TONASKET – Tonasket School Board members agreed to have their July 11 work session board meeting as a time to discuss a capital projects levy proposal.
The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the district board room, 35 E. Highway 20.
The levy request will need to be finalized later this month if a capital projects levy is to be run in November. Capital projects levy priorities are chillers/boilers, safety issues, roof and shop.
During the district’s June 27 meeting, the board decided to hire Brandon Speers, fifth grade teacher; Shawn Bensing, custodian; Shelby Scott, winter cheer coach; Wendy Lenton, para-educator; and Vania Knowlton, para-profession for the migrant and bilingual summer school.
Also approved was a field trip request by Tyler Graves to take 30 people, including 10 middle school and high school students, to a migrant education program conference in Yakima Aug. 15-17.
Financial reports were presented over a teleconference call with Business Manager Bobbi Catone, who said she expects the school district to end the year with $1.2 million.
Catone said the ASB fund saw slightly more revenue than expenditures this year, with clubs doing a good job and all the buildings staying within their budgets. Catone said regarding the three-year cash balance, it was “nice to maintain all our goals,” due to the “great efforts of the board, administration, budgeting and transparency of everyone involved.
“It’s impressive looking at all our administrators have done in tightening their belts,” said Catone when reporting accounts payable showed the last three months of expenditures lower than those of the last three years.
Superintendent Steve McCullough said he and Catone gave a presentation at a recent superintendents and administrators conference on a program called “Forecast 5.”
“Part of this we will be rolling out in the next few months, where we put financials on our Web page, including great, easy-to-read presentations of historical financial data,” said McCullough. “It wasn’t a big crowd, but it went over really well.”
Catone said the program is a great tool that she looks forward to being able to put on the website.
McCullough reported the nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy, last updated in 2015, had “quite a few goals,” including having a male-to-female balance with placing females in administrative and principal positions. McCullough offered to spend time going over the policy with any of the board members.
McCullough reported some high school teachers were “thinking about doing away with grading.
“Some students see an ‘F’ and shut right down, like it is a validation of them,” said McCullough, to which board members Jerry Asmussen and Joyce Fancher responded that at the other end of the spectrum, if you take away the grade for the student who is earning an ‘A,’ that shuts down his or her motivation also.
McCullough included in the board packet an article by Susan M. Brookhart titled “Influence of Grading Practices on Motivation.” The article identifies four categories of students (failure-avoiding students, success-oriented students, overstrivers and failure-accepting students) and how grades play a role in motivation for each.
“I am going forward in the directions you laid out in your strategic plan,” McCullough told the board, “so let me know if you don’t want me to go forward in those directions.”
McCullough said the idea was not a whole system change, but a small group going forward and trying something new.
When McCullough asked if the board wanted to approve it first, they said no, they just wanted to stay informed.
“Teachers thinking about this would first have to meet with the high school principal to share what they are thinking of doing,” said McCullough.
“It’s great to be progressive and look into these things, but how many times has it happened, over and over, when something new comes along and by the time everyone is on board it is thrown out,” said board member Sharron Cox. “So I am hesitant to jump on board with this pass/fail thing.”
“Every teacher is an action researcher, trying out new things and if it doesn’t work, you do something else. I will talk to the team and make sure anything that might be considered on the radical side, I will get information to you,” said McCullough. “I don’t want to innovate just to innovate. I want to find what is working.”
Board members also heard from Special Education Director Holly Haugen.
“We spent the year trying to look at how we serve kids. Our goal is to be intentional in identifying what kids need, and systematical in meeting those needs,” said Haugen, adding that she met with outgoing elementary principal Jeremy Clark on the non-negotiables of serving kids, and worked out a new intervention model with the school’s leadership team.
“The (special education) room is not just the little room down at the end of the hallway. The new model has students put into groups based on their needs,” said Haugan. “There isn’t a specific group of people in that group. If I don’t have a disability, but I have trouble with fractions, I might be in the SPED group for that. So, it’s based on need. No one should be denied access to what they truly need.”
Haugen said when she asked the leadership team what kids need, they identified social emotional instruction, physical education and keyboarding as three specific needs.
“At the end of the day, we were pretty excited to see we have the people, the money and the time to meet these needs,” said Haugen.
“Holly is doing great work, and the team is doing great work. These are hard conversations to have, with a lot of back and forth,” said McCullough. “We are going to keep trying things until we find out what works. We have to find a way. We compare our scores to schools like us, and we are doing okay. But OK is not good enough.”
In other business:
• Board members approved the career and technical education program plan for the 2018-19 school year, as presented by high school agriculture instructor Matt Deebach and business education teacher Janine McCormick.
• Postponed making any changes to the valedictorian/
salutatorian selection process until August, when they will be able to hear from high school staff members.
• Approved moving superintendent and administrator salary adjustments (which would be retroactive) to the August board meeting, allowing the district to complete classified and teaching staff negotiations first.
• Renewed the food service contract.
• Had an executive session to consider professional negotiations, grievances or mediation. No action was taken.