School Board Recognizes Selfless Acts, Hears Proposals for Girls Soccer, Fields

Kindergarteners who volunteered to stay after school and participate in the Kindergarten Math presentation to the White Salmon Valley School Board received an award and two pencils from School Director Alan Reitz. All of Whitson Elementary kindergarten teachers received awards as well.

After taking time to visit kindergarten classrooms and learn from kindergarteners what types of math they have been studying this year, the White Salmon Valley School Board (WSVSB) got right into business.

The board took a moment to recognize some selfless fourth-grad-ers who raised $300 in donations for the victims of the Rhine Village Fire that occurred in February. The fourth-graders encouraged their classmates and other intermediate school students to donate their pocket change.

The School Board also took time to recognize the students of Columbia High School’s Associated Student Body (ASB), who donated proceeds from the school’s homecoming dance, roughly $400, to the fire victims, as well.

On the academic front, the school board approved the adoption of a new literacy program for grades K-6, which will be implemented during the 2018-2019 school year.

Principals Todd McCauley and Columba Jones, of the elementary and intermediate schools, respectively, chose reading and writing programs that best fit the needs of their students and which were broadly accepted by the teaching staff.

Similar grade appropriate programs will be adopted and implemented for grades 7-12 in the 2019-2020 school year.

On the athletics side, Athletic Director Howard Kreps proposed two ideas to the board.

The first was to build a girls soccer program at the middle school level to generate continued interest in the sport at the high school level.

This year, CHS was unable to field a girls soccer team due to a lack of turn out. After speaking to teachers, parents, and students, Kreps is confident that this program could be built with minimal cost to the school and the district and would benefit the community.

“It shouldn’t cost more than $3,000 to build the program. It’s middle school kids, so the game schedule would be a shorter, 8-week season/schedule,” said Kreps.

“The only concerns I’ve heard are from parents who are concerned about making the girls choose between soccer and volleyball because they have the same season. In year’s past, we have had girls play volleyball one year and soccer the next. So yes, they will have to choose, but they don’t have to stick with that sport throughout high school,” said Kreps.

WSVSB members were excited by the idea, though they did not vote on approving it, as this was the plan’s first hearing.

The second proposal to the board was to build a proper soccer field and perhaps another baseball field and expand the parking lot on the east side of the high school.

“Our athletic facilities get used basically year-round, which makes it difficult to take care of them and maintain them. Also, we have more and more folks showing up for games and parking is becoming a big mess. It would be nice to have other facilities which teams and others can use while we fix up the main fields,” said Kreps.

Kreps was also very adamant that members of the community have a voice in this decision as many of them use the fields and gym facilities when school is out of session.

Bell Design has already come out and assessed the property for expansion. Kreps requested the board approve the Bell Design plans, which develop a site plan for the fields, which will cost roughly $2,000.

Again, because this was a first hearing by the board, it did not approve anything but will consider the request.

After the last school board meeting in March, it was requested by board member Dave Karlson that updates on district safety be added to the agenda. During this April meeting, the first update on school safety was given. The district had requested an update of its radio system for emergencies.

“The current system is unreliable,” said Superintendent Dr. Jerry Lewis.

Jeff Augustus, resident school district IT employee, presented an emergency service plan that would connect all the schools and the district office. It would cost $40,000 total for 10 years, requiring two new computer systems and 32 radios (six radios for each school and the office).

The board will need to look at finance options before agreeing to the system update.

In school staff news, Beth Sauter and colleagues wrote a letter to the board requesting it hire a fifth first-grade teacher for the coming school year due to an anticipated influx of kids moving up from kindergarten. The letter cited that small classroom sizes benefit both the students’ ability to learn and the teachers’ ability to teach.

Finally, it was announced that Columba Jones, current principal at Stevenson Intermediate School, will be resigning at the end of this year to spend more time with her family.

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