Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Cheney adopts new elementary math curriculum


It was an unusual start to a school board meeting as Cheney district officials, employees and families gathered in the Cheney Middle School cafeteria on May 8 for the district’s Employee Recognition Night.

Several teachers were nominated for awards by their students, and a few of those students took turns reading their nominations.

Superintendent Rob Roettger presented “You raise me up” awards to Salnave Elementary counselor Gwynn Moe, nominated by Lily Escalera-Alton, Westwood Middle School eighth-grade teacher Lucas Jensen, nominated by Kevin Triplett and Cheney High School business teacher Leah Silvieus, nominated by Abigail Blazon.

The Annette Granier “Team Collaboration Award” was presented to the Westwood Middle School custodial team, consisting of Gary Ware, Ted Jones, Robert Huber and David Kilgore.

Once the school board meeting kicked off, school leaders delved in, receiving an enrollment and financial update from Finance Director Jamie Weingart.

Cheney enrollment is finally starting to trend normally, she said, though the district’s sudden growth this year makes it hard to make projections for next year.

Weingart also broke down some education highlights of the Washington Legislature’s recent session, including the details of a levy cap increase to $2.50 and the changing landscape of special education funding.

One bill relevant to Cheney was the kindergarten through third grade class size reduction, which allows school districts to maximize their K-3 funding by demonstrating a required class size through class size-to-teacher calculations. To be in compliance, school must have a ration of 17 students to 1 teacher.

Weingart clarified that this requirement does not mean class sizes of 17. Instead, compliance requires a 17:1 ratio that is calculated using several factors based on student schedules throughout the day.

Non-compliance means the district would not receive additional funding. Currently, the district is not in compliance, with a student to teacher ratio of about 19:1.

“We expect to be in compliance next year,” Weingart said.

The board’s legislative representative Suzanne Dolle filled in any informational gaps, noting the Legislature’s next session begins January 2020 and will last for 60 days. All bills introduced this session can come back in the next if they didn’t pass this time around, she said.

In a big step, the board approved the adoption of a new elementary mathematic curriculum. This curriculum is the result of a year-long study and analysis by district teachers.

“We don’t have consistency across resources and this will help give us that,” Cheney director of teaching and learning, Annie Wolfly, said.

The curriculum, called “Ready Mathematics” was chosen following a long process of book studies, material screenings and tests by Cheney staff. According to, its goal is encouraging students to develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts using real-world problem solving instead of relying on rote memorization.

The new curriculum will cost the district about $300,000, but Wolfly called its absence “our heaviest need.”

The curriculum will be introduced at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

The board also unanimously approved a new policy requiring any school club or association to have prior approval for students’ participation in any contest, advertising campaign or promotion. A policy revision governing gifts and donations within the district was also unanimously approved.

Shannen Talbot can be reached at


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