Superintendent Blog

  • December Update

    Posted by Site Master on 12/10/2020

    Dr. Sue

    Well, we did it. The end of 2020, arguably the longest year in history, is just weeks away. This will be our final newsletter of the year and I stay true to my practice of beginning with gratitude. 

    Through everything we have navigated together, today I sit squarely in appreciation and reflection. Gratitude for this community. Gratitude for our amazing principals, teachers, and staff who fervently took on virtual learning nine months ago and continue today with grace, compassion, and flexibility. And to our students -- the very reason we do this work -- I have gotten so much joy from sitting in on virtual classes from kindergarten to high school. Watching and learning from all of you, humbled at how everyone is showing up, regardless of their circumstances, ready to work together and learn in an environment no one could have predicted. 

    We are keenly aware of the sacrifices being made today with the loss of in-person instruction while we fight the impacts of this pandemic in our communities. Our staff is working daily with our students in classrooms and out addressing individual special needs and circumstances for them and their families. There is no doubt this time in our lives will change us forever. I believe the impacts on education, although daunting and may seem insurmountable, will improve our systems and create new paths for student success. That is difficult for some to see today and I can certainly understand that. Yet as educators, we cannot -- will not align with the notion we will leave children behind. We are identifying those students who are in need of extra support today as well as putting plans in place to address the gaps caused by COVID-19 the moment we come back together. 

    The past nine months have taught us so much. We have come together as a community -- not always agreeing on all things, but what we do have in common is our uncompromised dedication to our students and their success. All students. I thank every one of you that has reached out for whatever reason. I have great respect for your investment in your students, in our students. I value all input as it guides me as we push forward in opening our classrooms.

    As I look back on this past year, I reflect on how our students have stepped up in partnership with our staff and community, working alongside us as we created our Student Investment Act Plan, as we began our conversations around student activity fees, and in June as we collectively witnessed a true tipping point in race relations in our world. Their voices inspire our work and their actions contribute to transformational change at TTSD. This is evident in our recent approval of an Anti-Biased Board Resolution, a district Hate Speech policy, and as we work together to redefine our relationship with School Resource Officers.

    I reflect on our partnership with our city officials, Mayors, and local law enforcement who worked hand-in-hand with us to evaluate our current partnerships and work to redefine what it means to work in community with our students, guided by their lived experiences.

    I reflect on the work of our Basic Needs Team, our health team, TTSD nutrition services, our transportation team, Packed With Pride, the Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools, our parent groups, and volunteers who have stepped up in ways we never would have imagined. Anticipating barriers and working together to collectively remove them. Their efforts ensure our students have what they need so they can show up in their virtual classrooms ready to learn and we are so grateful.

    My heart is heavy as I reflect on our staff and families who are suffering from a wide and diverse range of effects from COVID-19. We are hearing daily from those navigating distance learning while working from home and struggling to find daycare, those who have lost their jobs, their homes, and those struggling with the physical effects of battling this illness and the devastation of the loss of family members. 

    So it is with respect for those that are suffering and with a steadfast commitment to getting our students back with their teachers in their classrooms, we, together as a community, must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to fight this virus. Our planning to reopen continues. Along with our dedicated school board, we are advocating for our teachers to be prioritized as essential workers as the vaccine comes our way. We continue to build on our plans to keep our campuses, buildings, staff, and students safe when we reopen. We are working with those students who need extra support at this time and we will thoughtfully resume identified activities based on safety. When circumstances allow, we will open our buildings and welcome everyone back. We will be ready to come back as a community of care, to address the traumas experienced during this unprecedented time, and get back to school the way we all remember it… only we will all be so much better, stronger.

    When we return in early January you will hear further details on our reentry planning as guided by state health officials. For now, I wish you all peace and good health in the coming weeks. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to your teachers or school principals, or contact my office if we can assist you.

    Here’s to a healthy and happy 2021.

