The White Salmon Valley School District's board of directors held its monthly business meeting last Wednesday, May 19, in the newly named Sharon E. Schalk Transportation Center. A quorum of chairman Paul Mosbrucker and directors Jeff Cooper, Kris Kreps and Tom Stevenson was present.
During the meeting, the board heard reports and took action on the following agenda items:
The student count for May--the final count of the 2009-10 school year--came in at 1,110.86 full-time equivalent students. The May figure is 5.1 FTEs less than the one reported in April.
For the year, the district is down 8.59 students compared to budget projection totals submitted to the board last September. On the plus side, noted Supt. Jerry Lewis, Career and Technical Education student numbers have remained constant.
"This is one of the best years we've had for not losing students from the CTE program," Lewis told the board.
Instruction & Learning.
Lewis reported that the district administrative team is completing its first year of the Washington State Leadership Academy. The team's work, he explained, has been directed at identifying a problem in the area of instructional practice.
The team, Lewis continued, has chosen in this first year to work on closing the achievement gap in low-performing students in K-12 Mathematics.
"Part of the plan involves seeking teacher input into selecting an instructional framework for supporting teacher instructional practice, and in meeting the needs of students," Lewis said.
The board reviewed a spreadsheet prepared by district administrative staff that compared the local district's meal prices to neighboring and like-size districts.
"In a lot of areas we're higher than most districts our size, so our recommendation is to not increase prices in these hard economic times," Lewis advised.
The board concurred, leaving the meal prices as they are for the 2010-11 school year.
Race to the Top.
Lewis said Gov. Christine Gregoire is encouraging all school districts to sign up for participation in the federal education initiative. He noted that the district "is in direct alignment with the Race to the Top guidelines" and urged the board to support the governor's sign-up request.
The state government could receive some $250 million under the program, which is focused on improvements in the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science. Of that sum, the White Salmon district would receive around $44,000 per year for four years.
Lewis noted that the district would have 90 days to commit to accepting the grant, should the state receive funding. He added that notice of award should come sometime in August.
"We're not locked in to it," Lewis said. "We don't have to decide until we know the state is going to receive the money."
Lewis met with representatives of online education provider Giant Campus and Northwest accreditation officials last week and served on the accreditation team.
"At the end of the day, (the accreditation officials) said they would recommend that Giant Campus be accredited," Lewis said. "That was encouraging."
Accreditation is one of the requirements Giant Campus must obtain before the state Office of Supt. of Public Instruction (OSPI) will approve its online technical education courses for credit.
At the same time, the district is working with Giant Campus to finalize the contract that will set up Columbia High School as the host public school for students wanting to enroll in Giant Campus' programs.
"We've taken the model (agreement) that OSPI has put together and adapted it," Lewis noted. ""It looks like we're almost there."
The contract, he added, is set up to be revisited after the first year, and "has all the components to make sure we're protected. And, if all this comes to fruition, the new online school will be called Columbia Tech High."
On a motion by Kris Kreps, the board authorized the holding of a surplus sale during the summer of 2010.
The board approved, on Kreps' motion, the participation of Trout Lake High School student athletes in Columbia High girls soccer, football, wrestling, baseball and fastpitch; and of Glenwood High School student athletes in CHS football, baseball and fastpitch.
On a motion by Jeff Cooper, the board approved the hiring of Troy Whittle as the new principal of Columbia High.
Whittle will replace Malcolm Dennis, who is retiring from CHS after five years on the job, and from public education after 34 years in the profession.
Schools' Out Grant.
Tom Stevenson moved the board accept a $5,000 Schools' Out grant on behalf of Whitson Elementary School. Motion carried.
For Good of the Order.
The board will hold its next monthly business meeting on Wednesday, June 16, starting at 7 p.m., in the district office.