UW researchers say schools’ pot policies matter more since legalization

Suspending kids from school for using pot is not an effective deterrent, in fact it can lead to more — not less — use, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington and in Australia.

Counseling and promotion of an abstinence message in schools were found to be much more effective, according to an article about the study that was published March 19 in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study, conducted in 2002 and 2003, compared drug policies at schools in Washington State and Victoria, Australia, to determine how they impacted student marijuana use.

The researchers were initially most interested in teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes, according to a news release about the article from the University of Washington. But after Washington legalized recreational marijuana use for adults in 2012, researchers decided to reexamine the data to see how legalization might influence students in Washington versus their counterparts in Australia, where pot remains illegal, said Deborah Bach, a social science writer at the UW.

They found students attending schools with suspension policies for illicit drug use were 1.6 times more likely than their peers at schools without such policies to use marijuana in the next year. That was true for the whole student body, not just those who were suspended.

“That was surprising to us,” said co-author Richard Catalano, professor of social work and co-founder of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. “It means that suspensions are certainly not having a deterrent effect. It’s just the opposite.”

This echoes reporting we did in the Kitsap Sun about student discipline in general, in which educators and child advocates from many corners said suspension and expulsion are ineffective at reversing undesirable behavior.

Conversely, in schools with policies of referring pot-using students to a school counselor, students were almost 50 percent less likely to use marijuana.

Washington and Victoria, Australia were chosen for the study since they are similar in size and demographics, but differ considerably in their approaches to drug use among students. Washington schools, at least at the time of the study, were more likely to suspend students, call police or require offenders to attend education or cessation programs, the researchers noted, while Victoria schools emphasize “a harm-reduction approach that favors counseling.”

Researchers surveyed more than 3,200 seventh- and ninth-graders in both 2002 and 2003 about their use of marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes and also about their schools’ drug policies and enforcement. Nearly 200 school administrators were also surveyed. In both survey years, pot use was higher among the Washington students. Almost 12 percent of Washington ninth-graders had used marijuana in the past month, compared with just over 9 percent of Victoria ninth-graders, for example.

Tracy Evans-Whipp, the study’s lead author, said although the research predated Washington’s legalization, the findings show what types of school policies are most effective in discouraging teens’ use of the drug.

The study also showed “a consistent link” between increased acccess to marijuana and higher rates of self-reported use by adolescents, Bach notes.

“To reduce marijuana use among all students, we need to ensure that schools are using drug policies that respond to policy violations by educating or counseling students, not just penalizing them,” Catalano said.

Others involved in the research are are Todd Herrenkohl at the UW, Stephanie Plenty at the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Sweden and John Toumbourou at Deakin University in Australia.

Chros Henry, Kitsap Sun education reporter

County offers Bucklin update website

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 10.50.42 AM

If you haven’t already heard that beginning July 1 Bucklin Hill Road is going to be closed for more than a year, I am posting this note on the off chance that you’ll find it out here. Though unlikely, it’s possible. If necessary, I’ll post it in an AOL chat room and more importantly on an Albertsons Haggen community bulletin board.

The more important news here, though, is the county has a website where you can get the latest on the project designed to deliver the bridge you see above. The county has set up a web domain BucklinHill.com, where you can see timelines, project history and a page dedicated to helping you plan your way around the closure.

Developer says assisted living facility will have small impact on parking, traffic

Site plans for Poulsbo Place II.
Site plans for Poulsbo Place II.

Questions and discussions centered around parking and traffic concerns during a neighborhood meeting last Wednesday evening about a proposed assisted living development in Poulsbo.

“It’s the project that will create the least amount of traffic and parking problems that you can put on the site,” Co-developer David Smith told about 30 people at the meeting.

The facility, known as Poulsbo Place II, would have underground parking to provide enough space for residents, guests and employees at the assisted living facility, he said.

There would be 40 parking stalls under the facility along Third Avenue, with another 52 stalls at the corner of Third Avenue and Iverson Street. There is the possibility of an expansion above the 52 parking stalls.

There also would be four handicapped parking spots by the main entrance of the building, although the area would be mainly for picking up and dropping off residents.

The north end of the development along Sunset Street would have three stories with retail on the ground level. A majority of the parking would be unground along the Third Avenue.

Although the Third Avenue buildings would have three-stories, including parking on the lower level, it would appear to be two-stories from Sunset Street, said Ian Andersen, a Rice Fergus Miller architect working on the project.

While residents had questions about traffic and parking, only one spoke out in favor of leaving the property undeveloped or developing a building that would have even less impact on traffic, such as a church, she said.

