Federal Way school year begins with new teachers, more optimism
By GREG ALLMAIN
Federal Way Mirror reporter
September 13, 2012 · Updated 5:12 PM
The beginning of the 2011-12 school year was quite rocky for Federal Way Public Schools.
Between a massive shift in the district’s overall grading/education philosophy, to persistent technology issues, to problems between school administrators, students and families — school board meetings at the beginning of last year were always good for a show.
So far, for the 2012-13 school year, things are going much smoother for the district.
Superintendent Rob Neu shared his thoughts on the successful start to the new school year during the board’s Sept. 11 meeting, thanking the Federal Way community.
“We had a great start to the school year. As you know, last year was a challenging year for us, and we certainly heard from folks throughout the year,” he said.
Teachers and staff
Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Chuck Christensen discussed new hires and other personnel issues.
“We had 128 new hires of teachers this year,” Christensen said. “That number is very similar to numbers that we’ve had over the years. Our turnover is about 10 percent on an annual basis for a variety of reasons. As you can see, out of that 128, 57 of those teachers were brand new to the profession, and 71 are experienced teachers, either coming to us from other school districts in the state, or from out of state.”
In total, the district hired 171 total new staff, including 15 special education staff, according to Christensen. That number for special education teachers/staff was a positive sign, Christensen said.
“(It’s) actually a little less than we’ve had in past years, which is a good thing, because special education teachers are hard to find,” he noted.
There were a total of seven school administrators hired, six assistant principals and one principal, according to Christensen. A number of assistant principals moved up to the top spot, and four current principals moved buildings, Christensen said.
“There was a tremendous effort involving not only human resources staff, but staff at schools and the superintendent’s leadership team, who were all aimed at interviewing and identifying the best candidates in a fair way,” he said. “This was to make sure we had excellent people in our leadership positions, and an outstanding teacher in front of every student, every period of the day.”
School board vice president Angela Griffin asked Christensen if there had been any progress on trying to diversify staff, in order to better meet the needs of the district’s diverse student population.
Christensen said he would have a full report on the diversity of the district’s teachers ready for the board in October.
Enrollment and budget
Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Sally McLean covered enrollment and finances.
McLean said her and her staff’s budget projections, and the actual enrollment numbers so far, are very close.
“The really great news for us is that we’re running very close to budget,” she said. “I think the better news for all of our classrooms and teachers is that we’re only making two involuntary transfers right now. It took a while to get everything balanced, but we’re hoping to minimize the impact for our students, our parents and teachers as we move forward.”
According to McLean, the “head count” number recorded by the district on Sept. 11 was 21,121 students. McLean said that the first number tends to increase by about 200 to 300 students by Oct. 1, the date considered to be the most accurate reflection of the district’s head count for the year.
Contact Federal Way Mirror reporter Greg Allmain at email@example.com or 253-925-5565 ext. 5054.