Former Oroville School Board chairman urges caution

Oroville School Board Chairman Mike Egerton swears in new school district Superintendent Jeff Hardesty on July 1, 2016.

Oroville School Board Chairman Mike Egerton swears in new school district Superintendent Jeff Hardesty at a special board meeting held July 1, 2016 so that he would be available to help with board interviews of prospective elementary school principals. Submitted photo by Director Travis Loudon.

OROVILLE – Former Oroville School Board Chairman Phil Barker urged the board and new school Superintendent Jeff Hardesty to proceed in such a way as to avoid the “land mines” he implied were laid by past superintendents.

“The minutes from April 10, 2009 have been tacked to the wall of my office since that time. That’s when the war began… when Superintendent Bartelson tried to fire all the coaches,” said Barker. “The new superintendent has got to be careful and not step on any land mines.”

Barker went on to say that a federal mediator had to come to Oroville and that all the coaches were rehired and former Superintendent Bartleson had to apologize for his actions.

“Mr. Quick did more of the same, for example his mistreatment of Ryan Frazier,” said Barker, referring to Steve Quick, who is Hardesty’s immediate predecessor.

Frazier is a former teacher who was not rehired after his first year of teaching at Oroville. He went on to be elected to the school board and was joining the Monday, June 27 board meeting via conference call.

Barker said there was a “lot of stuff” in the teachers’ personnel files that should not be there. He asked that the district go back through them and eliminate information that should not have been included by Supt. Quick.

Another example of a potential land mine was contract negotiations between the teachers and the superintendent, according to Barker.

“Mr. Quick wanted to do hundreds of changes that didn’t need to be made to the contract,” said Barker. “There are things the board could do to make things better here. Take affirmative positive steps and the people will be behind you.”

Under good news and announcements, high school principal Kristin Sarmiento said work was being done to repair the tennis courts for $20,000 and $16,000 to $17,000 of paving was taking place around the district.

Teacher Mary Willey reported on the new K-12 Social Studies curriculum as selected by the curriculum committee.

“We looked at materials from a couple of different sources. We came up with three different programs we think will make a big improvement,” said Willey..

Depending on the grade level, most of the materials included digital components.

“K-3 focuses mainly on the family, the teacher’s guide is pretty easy to use and there are webinars. The fourth grade Washington State History ‘Washington Our Home,’ also has a very strong digital component. The seventh grade’s ‘The Washington Journey’ goes from World War II to present time,” said Willey.

“We are looking into the future for 9-12 teacher materials and digital for the students. We believe the whole curriculum adoption will come in just under $60,000. The committee has done a very good job,” she said.

Under old business, the board returned to the matter of moving its meetings to a larger meeting place. In previous discussions it was suggested the meetings move to either the high school or elementary school library. The high school library was ruled out due to pillars that would block some of the public’s view.

“I’m OK with wherever you move it as long as we can get more people in,” said Director Frazier.

Director Todd Hill made the motion that the meeting be moved to the elementary library and the motion passed unanimously.

Th meeting schedule for the 2016-2017 school year was approved, with meetings generally the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are scheduled for the following dates in 2016: July 25, Aug. 29, Sept. 26, Oct. 24, Nov. 28, Dec. 19. In 2017 they will be: Jan. 30, Feb. 27, March 27, April 24, May 22 and June 26.

A request was made to approve a consent agenda and Hill asked that items J and K be removed from the motion for further discussion. Both items had to do with new curriculum adoption for K-12 Social Studies and for Writing.

“I’m all for the new curriculum, I just think that we need to let Mr. Hardesty look over the curriculum,” said Hill, referring to the newly hired superintendent, who was not in attendance at the meeting.

Hill then made a motion to approve the rest of the agenda and the motion passed unanimously. Some of the agenda items included: Hire Tam Hutchinson as summer school teacher for the high school and Ila Hall, Shelly Martin and Jennifer Burgard for summer school teachers at the elementary; hire Harold Jensen as high school track coach and Tony Kindred as assistant; hire Dane Forester as high school softball coach; hire Tony Flores as high school soccer coach, Obed Miranda as assistant; hire DeHaven Hill as high school golf coach; hire Billy Monroe as high school tennis coach, Noah Burnell as assistant and hire Hutchinson as high school baseball coach. The board also hired several teachers, including Morgan Gariano for high school Math; Hillary Fogery for high school English and Adeline Sylvester and Jessica Budzak as elementary school teachers. They also released Whitney Massart from her 2016-2017 teaching contract and accepted her resignation as junior high track coach and assistant girls soccer coach.

School Board Chairman Mike Egerton recognized the Oroville Booster Club for their donation of $1000 for basketball camp; recognized Amy Harris, Stateside Storage, Mark Hancock and Oroville Dental for their donations to help send five Oroville students to FBLA Nationals and recognized Clayton and Joyce Emry for their donation of $100 to the HOSTS program in memory of Elaine Emry Burton.

The next Oroville School Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 25 in the elementary school library at 6:30 p.m.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.