News

State of schools keeps improving

By MARGO HORNER, The Mirror

Despite increasing challenges such as poverty and language barriers, schools in Federal Way continue to improve, superintendent Tom Murphy said in his annual State of the District Address.

Murphy spoke about schools to a packed and attentive audience at the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce meeting Jan. 9.

Nearly 50 percent of Federal Way students now qualify for free and reduced lunches, and more than half of the students are non-white, Murphy said. The number of languages spoken by families in the district has increased to 105. One-third of kindergarten students qualify for English language support.

“I’m grateful that your professional staff views these changing demographics not as obstacles, but as challenges and that during these rapidly changing times no one, no one has backed off of our commitment to every student,” Murphy said.

“In the face of these challenges, we are not wavering from our mission for all students and we are moving forward,” he said. “In Federal Way Public Schools, all truly means all.”

After discussing some of the challenges faced by school officials, Murphy told the crowd about many of the district’s achievements.

Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) scores have improved in many areas and continue to be slightly higher than the state average.

Many graduates from Federal Way schools have gone on to attend prestigious universities as Brown, Cornell, Duke, Princeton and Stanford, Murphy said.

Some of the district’s new programs include the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) Academy, a kindergarten through eighth-grade program at Woodmont Elementary, Algebraic Thinking math curriculum, the Collegeboard Springboard program and the Cambridge Checkpoint Academy.

Also in the past year, the district received a number of recognitions for environmental stewardship and efforts to protect student and staff health. A $149 million construction bond passed, and the district won its fair funding lawsuit against the state.

Murphy encouraged the crowd to support the upcoming levy on Feb. 19 and thanked the community for supporting the schools.

“Vital, outstanding communities, ones which attract and keep businesses, support their schools,” he said.

“We are that vital, outstanding community.”

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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