It's an exciting time for our teachers, administrators, and support staff to be working in public education. All of our energy, resources ideas, and goals are focused on academic achievement, student success, and the brilliant promise of our children. The results of our efforts may be seen in the level of excellence maintained in all district programs. It's there in the caring way our bus drivers safely transport students to and from school, in the pride of our custodians who keep our buildings and grounds safe, comfortable, and attractive. It's the warmth of our secretaries who connect citizens with the information they need and in the commitment of our teachers to do the job well.
Educating our children to be contributing citizens in a democratic society is an awesome challenge. It is a task that we readily accept, but cannot do alone. We encourage and value community partnerships with our parents, government agencies, and local businesses. Whether you volunteer at a school, participate in district advisory committees, or continue to support our levy and school bond elections, your contributions are needed to help all students reach their full potential. Thank you for your interest in and support of the Renton School District. I encourage you to visit the schools and join us in this exciting partnership to ensure that every child gets a world-class education.
Renton, Heart of the Northwest
Just 11 miles from Seattle and bordered by the majestic Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound on the west, tranquil Lake Washington on the north, and the Cascade Mountains on the east, Renton is home to some 58,000 people who value working, living, and playing in the Pacific Northwest. Renton's strong economic base and favorable business climate have attracted the attention of nationally recognized companies that are looking to provide employees and their families with an outstanding quality of life. Industry giants like Boeing Commercial Airplane Group and PACCAR are being joined by newer businesses like Wizards of the Coast, Zones, and IKEA. All that and 2,500 software companies within a 30 mile radius. The City of Renton offers endless recreational opportunities, including over 2,800 acres of parks and playgrounds, a 190 acre golf course, a thriving community center, two neighborhood centers, and a senior center. An active arts community allows residents to experience local theatre, concerts, festivals, and art shows.
About Renton School District
Spanning 32.5 square miles, Renton School District provides a safe and challenging learning environment for a diverse population of approximately 14,000 students in pre-K through 12th grade at 4 high schools, 3 middle schools, 14 elementary schools, and an early childhood center. District programs also address the special needs of disabled, academically gifted, and artistically talented students. Four schools (Renton Park Elementary, Hazelwood Elementary, McKnight Middle, and Lindbergh High) are U.S. Department of Education-recognized Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence. The district was also one of only 35 in the state to receive the School Match Organization's "What Parents Want" Award. Community support for Renton schools is strong. School levies, which make up 25% of the district's budget, have been consistently approved by the community for more than 20 years.
Facilities and Technology
Voter-approved bond issues in 1992 and 1998 have brought exciting improvements in facilities, including the rebuilding of three elementary schools, the total remodel of three others, and construction of a new middle school. Additions also include $17 million in state-of-the-art technology - a must to prepare students for living and working in this leading high-tech region. Every classroom now has a telephone with voice mail, Internet connections, and interdistrict email. Each school also has 1 - 3 computers per classroom, one computer lab at each elementary school, two labs at each middle and high school, and online catalog and authoring stations in all school libraries.
Preparing Students for Success Focus on the Basics
Creating life-long learners is at the heart of Renton School District's instructional goals. Students are encouraged to reach for excellence through a variety of programs that focus on basic academic skills, problem solving, creative and critical thinking, and social and emotional growth. Each year, Renton School District Students qualify as National Merit Finalists and Semi-Finalists while the total value of college scholarships earned is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Elementary level students are well-grounded in science through participation in the Hands-on Science Kit Program, lauded by the National Science Teachers' Association as one of 8 exemplary science programs in the nation. Science concepts come alive each year through the Salmon in the Classroom Program, an exciting project that engages fourth and fifth graders in egg gathering, salmon hatching and release, and habitat protection activities. At the high school level, the district's challenging chemistry program, which provides options for advanced placement college credit, has been recognized by the National Science Association, as well as the National Science Foundation. The focus in math is on intensive instruction in the basic skills, supplemented by opportunities to apply developing knowledge to real world problems. The K-12 math program increases student achievement through problem solving, integration of technology, and a rigorous assessment component. Students from elementary to high school levels regularly excel in regional and national mathematics contests. Across all levels and subjects, reading with accuracy and understanding is a primary goal. Elementary students receive phonics-based instruction, as well as a rich exposure to fine literature. Middle and high school students work extensively on reading in the content areas and exploring classic and modern literature works. Reading activities are integrated with a topnotch writing program beginning in kindergarten that provides students with intensive and focused practice for the mastery of a wide range of language arts skills from creative to business and technical writing.
