Tonasket School Board updates policies, bus route

TONASKET – The Tonasket School Board continued the process of updating its policies at its Monday, Oct. 10 board meeting, taking the next step its year-long project.

“It’s our big goal of the year,” said Tonasket Superintendent Paul Turner. “We’re doing one section a month. The policies are very outdated. Some of them date back to the ’80’s and have never been taken care of.

The board did the second reading of the 2000 series, which pertain to instruction, and its first reading of the 3000 series, having to do with students.

Turner said that once the policies are updated, they will be easier to maintain through quarterly updates from the Washington School Directors Association.

“Those updates will let us know of changes in laws or court rulings and how they affect our policies,” Turner said. “A lot of those are federal or state mandated, such as the new concussion policy (for athletics).

“And it’s just a good process to go through and review so that the policies are back on peoples’ minds again.”

High school graduation policy requirements were also pulled out for the high school principal to review.

The board handled three petitions for changes to bus routes, which were sent to committee:

— A petition to change the middle of the Wannacut Lake route would have required sending a bus up the road to Wannacut Lake, adding 15 minutes to the bus ride for outlying students. That petition was denied.

— A petition to pick up eight students, adding 1.5 miles to the end of the Aeneas Valley route, was approved. The number of kids involved, as well as the fact that the change wouldn’t effect the remainder of the riders on that route, was cited.

— A petition that would have changed the middle of the Siwash Creek route was denied due to the effect on the rest of the route and the small number of children involved. The board asked the committee to meet with the parents after the meeting to see if they could find a workable solution.

The school board also approved the hiring of elementary special education paraprofessional Alicia Thomas and a high school Knowledge Bowl coach.

The board then broke off into executive session to discuss contract negotiations.

“We’re looking at what the state is doing and not really looking forward to what’s coming,” Turner said. “We’re probably looking at another cut before were out of the budget cycle. They’re either going to have to make more cuts or find more funds, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be more funds.

“Somewhere down the line the state is going to have to do something, especially to education, because we’re really getting to the bare bones,” said Turner