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*Lambert, Walker speak at education summit

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Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan (left) introduces Shoreline School District Superintendent Sue Walker and Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert at the city's Education Summit, Nov. 30, 2011. More photos

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Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert and Shoreline School District Superintendent Sue Walker outlined the challenges and opportunities facing public education in Shoreline at the State of Education Summit, Nov. 30, 2011.

“I prefer to see the challenges we’re facing today as opportunities for tomorrow,” Lambert said in his comments.

In many ways, the college, the district as well as Lambert and Walker have been walking similar paths over the past five or six years.  Both the college and district were facing financial and administrative difficulties when Lambert and Walker began their leadership tenure at their respective agencies.

Walker used a graph to show how the school district has moved from a financial deficit to a surplus. Lambert said the college had a similar financial picture when he became president in 2006.

Walker noted that demographic changes in the district, which includes Lake Forest Park, mean the number of students has shrunk from a high near 18,000 to today at about 9,000. Lambert said that since Cascadia Community College opened, which Shoreline helped launch, Shoreline was left with the smallest geographic district in the state.

That challenge, Lambert said, allowed Shoreline to see other opportunities to serve students and resulted in the college’s two current strategic initiatives: increasing online educational offerings and sharpening the school’s focus on internationalization.

“Both of those are good for students, good for the state and community and good for the college,” Lambert said.

Walker said that school district students are outperforming the state and national averages on standardized tests and other success measures. Lambert agreed, noting that the college benefits from having academically strong students coming from the two public high schools in Shoreline. “But remember,” Lambert said. “The Shoreline School District is the exception, not the rule.”

Lambert drew attention to a number of exemplary programs at the college, including the high transfer rate to the University of Washington and other four-year colleges and universities. He also mentioned the automotive technology and clean energy technology programs as strong professional-technical examples.

Both Lambert and Walker talked about the ongoing state financial crisis and the impact to their agencies. Both the college and district have lost millions of dollars in state funds, reductions that are directly impacting students. Walker mentioned increased class sizes while Lambert talked about increased reliance on part-time faculty and elimination of programs such as the popular cosmetology program.

Walker supported Lambert’s call for support of the half-cent sales tax increase as proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

“The tax increase is temporary, but it can serve as a bridge while education and lawmakers look for long term solutions,” Lambert said.

Lambert and Walker were introduced at the summit by Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan.

“Strong schools are what have attracted families to Shoreline for many years,” McGlashan said. “The Shoreline School District and the Shoreline Community College are integral parts of our community and it is imperative that we support them however possible.”

SCC/Jim Hills

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