Tonasket School District to hold off on running bond

“We need the bond, but we can’t survive without the levy. My recommendation would be to postpone the bond; there is enough emotional angst in the community right now.” Supt. Steve McCullough, Tonasket School District

Worried about area losses due to wildfires

TONASKET – Tonasket School District Board members voted to postpone running the school bond again until February of 2017. The decision was reached at the September 28 regular board meeting after much deliberation and discussion of critical needs within the schools, including finding space for growing enrollment numbers.

Community members Michael Greene, Rob Inlow and Janet Bretz reported on findings from a Bond Facilities committee meeting earlier in the day; saying a majority of the group believed it would be best to focus on running the levy this coming February, and to wait on running the bond again until the following February. Concerns were voiced regarding the community’s economic recovery from this summer’s wildfires.

“We need the bond, but we can’t survive without the levy,” said Tonasket School District Superintendent Steve McCullough. “My recommendation would be to postpone the bond; that there is enough emotional angst in the community right now.”

A resolution would need to be submitted by December 11 in order to run it in February.

Board members approved the hiring of Lesli Koplin as middle school c-squad volleyball coach, Mike Larson as a one-year maintenance and grounds worker and Ken Weese as a one-year high school custodian.

The school board also voted to change their meeting date from Mondays to Wednesdays.

Other changes include plans for the school garden to be moved from up on the hill to closer to the elementary school playground areas. The garden will be reduced to a more manageable size of about a quarter of an acre. Goals for this year include getting a fence built around it, moving the tool shed to the new location, and building an outdoor classroom.

The board voted to reappoint Athletic Review Board community members Seth Buchhert, Felicia Clark and Richard Rawley.

The board approved to increase the traffic safety class fee to $460. The fee increase was necessitated by the hiring of a private contractor from Omak to teach the course when the former instructor retired and a replacement was not found.

The board approved the yearly report required by the State School Board for Basic Educational Compliance to verify Tonasket School District is providing at least 1,080 hours of instruction per year.

The school board addressed several policy updates, approving the third and final reading of the Policy # 6022, Minimum Fund Balance. The policy states the district will reach a minimum fund balance of eight percent of the general fund budget by the 2018-19 school year with increments of six percent by the 2016-17 school year and seven percent by the 2017-18 school year.

More information is needed on Policy # 6210, Purchasing: Authorization and Control regarding bid limits, prior to final adoption.

First readings were held of updates to Policies #1340, Targeted Student Learning; #2020, Course Design, Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials; #2027, District-Ownership of Staff-Created Work; #2418 Waiver of High School Graduation Credits; #3122, Excused and Unexcused Absences; and #3421, Child Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Prevention.

Administrative reports were turned in by Liz Stucker, Director of Tonasket Special Services; Tonasket Elementary School Principal Jeremy Clark and Middle School Principal Jay Tyus.

Stucker reported a very busy start up for special education services due to a significant movement of students transferring into the district, most of whom have IEP’s and/or evaluations that are past due.

Stucker said the preschool is now serving 20 students, with three on a waiting list.

“The small classroom size is limiting our ability to provide services to more students at this time,” Stucker stated.

Clark said it was amazing to see the community support in the wake of the summer’s wildfires, with donations of school supplies coming from not only the local community, but as far away as New Orleans.

Elementary school students are excited to engage in the Seven Habits of Happy Kids; part of the Leader in Me program the school is beginning to implement this year. Clark reported the school will focus on one individual habit each month.

The first elementary school Awards Assembly of the year will be held Friday, Oct. 2 at 2:30 p.m.

Clark said he would be attending a training session on differentiation necessary for meeting the needs of the diverse learning population, and an early literacy conference focused on k/1 reading development with a goal of closing reading deficits by the time students get to third grade and face the state testing.

Tyus reported the opening day assembly was “the best one ever.” It was completely student-leadership driven as modeled by Leader in Me protocol. Tyus also reported staff members learning and practicing the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People resulting in increased dedication, cooperation, trust and “communicating at a level that has not been previously seen.”

“It is part of the training, but also the quality of the individuals in this place,” Tyus said.

Elementary and Middle School staff members attended Leader in Me training last spring and early this fall. The $35,000 cost of the training is being reimbursed to the district through the migrant program.

Caton attended the Legislative Assembly at the Sea-Tac Marriott September 18-19 and distributed notes from the meeting to his fellow board members.

All five board members and Superintendent McCullough plan to attend the WSSDA Regional Meeting in Oroville Tuesday, Oct. 6.

High school student Rachel Silverthorn reported on student activities, including the FCCLA planning a service project to benefit families whose homes have been lost in widlfires; and the FFA working with Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb on a service project to help rebuild the fences of families who lost fencing and pasture. She said the T-Club and Mrs. Moore’s class would be recreating an athlete of the year quilt lost by the student in this year’s wildfires.

Silverthorne said the Tonasket FFA chapter came in first place at the Okanogan County Fair, and Tonasket Homecoming will be held this Saturday, Oct. 3 at noon.

Board member Lloyd Caton said 230 animals were sold at the Okanogan County Fair; 89 of them belonging to Tonasket kids.

“It was one of the hottest sales I ever saw. We set a new record for dollars,” Caton said. “Probably 80 percent of Tonasket kids received blue ribbons.”

Board member Ty Olson also reported positive support for kids at the market stock sales.

“Some of the people in this county who lost the most in the fires came out and spent a lot of money,” said Olson, adding that when he asked one community member who lost everything he had in the fire about his generosity at the fair, the man responded “That’s because you never give up on your kids.”

“This man doesn’t even have a kid in the school system or at the fair. And no one had a bigger loss than this guy did; and the losses aren’t over for him yet. Also,” Olson continued, “we have something pretty special in this valley right now and that is our Ag program. It is the envy of the valley. People came up to me the fair and said, ‘You guys are really doing it right.’ I don’t want to see that program stall out if we don’t support it by not running the bond.”

The Board moved into Executive Session for Superintendent Evaluation at 10:55 p.m.