The property — 2.2 acres of grass and blackberry bushes with no trees — is assessed at $183,700.

Smith compared available parking and traffic of the proposed project to the existing Liberty Shores Senior Living in Poulsbo where his mother-in-law was.

Liberty Shores has 102 units, and Poulsbo Place II would have 100 units, fewer than a dozen of those being two-person units.

“It works great except on Christmas and Thanksgiving,” Smith said about Liberty Shores. “Other than that, I’ve always had parking.”

Most of the traffic at the proposed facility would be during a change shift for employees at the facility.

Drivers would enter underground parking near the curve on Sunset and Third Avenue, and exit on Iverson Street. Drivers can only enter and exit via right turns.

There will be an elevator, along with emergency stairs in the parking garage area.

Dumpster for the facility will be in the garage area and set out for a few hours for pickup on trash day.

The residents also would be “captive customers” that would help support nearby businesses and downtown Poulsbo just a couple blocks away, Smith said.

When one woman questioned whether residents would actually get out and about, Smith said that he often went on walks with his mother-in-law around Liberty Shores and they would go out eating or shopping about once a week.

Developers are still negotiating with Martha & Mary — which runs a nursing home in Poulsbo — to manage the assisted living facility, Smith said.

View site plans here.

Article on Smarter Balanced raises questions about opting kids out

You may have noticed in our article today (March 10) on the advent of Smarter Balanced testing a line about a teacher in Central Kitsap School District who plans to opt his own daughter out of the new state standardized test.

Robert Reynolds, a Silverdale Elementary teacher, will dutifully give the tests to his students, but he’s opting out his eighth-grade daughter on principle.

“I just think there’s so much time preparing for this test, months actually, it takes time away from the classroom with the teacher,” Reynolds said.

To get an idea of the district’s testing schedule, see documents embedded below that show not only the schedule for Smarter Balanced testing, but all standardized and other tests, such as screening tests for gifted students. As you can see, there’s some kind of testing going on pretty much throughout the year. State Superintendent Randy Dorn is among those who have proposed legislation to pare down the amount of testing to which students are subjected.
Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 4.53.48 PM
I asked Reynolds if he knew the process for opting out. He did not believe there was a formal process and anticipated no problem accomplishing his goal by simply telling the district his daughter would not be taking the test.

According to a Washington Post article published March 9, states are far from uniform in their response to the growing “opt-out” movement. “The lack of clear rules and information has left plenty of uncertainty about how and whether parents can opt out of tests and what the consequences might be, not only for individual students, but for schools and school districts,” the article states.

The article cites a recent analysis by the Education Commission of the States, an organization that tracks education trends, showing that few states explicitly allow or prohibit test refusal, Arkansas and Texas being two exceptions to the latter. Legislation recently was introduced in New Jersey and North Dakota to allow opt-outs. Similar legislation in Mississippi failed to move forward, according to the ECS report. State laws in California and Utah allow parents to opt their children out of state assessments for any reason. Michigan’s Department of Education “discourages but does not prohibit” opt outs, the report states. Oregon and Pennsylvania excuse students from state testing to accommodate religious beliefs.

And in other recent coverage of the issue, we find in the Denver Post Colorado’s State Board of Education voting earlier not to hold districts accountable if not enough students take the tests. In Illinois, “The latest guidance from the state suggests that a note from a parent won’t work. A child must be presented with a paper testing booklet or a “test ticket” to a computer-based exam, and refuse to take each section of the test, records show,” according to a March 4 article in the Chicago Tribune.

If you look on the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website under “assessments” there’s nothing that jumps right out and says, “Opt out; here’s how.”

“It’s not really optional,” said Robin Munson, the state’s assistant superintendent for assessment and student information. “But,” she added, “it’s not mandatory every student must take it.”

In short, parents can opt their student out but there are consequences to the student and the state, Munson says.

While most students taking the test this year won’t need it to graduate, the state needs their results to comply with No Child Left Behind, the federal act that sets accountability standards for schools. State Superintendent Randy Dorn has warned Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School that its decision to boycott the test for its 11th-graders, citing over-testing, could cost the state federal money.

The feds this year will look at scores of students in third through eighth grade and 11th-graders to determine if schools have made Adequate Yearly Progress. (Washington State schools all will fail miserably due to being out of compliance with federal requirements under NCLB, but that’s another story.)

Tenth-graders will take the English language arts Smarter Balanced, which will be a graduation requirement for them in 2017 and the Class of 2018. Those classes will have several options to meet the state’s math testing requirement, including Smarter Balanced. The Class of 2019 is the first that will be required to pass both the math and ELA Smarter Balanced tests.

