State Board of Education meets in Kennewick this week

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldMay 5, 2014 

Mid-Columbia school officials and the public will have the opportunity to interact with the Washington State Board of Education at its meeting in Kennewick on Wednesday and Thursday.

Discussion of new graduation requirements and visits to several Kennewick schools are on the state board's schedule, according to a press release.

Two public comment sessions are scheduled -- one each day -- and local superintendents and school board representatives will be able to meet with the state board's staff during part of the visit.

"It's just a chance for us to reach out," said Sarah Lane, spokeswoman for the state board.

Part of the planned agenda doesn't directly affect Mid-Columbia schools, such as performance reviews of several school districts in other areas of the state.

There will also be an update on the loss of the state's waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind education law, putting schools under stringent performance guidelines and taking control of some federal dollars from districts.

State lawmakers approved the new Career & College Ready Graduation Requirements, which call for more work in science, the arts and languages, earlier this spring and it's now up to the state board to implement them. The requirements apply to the Class of 2019 and beyond.

The state board will visit Southgate Elementary School, Park Middle School and Phoenix High School. The Kennewick High School Choir will perform at the end of the state board's first day of meetings.

There will be an invitation-only meeting for school district officials to attend Thursday evening. No decisions will be made during that event, Lane said, but it is an opportunity for school board members unable to attend during the regular meetings.

"It's just a question-and-answer time," Lane said.

Many school leaders have other engagements that night, school officials in several districts said, but a few superintendents may attend. The new graduation requirements could be one topic local school officials want to discuss, specifically a provision that allows districts to waive some courses.

"We want more clarification on the waiver that students may qualify for," said Robyn Chastain, Kennewick spokeswoman.

The public will be able to make comments during 15-minute windows beginning at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday and 12:15 p.m. Thursday. Lane said people who wish to speak will need to sign up before doing so. She advised people arrive at least 15 minutes before the public comment session starts.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald

State board of education meetings

When: May 7, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (public comment 11:45 a.m.); May 8, 8:25 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (public comment 12:15 p.m.)

Where: Kennewick School District Offices, 1000 Fourth Ave.

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