Natural Resources program to remain

Turnaround in council's recommendation to discontinue


The future of the Natural Resources program offered by the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center is no longer in limbo — and seemingly secure.

Making a switch from its original recommendation to Port Angeles School District, the skills center’s administrative council unanimously supported the continuation of the program May 6.

“My goal here is how do we maintain the program,” Kelly Shea, Sequim School District superintendent, said during the meeting.

“We need to determine which problems we want to solve based on which ones we think give benefits to the most students.”

The financial viability and its compliance with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) requirements were the cause for concern, Diana Reaume, Quillayute Valley School District superintendent and council chairman, explained.

Although the council composed of superintendents from Quillayute Valley, Cape Flattery, Crescent, Port Angeles and Sequim and Peninsula College’s president, recognize the value of the program, Reaume said, the council has been mulling over the discontinuation of the program since October.

Prior to making a recommendation, the council wanted clarification on the program’s status after its April 28 meeting where about 50 people attended to listen and provide public comment.

Upon further inquiry, skills center director Peggy Templeton reported May 6 that the Natural Resources program made $32,994 after expenses during the 2014-2015 academic year.

The bulk of the revenue generated by the program comes from what’s referred to as the “Natural Resources Option” class, which isn’t in compliance with the OSPI, Reaume said.

But, OSPI officials are “willing to work with us,” she added. The Natural Resource Options class allows students to participate at varying levels (0.2, 0.4 and 0.6 FTE) and is structured as an Alternative Learning Experience given much of the students’ time is spent outside the traditional classroom.

It also functions as Career and Technical Education class to provide students with an opportunity for English and science credit recovery. The recommendations by OSPI officials from the last program approval process in 2013 weren’t followed though despite Natural Resources instructor Daniel Lieberman’s “due diligence” with the skills center’s previous director, Reaume said.

Thus, to keep the program as an Alternative Learning Experience class and/or a state approved Career and Technical Education class is a matter of “resubmitting and redoing the framework,” she said.

Operating the program as either a Career and Technical Education or an Alternative Learning Experience each has its own set of requirements. Maintaining its status as an Alternative Learning Experience requires Lieberman to become highly qualified in order for students to receive credit recovery, Reaume explained to the council.

Additionally, it would require adjusting the part-time aspect of the Natural Resources Options class – an adjustment also needed to be a Career and Technical Education class.

“It sounds like we can do this (program) as a CTE or ALE class, but have to make modifications to be in compliance,” Shea said. “Fiscally, it’s covering its cost.”

In weighing the challenges associated with modifying the program to get in compliance as either an Alternative Learning Experience and/or a Career and Technical Education program, the council concluded Lieberman’s input would be needed because of his knowledge of the class and students.  Marc Jackson, Port Angles School District superintendent, sought a recommendation on the future of the program because district officials have to make staffing adjustments by May 15 and Lieberman is employed by the Port Angeles School District.

“I don’t think it’s within our scope as this advisory board to deal with anything in terms of Dan’s employment or highly qualified status – that’s between him, his union representative and the Port Angeles School District,” Shea said.

“Our role is to determine whether or not it is feasible to run the Natural Resources program.”

Although the redesign of the program is to be determined, in light of the financial status, achievable OSPI requirements and ample community support heard through public comment, the skills center’s recommendation supports the program going forth into the 2015-2016 academic year.

Available to students from Sequim to La Push since 2008, the project-based field science class aims to expose students to ecosystems and both natural and cultural resources through service-learning.

“Through the Natural Resources classes, students earn credit and obtain skills, schools gain additional options that fit diverse learners and community organizations connect with and train potential future employees as these youth participate in environmental projects,” Lieberman said. The program is one of three skills center satellite programs within the Sequim School District.

As of March the program had 17 Sequim students enrolled, according Lieberman.For more information on the Natural Resources program or enrollment contact the skills center at 565-1533 or visit

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