On a side note: Graduation testing requirements are slightly different for each class between now and 2019, as the state phases out the HSPE and EOC (end of course exams in geometry and algebra) and phases in the Smarter Balanced test. To see what your child will be required to do, visit OSPI’s testing page.

Technically 10th graders could wait to attempt the Smarter Balanced English language arts test (those who meet the “cut score” — a 3 or 4 on a scale of four — don’t have to take it again in 11th grade). But, says Munson, “You don’t want to be the school that doesn’t give your students the opportunity.”

Students who score a 3 or 4 on the tests will automatically be placed in college-level math and English language arts classes, through an agreement with the state community and technical colleges, and public four-year universities. This will save students the need for placement tests, and save families the cost of students taking remedial courses. Students who score below that will get extra help through coursework developed by the Smarter Balanced Consortium to get them up to speed and ready for life before they graduate from high school.

Finally, said Kristen Jaudon, OSPI spokeswoman, “Not having students take the new tests robs educators of a fair and equitable measure of student progress. They won’t be able to see gaps between groups of students, which means the students who most need help may not get it.”

Adding to the confusion over why students in high school should or shouldn’t take the test, 10th grade formerly was the federal accountability year; now it’s 11th. And this fall OSPI and the Smarter Balanced Consortium agreed that both 11th and 10th graders would take the same assessment, which has been referred to all along at the 11th grade assessment. Too far into the weeds? OK, I’ll stop here.

Bottom line, Munson said, “I do think it’s mandatory to test all students.”

So now I’ll put it out there to parents, teachers and other educators, “What do you think?”

Chris Henry
(360) 792-9219
chenry@kitsapsun.com

https://www.facebook.com/chrishenryreporter



ADA makes provisions for miniature horses as service animals

Today we’re reporting on a guide dog in training at Green Mountain Elementary School that called on Central Kitsap School District to examine its policy on service animals. District officials agreed that Bridget, a 7-month-old yellow lab, did not fit the definition of a service animal because she is not yet trained and or assigned to a person with a disability. For lack of a policy, the dog, who has many fans at the school, was banned from the classroom from November through late January. A revised policy allows for guide dogs in training at the discretion of the school principal with a written agreement.

Covering this story got me to wondering what does qualify as a service animal, especially since I have heard about miniature horses used to help people with disabilities. Just how does the Americans with Disabilities Act define “reasonable accommodation?”

Service animals perform many tasks from guiding the blind, alerting people are who are deaf, and calming a person with PTSD to pulling a wheelchair and protecting a person who is having a seizure, according to the ADA.

A revision to the ADA effective in 2011 refined and clarified the definition of “service animal” in light of wider use of service dogs and the advent of using miniature horses to perform tasks for people with disabilities.

As of the revision, only dogs are recognized as service animals under Title II of the ADA (state and local government services) and Title III (public accommodations and commercial facilities). A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Generally, under Title II and III, service animals are allowed to accompany people with disabilities in all areas where the public is allowed to go.

A person with a disability may not be asked to remove his dog from premises unless it is out of control and the handler doesn’t take immediate, effective action, or if it is not housebroken.

Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.

Dogs not specifically trained to perform tasks related to a disability, but whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, but are recognized under the broader definition of “assistance animal.” The Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Act allows for assistance animals as a “reasonable accommodation” where housing facility rules would otherwise prohibit them.

Miniature horses, which range in height from 24 to 30 inches at the shoulders and from 70 to 100 pounds in weight, have their own regulations. Entities, like schools, covered by the ADA must modify their policies to permit miniature horses as service animals “where reasonable.” A four-part test determines what’s reasonable: whether the horse is housebroken; whether it is under the owner’s control; whether the facility can accommodate the animals size, type and weight; and whether the miniature horse’s presence “will not compromise legitimate safety requirements” for operating the facility.

Here’s a map of the revised Phillips Road ULID

As we reported this week, West Sound Utility District has shrunk the boundaries of a proposed Utility Local Improvement District that, if approved by WSUD commissioners, would extend water and sewer along Phillips Road.

People who want to develop their land, including the owner of the Ridgeline development a the far end of the ULID, initiated the process. Originally more parcels were included, but a number of property owners objected to the assessment, saying they either didn’t plan to develop their land further, and/or they already have functioning wells and septics.

In response, WSUD took many properties off the map, but not all of those belonging to people who object. For example, the Clover Valley Riding Center is right on Phillips Road; it’s still in the ULID. The assessment on the property was reduced, however, since owner Jill Seely contested the calculations used to define how much of the property could be developed.