    Dr. Sue

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  • November Update

    Posted by Site Master on 11/2/2020

    TTSD Families,

    Warm regards to you. I hope this communication finds you and your loved ones well and rested with the extra hour we have been gifted by Daylight Savings Time. In this edition of TTSD’s newsletter, you will find information on updates and reminders relative to the district calendar and meal service, valuable resources to inspire conversations with your children regarding the election, an update on our community process to evaluate the roles of SRO’s in our schools and more. 

     What I know to be most on our minds is Friday’s announcement from Governor Brown regarding the new metrics to guide schools on preparing to welcome students back into our schools. First, I want to again thank everyone who has reached out and shared their thoughts and experiences regarding the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 impacts on our students' education, distance learning, and overall fears regarding safety. I, along with our administrators and School Board, are hearing a broad range of stresses from our families. We are also working closely with district Family Partnership Advocates and Culturally Responsive Liaisons to raise the voices of those we aren’t hearing from. From these conversations, we are using each individual story to responsibly inform us as we move forward.

     Although TTSD will remain in Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) through the end of the first semester, it is important to share that our administrators continue to be actively engaged in planning for when it is safe to move into hybrid in-person instruction. With our students, their families, and our staff at the heart of our decision making, please know our operations team is reviewing our safety plans and processes relative to our physical buildings weekly and constantly applying new guidance to the protocols already in place. Our administrators and district health team are meeting regularly to work through and prepare for the numerous scenarios that will present themselves once we welcome staff and students back into our buildings. For more information regarding these plans, please refer to TTSD’s Operational Blueprint for Reopening.

    To inform our planning, I participate in regular meetings with the Oregon Department of Education and superintendents from around the state, and am working closely with Washington County Superintendents as we make plans that impact our broader community. In addition, along with superintendents from our neighboring districts, we began today what will be regular meetings with our local health department to best identify the opportunities and the risks of reopening.

    From the guidance updates we received on Friday, I provide the following explanation to the revised metrics and how they relate to TTSD:  

    First, districts must continue to monitor and consider the COVID-19 County Case Rate per 100,000 people for all the counties where:

    • We have schools. For TTSD that includes both Washington and Clackamas County.
    • Where our staff live. Districts, where more than 10% of their staff come from another county, must consider the metrics for that county. For TTSD, that includes Multnomah County.  

    Also, the requirement to monitor state test positivity has been reduced. The General Metrics for Returning to In-Person Instruction now provides a metric range that districts must follow when considering next steps towards in-person instruction. These adjustments include: 

    • Being advised by the past 14 days of County Case Counts per 100,000 (vs. previous 21 days/three weeks) 
    • Districts are no longer required to monitor the counties’ Test Positivity Rates

    The metrics for the counties we are required to consider require TTSD to remain in virtual learning for K-12.  We will continue our work to begin small cohorts for Limited In-Person Instruction this month. These students have already been identified and families have been communicated to. We will continue to follow OSAA guidelines in offering athletic conditioning as approved. In addition, our administrators are building a responsible plan for a phased reentry for the second semester that will begin with our primary grades K-3.

    Our collective goal is to get our students back at school, learning in their classrooms, guided by their teachers, and surrounded by their peers. As I mentioned in Friday’s announcement, TTSD will engage our stakeholders in this work and to help us as we make necessary decisions. Beginning November 17, we will be holding community work sessions to provide information, gather input, and create a collaborative path forward to hybrid in-person instruction beginning at the start of the second semester.  

    Please watch for information on our community engagement process and how you can contribute to this work along with continued updates as our plans move forward. Most importantly, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases rise in our tri-county area, we must work together to fight the spread of infection by practicing and modeling the following prevent:

    • Stay home if you are sick
    • Wear face coverings while indoors and/or when physical distancing is not possible
    • Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.
    • Practice social/physical distancing
    • Avoid gatherings with people outside of those currently in your household
    • Improve your immune system by getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating healthy

    Please find links to resources regarding the new state metrics below:


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  • October 2020 Update

    Posted by Site Master on 10/7/2020

    Greetings TTSD community,

    I hope you all are taking a moment to enjoy these last few days of fall sunshine and warm temperatures.

