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Henkle Middle School gets grant for migrant/bilingual education

School board learns only the first year of funding is secured

White Salmon Valley School District's board of directors had a full agenda for its October board meeting last Thursday in the Wayne M. Henkle Middle School library.

Migrant/Bilingual Education Grant:

Superintendent Dale Palmer informed the school board last Thursday that Wayne M. Henkle Middle School has been approved for a three-year federal grant of $145,000 per year. He added, however, only the first year of funding has been secured.

Heather Weisfield, who played a pivotal role in getting CHS' migrant/bilingual ed program off the ground, has been rehired to coordinate the effort.

"That made sense because she's been through this before," Palmer said.

Still to be hired is a certified second language instructor.

Said Henkle Principal Mary Alice Wagner of the new program: "We're very excited."

Initiative 728 Budget Revision:

The district freed up $60,000 in K-12 Student Achievement Initiative funding by moving two half-time elementary teaching positions into the state basic education category.

Palmer said the district would've lost the $60,000 if it hadn't amended the budget. A drop in enrollment at Whitson Elementary precipitated the revision and highlighted the fact the district wasn't in compliance with state K-4 staffing requirements.

Some of the I-728 savings have been redirected to the Learning Improvement Teams at each school and to the White Salmon Preschool, for staff training.

Each Learning Improvement Team will have discretion in spending $4,000; $3,000 will be at the preschool's disposal.

Rezone of School-Owned Property:

The school board OK'd the application for a rezone of the lot on Main Street, across from Whitson Elementary.

The district currently uses the lot for staff parking, bus parking and maintenance, and a shop for the maintenance department. Its next use will be as a parking lot.

Palmer recommended a rezone from R-2 to Public before the bus shed is demolished because it would be more convenient than applying for a conditional use permit every time the district wanted to change the use of the lot.

He added that if the district ever wanted to sell part of the property, it could do a short plat.

Counselor out, Counselor in:

The board accepted the resignation of Columbia High counselor Julie Harris. She resigned Sept. 23 to reenlist in the U.S. Marines.

White Salmon resident Nancy Nylin, one of four applicants for the position, was hired as interim counselor through the end of the 2001-02 school year.

Nylin previously worked as a counselor in the Goldendale School District.

Palmer said the position will be reopened at the end of the school year.

Project Open Door Funding:

Board members approved a request to have Hood River-based Gorge Community Foundation serve as the clearinghouse for Project Open Door grant funding.

The project needed a 501(C)3 (tax-exempt) umbrella organization in order to receive private grants, according to fundraising coordinator Norm Luther. Private foundations generally won't give money unless they can deduct it from their taxes, he explained.

The problem with relying on private foundations for funding, Luth noted, is they don't like to fund operations, they don't like to commit to ongoing funding, and they don't like to fund projects that lack a financial plan once the grant runs out.

Project Open Door, Henkle Middle School's after-school program, is in the third and final year of its original 21st Century School grant. Luth now is hunting for replacement funding to operate the project beyond this year.

Henkle Principal Mary Alice Wagner pointed out fundraising has been ongoing for the past two years. The bottom line, she noted, is "we need $100,000 (per year)to do what we're currently doing."

During board discussion, member Josie Salka suggested the possibility of including funding for Project Open Door in the next M&O levy request. The matter was tabled for further discussion.


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