Board makes the grade

The efforts of local school board members have sent Pullman to the top of educational excellence.

The Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) recently named the Pullman Public School Board as one of 15 Boards of Distinction.

Board President Susan Weed said she is proud of the work the board does for the school district.

“I think it’s just totally awesome,” she said. “There aren’t that many boards on this side of the state that applied or got the award.”

Boards of Distinction is an annual program that honors school boards that demonstrate effective use of the Washington School Board Standards. The standards, which the WSSDA adopted in 2009, addressed well-researched policies aimed at bettering student achievement.

Among those standards are ensuring goals for student achievement, managing organization, resources and efficient operations, committing to continuous improvement in student achievement, and soliciting input from staff and community members.

Weed said a primary goal of the board was to submit an application for the distinction this year.

“It’s been pretty neat to have it all come through,” she said. “We had a busy year and threw this into the mix of it. We were allowed to work on this in our down time.”

Other members of the board include Jim Evermann, Karl Johanson, Dean Kinzer, and Allison Munch-Rotolo. All of the members were elected to their positions.

Weed said the board members make a great team whose decisions benefit the entire district.

“The students are the most important,” she said. “We give the best we can in regards to education.”

Paul Sturm, superintendent for Pullman Public Schools, said he is glad the board members offer different perspectives and work together effectively.

“I feel very fortunate to work for such a diverse but very collaborative board,” Sturm said. “They always seem to come to a common ground in a good way for the district. It’s about making sure kids are learning and they have the opportunities to be successful.”

The distinguished boards were honored at the 2013 WSSDA Annual Conference in Bellevue.

The others represented included Anacortes, Auburn, Ferndale, Franklin Pierce, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Stevens, Monroe, Port Angeles, South Kitsap, Sunnyside, Tumwater, University Place, and Vancouver.

Sturm said the distinction is a major confidence booster.

“It’s a great process because it causes the board to reflect through the application process and look at things they need to improve,” he said.

Jim Evermann, a member of the Pullman Public School Board for the past eight years, said earning the award was a team effort.

“I think as whole, the board is proactive,” Evermann said.

The Pullman School District has unofficially named one board member to each school in the district. Evermann said this adds a personal aspect to the job.

“We’re not just making policies,” he said. “We are integrating them into the schools and implementing changes more effectively.”

Evermann has lived in Pullman for 38 years and in January will assume presidency of the school board. He said he is particularly proud of the community participation and support it took to raise funds for a new high school.

“I think it shows the community is growing and it’s very responsive to the needs of the education of the students,” he said. “I’m really happy because we’d like to invite the community back into the high school and see how those innovations are taking place.”

Evermann said opportunities will include theater, sports and other athletic events and integrating new technologies into the classrooms.

“We support education K through 12, and I think it goes without saying that we support the students’ learning,” he said.