    Included in this version of our monthly newsletter, you will meet our new TTSD student representatives to the School Board; learn about the federal CARES ACT Child Care support available to families; find information on our School Based Health Centers, district meal service, and technology support. We share the continued generous support of the Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools and an update on our community review process of the district’s partnership with School Resource Officers.

    I begin my message today with appreciation for all our parents and community members who have reached out to me over the past several weeks and for those that have given of their time to support your schools or to participate in any of the community meetings we have hosted. I believe we all agree -- working collectively, in partnership is the key to ensuring we raise the bar for every child in our school system, that all students succeed and are set up for success in our ever-changing world. And we are truly grateful to do this work alongside you.

    For those that have engaged me in dialog, I thank each of you. We may not always agree and challenges may not always have the conclusion we hope for, but I always welcome hearing all voices. All perspectives inform me as I work with our administrators and staff to evaluate our systems and processes, how we identify where we need to provide more information to our public, and when we need to change course. We have so much to learn from you and we must do this together. Our students depend on us. All of us.

    I am hearing inspiring stories from staff and families of how our work together is influencing the classroom and our students. Our teachers are lifted by words of support from our parents and students and our students and parents are feeling the support from our teachers and administrators. We still have challenges to overcome and I assure you, our staff is working tirelessly to solve these problems as they arise. If you or your student continue to struggle for any reason, please don’t hesitate to contact your teacher, your principal, or anyone on our administrative team.

    As we are coming up on our first full month in Comprehensive Distance (CDL) and as we head into teacher conferences at the end of this month, I’d like to take this opportunity to share with our parents and guardians what I believe you should be asking on behalf of your students.

    Questions include:

    • Where is my child today compared to where they should be?

    • What does my child know today and where should they be at the end of the semester?

    • What additional support can we be encouraging at home?

    Our teaching and learning administrators will be presenting at the October 12 School Board meeting about the assessments used in the classroom that help guide our teachers as they instruct your child at their rate and level of learning. Watch for more information regarding these assessments in next month’s newsletter.

    I know everyone is anxious to hear what to expect in the coming weeks. I announced in August that we would begin the first nine weeks of our school year in CDL. We continue to monitor the health metrics very closely and are pleased that we have been able to cautiously begin some small closely monitored activities. We are currently holding outdoor conditioning for high school athletes and putting plans in place to bring together small, in-person learning groups for those students identified as needing additional support. We are all hoping to get our county metrics to a place where we can first bring our primary grades K-3 back into our buildings and soon after, if conditions improve, transition all grades to in-person hybrid learning. These decisions will be made guided by state health officials and ODE. Please watch for updated information in the coming weeks. Washington County metrics report

    I look forward to seeing you as we continue to hold virtual and in-person spaces to hear from you. And please, continue to engage with us. Let your teachers, your principals, administrators and me know how things are going for you and for your child. Let us know when we get it right. And let us know if we're missing the mark. Together we will get through this and I firmly believe we will get through this better and stronger.

    I wish you all a safe and healthy October.

    Superintendent Dr. Rieke-Smith

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  • Staying the Course

    Posted by Site Master on 2/4/2020

    "Staying the Course"

    Deer Creek Teachers with Dr. Sue

    Jan/Feb 2020

    In his book “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins says, “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” This month I touch briefly on TTSD’s recently released graduation data for 2018-19, which is a true testament to our educators’ dedication to our students.  And there is much to celebrate! A few observations:

    • TTSD's district 4-year cohort graduation rate of 87.6% demonstrates continued improvement, celebrating a 4% gain over the last two years.  Tigard HS broke the 90% barrier with a 4-year cohort rate of 91%.  Tualatin HS posted a 94% 4-year cohort rate, exceeding outcomes of higher SES districts in our area.


    • TTSD's overall graduation rate is 7.7% higher than the Oregon state average of 80%.  This was accomplished not by solely raising the rates for our white student population, but in simultaneously closing the equity gap by 7% over the past two years for underserved student populations, action that is aligned to our district equity of outcome for all student focus.  Certainly, Golden Hedgehog Award worthy!


