Blaine Wagner will be Oroville School Board student rep

OROVILLE – After a few quick questions, Blaine Wagner, a junior at Oroville High School, was unanimously approved as the student representative to the school board.

Wagner volunteered for the position and was highly recommended by high school principal Steve Quick.

“Blaine is involved in sports, involved in clubs and is a good student overall,” said Quick. “He gets along with nearly all the students.”

Director Amy Wise asked Wagner why he wanted to be student representative.

“I just want to get more involved with my school. I feel I can give some good ideas,” said Wagner.

Director Tedi Fletcher wanted to know what Wagner felt was the role of a student representative and how he would communicate the board’s wishes to his fellow students.

“The student representative is someone who can speak for the other students and say what can be changed in the school and help them to achieve it,” Wagner said. “What I can communicate to the students is what you are expecting of the students and what they can do to help out the board.”

Director Tim Whiteaker asked if Wagner felt their were current issues of concern with the students that he knew about.

“There are homework issues that I have heard about… being able to get it done. For example an athlete that is given homework to have done the next day when it is a game night and having to come home and finish it when it is pretty late. I think teachers can be more flexible.”

Verle Rowton, another director, asked if there was a problem with certain teachers purposely assigning homework on game nights.

Wagner said he didn’t know of anyone that specifically did that, but that it can cause extra pressure on a student that hasn’t got the time to complete the homework after they finish with the game.

“There may be times the board needs student input. How would you go about getting the input from your fellow students?” asked Jerry Nelson, chairman of the school board.

“I would try to get input from different kinds of people. I am kind of between the popular and unpopular students,” said Wagner. I feel I get along with all the students and could easily seek their input.”

Fletcher said although the student rep was not allowed to vote, they did get the same information packet provided to the board and asked how he would get involved in the discussion.

“I would do my homework and talk discussion items over with fellow students,” Wagner said.

Rowton made a motion to approve Wagner as the new student representative and it was adopted unanimously.

Dr. Ernie Bartelson, superintendent for the school district, reported that student enrollment has remained relatively flat.

“Actually it is not really good, but it has been holding its own at 605,” Bartleson said. “October has always been a jump month for us… it is usually a good month for us, but this year we didn’t get an increase for the first time in many years.”

The superintendent said the 605 number was still 15 students more than the number the board built this school year’s budget around, but normally they district liked to be about 20 FTEs above the budget number.

“It’s okay, but we like to be higher. However, we are about the same as other districts in the region, with the exception of Brewster which actually went down,” he said.

Bartelson also told the board during the financial report that the district had only one more year before the 20-year high school remodeling bond was paid off.

Mary Willey reported that the students required to take the WASL tests in elementary school continued to do well in reading, but math scores lagged behind in comparison. She gave a Power Point presentation showing last year’s scores for the third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades.

“Reading is our best area, but in math we are still struggling,” she said. “Obviously math is going to be our thing this year.”

Principal Quick said the high school was making progress on the WASL. “However, last year’s scores were a little lower than previous years. At the high school we have done interventions. We are still a small enough high school that we can cater to the students that need more one on one help.”

There was some conversation about the two candidates for State Superintendent of Public Schools. The incumbent wants to make changes to the WASL, while the challenger would like to throw it out altogether.

Quick said the WASL had its positives. “It depends on what side of the issue you fall on. It has done a lot of good, but it has also caused a lot of heartache and cost a lot of money,” he said.

Director Fletcher said she would hate to see the whole testing program thrown out, despite its shortcomings. She said she felt that parts of it could be saved rather than starting all over again with something else.

“A lot of time and money has gone into this. I’d hate to see it scrapped, even though we are not happy with all of it,” Fletcher said.

In his principal’s report, elementary school principal Joe Worsham said the first quarter ends Thursday, Oct. 30 and that parent-teacher conferences had been scheduled. He also thanked Principal Quick for arranging to have the Missoula Children’s Theatre return again this year.

In his report, Quick said the high school had been accredited again for another six years. Quick and Fletcher said they had heard some people had thought the school had lost its accreditation, Quick assured the board this was untrue.

“I just had the word today. We did a self-study last year and set a lot of really good goals and the high school has a lot of good things going on,” he said

The principal told the board about how the junior high and high school try to send students to different colleges to see what’s out there.

“We are really working with the kids to personalize their education to help them be a success both in high school and in the future,” he said.

A new policy where a student that is missing four assignments is made ineligible for sports or other extracurricular activities for that day was discussed.

“The student has 24 hours to catch up. I got an email today from one teacher that said she had a kid that was not keeping up who is doing so now. She said he was at about 88 percent and she seems pretty happy with it,” Quick said.

Quick said the board may have noticed the band at concerts or playing at the game.

“They’re doing great as ever. Although we lost a great music teacher we got a great one back. We lucked out and made some great hires this year,” said Quick.

The principal said fall sports were wrapping up their seasons, with the girls soccer season over and volleyball ending next Saturday.

“Winter sports begin Nov. 17 with the first practices,” Quick said.

Fletcher and Wise reported on a school directors’ conference they attended. They said when they told Sen. Bob Morton that the Oroville School’s had already implemented the CORE 24 program he had trouble believing it.

“He said that’s impossible, there are not enough hours in the day,” said Fletcher. “We said we are already doing it.”

“We are really pretty progressive,” added Wise. “Our school is doing a lot of things the other schools are not.”

Both Wise and Fletcher said they were disappointed with the conference. Wise added that there were some who were saying schools soon won’t be needed anymore.

“They say that students can do it all on the computer,” she said.

“But until we can make these companies accountable we can’t prove anyone is learning anything. It is like home schooling… how can you tell if they’re getting an education?” asked Fletcher. “And I’d like to see someone do PE with a computer.”

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 the 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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