With the opening of the 2008-2009 Sequim school year on Sept. 3, Bill Bentley begins his second year as superintendent of the Sequim School District. Here, he reviews the past year and looks forward to improvements for the future.
Q: What stands out from your first year in Sequim?
A: A huge positive I've seen in our district is that I believe we have a committed and dedicated staff ... that obviously is right at the top in importance. We have the right people that want to do the right things. Also, I believe we have an opportunity in our district that many other districts would love to have and that is to personalize the educational experience for the kids. The staff can really work closely with the students and after a year here I am fully convinced of that. That's going to be a continued focus for us.
Q: There's a lot of talk about rising prices of fuel and other items. How is that affecting the district?
A: We've reduced some staffing but mostly because of a lower projected enrollment. We didn't do any major reductions. We're in the same situation as most districts are in ... it's difficult when the price of fuel goes up but we still have to heat and light our schools. We are putting together a finance committee this fall so they can address just that.
Q: How does this affect students and families directly?
A: I hope that whatever we need to do affects our students as little as possible ... that is clearly priority No. 1. However, we may see higher class sizes. We may reduce money for maintenance for the buildings and we may scale back on capital purchases, such as equipment and technology. For this year, we are holding back on maintenance and technology purchases and some purchases of curriculum materials we had wanted to get.
Q: How is the shift of the transportation facility from Fir Street to Third Street working out?
A: That's been a fairly significant effort this summer. We're moving a lot of equipment to the new site. It's not completed but we are going to start in the facility when school starts and it should be completed by early October.
Q: What are you looking most forward to about this year?
A: Last year our theme was "Celebrate What's Right." When our students are doing something right, I think it's important to recognize them ... we tried to do that more last year and, of course, we plan to continue that. This year's theme is "Hope." I think we have every reason to be very hopeful ... every year the kids come back to school and it's a clean slate, it's a new start. We're very hopeful about what this year is going to be.
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