    • 91% of TTSD 9th graders are on-track to graduate marking a 5% increase over the past two years.

    The data also provides challenges and opportunities concerning our most impacted students.  While trending in the right direction overall, the graduation and drop out data specific to our Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Native American and Homeless students require focused effort. The three-year data trend for what is now Creekside Community High School is trending in a negative direction, reinforcing the importance of our board’s decision to allocate bond resources to create a state-of-the-art facility where wrap-around services and supports are readily available to our most impacted high school student population.  Principal Romas and staff’s approach to creating a community of care lays the foundation for strategic work that will reverse the dropout and graduation trends as it addresses each student by name and need.

    The district successes are the direct result of the board’s vision for and commitment to equity of student outcomes; to Superintendent Brown’s vision and collaborative planning with TTSD central office, school-level leadership, and staff. Most importantly, these successes are due to the incredibly hard work and dedication of our high school classroom teachers over the past three years.  The data is also a testament that staying the course and sustaining effective strategies over time while monitoring data through an equity lens and our district Smarter School Spending process matters.  

    As a result of the careful stewardship of general fund resources, TTSD has a solid foundation for applying the Student Success Act funds to strategically intensify our response to our underserved student population most impacted by trauma – those navigating poverty and homelessness.  We are grateful to all who engaged in providing feedback via our district survey, association survey and affinity group meetings. In excess of over 2,000 comments and insights were collected from September through January.

    Now the writing of the plan begins. A writing team comprised of a smaller set of stakeholders from the Student Success Act (SSA) workgroup and district staff are engaged in drafting the district plan that will guide the use of these funds.  Information regarding the SSA workgroup process and now the Student Investment Account (SIA) plan are posted on the main page of our district website.  I have provided a link to the working draft of the plan HERE where you may review the thinking and writing in real-time as well as over time as we progress to a final draft for submission to Oregon Department of Education (ODE). Please mark your calendars and join us for the February School Board meetings (February 10th and February 24th).  The plan will be presented for Board consideration on the 10th and for final approval on the 24th.  Both meetings will hold space for public comment specific to the plan.  These comments are critical to ensuring that all potential gaps in the plan that can be addressed are addressed prior to submission to ODE the week of March 9th

    TTSD is clearly on the march from good to great.  I could not be more proud of our staff who understand that our work is not done until all cross the line each and every year.  I have every confidence that day will arrive sooner than later.










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  • The Power of Community

    Posted by Site Master on 12/18/2019

    “The Power of Community”

    Dr. Sue

    It is hard to believe we are deep into December and knocking at the door of a new year. If I could only choose one word to describe our collective daily as well as the Student Success Act work to this point, it would be community.  Of the many definitions one can find for community, I offer the following: community is experienced as a unified body of individuals with common interests living in a particular area.  A pretty tall order when you consider our district community of staff and students is nearly 15,000 nested in four municipalities across two counties with a total population of nearly 80,000.

    Public education is the pathway to social justice and democracy.  As a community, we have a responsibility to live and work in ways that connect, not divide us. As we have engaged as a community of this size in the Student Success Act work, it would be easy for us to not live as a unified body and take the path of least resistance, defaulting to the loudest voices advocating for a singular, exceptional position.  The last thing we need to do in our world today is cling to a way of life grounded in exceptionalism.

    What I’ve witnessed with our community, in our classrooms and departments, is the strength of how we as a community work in unified ways.  We are modeling for our children how to learn and work in ways that are interconnected with a commitment to ensuring the needs of every community member are met. 

    As I reflect on the coming new year, I am excited about our future. Most importantly, I am humbled by and grateful for you all – district staff, parents, civic and community partners for the special contributions you make each and every day on behalf of all of TTSD’s children. We are a community unified in the common interest and responsibility of investing in our youngest members. I thank you. It is an honor to serve as your superintendent.


