Posted by Richard Hull on May 20, 2019
Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
Today’s Program: The State of Schools in Washington State
Meeting Called to order: by President Dan Lehuta  @ 12:25 pm
  • Invocation by: Sam Bovard
  • Pledge of Allegiance led by: Tom McLean
  • Song: “America the Beautiful” led by Gloria Strait
  • Four Way Test led by: Judy Henderson
Visiting Rotarians
There were no visiting Rotarians.
Guests of Rotarians
  • Eric Kleemeyer from AAA, Insurance, guest of Victoria Byerly
  • OHS Interact students Caleigh Stagnone, Isabel Antreau, and Patra McDonnell Ingoglia, guests of Jim Balz.
Happy Bucks led by Tom Lally
  • Matt DeBord - thanked all those that helped last Saturday with the cleanup party at Rotary Point Park
  • Steve Bean - reported that he was the auctioneer at the Olympia Symphony auction that raised $50,000, and thanked the generous Rotarians who were such active bidders at the event.
  • Diane Gallegos - thanked members for their financial support of the literacy program in Columbia
  • Colleen Gillespie - is extremely thankful to have her boot off, but less pleased that she ended up in the ER with a blood clot
Centennial Committee
Dick Blinn reminded members that the Centennial Committee is looking for a heritage project for Fall 2020.  An email from Cyndi) Zechmann requesting ideas was sent out last week, and there were 3x5 cards on the tables for club members to capture their immediate thoughts.
OHS Interact Students
Jim Balz introduced three officers from the Olympia High School (OHS) Rotary Interact Club who gave a presentation on their impressive range of activities over the past year.  These included assisting at the food bank every month, a Safe Place fundraiser that raised over $600, coordinating the Veterans’ Day assembly at OHS, raising money for the Polio Project by selling Christmas decorations at the OHS Bearzaar, and hosting the International Dinner that raised over $1,500 this year.
President Dan Lehuta announced that the club was experimenting with express lunch menu options at the Hotel RL during the month of June.
Steve Bean auctioned 12 fine eggs to Sam Bovard for $25.
Carl Reder “Service Above Self” Award
Steve then surprised Gloria Strait by announcing that she is the winner of this year’s Carl Reder Service Above Self Award for service above and beyond without asking for recognition.  Gloria was given a heartfelt standing ovation as she accepted the award.

Program: The State of Schools in Washington State with Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal
Superintendent Chris Reykdal started his presentation by noting that schools are the number one priority in public sector spending in WA, and that the 2017-19 McCleary solution has reset the baseline of education finance and initiated a restructuring the K-12 education system.
Chris’ presentation then focused on some of the trends in expenditures over the past few years.
He started by noting that expenditures per student have grown by 32% over the past four years, supported primarily by increases in state and local level funding while federal sources have declined.  However, Washington is still below the national average for education expenditures as a percentage of gross state product, although this is mandated to change in the next couple of years.
Expenditure on teachers’ salaries has risen by 28.8% over the past four years - slightly less than the overall expenditures per student suggesting that additional resources are supporting salary increases rather than reallocation of resources within school districts.  The percentage of teachers salaries coming from local levies has gone from 14% to 7% since last year.
From the financial perspective, Chris expressed concern about the sustainability of the financial picture as the ratio of taxable sales to state personal income is on a declining trend as consumers favor expenditure on services over products and do more of their shopping on-line.  His message to the legislature is that they need to address the tax code around these issues over the next ten years.
From a results perspective, Chris reported that statewide four-year graduation is now at a record 81%, and that there are record high credits at graduation.  According to Chris, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the most accurate comparative report on education levels between states, and the NAEP reports that Washington is now 6th in the nation in 8th grade math scores and 7th in the nation in English, language and arts.
Looking forward, Chris believes that teacher compensation is now at market, and that to further close achievement gaps there needs to be additional dollars targeted on growing support services such as counselors, mental health, and nurses.  He also believes that overall investment in K-12 must continue to exceed the private economy and that sustaining this with our current tax code will be very challenging.  Other changes that Chris anticipates are that we will be judged in the future by equal opportunity to post-secondary options and that globalization compels us to be multilingual and multicultural.
Mr. Snappy 
Preston Troy won a $25 gift certificate to Lemongrass donated by Dick Cushing.
Meeting adjourned at 1:40pm