Tonasket School Board approves new curricula

TONASKET – The Tonasket School Board’s approval of curricula for middle school suicide prevention education and high school language arts highlighted actions taken at the Monday, Jan. 23, meeting.

Middle school counselor Patty Drexler presented the suicide/depression program, saying that it focused on educating students on how to deal with stress and anxiety, listening for changes and problems, and providing links to get help. She said that the teachers would be staying in the classroom during the four 45-minute sessions both to be aware of what the students were taught and to be aware of what to look for with their students.

Drexler said that the curriculum was recommended by the North Central ESD (as well as having been reviewed by district administrators), and is free for Washington schools.

She added that similar curricula for high school and elementary-level students were available and being reviewed by the district.

The board also approved the purchase of 400 Holt McDougal high school language art texts. The curriculum was chosen by the high school language arts committee due to its strong organizational layout for both students and teachers; the fact that it is in line with current common core standards; uses interactive readers and has a variety of tests available; and it is very similar to the middle school curriculum adopted last year.

There will be 100 books purchased for each grade level, allowing for anticipated high school classes of 80-85 students as well as availability for checkout by alternative school students.

Much of the meeting consisted of reports by administrators and various school groups.

Superintendent Paul Turner reported that preparations for the Feb. 14 levy replacement election are continuing, noting that he’d visited two community groups to discuss the levy and had three or four more to go. Ballots will be sent out Jan. 26. Other literature, including a Spanish translation, will be going out into the community this week.

High school principal Jeff Hardesty, middle school principal Jay Tyus and elementary principal Jeff Cravy each presented overviews of their building School Improvement Plans (SIP). Each summarized reports of 40-60 pages that included data on student performance and strategies focusing on individual student improvement as well as overall improvement in reaching grade-level benchmarks.

Work on the district-wide policy and procedure overhaul continued with a second and final reading of policy 4200. A first reading of 4260, the school facilities use policy, was approved, but after discussion with school administrators and athletic director Kevin Terris it was agreed that there was much research to be done on what was required by the state before proceeding further.

Two representatives of the PAC, which provides support for families of migrant students, were present and invited school board members to attend one of their upcoming meetings.

“All grade levels are represented by the parents that attend,” Tyus said. “They try to address things that are pertinent to all grade levels, including things like the ‘hidden rules of school’ that everyone needs to know.”

Middle School ASB president Bailey Griffin and treasurer Rycki Cruz were on hand to present the school board with posters in honor of School Board Appreciation month. Each of the school board members received a poster with their image attached, surrounded by the signatures of Middle School students.

High school ASB school board representative Melody Wolen reported that the FCCLA was in the process of building its own web site, set up aluminum can recycling within the school was working with the Tonasket Post Office to set up a newspaper recycling bin; the T-Club was working on an i-movie of sports highlights; FBLA currently has seven paid members and will be attending a conference in Wenatchee on Feb. 15; and FFA recently competed in a trap shooting contest and will be participating in more upcoming events. Winterfest will take place Feb. 21-25 and will have an “after party” instead of a dance this year. The awards show will be on Feb. 25 with a cost of $3, with the public welcome at the event.

Wolen also said that fundraiser will soon be underway for the junior prom, including an taco feed on Jan. 31 in the High School commons during the basketball games that evening, and the sale of roses Jan. 26-Feb. 13. Prom will be Saturday, April 21 at the Tonasket Community Cultural Center.

The board also approved a fuel contract bid from Coleman Oil – the only bidder – for gas and diesel, with the bid coming in at about the same amount as last year. Board member Lloyd Caton recused himself from discussion and voting on the issue.

Also, Jan Ottman was approved as sixth grade camp director, with Jody Terris and Valerie Kauffman approved as camp staff. All are sixth grade teachers in the middle school.

Turner also reported on school budget numbers, which largely fell within expected ranges. Numbers that were different than expected included transportation revenue of $175,000, well over the $115,000 expected in the budget, mainly because the state did not cut transportation depreciation as anticipated. The ASB balance was also running higher than usual, though not atypical for this time of year, as fundraisers (such as the cookie dough sale) were in progress but funds hadn’t yet been spent.

Enrollment also held steady with the district gaining the equivalent of half a student, increasing district enrollment to 1,056.

“We got through the first of the year without a big decrease,” Turner said. “That’s always good.”

The board concluded with an executive session that was expected to last about 90 minutes.

The school board next meets Monday, Feb. 13, in the district office board room.

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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