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  • Quest for Student Success

    Posted by Site Master on 11/12/2019

    "Quest for Student Success"

    Dr. Sue and golden hedgehogs

    This month, I am excited to update you regarding our district Student Success Act (SSA) work as well as share that the first Golden Hedgehog has been awarded for the year.

    First, the Golden Hedgehog award.  This award, inspired by author Jim Collins’ Good to Great Hedgehog Concept, recognizes district staff who are applying intentional focus and efforts that result in successful academic achievement for our students. Congratulations to Deer Creek Elementary 4th grade teachers Stephanie Burke, Rhianan Ewer, Alison Mangles and Lauren Merkel! They closed the English Language Arts SBAC gap for Special Ed students, emerging bilingual students and students navigating poverty by 7% while simultaneously raising achievement for all students.  At the November 4th board meeting, I asked them to share their “special sauce” recipe for closing the gap and raising student achievement overall.  Here is what they shared:

    • While each teacher engaged her craft individualistically, instruction across the four classrooms were standards-based, explicit and consistent.
    • They consistently disaggregated student data as a team throughout the year, adjusting their instruction based on formative assessment data.
    • They committed to the creed, “My student is your student are our students”.
    • They believe their students have the agency to succeed and adjust their instruction to scaffold their students to success.
    • They are intellectually curious about how to improve their instructional skills and specifically identified the value of the literacy coach as a thought partner in their work.

    What I found interesting about their story is that they are a direct reflection of what we find in best practice research, e.g. Zaretta Hammond, Geneva Gay, Muhammad Khalifa, Robert Marzano, Michael Fullan to name a few. And, this highly effective team is just the tip of the Tigard-Tualatin School District (TTSD) iceberg.  In “Sit with Dr. Sue” coffees at Bridgeport, Metzger and Tualatin Elementary, staff shared how they are collaborating, analyzing assessment data in teams, accessing instructional coaches as thought partners and most importantly, learning from each other.  This work is not only happening at the elementary level. 

    At the middle level, a work group consisting of teachers from all three middle schools, staff, board, and community members are engaged in “reimagining middle school” work using the My Ways Student Success Framework  Again, the power of this vision and learning from each other will be the basis for future shifts in practice at the middle level.

    At the high school level, teachers and staff are examining the impact on student achievement in core classrooms where advanced, rigorous curriculum and instruction are embedded for all students. It is clear I am going to need to get a lot more golden hedgehogs!

    The instructional core – the interaction between the teacher, student, and curriculum – is the reason TTSD exists.  The examples I have shared about the collective, collaborative professional learning and work across K-12 classrooms demonstrates the power of systems of supports that result in a healthy instructional core where all students thrive. It serves as a guide for the current district and community SSA work. Now, with the power of inclusive stakeholder input that will guide us to create a plan that will close the achievement gap and raise student achievement for all.  

     As a district, we will continue to seek feedback from wide-ranging, diverse voices representing all corners of our community as called out in House Bill 3427, page 8. House Bill 3427

    Since the inaugural October 1st community meeting, we have convened a work group that continues to grow engaging staff, parents, students, grandparents, and community members. District Building Equity Coordinators (BECs) and School Liaisons are convening meetings with our under-represented students and parents at the school level, gathering their input.  The Tigard-Tualatin Education Association has developed an SSA survey to collect input from their members, the results of which will also inform the final plan, and TTSD will continue to solicit feedback from the broader community through January 2020.

    This is an exciting time for our district and state.  And, as this is the month where we reflect on and celebrate our good fortune, I close with words of gratitude for you, for your commitment and for the work you do every day to make our mission of changing the lives of every student for the better a reality.  

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  • How Are the Children?

    Posted by Site Master on 10/18/2019

    "How Are the Children?"

