Brent Kortus and other members of the Upper Rogue Tennis Project presented their proposal regarding construction of tennis courts to the District 9 School Board at their Dec. 14 workshop and meeting held in the district office boardroom. Kortus indicated that this idea and project has been around for a number of years and was being revived now with help of the United States Tennis Association. The proposal essentially calls for the construction of six tennis courts on school property without cost to the school except for the use of land.
Six courts are recommended by the USTA since this is the minimum in order to hold sanctioned tournaments. The courts could be used by District 9 students, high school teams, Parks and Recreation instructional programs, residents and for tournaments. He proposed a partnership between the USTA, Eagle Point schools, the city, and Rotary Club to assist in fund raising. The estimated cost is $325,000, with $50,000 coming from a USTA National Grant, $5,000 from a USTA Sectional Grant, approximately $100,000 from other grant sources, $15,000 from in-kind donations and the remainder from fundraising and /or the city.
After a discussion regarding possible locations, the board expressed an interest in participation depending on all details.
The workshop continued with Business Manager Scott Whitman presenting documents from auditors and the Director of the School Finance Unit of the Oregon Department of Education verifying that the district is in compliance with all legal requirements and accounting principles in the method funds for bus transportation and maintenance are segregated.
He then reviewed the general fund activity and projections for 2011/2012. Since the last projection there appears to be an improvement in the actual deficit for this fiscal year. The expected deficit is now $1.2 million versus the previous estimate of approximately $1.8 million. He then presented the plan versus the actual results of expected staffing levels and savings, which have come in short of the goal principally due to the recall of teachers when class sizes were finalized after classes started. If the cost saving goal is to be obtained staffing levels must be reviewed to obtain an additional $311,000 reduction. He then showed possible areas to bridge the budget gap, which have previously been the topic of forums including proration of benefits and school consolidation.
Board member Jim Mannenbach suggested that rather than reduce teachers, who are directly with students, reductions in classified, supervisors and administrators and/ or reducing administrator’s workweek in the summer be considered. He also inquired if there were extra dollars available from the construction funds which could be used to help the budget situation. However, those funds are needed for the Hillside project and needed roof maintenance at the high school.
Since there have been public inquiries regarding ways to revive the middle school sport programs, Doug McKenzie presented the district policies regarding club sports and donations.
During the regular meeting, after a motion was made and seconded to adopt the agenda, board member Mark Bateman objected and began to read from a prepared statement concerning an item not on the agenda. When told he was out of order, he continued, resulting in the meeting being suspended for a short period. When resumed, Mannenbach objected to the agenda because there was no item to approve the previous minutes and stated he felt there should have been an addition to the agenda. Board Chair Scott Grissom stated that an attorney had been consulted regarding the minutes and the board was in compliance. As to the agenda, he indicated it was a full agenda, which should not be lengthened. The motion carried 3-2 with Bateman and Mannenbach opposed.
Eagle Point High School Principal Allen Barber gave special recognition to students Jaycee Elliott and Carolina Regalado for their academic success and leadership. He also recognized Language Arts Teachers Fran Maurer and Julia Cuppy for their excellence in all of their activities especially the improvement in student language arts skills that enhances learning of all subjects.
At the public forum where comments are welcomed, Lisa Crain from Shady Cove discussed the possible closure of the Elk Trail School and asked that a further explanation be given regarding the $234,000 possible savings. She also questioned if part of the construction money could be spent on other things.
Dave Carrell, Employee Association representative, stated that there is a need to invest in educators to have sustainable schools. Funds should be prioritized for teachers rather than technology. The dollars spent that way are spent locally, pay taxes and help the community. He indicated that teacher frustrations are rising without a contract. Mediation is scheduled and the parties are miles apart. He suggested that there be an investment in quality educators.
Representatives of Sodexo who supply food service for the schools, made a presentation on their policies in response to previous comments and questions. They indicated that the USDA sets many policies and portion sizes. Portions vary for different grade levels. Local products as utilized as much as possible and leftovers are minimized. Students can avail themselves of the salad bar numerous times for fruits and salads. There are rules and requirements to be followed in the case of non-payment with Sodexo working with parents and the principals to alleviate problems.
Harry Hedrick, Eagle Rock Principal and Positive Behavior Coordinator, explained how academic performance and behavior are interrelated. This program is data driven, has stated goals and uses evidence-based approaches. Positive celebrations are encouraged for student recognition. Success is shown by less discipline referrals and improved test scores.
A number of policy revisions were approved unanimously. A policy regarding approval of minutes passed 3-2 with Bateman and Mannenbach opposed. Mannenbach felt that Roberts Rules of Order requires a 2/3 majority to revise the rules. However, legal council has opined that a simple majority is sufficient.
A resolution regarding an amendment to the OSBA constitution passed 4-1 with Bateman in opposition.
First readings were held on a number of potential policy changes. The fiscal year calendar was approved unanimously as was the rescheduling of the next board meeting to Jan. 18 from Jan. 11 due to the mediation scheduled that day.
Superintendent Rickert wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday. She asked that board members focus on the successes of the district and work together for the good of the students.
Mannenbach stated he was impressed with the meeting at Elk Trail and expressed a hope that any closure could be delayed and considered for the following year. He hoped closure would be a last resort and the use of reserves considered.
Mary Ann Olsen wished everyone a Merry Christmas and gave recognition to the positive results at the high school and especially the great performance of “The Music Man” put on at the school.
By Bill Fierke
For the Independent