Gold mine’s closure might not hit district as hard as forecast
OROVILLE – “Schools in session and things are going very well,” Steve Quick, Oroville School District Superintendent told the school board at their Monday, Sept. 28 meeting.
The statement came under “Good News and Announcements.” He followed by saying enrollment was over what was projected when the board made this year’s budget.
“We should be able to average by the end of the year what we budgeted for,” Quick said.
Later when he was going over the financial report written by District Business Manager Shay Shaw, he said the district was at 544.7 FTE (full time equivilant) students, which is 24.7 more than budgeted for. The more students the better because the state pays basic education dollars based on the number of FTEs enrolled in the school.
Quick also spoke about the need to start preparing for the next two-year Maintenance and Operations Levy. He said the issue will be on the ballot in February. Currently the levy amount is $1.2 million and the superintendent said the district did not have enough property evaluation to increase that amount. However, he added that a meeting last week with Okanogan County Assessor Scott Furman was more positive than expected in light of Kinross’ plan to shut down operations at their Buckhorn Mountain gold mine this year.
“The mine hasn’t shut down like they predicted and the assessor hopes that new construction in the area will help to offset some of the decrease in evaluation when the mine does shut down,” said Quick. “That was good news to me.”
When asked if the school district would again qualify for levy equalization monies once the mine was closed, Quick said the district did not know at this point. Oroville School District lost Levy Equalization, funds given by the state to poorer rural school districts if they pass their maintenance and operation levies so they can provide education on a more equal level with property rich school districts. Oroville lost levy equalization because the gold mine increased the amount of valuation in the district elevating it above the amount required to qualify.
“We’re real close on Levy Equalization… that number fluctuates,” said Quick. “Some more good news is that the three year loan for improvements to the elementary school building comes off the tax rolls.”
Last Monday’s meeting started out with a presentation by Tori Kindred, a sophomore at Oroville High School. Kindred is this year’s state president of Future Business Leaders of America. She reported on attending the state conference, as well as the national conference in Chicago. Kindred said FBLA gives students a chance to meet with business leaders from around the state and to network with people like Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook and the CEO of Starbucks.
“I mainly came here to show my appreciation for your support of FBLA. We love to do this, we love to complete,” she said. “Without you supporting my dad and our chapter, we couldn’t do it.”
After her year as state president, Kindred, whose father Tony Kindred is the group’s advisor, said she is considering running for national secretary. And even further into the future Kindred said she is thinking of getting into event planning as a career, because so much of her experience with FBLA has revolved around event planning.
In their principal’s reports, both elementary principal Joan Hoehn and high school principal Kristen Sarmiento made presentations showing results from student testing – which grades and subjects the students were doing well in and where there was still work to be done.
“We need to fill in the holes we’ve missed,” said Hoehn, referring to third and fourth grade English Language Arts and Literacy scores as well as fourth and fifth grade math scores.
Sarmiento showed where 11th grade test results were lacking across the state. She said this was due to these students already passing required tests.
“Across the state there were entire classes of 11th graders who walked out and didn’t take the tests because they had already met the requirements. Ours didn’t, but they didn’t try. It’s hard to make kids try when they’ve already passed it,” Sarmiento said.
She said there was work to do with both English Language Arts and Math, some grade levels, however were very near the state average.
“I know we have work to do in math, we have kids in ALEKS now,” she said.
School director Mike Egerton asked if the testing results were available for parents, so they could see how their children were fairing.
Sarmiento said they would be available at the parent/teacher conferences.
The principal also reported that Oroville High School’s graduation rate was 85.1 percent and was increasing.
In his report, Supt. Quick said that the process of evaluations had already started for this year.
“I’m on the principals and they’re on the teachers,” Quick said.
Quick also said that the district was looking at new tools to put more of their lessons online.
“I also appreciate the board’s and Veranda Beach’s support for the swimming program for the fourth grade students. It was a little cooler this year. But the program can save lives,” he said.
“Not only that it enriches them,” said School director Rocky DeVon.
The school board approved a consent agenda that included several items. Among these were amending the school calendar to include an early release on Nov. 25 and an extra contract for Tam Hutchinson of $5,689 for teaching during his athletic director prep period for 2015-16 and approval of a stipend for $500 for the AVID summer training in San Diego, Calif., being reimbursed by Gear Up for Shelly Johnson, DeHaven Hill, Steven Gunderson, Jan Ottman, ED Booker, Whitney Massart, Tony Kindred, Harold Jenson, Steve Colvin and Linda Colvin. Tina Koepke, Courney Montowski and Mary Marchand were hired as parapros and Dwayne Turner as assistant high school football coach and Justine Salizar as junior high volleyball coach. The substitute list was also approved, with two board members abstaining because the were related to someone n the list.