    Dr. Sue

    I remember the day I heard the fable of the African Masai tribe.  I was attending my first district teacher professional development training, the focus of which was on instructional strategies for working with underserved student populations.  The presenter who shared the story was a highly regarded district teacher leader and skilled “all business” instructional coach committed to closing the equity and opportunity gaps for underserved students in our district.   She told the story of Masai who were considered to have warriors more fearsome and more intelligent than any other, and their traditional greeting.  “Casserian Engeri,” or “How are the children?”.   This traditional greeting of the Masai acknowledged the high value the Masai placed on their children’s well-being and that the priorities of knowing their children by name and need were securely in place. She then posed the question to the room, “I wonder how it might affect our consciousness of our own students’ welfare if we took to greeting each other in the same daily question, ‘And how are the children?’” I remember the total silence that fell over the auditorium that morning as we thought how we each might respond to her question.  Over the 20 year course of my career, it has become my practice to reflect on that question, as a classroom teacher, school and district administrator and now superintendent as a result of that asked question.  As we collectively review our district and school report cards for the 2018-19 school year, how are we as a district system providing for the educational and social emotional needs of our children?

    First, a word about the new report card format.  At-A-Glance school and district profile graphics show how TTSD schools and the district compare to the statewide average in categories like chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, average class size and more.  In five minutes or less parents can evaluate their school and district’s impact on their students.

    Overall, the district and our schools’ outcomes are above the state average regarding on track for graduation, graduation rates, and chronic absenteeism. The district on time graduation rate is 87% compared to the state on time rate of 79%, with continued growth in special education student on time graduation at 74%.  Alberta Rider ES, Bridgeport ES, Deer Creek ES, and Durham ES achieved high levels of student academic growth and progress for the 2018-19 school year.  This means every student, regardless of circumstance, achieved at least one year’s academic growth.  Deer Creek teachers achieved more than a year’s growth, closing the achievement gap for special education, bilingual students and students navigating poverty by 7%.  Durham teachers raised math achievement for a student population significantly impacted by poverty, an achievement noted by the Oregonian this week.

    While the data gives reason for celebration, the data also reveals we have significant work still to do.  Of 16 schools, four posted high levels of academic growth.  Our opportunity as a district is to support the remaining 12 to achieve the same in pursuit of higher percentages of student proficiency in math and language arts.  While we continue to make progress towards a 100% on time graduation rate, our opportunity is to close the on time gap for underserved students of color, bilingual students and students navigating poverty.

    TTSD has a proud tradition of community support for our schools as exemplified by support for bond projects, local option tax for teachers and volunteerism in our classrooms. As shared in my September Blog, there is opportunity for continued collective action in addressing our students’ academic and social emotional needs through the Student Success Act community engagement meetings.  Over 800 community members indicated their interest through our first survey with 80 parents, district staff and students now engaged in the process of reviewing district data to guide the district’s work in developing a comprehensive plan for actions we must take in our classrooms and in our schools to ensure the academic and social emotional needs of all students, especially the underserved student are met. Please see the district home page, your TTSD phone app, your building principal or TTSD Director for Community Relations, Traci Rose, at for the dates of upcoming work group meetings where you can participate and make your voice heard.

    So how are TTSD children? Can we truly say without hesitation, “The children are well. Yes, all the children are well?”  While many are well, we have much work and opportunity to ensure our underserved students and families experience the same academic successes as their peers.  Working together, I look forward to the day when we as the TTSD community can say, “Yes all our children are well!”

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  • A Call to Action

    Posted by Site Master on 9/13/2019

    “A Call to Action”

    Dr. Sue with Student reading

    As I write this month’s blog, I think about all the excitement for another school year observed throughout the district this past week.  From the ribbon-cutting celebrations at Templeton, Byrom, Mary Woodward, and Durham elementary schools, to the amazing energy of staff welcoming returning students and families across the district. Throughout the district I saw our TTSD community and the many students who had parents, grandparents and caring adults in their lives make their student’s first day an awesome one.  I also observed many students who did not have that caring adult but were welcomed with an even greater level of excitement and warmth by caring staff. The late educator Rita Pierson noted, “Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.” That is the power of public education! Society daily spills over into our classrooms every day because public education is an integral part of society.  When we respond from a place of care for each student, regardless of their life circumstances, we affirm the life-changing power of public education!  

