For those moving to a new location, it’s important to know what educational options are available. This chapter outlines the public schools system in Island County, along with information about local libraries and higher education. There are private schools, charter schools and home schooling available to children in the county as well.
To be enrolled in a Washington school, a child must be at least 5 years old by Aug. 31 of the school year. Those wishing to register their child in school should bring the following to the school office: a birth certificate or other proof of the child’s age, the child’s previous school records and immunizations records. Check with the school for additional requirements. Required immunizations for a child enrolling in kindergarten are as follows: five doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; three doses of polio; two doses of measles, mumps and rubella; three doses of hepatitis B; four doses of polio; and two doses of varicella. For more details on Washington’s minimum vaccine requirements for students in grades K-12, please visit the Washington State Department of Health’s website at www.doh.wa.gov or the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website at www.k12.wa.us.
In 2010, Washington, along with 42 other states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Department of Defense Education Activity, adopted Common Core State Standards that provide a consistent set of educational expectations for students, regardless of ZIP code. When a family moves, a student’s education is often disrupted because the student may be forced to repeat material or learn at a different level at the new school. With common standards across states, this disruption will be reduced — of particular interest to military families. At present, national Common Core State Standards exist only for English language arts and mathematics, with science and social studies in development, though Washington has state standards across the full curriculum. For more information, visit http://www.corestandards.org/.
Charter schools are public schools of choice that are tuition-free, serve all students and have open enrollment. For more information, visit http://wacharters.org.
For an introduction to home schooling in Washington, visit the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website at www.k12.wa.us/privateed/homebaseded. Here you will find information on home-school rules and regulations, testing information, home-school curriculum providers and more.
Family Learning Organization
P.O. Box 1750
Mead, WA 99021
The Family Learning Organization was incorporated in 1986 and has since established a long history of serving the home-school community beginning in Spokane, extending nationally through its advocacy and testing services. The organization’s purposes are to advocate for home-based education, to facilitate the encouragement of home-schooling families, to help preserve the freedom of parents to educate their children, and to serve as a means of communication and networking. Through the organization, home-schooling families can network with more experienced parents.
Washington Homeschool Organization
P.O. Box 66960
Seattle, WA 98166
The Washington Homeschool Organization (WHO) is a statewide, nonprofit membership organization. WHO provides parents/guardians with resources, information about state laws and facilitates communication with local school officials, among other things.
To search for local private schools in Washington, visit the National Center for Education Statistics website and use the private school search tool at www.nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/privateschoolsearch. Users may search by location, religious affiliation, school type and more.
Choosing a School
Choosing the right school is important, so be sure to research each one before deciding. Contact the school by phone or by visiting its website, which is a valuable source for school district statistics and curriculum. Talk to people in the area, especially friends and colleagues who already live there.
If the school shows promise, schedule a visit and bring a list of written questions about student-teacher ratios, computer availability, extracurricular activities, sports programs, music programs, gifted programs and grading standards.
Discuss the potential school with your child: what they like and what they didn’t like. Your family’s ability to readily adapt to a move and to find happiness in your new home may depend, in part, on how happy your children are in their new school.
Located on Fidalgo Island, 20 minutes north Whidbey Island, the Anacortes School District is an award-winning district with 2,700 students in three elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, an alternative high school and an early childhood education center.
Coupeville School District
501 S. Main St.
Coupeville, WA 98239
Coupeville School District offers quality, personalized education programs and services to approximately 850 preschool through 12th grade students. Serving the central portion of Whidbey Island, the district’s schools are about 20 minutes south of NAS Whidbey Island. Schools include one elementary school and a combined middle and high school. The middle and high schools share library, music and cafeteria areas but have separate classrooms and lunchtimes for grades six through eight and nine through 12.
Oak Harbor School District
350 S. Oak Harbor St.
Oak Harbor, WA 98277
Oak Harbor is the largest school district in the region, serving more than 5,500 students on nine campuses: five elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school and a parent-school partnership. All schools place a strong emphasis on academics, arts and student achievement. All have been renovated, including a $70 million modernization of Oak Harbor High School completed in 2010.