Summer school presents challenges at Sequim High

While summer school classes at Sequim Middle School were fairly smooth, staff at Sequim High School said things were less sedate at the SHS campus.

Teachers Carol Harms and Sonja Miller told Sequim School Board directors on Sept. 9 that Sequim High had a record 142 students register, including numerous students signing up to recover credits in multiple classes — though many students did not stay long and actual credit recovery totals were similar to recent years.

The large number of students presented them with several challenges, with both Harms and Miller saying that behavioral issues with students causing several problems, particularly late in the week when there was limited administrative staff available for the teachers to go to.

The limited staffing and support was a constant challenge, according to the two teachers.

Harms and Miller additionally noted that “damage to computers was high” in the high school library over the course of the summer session, and that the boys bathroom was damaged as well. Two students had to be permanently ejected from the session as a result of their behavior.

Also of concern to the teachers was that several parents indicated that their students were telling them they were going to summer session at SHS, but the teachers weren’t seeing them at all.

Several board members expressed concern over the safety challenges for Sequim High’s summer school. Director Jim Stoffer said the district has to “find a way for this to work better,” but also noted there are nine months to find solutions before the next summer session begins.

There were successes there, however: 80 students registered in math classes recovered 43 total credits and 81 students registered in non-math classes earned 54 credits. One senior who had failed to qualify for graduation at the end of the 2018-2019 school year was even able to earn his diploma and recently had a small graduation ceremony in the library.

The SMS summer session was comparatively smooth, according to SMS teacher Johanna Mitchell. She and a single paraeducator worked with 12 students, who collectively earned all 7.5 credits they were there to make up.

Mitchell did note that various issues like a lack of staffing and transportation options being available severely limited the number of students that could participate in summer school, and also said that adding self-paced learning options such as those used in the SHS summer session would make things easier for students in the future.

Other board business

• Because of priority of a legislation discussion, interviews for the vacant school board director position were postponed until the Sept. 23 board meeting. According to interim superintendent Rob Clark, two applicants are scheduled to be interviewed in an open session, starting at 5 p.m.

• There will be an active shooter drill at Sequim Middle School on Saturday, Sept. 28. Clark said the Sequim Police Department, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, and Clallam County Fire District 3 will all be participating in the “significant” drill process.

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