October 24, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 27

Curriculum, budget are focus in ML

Since 1989, Peggy Schweikhardt has served on the Medical Lake School District board of directors, and is running unopposed for another four-year term on the board in the Nov. 5 election.

At the time, she worked in the Spokane School District, but was actively looking for a way to spend more time helping families in Medical Lake.

“I wanted to give back to the community,” she said.

Some of the challenges she sees in the upcoming years are what the district has been working through for quite some time now. Chief among those is the budget, which continues to be a difficult subject for public school districts in the state.

“We want to be sure all kids are growing and learning,” Schweikhardt said.

Another concern facing the district, she said, is changing over to the new state tests coming in 2014. The district has seen several standardized tests change in the past decade, starting with the transition from the Washington Assessment of Student Learning to the Measurement of Student Progress.

In her next term, Schweikhardt said she would like to see the state and federal funding stabilized, however she noted that the federal side of that pursuit would be the most difficult. Sequestration budget cuts affected the district’s ability to receive impact aid, money that makes up for military installations that don’t pay property tax.

With the many changes taking place over the last few years, she hopes that funding comes through so the district can ensure material taught in class is current. Purchasing new textbooks in conjunction with adopting a new curriculum is pricey for any school district.

“I want to make sure the curriculum lives up to our goals,” she said.

Also adding to the pile is a new teacher-principal evaluation system that the district has been piloting for the past year. The state will roll out the program in the near future, changing the way teachers are evaluated by principals.

Schweikhardt said the district has managed its finances well during the economic recession, despite numerous difficulties along the way. She said the district’s AP classes, resources for kids, STEM classes and after school sessions are particularly strong.

“We’ve done a really good job moving into the STEM arena,” she said.

Also new this year is all-day kindergarten, which she said has been a blessing for some parents, and a big help for educating students.

In addition, Schweikhardt said all of the buildings have been remodeled and are up to date for decades to come.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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