Superintendent's Message

Spring 2014

Dear Shoreline Schools Community,

It is difficult to imagine that this will be my last Flagship message to our community. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve as superintendent of the Shoreline Schools the past eight years. Working together as an educational community, we have achieved significant results for the students and families of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park. I am incredibly proud of our collective accomplishments.

The Shoreline Schools faced significant challenges in 2006. The School Board and District leadership needed to bring fiscal stability to the District, while preserving academic and extracurricular programs, as well as our strong model of classroom support.

With the help of skilled and experienced financial leadership, Shoreline has re-established solid reserves, created financial systems to respond to changing resources, negotiated sustainable collective bargaining agreements that are fair and equitable, celebrated six annual financial and program audits without findings and restored bond ratings to their high levels of the past.

By all measures, Shoreline has rebuilt a strong financial organization. In order to achieve these goals, some very difficult decisions had to be made and we are grateful for the support of our community through this process.

Our schools faced another significant challenge in 2010. Over the past few decades, the physical condition of our high schools had declined. An analysis of the facilities indicated that the time had come to modernize and replace both high school structures. But, the national and regional economy at the time was very weak and the commitment needed was long term, so timing was a concern.

Once again, our community’s support came through when it was needed most. Voters passed the necessary bonds to build new high school facilities, and this year we opened the two new schools for students on both sides of the District. Shorecrest and Shorewood high schools are now safe, secure and sustainable environments, which will serve all students well for decades to come.

Reflecting on what we were able to accomplish together these past eight years, I believe that we should be most gratified by the fact that Shoreline Schools have retained their reputation for academic and program excellence.

Assisted by strong instructional leadership, our students, programs and staff have received numerous recognition and awards year after year. The consistency of achievement and celebrations throughout the District is truly amazing.

In any given year, it is impossible to predict which schools and programs will be singled out for recognition at the state and national level, but it is obvious that Shoreline continues to be regarded as a top-tier school district with an exceptional staff and high-achieving students. But in this area, our work is never done. Student achievement will always be our number one priority and there will always be room for improvement.

In recent years, K-12 schools have become increasingly dependent upon local funding. Approximately 30 percent of our annual spending is from local levies, grants and donations.

Our amazing PTA volunteers have provided an incredible number of hours in classrooms and fundraising efforts that improved the quality of education in all schools. Our Booster clubs provide important support to our athletic and activity programs. Our generous local philanthropic organizations donate resources and time to our students and schools.

Since 1992, the Shoreline Public Schools Foundation has awarded over $3 million in grants and funding for programs that support innovative teaching and learning for all students.

With the consistent passage of levies in 2006, 2010 and 2014, our community has provided stable financial resources that not only support classrooms and academics, but also sustain robust programs in student services, athletics, music, drama, arts, and extracurricular activities.

On every occasion, our communities have demonstrated their unwavering support for children and schools, but they cannot do it alone.

The state must do the same. It is inexcusable that Washington’s class size is ranked 47th in the nation. It is unacceptable that full-day kindergarten is not available to all children. Our students are diverse and complex, and more funding is needed to address the achievement gap and provide interventions that address individual student needs.

There are many challenges ahead for K-12 education in Washington State, but do not underestimate the wonderful things that are happening in our schools. Instruction in Shoreline has never been better and our students are performing at the highest levels.

As I retire and leave a career that began over 40 years ago, I am particularly grateful for the unconditional support this community has given its students, schools, staff and me.

Through good times and bad, the citizens of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park have renewed their commitment to our children and education in multiple ways.

Over time, the students, staff, and parents have evolved, but the culture that is “Shoreline” has remained the same. I have been fortunate, indeed, to be a part of this exceptional school community.

With sincere gratitude,
Sue Walker