    Once again, we have a historic opportunity to be a statewide exemplar of collective community, coming together to determine how we will invest TTSD’s portion of the $2 billion state investment to address two critical educational issues: meeting students’ mental and behavioral health needs; increasing academic achievement and reducing academic gaps for all, especially students of color; emerging bilingual students; students navigating poverty, homelessness and foster care. 

    Your voice is vitally important to guiding our district’s plan.  Please respond to the district survey HERE of your willingness to participate in fall and early winter planning sessions. Our conversations will begin by reflecting on the three district priorities:  1) Developing community and culturally responsive teaching and leadership skills that result in equitable outcomes for each student and in staff that feel supported and affirmed for their work; 2) Developing strong social-emotional learning networks of care for both students and staff; and 3) Developing district human capital as a catalyst for student learning by recruiting, supporting and retaining a diversified work. With you help, we will decide how to allocate funding into the four Student Success Act categories:  class size reduction; social-emotional learning; expansion of whole child initiatives; extension of the school day and/or school year. The timeline to develop the Student Investment Plan is short and the work intense, but the investment of these funds is a game-changer for our students and families, staff and ultimately our community.  

    One of my favorite quotes is by Marian Wright Edelman, President of Children’s Defense Fund.  “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.“ It is an exciting time it is for our district, community, and state as collectively as we bring to life Ms. Wright Edelman’s words through the Student Success Act community engagement process. Thank you for your participation and continued care for our students, families, staff, and community at large.

    Dr. Sue

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  • Current Legislative Session

    Posted by Site Master on 4/15/2019

    Dr. Sue Rieke-Smith

    I’m writing today to share important information regarding the current legislative session focused on school funding, how the district is engaging in this critical work and how you, too, can join us in these efforts. 

    On Thursday, April 4, the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS) released their framework for investment of $2B in K-12 education per biennium in House Bill 2019 (HB2019).   This framework outlines three funding priorities directing the $2B investment:

    • 50% for a School Improvement Fund.  SIF would be distributed to school districts based on the current funding formula with a double weight for poverty.  SIF funds may be spent in one or more of the four “buckets”: Social Emotional Learning (SEL); Increased Instructional Time; Class Size; and/or Whole Child Instruction.  Based on feedback we are gathering from our community and staff, we know that proactive, as well as restorative SEL services, are a priority for our district as a whole.  I have provided testimony to both the JCSS as well the TTSD Board that increasing mental health supports to the classroom are a priority for me as your superintendent.
    • 30% for the Student Success Fund.  Major highlights include: fully funding CTE/Measure 98; funding for universal school meals; doubling high cost disability funding; and funding for multiple equity-focused initiatives such as the African American and Black Student Success plan, Latino Student Success and Native American Student Success plans.
    • 20% for expansion of Early Learning programs, including: fully funding Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Ed; Expansion of Head Start, Preschool Promise; and targeted investments in culturally specific early learning programs and Relief Nurseries.
    • Additionally, districts may receive an additional $100-200 M to be applied to the Current Service Level (CSL)/State School Fund from the JCSS.  This would provide between $8.97 to $9.07B for CSL, of which TTSD receives approximately 2% of the allocation.

     The JCSS also outlined spending accountability measures with which we are already familiar:

    ·      4-year graduation rates;

    ·      Ninth grade on track;

    ·      Third-grade reading level achievement;

    ·      Attendance and,

    ·      The possibility of local measures determined by the district

         Members of the TTSD community have been tireless in their proactive advocacy work with Washington County legislators as well as testifying to the House and Senate Education Committees and the JCSS Subcommittee on Transparency and Accountability.  Joining me in advocating for clear mechanisms for investment, accountability policy and legislation in Salem and with lawmakers include School Board Vice Chair Maureen Wolf, Chief Financial Officer David Moore, and Controller Elizabeth Michels, Assistant Superintendent Karen Twain, Tigard High School Principal Andy Van Fleet, and Trauma-Informed Specialist Alfonso Romero. 

