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Coupeville Schools Superintendent Steve King

As the world deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Coupeville plans to open the 2020-2021 school year with primarily online learning.

Superintendent Steve King released a letter to the community Thursday which said he and the school board are recommending the district start in Phase 2 of a 5-phase plan.

Called the “Remote and Connection Model,” it will incorporate “an improved remote learning model with additional in-person connections for at-school opportunities for specifically identified students.”

The school year is slated to begin September 14.

King’s letter:

 

Over the course of the summer we have been working on multiple options for trying to reopen schools this fall.

As we think about in-person school models, we are following the guidance provided by OSPI, the Governor, and the Department of Health that was provided in June.

This week we received updated K-12 Fall Guidance for opening schools and a K-12 Decision Tree that provides metrics for districts to make decisions about reopening.

The guidance documents include social distancing, face coverings, daily health screenings, and protocols for incidents of COVID exposure that could result in student and/or staff quarantines.

The K-12 Decision Tree puts Island County School Districts in the “Moderate Risk” category for reopening schools.

In addition to all of this guidance, we have surveyed our staff and families in both June and late July and we have reviewed the data from these surveys in order to best serve all of our stakeholders.

We also have been working closely with our local Island County Health Department, OSPI, district administration, union groups, and other school districts in the region to get as much input as possible in order to make this difficult decision.

We are also mindful of the current public health environment in our state and community.

Unfortunately, the rate of COVID infection and the concerns surrounding it have been on the rise over the summer.

We know we do our best work and serve our students, families, and community most effectively when we are able to teach children in our schools 100% of the time, however, it has become clear that we are just not able to fully reopen our schools to in-person instruction this fall.

Given all of these considerations, it is the consensus of our school board and administrative team that our schools open the 20-21 school year in Stage 2, which we are referring to as Coupeville’s Remote and Connection Model.

Coupeville’s Remote and Connection Model means opening schools on September 14 with an improved remote learning model and additional in-person connections for “at-school” opportunities for specifically identified students.

This would provide targeted students some opportunities for face-to-face instruction with staff, while minimizing person-to-person contact.

The additional Connection services would support students with special needs, English language learners, kindergartners, and other students “furthest from educational justice.”

We will also have a strong focus on supporting our students and families with social emotional health this fall which may lead to additional in-person work with students along with remote support.

Throughout this school year we will constantly review our plans, local health outcomes, and the K-12 Decision Tree in order to make school model changes.

Please see our current plans and stages for our phased approach to reopening on our website:

http://www.coupeville.k12.wa.us/c_o_v_i_d_closure_-_c_s_d

The rationale for this plan is as follows:

The public health environment and concern in regards to public health in our state and local community are not improving.

Opening with any in-person school model this fall will likely lead to staff and student cohorts quarantined due to exposures. It may also lead to extended school closures.

This would create significant disruptions and no predictable teaching/learning model.

Students and staff perform most effectively with a stable, consistent instructional plan where expectations for engagement and learning are clear and implemented.

Deciding on this approach now allows us to continue to focus on improving our remote model based upon the successes and lessons learned from our spring experience.

With more time for training and implementation we are very confident we will deliver a better distance learning model this fall.

Making this decision now allows staff to focus on opportunities for specifically identified students with unique needs such as kindergarteners and preschoolers, English language learners (ELL), students with special needs, and other students “furthest from educational justice” to have some level of in-person interaction with staff.

These will be tightly managed small group or individual experiences, adhering to all OSPI, Department of Health, and Governor’s Office guidance.

The current 58 pages of guidelines for reopening schools for in-person instruction would likely have a significant negative impact on the learning environment in our schools and classrooms.

At the next school board meeting, August 24, the board will be asked to approve this plan.

Sadly, this pandemic has challenged all of us in many ways. We recognize any change to our regular school model creates complications.

We make this decision with the strong belief that it is the safest option for our community as a whole.

I am so thankful for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.

Please continue to show compassion and grace for others in our great community of Coupeville.

I am saddened by the negative impacts that this decision has on so many people, but I am passionate and continue to be optimistic that we will eventually refill our classrooms and hallways with our amazing students when it is safe to do so.

I am certain everyone has many questions regarding the above plan; please keep an eye out for more information in the days ahead.

Please stay safe, healthy and take care,

Steve King

Superintendent

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A simple purchase can help a community.

Swing by the Kingfisher Bookstore today, while wearing a face mask and practicing strong social distancing skills, and help Coupeville Schools build a diverse, inclusive library of books.

But first, pop back up to the photo above to get all the info on the project.

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   Coupeville Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Shank is leaving Whidbey after five years. He’s accepted a new position in Idaho. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   The dapper doctor entertains CHS Principal Duane Baumann (left) and Athletic Director Willie Smith.

Dr. Shank and daughter Ashlie hang out at a game.

Elvis is leaving the building.

Dr. Jim Shank, the pride of Wolf Nation, is leaving the Coupeville School District.

The best Superintendent this cow town has seen in my memory is moving on and moving up, leaving Whidbey for Burley, Idaho.

The Cassia County School Board, which is replacing retiring Superintendent Gaylen Smyer, officially offered Dr. Shank the position Monday at a board meeting.

After being selected from a field of three finalists, Shank will start his new position July 1.

His departure will also cost the Wolves an athlete, as youngest daughter Ashlie, a basketball and track star, is currently a junior.

Dr. Shank has been the head honcho in Coupeville for five years, during which time he has been front and center as the district has made numerous improvements.

