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Superintendent delivers 'State of the Schools' address

It's that time of year when public officials detail for the citizenry how government entities are faring.

Last night (Thursday) was not an exception. Sunnyside Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rick Cole delivered the annual 'State of the Schools' address to the Sunnyside School Board.

He said, "It's exciting to be in Sunnyside."

Cole told the school board the district has for the last five years engaged in a strategic process to develop and implement innovative and effective changes to education.

The effort has paid off as the graduation rate improved from just over 40 percent in 2007 to nearly 80 percent in 2012. Cole told the board, "I've been assured we will break 80 percent this year."

Progress in the Sunnyside School District has been nationally recognized and the U.S. Department of Education has selected Sunnyside as one of two districts in Washington to be interviewed.

"They seek to learn about the programs and practices that have supported us in our school improvement process," Cole said.

He said the school district staff should be proud of all that has been accomplished through hard work.

"More students are succeeding at higher levels than ever before," Cole said.

He credited the school board for continued guidance and the community was credited for its support of the schools via levies and bonds.

"Finances are stable and an adequate cash reserve is in place for a $65 million budget...bonds and levies have passed with substantial community support," Cole noted.

He said the district's various construction projects are due to be completed or have been completed recently, giving students more opportunities.

Cole continued, outlining the efforts of various departments within the district and the accomplishments of each department.

He also noted that the athletics program continues to be competitive at the 4A level and fan support is strong. For that, he believes, the community can also take pride.

"The quality of instructional practice is very high in our district right now. Teachers are delivering high quality instruction to students at a best practice level. We will continue working to support the improvement of all teachers," Cole said.

He said the district continues to improve its curriculum, its instruction and all educational elements to continue the forward momentum.

"The measurement of our district on the four qualities of a great district has gone up for the last five years. Quality teaching and learning, strong leadership, system coherence, and clear and collaborative relationships are improving and part of the district student achievement plan," said Cole.

He said the district has made remarkable gains and is ready to reach higher.

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