The White Salmon Valley School District Board of Education held its monthly business meeting on Wednesday, March 16, in the Henkle Middle School library. A quorum of chairman Paul Mosbrucker and directors Debby Bergstrom, Jeff Cooper, Kris Kreps and Tom Stevenson was present.
During the meeting the board received the following reports and took the following actions.
District enrollment stood at 1,127.55 full-time equivalent students (FTEs) during the March count, with another 29.96 FTEs enrolled in the online Columbia Tech High/Giant Campus program. The enrollment figure for March is 11.5 FTEs more than the district's beginning budget projection.
Instruction and Learning.
Supt. Jerry Lewis reported the district's administrative team is working on a district-wide school improvement plan that focuses on literacy and math. "This plan will help the district meet state-required guidelines, and also help close the district's achievement gap," he noted.
The plan, still in draft form, will be refined in the coming weeks and presented to the school board once its complete.
Also, Professional Learning Community teams at Columbia High, Henkle and Whitson Elemntary are starting to explore the element of student engagement, as outlined in the district-wide instructional framework.
"Each building is doing something different," Lewis said. For example, CHS teachers are planning to videotape classroom lessons to share with colleagues for a discussion around student engagement.
In the area of assessment, Columbia and Henkle staff are preparing for this year's round of state assessments, which began at CHS last week. Henkle students will be taking a part of their assessments online this year. Part of the preparation will include staff and student training.
Lewis advised the board that he met the week before with Educational Service District 112 staff to discuss updated Special Education Cooperative budget costs. The cost increase to the district for special education services for the 2011-12 school year will be around $69,000, or about $345 per student.
In other news, Lewis reported the state supplemental budget cuts some $94,000 from the district's 2010-11 budget. To meet the shortfall the district will take funds from this year's ending fund balance.
Moreover, because the district must have a budget plan ready to submit to the board during its April 16 meeting, the administrative team has begun identifying additional expected state funding cuts and preparing the 2011-12 budget.
The school calendar for the 2011-12 school year, adopted by the board in February, was completed by adding built-in snow days and student conference dates. The 2011-12 school year will begin on Aug. 31, 2011, and end on June 13, 2012.
Lewis noted that, because the portable buildings on Whitson Elementary's south side are so close together, a 10-foot setback requirement must be met for construction of a breezeway. And, to meet code regulations for the breezeway, the White Salmon Building Dept. and Washington State Fire Marshal are requiring metal construction.
Lewis directed Maintenance Supervisor Jim Mansfield to call contractors again to ask for quotes for metal structures. Whatever structure the district goes with will have to be engineered to meet building code requirements. "This has been a long process but the intent is to continue moving forward on this project," Lewis said.
District Fines and Fees.
The school district is experiencing a problem with collecting fines and fees. The outstanding balance of fines and fees owed at Columbia High alone is more than $10,000.
Notices of delinquent fees and fines are posted on the State Family Student Access Web site, but directors expressed concern about the student access system being confusing to use and not having the ability to notify students and staff clearly of an outstanding balance.
"Because this is a state Web site, our district does not have the ability to change the format," Lewis explained.
The board encouraged cleaning up the problem with better communication between teachers, office staff, coaches and students. Penalties for students who fail to pay fines and fees can include withholding of diplomas or transcripts, and ineligibility for school extracurricular activities.
On a motion by Tom Stevenson, the board accepted letters of resignation from the following employees: Nancy Babb McGraw, Henkle office manager; Terry Wiederhold, Whitson teacher; Rick Freil, Henkle P.E. teacher currently residing in India; and Lisa Kindler, Project Open Door assistant.
Kris Kreps moved the board to accept the hiring of Nicole Clifford as CHS classroom and office assistant; Lori Owen as Henkle head track and field coach; and Howard Kreps as CHS assistant track and field coach.
The board, on a motion by Stevenson, extended teacher Mary Katherine Jablonski's leave of absence an additional year.
Wednesday, April 20, is the date for the school board's next business meeting. The meeting will take place in the Whitson Elementary library.