogard and LeeAnn Alfano to attend Advancement Via Individual Determination training in South Carolina and WRHS Principal Mike Hagadone to visit high schools in Nashville, Tenn.

• acknowledged teachers and substitutes for appreciation week, May 3 to May 7.

• accepted a resolution for a reduction in force. Lockyer explained the Legislature’s extended session has not provided the district with the budget information it needs to make decisions. He does expect a shortfall due to state reductions and a continued drop in enrollment. It is still unclear, he said, but the district’s bargained agreement with staff requires, by law, to give notice prior to May 14.

“It’s just in case,” Board President Denise Vogel said of the resolution. “We hope we don’t have to use it.”

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