Enrollment up at Oroville schools

Students transforming into zombie

An Oroville High School student is zombiefied in the Zombie Transformation Room as part of "Zombie Apocalypse Day." The learning event took place on Halloween and was sponsored by Central Washington University and Gear Up. Gary DeVon/staff photo
An Oroville High School student is zombiefied in the Zombie Transformation Room as part of “Zombie Apocalypse Day.” The learning event took place on Halloween and was sponsored by Central Washington University and Gear Up. Gary DeVon/staff photo

OROVILLE – The Oroville School District, which receives basic education monies from the state based on the number of students enrolled, had good news at the Oct. 27 board meeting, the numbers are up.

District Business Manager Shay Shaw said the number of FTEs, Full Time Equivalents, had gone up 12 kids from September to October.

“That’s almost 27 students over budget,” she said.

At the end of each year the school board budgets based on their best guess for how many students will be enrolled in the upcoming year. Traditionally the school directors estimate on the conservative side. By doing so, when the numbers are higher, the district gets funds more funds than budgeted for. If the numbers fall short, then the board needs to look at cuts.

Staff Reports

At the meeting the board heard reports from the principals, as well as superintendent, before passing a lengthy number of motions by consent.

Elementary Principal Joan Hoehn gave her report first. She said Lisa Lindsay from the Okanogan Wildlife League, or OWL, came by and gave a presentation.

“That was great,” she said. “We also had students from the pre-school and Life Skills classes go to the Pumpkin Patch on the twentieth. The kindergarteners went the next day.”

Principal Hoehn said November is Disability Month.

“The fourth, fifth and sixth grades are doing activities in the gym, doing during PE, to see what it would be like to have a disability…. like being in a wheelchair. Some of the sixth graders have been making positive posters for the walls,” she said.

She also gave an update on the Principal’s Challenge, a contest where the students try to read a set number of books and get rewards based on reaching goals.

“We are a little behind where we would normally be at this point because we started sooner. We usually do it in February and by then the kindergarteners know how to read,” she said. “As of Friday we had 4558 books read, which is about 1141 below goal.”

The kids have reached three of their goals so far. One reward included building log cabins out pretzels covered in chocolate. Another is to have a “mountain man” come by.

“Some of the kids have been kind of scared for me to be outside (as part of the reward). The say they are scared of the cougar. One kid said he wouldn’t read any more cause he didn’t want me to be outside,” she said.

The principal also reported on progress of the Leader in Me program which began implementation on Oct. 13. She said the staff was getting better acquainted with the program and using the training.

“How does everyone feel about the program are they still excited about it,” asked Rocky DeVon, chairman of the school board.

“They’re excited and have to remember it’s still work. I feel like they’re positive about it,” she replied.

Hoehn showed a five-minute video of the seven habits the students will be developing. These include: 1. Be proactive, 2. Begin with the end in mind, 3. Put first things first; 4. Think win-win, 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood, 4. Synergize, 7. Sharpen the saw.

Kristin Sarmiento, the junior/senior high school principal, gave her report next.

“At the very end of September we attended the College Fair in Tonasket. It was a small one, not huge like the ones we used to have here, but it gives the student an idea of what’s out there,” she said. “There is also a National College Fair being held in Spokane. Dawn Miller and Steve Gunderson working to have a group from Oroville attend.”

Sarmiento said the Leadership Class focused on three things during the month of October – Cancer, Domestic Violence and Disability Awareness.

“We had a surprise visit from Cal Poly that was really exciting. They were up here visiting schools for a research project. They wanted to see the science teacher because they have some equipment to donate,” she said.

The project would have 40 teams studying the ice on Neptune and would entail the use of digital telescopes to record data points, according to Sarmiento.

Sarmiento also talked about the “Zombie Apocalypse Day” scheduled for Halloween. The fun program was put on by Central Washington University and included a Lab, Quarantine Area and Transformation Room. From there the students would participate in Zombie Tag in the gym.

“It sounds like there is very high interest. I’ve heard good things about it,” said Sarmiento.

She said there would be a Veterans Day Assembly in Coulton Auditorium on Monday, Nov. 10.

Sarmiento also described changes in the expectations for the Senior Project, including the students no longer required to do a research paper.

“The state has changed things… it’s not a lot different. It is not less work there is still a requirement of 30 hours of community service, either on an ongoing project that needs to be maintained or on new projects that are along the career path,” she said.

Superintendent Steve Quick said he had attended the Leader in Me training with the Elementary Staff.

“It looks really good over there. I also went to TPEP training,” he said.

Quick talked about the Bright Bytes technology survey that not only measures the technology skills available at the school, but the kind of technology the students have at home.

“Collective bargaining with the coaches is getting really close,” he said. “It has come down to one item on which I thought we had an agreement.”

The classified staff has changed insurance from Premera to Lifestyles, said Quick, adding that Premera had goine up 17 percent this year, on top of an increase by eight percent last year.

“Certain people with families are seeing an $800 or more a month difference in their pay checks, because of the change,” added Shaw. “It is a lot less than they were paying before and they are able to get dental and vision as well.”

Quick said the staff said that the benefits appear to be comparable.

“Lots of school districts have been looking at changing their health insurance coverage,” said Quick.

Quick said the district had sent out a couple of alerts about cougars in the area.

“I know one has been taken by a hunter,” said Quick.

School Director Todd Hill, an Oroville Police Department, said there were reports of two cougar sightings in town, but there has so far been no confirmation.

Consent Agenda

The consent agenda, included approval of HVAC Water Treatment proposals for the high school and elementary buildings. The board also approved teacher Linda Colvin getting a $2600 stipend and the resignation of Cynthia Porter as a sixth grade teacher. DeHaven Hill will be the junior high boys basketball coach and the board approved the EWU Running Start in the High School memorandum of understanding.

Director DeVon also thanked the Oroville Scholarship Foundation for the donation of $300 to the schools’ music program.