District 9 renews sup’t contradct, replaces vice-chairman

As is customary, the District 9 Board of Directors had a number of items on their agenda, but  two or three created the most discussion.

One of those items was the superintendent’s evaluation. Her evaluation was done in an executive session on Jan. 27. The majority of the board of directors gave her Distinguished marks in all but Interpreting and Managing the External Environment where she received the next highest rating, which was Proficient.

Board member Jim Mannenbach said he personally believed the process was not followed and that the final vote was a reflection of three board members. Board Chair Scott Grissom reminded him the process had been used in the past, that all five board members had opportunity to give input and that every item had the majority of the board’s opinion. The vote at the Mar. 10 meeting on Superintendent Cynda Rickert’s evaluation was three yes, two no with Mannenbach and Mark Bateman voting no.

When it came time to extend he Rickert’s contract, Bateman asked whether the revisions in the contract had been approved by an attorney, he continued for sometime to agonize over the following revisions for her future contract:
• Salary for 2012-13 will be determined by the board no later than April 30, 2012, the salary will be no less than the first year’s salary.
• The evaluation tool will be based on the research The Four Characteristics of Improved School Districts
• Eliminated was verbiage allowing the board to issue an agreement for up to an additional three years at any time, in writing by March 15. Instead, the board will annually take action by Mar. 15 to determine whether to issue a replacement contract for the following three year period or for any additional period beyond June 30, 2013.

After several minutes a vote was taken on the motion to extend and four members, including Bateman, voted yes and one, Mannenbach, no.

Rickert’s contract is for three years with her salary  from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 set at $121,380, plus benefits. According to a chart of salary comparisons with districts of about the same number of students (4,000-5000 with District 9 at 4,243) Rickert’s salary for the coming year is below the other four Oregon superintendents with like student population that also pay PERS.

She is a 12 month employee entitled to 20 days vacation annually in addition to six holidays as well as the Christmas and Thanksgiving holiday, which is part of the holiday schedule for all staff. Any time taken off during winter, spring or summer break periods, other than the specific holidays, must be counted as part of her vacation. Up to 20 unused vacation days can be accumulated and carried into the next year. But if not used within the next year, there will be no compensation for the accrued days. The superintendent shall receive five discretionary days that are not cumulative.

The final item on the agenda was the vice chair position. Before the chair opened the discussion Mannenbach referenced the public meetings law. Grissom said he had conferred with Oregon School Boards Association and the board was within its rights. He referred to Board Member Standards of Conduct.

A motion was made by Ted Dole to remove Mannenbach as vice chair and replace him with Maryann Olson.

Under discussion, Mannenbach said, among other things,  he believed he was being retaliated against and that he respects the right of the public to be informed.

Grissom said he would respond to Mannenbach’s statements if Mannenbach gave permission. That did not happen and the vote on the motion to remove Mannenbach as vice chair and name Maryann Olson vice chair was three yes and two, Mannenbach and Bateman, no.

Under board comments at the end of the session, Dole requested the board revisit the policy regarding school colors in the future and how it is affecting the district. He said he continues to receive comments and concerns from community members.

Grissom said he understood it was going smoothly except for some cost to students, but it might be looked at in the future.

“Thanks for the great job,” Dole said in noting Rickert’s work. “…Well deserved extension to the contract.” And there was robust applause from the 40 or so still in the audience.

Student representatives to the school board for the second quarter are Amanda Matchett and Juan Gonalez. They reported on upcoming high school projects. Airband competition was held Friday morning. It is a class by class competition wherein students put on a skit. The winning class adds points that are totaled near the end of school to determine which class earns a free trip. MORP (opposite of prom) was held Saturday night. The leadership class has a $5,000 grant as part of Community 101 whereby the students will distribute money to community organizations they find in need. Students are helping with the reading program at Little Butte each Thursday morning. Juan said for his community service he is helping the Sparrow student. For each hour of community service there is a business that donates $10 to the little boy’s needs.

Amanda is a junior and in the leadership program. Her project is to set up a day where animals can be brought together and good homes found for them. She also reminded those present that Oklahoma! will be presented on several dates, opening Apr. 30 at the high school.

The March school focus was on White Mountain Middle School. Principal Dan Johnson introduced two outstanding eighth graders. They are Tiffany Phariss and Eddie Perez. Tiffany is described as very curious. She is a 4.0 student involved in volleyball, track, yearbook, photography and drama. She is also a champion rifle shooter. Eddie is an excellent artist. One of his pieces has been on display at the Rogue Valley Mall. He is described as very focused. He also is a champion wrestler.

Under public comment, Ken Ogden, an Eagle Point resident, and partner in the Medford firm of Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture, said what he had to say was not sour grapes as he briefly traced his involvement with District 9.  Ogden said one year ago he showed the district plans for a school he designed in Grants Pass and put forward for District 9, but he had no follow up from Willamette ESD. He said it was possible to build a school for under $10 million as opposed to the $17 million for the proposed school. He said he heard his presentation was short on classrooms and  those could be added and remain under the current projected cost. He said his firm put in 400 hours to bring a design, which is up to code to the district, had an extensive meeting with the city that said the plan met standards. He asked for the opportunity to talk outside the public speaking process at the board meeting to present his plan.

Mike Remick reported work was continuing to reduce costs of the proposed new elementary and received assurance from the board that the name selected several years ago by the community would remain. The name is Hillside Elementary. He also reported a finalized contract for the WMMS multi-purpose room should be ready in May with construction to begin in June.

A revision in policy CHCA, regarding approval of handbooks was presented for its first reading. A change from the word “will” to “may” review and approval personnel handbooks was questioned by Mannenbach. He said not one district in the state changed the wording from will to may. Mannenbach said it takes the power from the board and no one else in Oregon is doing it. He asked that it be checked with OSBA and Grissom said he would do that.

The next regular meeting of the board of directors is the second Wednesday in April.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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