New teachers cut class sizes in South Sound schools

June 30, 2014 

Fort Stevens Elementary School first grade teacher Marcy Salme uses an overhead projector as she conducts class October 2nd. New state funding is supposed to help get those K-1 classes down below 21 kids, but many schools will probably struggle to get that low for various reasons, including a lack of classroom space. Fort Stevens' kindergartens are below that 21 mark. Their 1st grades are just shy of 27 per class.

STEVE BLOOM — Staff photographer Buy Photo

YAY: 60 new teachers

State funding for K-12 schools may lag far behind its own goals and timetable, as the state Supreme Court has so forcefully pointed out, but the small amount of additional money lawmakers set aside last year is going to the right places. South Sounds school districts are receiving funds to reduce class size in high-poverty schools, including two new kindergarten or first-grade teachers for both Olympia and Yelm.

Early childhood education experts know that what a child learns between birth and the third grade often determines how far they go in school and other life factors, such as the likelihood of incarceration.

YAY: JBLM attacks DV

Joint Base Lewis-McChord officials are serious about changing a military culture that has led to a dramatic rise in reports of sexual violence. JBLM’s highest-ranking officers recently participated in a conference on the topic. That’s good.

Olympia’s SafePlace has also been working with JBLM personnel to curb sexual assaults within the ranks. SafePlace, along with other South Sound service providers, meets monthly with a JBLM team addressing the issue.

BOO: No cancer funding

An initiative to help create a $1 billion cancer-research fund, backed by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s, won’t go to voters this fall. The initiative’s supporters are instead looking to 2016 when a presidential election will draw a higher voter turnout and improve their chances.

Organizers behind I-1356, which would raise the tax on cigarette by $1, decided not to run the measure this fall because big tobacco companies planned to pour tens of millions of dollars to fight it. Sounds like a user fee to us.

BOO: Arming principals

The Toppenish School District approved a policy for 11 of its school administrators to carry firearms, after completing the requisite training. Putting guns in the hands of amateurs while surrounded by throngs of young children sounds like a potential for disaster.

Besides the obvious dangers from accidental discharge, theft and inexperience when confronted with a real-life, heavily-armed shooter, when message does this send to children? Surely the district had other options that provided a safer learning environment?

HUH? WSU beats UW

Supporters of Washington State University have purchased in excess of 10,000 more specialty license plates than their cross-state rivals at the University of Washington. In fact, WSU plates are the number one best seller in the state at 18,599, even topping the second-lace Seattle Seahawks, at 10,019. UW ranks fourth at about 8,000.

YAY: Getting an education

South Puget Sound Community College handed out more than 2,000 diplomas this spring, more than ever before in the school’s 51-year history. The increase results from more people seeking retraining after losing jobs during the recession and the high tuition costs of four-year universities that make community colleges look like a bargain. But whatever the reason, more people getting a higher education is good news for us all. Congrats, grads.

World Cup Fact

A German study during the 2006 World Cup matches showed that on the days his favorite team is playing, a man is 3.26 times more likely to have a heart attack. Women are 1.82 times more likely. The study also said fans are more likely to over eat, smoke, drink heavily and not sleep. Sounds a lot like American football.

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