Superintendent Mark RossPrepping for one of my favorite things

September 18, 2018

Mark’s note: I wrote this article prior to the delay to the start of the school year. My hope is that as a community, we can focus on the present and put the past behind us. We continue to believe that helping students achieve their highest potential is our primary mission, and through strong partnerships with our parents and community, we can make that mission a reality. Thank you for your continued support of Battle Ground Public Schools. I look forward to a great school year in 2018-19.

September tends to be one of my favorite months of the year. Partly because I am a huge college football fan, and there’s nothing like sitting in Husky Stadium with a view of Lake Washington during a crisp autumn afternoon. But mostly I love September because of the excitement it brings when we witness more than 13,500 students come through the doors of our Battle Ground schools with freshly scrubbed faces and newly groomed hair, buzzing with excitement to see old friends and make new ones. Even our usually emotionally subdued high school students begrudgingly admit that it’s good to get back into the routine of school.

What always amazes me about September is that as a district, we are actually ready to welcome students when our doors open on the first day. Soon after we said goodbye to students in June, our amazing custodial and maintenance departments worked to deep clean more than 1.6 million square feet of building space. Classroom furniture was pulled out of every classroom to scrub floors, then put back so that hallways and gyms could be cleaned and waxed. In the case of Maple Grove School, old flooring was torn out and replaced with brand new tile in a matter of weeks. In addition, our outstanding operations team worked in a very short time to add office space to some of our primary buildings to support newly hired counselors. At the Glenwood Heights campus, new portable classrooms were installed and outfitted to accommodate increasing enrollment, much like at Laurin last year.

Our incredible warehouse team received and delivered thousands of pounds of paper, cleaning supplies, mail, new desks, chairs, file cabinets and other items to our schools. This year the district was able to purchase (through the use of state timber harvest revenue) classroom supplies for all of our 4,200 primary students. So in addition to their regular duties, the warehouse team completed the monumental task of sorting pencils, pens, notebooks, tissues, and other classroom materials by grade level and then by school and delivering them in August. This was truly an amazing and very much appreciated feat.

Our district painters continued to circulate throughout the district’s eighteen buildings, putting final touches on hallways and building entrances and saving the district thousands of dollars by doing the work all “in house.”

With about 275 square miles to cover on their routes, our bus company trained more than 100 bus drivers to safely transport the 11,000-plus, or 82 percent of our student population that rides the bus during the school year.

Even more training was completed by our food service provider Sodexo, which trained cooks and servers, stocked and prepared food (and simultaneously provided summer lunch) in preparation for serving nearly 1 million meals over the course of the school year.

While this took place, our principals and special education team were busy hiring teachers and classroom aids in July and August, with some hires happening right up to the first day of school and even into the school year in some cases. In addition, the district provided a week of specially designed training to 50 newly hired teachers late in August.

Of course, nothing matches the excitement of the first day of school more than seeing the faces of our youngest students light up as they walk through the door of a classroom that has been so carefully prepared by our amazing teachers. This year we welcome more than 840 kindergarteners, many of them experiencing their first full day of school with us.

Many other people also work amazingly hard to prepare our schools for opening day, from building secretaries who enroll new students to our grounds crew and district office support personnel. It is a complex puzzle and a buzz of activity that happens to piece it together in just two short months to get your Battle Ground schools ready to receive our most precious gift to us—your children.

We look forward to a great year, and with your partnership, a successful learning experience for all our students.

Mark Ross, Superintendent
Battle Ground Public Schools

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