There were plenty of empty seats last Thursday for the White Salmon Valley School Board's public forum in the Columbia High School library.
Still, the meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half, provided school directors Kris Kreps, Tom Stevenson, Jeff Cooper and Paul Mosbrucker, and Interim Supt. Jerry Lewis the opportunity to share information on a wide range of education-related subjects, from how school improvement plans are developed to how the school year calendar is set.
In turn, audience members--who included parents, school district personnel and other interested citizens--offered their thoughts and ideas for how the district could improve its performance in such areas as the teaching of performing arts, foreign languages, and students who excel or are highly capable.
If nothing else, the informal give-and-take session opened a dialogue between local school directors and members of the community who want to become more involved in the school improvement process.
Following the public forum, the school board called its August business meeting to order and heard the following reports and conducted the following business:
The board received an update from Lewis regarding the Columbia Virtual Academy operated by the Spokane area's Valley School District.
Lewis advised the administrators the online school would like to make a formal presentation of the program to the board before any decisions are made about a partnership.
Lewis reported that classroom installation of the 427 Dell computer systems the district purchased in July has begun and should be complete by the end of October.
The purchase--under the district's technology levy--also included nine iMac laptop computers for Whitson teachers and Principal Vicki Prendergast "to give them the added flexibility," Lewis noted.
The district saved $1,750 in shipping costs recently when Lewis drove a van to Tualatin, Ore., to pick up the new mathematics instruction materials for Whitson Elementary School and Henkle Middle School.
The school board approved new K-12 math curricula and the purchase of new instructional materials (paid for with M&O levy funds) during an Aug. 5 special meeting.
Lewis noted that Whitson teachers recently received training in the use of the materials from the book publisher. Henkle teachers are scheduled to receive their training in September, he added.
School directors waived the Consumer Education credit requirements for Columbia High juniors (.5 credit) and seniors (1.0 credit).
The board approved the district's $10,220 Highly Capable Program grant for the 2009-10 school year, and a $4,800 Title IV Drug-Free Zone grant that helps pay for an intervention specialist at Henkle Middle School.
Board members endorsed the following hires: Karen Oliver, administrative assistant to the superintendent; Nina Clark, Columbia High office manager; Susan Tibke, temporary assistant transportation supervisor; Amy Sacquety, 5th-grade teacher, Henkle Middle School; Ryan Murtfeldt, music teacher for 5th- and 6th-graders, Henkle Middle School; Stephenie Going, enrichment specialist, Whitson Elementary.