Here is a document showing the ULID boundaries for both sewer and water. The document shows acreage and how much can be developed, as well as assessments (total over 20 years) for each property.

The ball is now in the court of the ULID proponents, who must get a petition showing support from owners of at lest 51 percent of the acreage. WSUD commissioners will be looking for a much higher level representing “overwhelming” support, WSUD manager Michael Wilson has said.

I’ll be following up at the March 16 WSUD meeting the see if there is a petition forthcoming.

Any questions, concerns or thoughts, email me at chenry@kitsapsun.com.

Poulsbo parks board gives bike track, softball field thumbs up for Little Valley Ball Field

Residents and supporters cram into the Poulsbo City Council chambers to hear proposals for what the Little Valley Ball Field should become.
Residents and supporters cram into the Poulsbo City Council chambers to hear proposals for what the Little Valley Ball Field should become.

Poulsbo’s park board will be recommending two of four proposals for Little Valley Ball Field — a bike track and softball field — to the City Council.

The board ranked the proposal after every organization presented Monday night at Poulsbo City Hall where a crowd of residents and supporters spilled out into the hallway.

“We certainly know this process works,” said Mary McCluskey, Parks and Recreation Department director. “That was the best part of it. Know what? We could do this again if we had another piece of property.”

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance West Sound Chapter proposed a bike pump track, while the Diamond Dusters wanted a “home” softball field. North Kitsap Little League also wanted to leave the property as a ball field to use for practice, and Kitsap Children’s Musical Theater wanted a new facility for rehearsal space.

The board did not discuss why the bike track and softball field proposals were chosen over children’s theater or the little league field, although McCluskey said it was likely a combination of factors, such as timeline, cost, support and the organization’s need.

While five proposals had originally been submitted to the city, one — a solar park proposal — was withdrawn at the request of PIE Inc. owner Pedro Valverde, who told the city via email that partners for the $1 million project did not come through.

The children’s theater proposal also had changes announced at Monday’s presentations. The Kitsap Children’s Musical Theater decided to scale back plans for a $5 million performance and rehearsal center to a $3.9 million rehearsal only facility.

The project would take about five years to complete fundraising and construction.

After the board announced its recommendation, the neighbor who shares a driveway with the ball field spoke up about concerns with being able to leave and enter his property, along with preventing contamination to the shallow wells on his and his father’s property nearby.

Maurice “Gene” Foster, who has lived by the park for 55 years, told the board he did not want to favor any one proposal, although he wanted the board and the city to consider his comments.

“I really support the children of this community,” he said. “I built that field. I built that driveway. Every time we have asked the teams to keep the driveway vacant, I’ve had to weave around cars and ask people to move.”

Poulsbo City Council will consider the parks board recommendation, although council members will review all four proposals.

The final proposal must meet building code and environmental standards, McCluskey said.

You can read more details about the proposals in my previous story.

PO: City needs help designing a logo for 125th

The city of Port Orchard celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, with a Sept. 5 shindig in the works.

The city has issued a call-out to local artists and graphic designers — and anyone else who wants to have a go at it — to create a logo for the event. The logo will be used for banners, posters, souvenirs and the like. Unlike with the city’s wayfinding signs, no monetary award is involved, but, said Sharron King, who chairs the 125th planning committee, “The designer will be part of the continuing history of Port Orchard and celebrated along with the city at the closing ceremony.”

Entries (digital or hard copy) are due to city hall by 4 p.m. March 2. The committee will review them and pick a winner that week.

The committee is also looking for photos of the city from the last 125 years and for bits and pieces you might have about the city’s history. Photos and other submissions may be used on the city’s website, Facebook page or in advertising of the event. Submit anything you have to cityclerk@cityofportorchard.us.

Poulsbo’s new bus route has started

Poulsbo Bus Route No. 44
Poulsbo Bus Route No. 44

Kitsap Transit fired up its newest Poulsbo bus route this week.

Poulsbo Central route No. 44 will be free for the first month, according to the Poulsbo city website.

The bus makes a full loop around town about every 30 minutes, giving riders access to the Doctors Clinic and Group Health, the Poulsbo library branch, Hostmark Apartments, downtown, Olympic College, WalMart, Central Market and the NK Medical Center.

Poulsbo has three bus routes running Monday through Saturday.

Kitsap Transit buses do not operate on Sunday anywhere in Kitsap County.

Read  Ed Friedrich’s story on the Poulsbo bus route changes.