Just from a sports standpoint, his tenure has produced a laundry list of great new additions.

A new track oval and facilities, new bleachers in the gym, a new stadium at Mickey Clark Field, and that’s just the start.

The dapper Dr. Shank always found time to make an appearance at nearly every sports event played at Coupeville High School, and, while there, was willing to take time to talk to anyone with concerns or questions.

On a personal note, he was hugely instrumental in helping my push to create and install the Wall of Fame in the CHS gym.

If you’re expecting an impartial story here, I’m sure the News-Times will have one soon.

I, on the other hand, am a devoted Shankaholic, and hope people realize how much he has done for this town, and these schools.

The man worked his rear off, knew when to glad-hand and when to stand firm, and will leave our schools in far better condition than he found them in.

Cassia County is getting a great Superintendent and a better man.

With that comes wife Sallie, and their family, who were all great additions to our community.

Three of their six children – Matt, Brian and Ashlie –  attended Coupeville schools, and all were athletes who delivered big moments while also shining as students and people.

If I had to choose one word for the Shanks, it is this – class.

They will all be missed, and I, like many others, wish Dr. Shank and his family all the best as they tackle new adventures.

 

To see the official word from Cassia Schools, pop over to: 

https://www.cassiaschools.org/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=4&ModuleInstanceID=7383&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=8868&PageID=1

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James Steller

James Steller is running for the kids.

He plans to circumnavigate Whidbey Island by foot — that’s 160 miles of running — over Labor Day weekend, while raising funds for the Community Foundation for Coupeville Public Schools.

Steller, a distance runner who has competed in everything from a 5K to a 120-mile stage race, is attempting to go where no one else may have gone before.

After checking with local historians and scouring the internet, Steller believes he will be the first to attempt the feat on foot.

The run, set for Sept. 1-3, is being organized as a fundraiser for the foundation, which supports school children in need, gives grants to teachers and awards scholarships to graduating seniors.

Steller will launch his run from Mickey Clark Field at Coupeville Elementary School, and the plan is to run to Langley on day one.

Day two will send him back to Coupeville, with day three (after a “power breakfast of cinnamon rolls from the Knead and Feed”) featuring a run North to Deception Pass Bridge, then back again.

He’ll be following perimeter streets, trails and beaches, and plans to update his progress on the Foundation’s Facebook page as he runs.

“Well, at least when there is cell service,” Steller said with a laugh.

While a regular 26.2 mile marathon is enough to scare off most people, averaging 50+ miles a day for three straight days is a monumental challenge.

“I am not sure if I can do it, but that is what inspires me to start,” Steller said. “I think this will be great for our community, the schools and the foundation and a great way to kick off the new school year!”

After moving to Whidbey Island in 2001, Steller, whose son Grant currently attends Coupeville Middle School, picked up the running bug.

He ran his first marathon in 2004 and has gone on to compete in more than 70 events, tallying 1,300 miles of competitive racing. Not to mention the thousands more run on his own time.

Over the years, Steller has competed in prestigious events like the Boston Marathon, while also taking on the challenge of unusual events such as a marathon where racers ran up the Matterhorn.

He joined the Community Foundation for Coupeville Public Schools after seeing the impact the organization had, then concocted his own way of giving back to the community.

“It was seeing the care and excellence of the teachers in the district that inspired me to get involved, join the Foundation board, and concoct this crazy attempt,” Steller said. “They have made a true difference in our community – and this seems like a great way to support them.”

The goal is to raise at least $5,000 for the Foundation, with he and his family agreeing to match any donations up to $2,500.

Donate $100 and you’ll be entered into a random raffle for a two-night stay at Steller’s guesthouse, which overlooks the water and the Olympics.

For more about Steller, his run, and how to donate, pop over to:

http://www.4coupevilleschools.org/circumnavigate-whidbey-is.html

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   Coupeville Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Shank enjoys a Wolf volleyball match with daughter Ashlie. (John Fisken photo)

This means war.

Idaho is coming for our leader, as multiple media outlets are reporting Coupeville Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Shank is one of three finalists for a similar job in Twin Falls.

Trustees narrowed their choices and announced them Saturday.

The finalists are Brady Dickinson, Twin Falls’ current director of operations, Monte Wollstenhulme, Superintendent of the Teton School District in Driggs, Idaho and Shank, the silver-haired, silver-tongued sage of the prairie.

Father to two current Coupeville High School students, Brian, a senior, and Ashlie, a sophomore, Dr. Shank came to Whidbey in 2013 after previously running the Juab School District in Utah.

During his tenure in Cow Town, he has spearheaded numerous improvements and been unfailingly polite, friendly and willing to work with the community in a manner some previous Superintendents were not.

From a sports angle, Dr. Shank was the driving force behind Coupeville passing a levy which has paid for new bleachers in the gym, improvements on the baseball and softball fields, a shiny new modern track oval (and accompanying facilities) and the upcoming new football bleachers.

The final round of interviews in Twin Falls are set for later this month, with a meet and greet Mar. 31. Trustees are expected to choose a replacement for the retiring Wiley Dobbs Apr. 3.

If you’ve been reading Coupeville Sports for any length of time (like, say … a day) you know I am not impartial.

So let me just say this — if Dr. Shank gets the new job and we lose my matinee idol (and his family) to the wilds of Idaho, I will congratulate him and wish him the best.

And then cry for three days straight.

Is that what you want, Dr. Shank? Is it?

Cause I will buy you more desserts at Christopher’s on Whidbey, if that tilts anything in our favor. Just sayin’.

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