Two resign from Oroville School Board

OROVILLE – As their first order of business, the Oroville School Board approved the resignation of Phil Barker and Christina Rise from their number.

Barker, who was board chairman, wrote a letter to the editor to this newspaper resigning and citing his “John Wayne style” as one reason he was stepping down. He said he would resign at the next meeting, but was not present. Rise’s resignation was due to her moving from her electoral district into another and submitted a formal resignation letter to the board. Although Barker had not written a similar formal letter, the board first consulted their legal council Rocky Hansen, who was at the Monday, May 29 meeting, before acting to approve the resignation, according to board vice chairman, Rocky DeVon. DeVon was acting as chairman at the school directors’ monthly meeting.

Director David Nutt made the motion to approve the resignations and it was seconded by Director Amy Wise and passed unanimously. Both the former directors were in their first term. The district is taking applications from those interested in serving in either Position 1 or 4. Applications must be into the district office by June 21.

Under good news and announcements, Wise said, “Wow, senior projects are everywhere, they’re all going well and they’re all wonderful.”

She also commented on Sixth Grade Camp, which she said went well.

Superintendent Steve Quick discussed recent decisions made by the Facilities Committee.

“We have met almost a dozen times ever since May of 2011. The committee has been led by Jeff Soren a consultant who has facilitated most of our meetings. The committee has come up with a priorities list and different options for funding the projects,” Quick said.

Most of the highest priority projects concern the elementary school. Topping the list is the elementary school roof which has a history of leaks, according to Quick. The high estimate for repair is $1.1 million, while a survey also taken of the high school roof shows it could use $1.4 million in repairs.

“The elementary roof is of most concern because there are times where you can see plenty of buckets and garbage cans in the halls collecting water,” said Quick.

Next on the list is the elementary restrooms which have not been remodeled in over 20 years, followed by the cafeteria, technological upgrades and the rehabilitation of the elementary parking lot.

“As far as the tech upgrades we have a building that wasn’t built for the technology we have today, especially things like electrical power and networking,” said Quick. “Even though the parking lot is not a large cost item, parents thought it was important. We have made some improvements to the lot for student pick up and drop off, but more needs to be done.”

The next on the list are the elementary windows, elementary gym lighting, elementary exterior paint, the district office, bus garage, high school roof and the aging heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the high school.

The elementary gym lighting was temporarily fixed by retrofitting light bulbs, according to Quick and the elementary exterior paint was completed last summer. The district office mostly needs cosmetic upgrades like replacing rotting siding, as well as changing single-pane windows to more energy efficient ones.

The total high estimate to make all the repairs is $4.57 million and would be $3.17 million subtracting the high school roof from the total. That figure also does not include the high school HVAC because the district has received an energy grant, similar to one they used at the grade school, to make those improvements.

The committee has been studying five potential ways of financing the projects through bonds or capital levies. The first three options are six-year levies. The first is a $3.59 million option at payback of $1 per $1000 in assessed property evaluation, the second is for $2.85 million at a payback of $.79 per $1000 and the third for $2.575 at $.57 per $1000. The two 20-year bond issue options are $7.5 million at a payback of $.96 per $1000 and $10 million at $1.28 per $1000.

“The facilities group was more comfortable with the middle option (six-year capital levy of $2.575 million at $.57 per $1000). That would mean we were still paying at a much lower rate than most of the districts in the area,” said Quick, adding that the district was contacting Spokane firm Roen and Associates to get bids and cost estimates.

“They have a strong history of working with school districts, both large and small. We want to get accurate estimates so we can deliver what’s been promised,” Quick said. “We want to optimize the number of projects we can get done for the money.”

After the student representative and spring coaches reports, district business manager Shay Shaw gave her financial report. Shaw said that the state has requested Title I waivers which could mean less money for the district with a 30 percent set aside.

“They first got turned down so they’ve reworked their waiver request, but haven’t heard back yet,” said Shaw. “Depending on where our test scores fall we could still have to set aside up to 20 percent for some sort of supplemental services.”

Shaw said they could also see up to nine percent in federal funding cuts, but the district won’t know until December of this year or January of next.

“Regarding Title 1 cuts if we continue with current staffing that puts the district in the red by $57,000 and it also goes into Special Education by $42,000. What we are asking for is to move some higher rate teachers out of Title I and move a beginning teacher in and save a para job,” said Shaw, when asked about why cuts were being made.

“We’re in limbo right now, we’ll know about the waiver soon and about the test scores by August. The goal is to bring people back if we are allowed.

Shaw was asked about what happens if the test scores are low.

“We get the amount I showed you and if the test scores are low we may have to set aside 20 percent,” she said.

The staffing changes were approved by the board and then they approved a consent agenda with several items, including the resignation of Kelley Shine as fourth grade teacher and Danielle White as a paraprofessional and the revised calendar for the 2012-2013 school year. They also approved a $299.50 donation from Frontier Foods and a $300 donation from Dollars for Scholars to the high school music department, as well as donations to the senior project fundraiser, the junior high football jerseys and the senior project to purchase a TV for announcements in the commons. Tam Hutchinson was hired as a summer school teacher.

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 is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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