Oroville PTO sponsors Town Hall meeting on school issues

Members of the Oroville School Board and district staff joined Oroville Parent-Teacher Organization President Rich Scott at a Town Hall meeting to discuss issues involving the district on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 11. Present were (L-R) Scott, Superi

Members of the Oroville School Board and district staff joined Oroville Parent-Teacher Organization President Rich Scott at a Town Hall meeting to discuss issues involving the district on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 11. Present were (L-R) Scott, Superi

OROVILLE – The Oroville Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) brought together school board members, staff and the community at a special Town Hall meeting last week to discuss issues involving the Oroville School District.

A panel that included Superintendent Steve Quick, School Directors Phil Barker and Rocky DeVon, High School Principal Kristin Sarmiento and Elementary School Principal Joan Hoehn was present to answer questions. The Town Hall featured several preprepared questions, as well as a chance for community members to ask their own questions.

The first question involved whether the board was responsible for reviewing curriculum before it goes into the classroom and whether a parents can make curriculum suggestions. Oroville School District Superintendent Steve Quick said that the district’s curriculum is posted on its website, that a committee reviews all curriculum and makes recommendations to the board, who has the final decision.

“It’s second nature to us, if you’re not part of the system you might not know what’s going on. A lot of these questions might be answered on the website, like the first one that talks about curriculum,” said Supt. Quick. “There’s a ton of info on the district website under the curriculum tab.”

Quick said that last year the district was choosing science curriculum and this year it is language arts. He invited the community to get involved and said parents can make suggestions and that these suggestions would be looked at by the curriculum committee.

The next question was about what to do if parents have problems with staff or teachers, what steps would be recommended.

Quick said he usually recommends the parent go directly to the staff member.

“A lot of misconceptions can be solved this way before they go to the rumor mill. Secondly, everyone has a direct supervisor. In my case it is the school board,” he said. “Put the complaint in writing, it really helps to clarify the issue. There is also a complaint form online.”

The panel was asked if there was a process in place to address bullying. Principal Sarmiento said that there was a process and that Maria Griffin, the Dean of Students and Charlie DeMarre with Family Empowerment were there to help. She also spoke about several programs the district has to educate students about bullying, as does the elementary school, according to Principal Hoehn.

“Bullying is a disciplinary action, the student and parents meet with Mr. Fancher who handles discipline at the high school,” Sarmiento said. “We take bullying very seriously… we also have peer mediation which can be effective.”

The next question concerned whether there was a way to learn what takes place at the school board meetings in addition to what appears in the local newspaper. Quick said the board minutes can be found online.

The board members on the panel were asked if they had specific goals in mind regarding changes they would like to make in the district.

“I’d like to see us spend more time trying to get along rather then squabbling and to work to quickly resolve issues and to see that everyone is treated the same… that what’s fair for one is fair for all,” said Barker, the board’s chairman.

DeVon, the board’s vice-chairman, said he’d like the district to have its own Running Start type program rather than see students have to drive to Omak.

“I’d also like a dedicated repair and maintenance program for the buildings. Good buildings are expensive, we need to take care of them,” said DeVon, who would also like to see more access to the district by those who home school their children.

There were also questions about the upcoming school levy and potential bonds for building repairs. Quick said the board had settled on a replacement two-year levy asking for the same amount as they did last time. The election will be held in February with ballots going out sometime at the end of this month. Election information is also online.

The decision as to whether to run a bond for facilities improvements hasn’t been made yet. The roof on both the elementary and high school need major repairs and that will probably be the district’s first step in facilities improvements.

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.