Blaine primary school kindergarten teacher Sue Steelquist was named 2010 teacher of the year by the Blaine school district at the school board meeting on April 26. She was presented the award by board president Charles Gibson. District superintendent Ron Spanjer praised Steelquist and pointed out that the nominations for her award came from a wide range of educators across the district. “It is clear you have the respect of your peers,” Spanjer said. The district also congratulated Steelquist on receiving National Board Certification status. Achieving national certification is a lengthy and difficult process. Last year only 3,974 teachers in Washington state were nationally certified, ranking Washington fifth in the nation.
In other district business, board members passed the 2010-11 reduced education program plan resolution, a milestone in the budget process in these cash-straitened days. The board was required to pass the resolution by April 26 in order to comply with state laws regarding provision of notice to certificated staff.
Among the cutbacks called for by reduced funding is the elimination of 2.3 certificated staff positions for savings of $184,000 with an additional savings of $112,000 in classified staff reduction.
Staff reduction in prior year budgets had disproportionately reduced classified positions. Although the final state funding won’t be known until May 16, the district is projecting the total projected revenue and costs adjustment to fall in the $700 - 800,000 range.
The district administration expects the adjustment figure to fluctuate as they go through the budget process. The board also approved a new staff policy regarding social media and the maintenance of professional staff and student boundaries.
Spanjer told directors it was not only a new policy for the district, it was also for 165 other districts.
“This policy came about due to the rise of social media such as Facebook and Twitter,” he said.
Among other prohibitions, the policy disallows personal contact with students outside of school by phone, email, texting, chat rooms, social networking sites or letters without including the parent or guardian.