In its pre-meeting work session, Lydia Tolley and Jeff Ashmun of Sodexo (the district’s food service supplier) reviewed their annual report to the D9 board. They sponsored the 4th annual Farm to Market and A-Z Salad Bar event at Shady Cove School this year, choosing quinoa for the letter “q” in the apple-zucchini selections. Sodexo provides cafeteria meals as well as monitoring students with special dietary needs.
Student representatives Micaela Saling and Hunter Hoeptner gave their final report, announcing that school is out and graduation went well. Superintendent Cynda Rickert asked them to stand for recognition and a certificate of appreciation. Eagle Point Middle School principal Joni Parsons then recognized first year PE teacher Brittany Reynolds, saying she was a “hyped and ready to go” woman who challenges students to try new things and does so herself. She organized a staff Zumba club, procured grants for new equipment. Parsons next honored 8th grader Wynn Nevin, a great student “even in math,” she said, a young man with a sense of humor who works hard at sports and is a natural born leader. Reynolds recognized Gabrielle Anderson, an 8th grade member of National Honor Society, and a young woman with an “amazing positive attitude, a can-do attitude.”
During Public Forum time Sara Pitner addressed staff levels, class size and administration benefits. Ralph Meeker questioned the way administration used student-raised funds (something raised earlier by students) and noted the number of teachers leaving EPHS. Monty Pitner congratulated the board on a balanced budget, but questioned whether this was the best time to give raises. Nita Lundberg praised the school district and the administration, and felt that after a pay freeze the latter was entitled to compensation. Lundberg said the district needs a “marketing plan” to let people know about the good going on in the district.
In her report, Rickert said, “I believe that this board has done an amazing job of moving forward in a positive way, despite the challenges.” She introduced the Rotary Four Way Test as a measuring stick for the new board and cabinet. 1) Is it the truth? 2) Is it fair to all concerned? 3) Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4) Will it be beneficial to all concerned. Among other things, in May she participated in Spring Boards at EPHS, Thursday site visitations, Budget Committee meetings, administrative focus walks, FFA banquet, EPHS plant sale and meeting with Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. She thanked everyone for another great school year and for the “hard working professionals who worked hard every day to make it happen for the students.”
Throughout the evening the subject of more teachers in the classroom came up. Scott Whitman said that if there were more funding, there would be more staff. The board, though not unanimously, agreed to modify Superintendent Rickert’s contract (approved in March) to include a salary increase, and outgoing board member Jim Mannenbach questioned whether such a policy embraced the Rotary Four Way Test.
The board voted to adopt the 2013-2014 budget of $51,179,304.
They also adopted the core standards (student performance targets) that have been discussed over the past few months and worked on throughout the year. Adoption is not a matter of choice, but of each district determining how it will implement standards mandated by law. The goal of 100% high school graduation will be achieved by evaluating where the district is now and targeted improvement over the next decade.
Board Chairman Scott Grissom proposed a resolution to arm some teachers or individuals in a school to protect students in case of an armed attack. He said, “The District recognizes that protecting students in the first three minutes of an armed attack requires an armed defense.” He said it would save lives and that people wouldn’t even consider attacking our schools when they heard about D9’s preparedness, which would make students “the safest kids in Oregon and probably on the West Coast.” The resolution, modified to take things slower and with deliberate consideration, directs “the superintendent form a committee to establish processes and procedures to grant authorization of specific school employees to possess certain firearms on school property.” The room grew dead quiet during the discussion, other than one citizen’s clear vocal disapproval. Jim Mannenbach said he preferred using Safety Resource Officers, people highly trained for such situations. He also said he favored seeking grants to fund such positions and believed that funds for such were available.
Director of Human Resources Allen Barber introduced a safety issue that garnered positive acceptance. Shady Cove Middle School has been chosen as the first school in the country for installation of NEXAR, a system that can remotely assess any type of incident in real-time, be the situation of a safety or medical nature. Students have expressed the comfort of knowing they’re safe, and they like the lights above doors that code current status. One student said that when the doors shut and locked in a practice drill it was like a security blanket.
Doug McKenzie, Director of Special Services is retiring. Again. Rickert said he couldn’t fully retire until she does, so folks may see and hear from him on occasion. He received high praise from his peers, and offered it as well. He acknowledged his teary-eyed secretary, Leah Dean, and Cynda Rickert, as well as the rest of the administration. He challenged them all to work cooperatively and hard for the good of students.
The evening ended with the usual buzz of thoughts and opinions filling the room.