School district nears the finish line on new strategic plan

In January, VISD board members will have a first look at a new strategic plan for the district.

In January, Vashon Island School District board members will have a first look at a new strategic plan for the district — the first such new plan for the district since 2013.

Throughout the fall, Vashon Island School District has been engaged in the strategic planning process, led by an Oakland, California-based company Performance Fact, at a cost of between $75,000 and $85,000 to the district.

Mutiu Fabbayi, who is president and CEO of the company and has worked with other Washington school districts in the past, is the lead facilitator for the plan.

At a school board meeting on Dec. 9, district superintendent Slade McSheehy shared preliminary data and observations from the work done thus far done on the plan — an exhaustive process that has included collection and analysis of data regarding academic and socio-emotional outcomes for different student groups in the district. The process has also included multiple listening sessions, the formation of workgroups including a community alignment team, as well as surveys of students, staff and the public.

McSheehy’s preliminary PowerPoint on the plan, which can be viewed at, is a 21-page summation on assessed strengths and areas for improvement in the district, with an emphasis on priorities for improving equity and outcomes in the district for Latinx, English Language Learners (ELLs), non-binary students, low-income and students with disabilities or Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

The report also highlights as an area of concern the district’s staff demographics, which has a very low percentage of non-white teachers, that is disproportionate to the district’s student body.

Earlier in the board meeting, the human resources director for the district, Amy Sassara, also presented a report detailing the staff’s lack of diversity, and discussed ways the district was attempting to rectify the problem through recruitment and other efforts.

McSheehy concluded his presentation on the strategic plan by detailing a personal revelation he had during the early days of the process, after Fabbayi had asked members of the strategic plan’s core planning group to estimate their expectations in terms of meeting the goals laid out for students in the district.

McSheehy said he had given a low estimate — 10% — of the goals he thought could be met, but he said he has now come to understand the importance of having high expectations for success.

“I had this kind of static, systematic way of looking at things,” he said, explaining how he had framed his estimate around the datelines and infrastructures already in place. “I started thinking, I need to have a 100% expectation rate — once you start going low, it starts to infiltrate the rest of your work.”

The final strategic plan, he said, will be a flexible document that allows for adaptation and change in the coming years.

Application process opens for board position

With newly-elected Vashon school board member Allison Krutsinger sworn into her seat at the Dec. 9 board meeting, the district is now inviting community members to apply for one more vacant seat remaining on the five-member board.

In October, islander Kali Aguilera was appointed to the board after a similar application process followed the resignation of board member Bob Hennessey.

Two additional seats were vacated in November by departing board members Spring Hecht and Rheagan Sparks, who did not run for reelection. The election of Krutsinger filled one of those slots but the other remains open due to the fact that Renee Henson, the only candidate running for it in the election, dropped out of the race.

The successful applicant for the position will be appointed by the VISD Board of Directors to serve until the next general election in November 2023.

Applications close on Dec. 31. An introduction of board candidates will take place on Jan. 5, at a special board meeting, and the board will interview the final slate of candidates and take action to appoint a new member on Jan. 11, at another special board meeting.

To find out more and apply for the position, visit For more information about the application process or materials, email, or call 206-463-8534.

District fills health care slots, but still has numerous job openings

According to McSheehy, the district has hired a new full-time school nurse, Liz Hilliard, who will begin work on Jan. 14.

Hilliard will fill the job left vacant by School Nurse Pam Kirkpatrick, who resigned her post in early November, saying in a resignation letter submitted to the board that as a person with multiple health conditions which put her at high risk for COVID, she no longer felt safe working in the district.

Her letter cited the “repetitive reduction of safety measures in school settings” by Washington’s Department of Health, including the “test to stay” program which allows vaccinnated students who are close contacts in cases of COVID to return immediately to the classroom after a negative rapid antigen test.

Another person, Amy Nielsen, has been hired to replace Elizabeth Parrish in the role of health office manager for the district.

In an email sent to the community on Dec. 10, McSheehy said that the district is currently experiencing a shortage of available substitutes for teachers, para-educators and custodians. Some of the positions, he said, require availability for only a few days a week.

Openings include positions for an English teacher, preschool paraeducator, social studies teacher, and substitute positions for both certified and non-certified staff members, as well as custodial and food service jobs.

To find out more about the jobs in the school district, visit and click on “Employment.”