         Amendments to HB 2019 were completed on Tuesday, April 9.  Thursday, April 11 the JCSS took over three hours of testimony representing voices from across the state in support of this legislation.  The accompanying revenue reform package, as presented, will raise the estimated $2B and will solely be allocated to K-12.  Following the hearing, the bill was renumbered and is now HB 3427.  The bill is expected to reach the House floor for a vote the week of April 29 and is expected to pass. It will then move to the Senate with the goal of moving to the Governor’s desk by the end of the first full week of May.  That said, it is expected there will be community advocacy groups that will seek to overturn revenue reform legislation with a special election in January 2020. Continuing to share the great work we do in TTSD running up to this election will be more important than ever. 

         What does this mean for our current work in developing our district’s budget?  On April 2, we completed the Community Budget Work Group process where community members, school staff, parents and students convened to provide input on the 2019-20 budget.  Presentations, materials, and notes from these sessions are available on our district website under the “About Us” heading on the first page.  On the drop-down menu, click on “Strategic Financial Plan”.  On the left-hand side of this webpage you will see 2018-19 Community Work Groups link.

         CFO David Moore and I will be visiting every school in April and May to share state and TTSD budget updates as well as to gather staff input regarding priorities and answer questions. Please see your building administrator for information regarding your school’s date and time.  Please also note if you have specific budget questions, such as why we hold reserve funds and how those funds are allocated, CFO Moore is available via email or phone to answer any and all questions you may have.

         Additionally, I continue my community outreach work to our partners such as PTO/PSO leadership, Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, as well as convening evening community meetings to share the state of the district including our budget process, use of state resources, updates on our current Bond work and to gather larger community input.

        In February of this year, I provided our Board with an update to my performance goals, which are focused on closing our equity of student academic outcomes gap.  Beginning 2019-20 I have committed to supporting our schools through revenue identified in HB 3427 in achieving targets of 5 % academic growth/year for all students and 8% academic growth for our underserved students of color and diverse languages.   My leadership team and I are committed to the transparency of information and process as we work to meet these critical growth targets. 

         Your questions, concerns, and input are vital to ensuring we are allocating resources in an equitable and efficacious manner to achieve student outcome goals.  As always, please feel free to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Additionally, the following Cabinet members are available to provide additional information and support as useful to you:

    1.     Director of Finance, David Moore: Current budget, budget development, State School Fund.  He may be reached at

    2.     Director of Community Relations, Traci Rose:  Community and Government Relations (including tools for state and federal advocacy), Media Coordination (Local and National News outlets), School and District Communications (Parent/community communications, emergency communications, website) She may be reached at

         We are at a critical juncture for our schools. Now is the time to act and make your voice heard.  HB 3427 would bring greater fairness to the state’s tax system while raising additional revenue for schools.  It would invest exclusively in pre-K through high school in a targeted way that ensures accountability of resources while protecting the current base.  This is potentially a transformative moment for education and our legislature must act now to pass this legislation.

         Please take a few minutes of your time to send an email to your legislators and urge them to adequately fund public education. 

         Go to  Where you will find a simple way to look up the email addresses for both your Senate and House members. 

         I ask that you please CC: so we can support your efforts.

    Tell your story!  Tell your legislators, both House and Senate representatives, what your dream is for public education, for your children, grandchildren and the children of Oregon.  We’ve all seen the impact of reductions, but we need to collectively focus on what we want as we look to grow public education in Oregon.  Keep your email simple and focus on key messages:

    • Fund education adequately! Support the proposal from the Joint Committee for Student Success (House Bill 3427) to create a $2 billion investment in our children.
    • Talk about your dream of what our education system should be and can be when we make true investments.
    • Your belief that your children’s success, Oregon’s success, requires quality schools and that the status quo is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
    • Give an example of the situation in your school.
    • Talk about the need for smaller classes, increased learning time, and/or greater supports for students.
    • Ask them to show the leadership you elected them for and to solve this problem and fund schools.

    Thank you in advance for your advocacy!  Only through our concerted action, in partnership with districts around the state, will we be able to make a difference for our kids. Take time now to act!


    Dr. Sue

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