Special Programs and Enrichment
A variety of classes, clubs, and programs give students opportunities to expand their educational horizons and pursue special interests. Choices range from instrumental and music, performing and visual arts, intramurals and athletics, academic-focused and career clubs, and community service opportunities to leadership development programs, business internships, job shadowing, and participation in the annual robotics competition. Special needs students with physical, emotional, and academic disabilities receive individualized attention from skilled teachers. Special education and remedial support are also available and children who are just learning English receive intensive, small-group ESL instruction to supplement their regular classroom learning. Guidance and counseling services are available for primary, middle, and high school students. Intellectually gifted children have many opportunities for extended learning. Operating at two magnet elementary schools and the three middle schools, the Discovery Program offers a challenging curriculum with a special focus on higher level thinking skills. High school students can take advantage of a full range of honors and advanced placement classes.
Promoting Excellence in Staff
Renton School District staff consistently show a commitment to their most important task - preparing their students for success in work and life. More than 80 percent of certificated staff have five or more years of higher education and two of every three teachers have advanced degrees in their fields. Several of the district's 850 certificated and 700 classified staff have received the Washington Award for Educational Excellence. Individual teachers have received special honors such as the Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Education, the Outstanding Secondary Science Award, the Washington State High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award, and Outstanding College Alumni recognition. Teachers are encouraged to take an active role in promoting their own professional growth through creating and refining curriculum, sharing successful strategies, and looking for new ways to assess student progress. This focus on continuous staff development enables teachers to consistently improve the quality of instruction and prepares them to help students meet rigorous state academic standards. Hundreds of training opportunities are offered to teachers and other staff members each year, ranging from CPR and first aid, technology education, diversity, and crisis intervention to math, science, and reading instruction strategies, assessment techniques, and arts education.
Involving Community Partners
A strong sense of community makes the Renton Schools an outstanding place to work and learn. Parents are valued members of district advisory committees for budget, career and life skills, special education, basic instruction, diversity, gifted education, technology, facilities, and school enrollment. Many schools have adopted site-based councils, governing bodies that enable students, staff, parents, and other community leaders to jointly make decisions that will positively impact instruction and learning. Each school has an active PTA and encourages parent involvement in school committees, leadership groups, and classroom, library, health room, and field studies volunteer opportunities. The city of Renton, the business community, and Renton Schools have created a collaborative partnership to improve learning opportunities for all students. The Greater Renton Chamber of Commerce recognizes the connections between successful schools, an educated workforce, and a thriving economy. Business leaders regularly share their skills with students and invite their participation in job shadowing, internships, and other special experiences. Representatives from the business community mentor students in the robotics competition, help in engineering and science activities, and lend their expertise to classroom and all-school projects. The Chamber of Commerce sponsors the annual Business-Education Exchange, which allows educators and business owners to spend a half-day in each other's workplace. This valuable program helps the business community understand some of the issues and challenges in education and gives teachers a sense of the skills and knowledge their students will need to succeed in tomorrow's jobs. The Chamber also hosts a New Teachers' Breakfast each fall to welcome incoming staff. Each new teacher attends as a guest of local business. The city of Renton and Renton School District joined forces in 1995 to create Communities in Schools of Renton. This local nonprofit organization leverages the resources of businesses, churches, colleges, health care providers, city programs, and social services agencies to address the needs of children and families. The result has been a powerful network of services to enhance students' basic education through their involvement in activities such as the Mentors Project, the Readiness to Learn Family Support Project, and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers After-School Program.