School district weighing options to update facilities

OROVILLE – After being denied grants funding from the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) and the Safe Schools grant, Oroville School District is weighing its options and considering going to the voters for approval of a capital levy.

Superintendent Jeff Hardesty discussed facilities projects as part of his Superintendent’s Report at the March 25 Oroville School Board Meeting.

“Our Facilities Committee met in February to discuss the district not receiving the TIB and Safe School grant applications and to discuss the next steps with facilities projects in relationship to recently identified needs,” said Hardesty. “We have aging facilities.”

Hardesty told the board that there was still approximately $475,000 in reserve for the elementary school upgrades. Most of the money is from unspent capital levy dollars, as well as increased student numbers from two years ago, according to Hardesty.

“Even with matching dollars it is hard to get external grants,” said the superintendent. “The Facilities Committee has asked that I formally explore capital levy to address current facility needs in response to the recent grant denials.”

Hardesty said he had scheduled a walk through of the school buildings during spring break to scope the potential projects. The superintendent and the Facilities Committee will make a list of upkeep items that can be addressed out of the current budget. They will also consider elementary school projects that can be funded with the remaining voter-approved capital levy monies.

Those funds are a “result of responsible fiscal management oversight,” he said.

In addition, the district plans on creating a priority list for a potential capital levy for all district facilities.

The district is also currently engaged in interviewing candidates for the position of junior/senior high school principal. The successful candidate will be taking over in the 2019-20 school year as the current principal, Dr. Omar Montejano, will be taking another job outside the district.

“We had an attractive number of candidates with seven interviewed, which has been reduced to four… the finalists should be selected and announced later this week,” said Hardesty. “It was amazing to have seven candidates in a district where we are sometimes lucky to have two. The district is starting to get recognized.”

The superintendent said the district has been aggressive in recruitment for all staff positions. He explained that there are three hiring seasons for staff and district representatives have been attending career fairs to extol the benefits of coming to Oroville.

“We are very aggressive… we call and then call again,” he said.

Under “Good News” Hardesty reported that the District Data Day on March 15 was well attended and received. He also said the district recently underwent a routine audit with the State Auditor.

“We passed with a clean audit and I’d like to say ‘nice job Shay and all the support staff. These audits can be a heavy burden and Shay handled it seamlessly,’” said Hardesty.

In Principal Montejano’s report he talked about spring sports.

“Spring sports are back. I want to commend our teachers for taking on coaching duties,” said Montejano. “Mr. Goeden our high school science teacher is our head coach for boy’s soccer. Mr. Dwayne Turner, a consistent substitute teacher in our building is our head coach for Baseball. Dane Forrester is our head coach for softball. Assistant coach is Jordan Waddell and volunteer coach is Sarah Gilliam. Our high school math teacher Mr. Portwood is head coach for junior high track. Harold Jensen is head coach for high school track and assistant coach is Sierra Speiker, volunteer coach is Emily Mills. Billy Monroe, the elementary P.E. teacher is head coach for high school tennis. Volunteer coach is art teacher Rebekah Schroeter. Bruce Parisho is head coach for high school golf.”

The principal also commended Ed Naillion and his woodshop class, as well as Rebekah Schroeter’s art students for their work on picnic tables at the school.

“For our Awards Assembly we recognized 10 students with perfect attendance for Quarter 2. Students received a gift certificate to the Hornet’s Nest,” said Montejano. “Parents should be expecting another round of Good News Cards from our staff. Teachers will be sending them out by the end of this week.”

Elementary Principal Jamie Mikelson said that the UW Spring Break group had been visiting the third and fourth grade classes with a focus on writing.

“The UW volunteers work with our students on the writing process and each student will have a published piece to share with parents,” Mikelson said.

The principal said that the Minute to Win It Carnival put on by the PTO at the beginning of March was a hit.

“It was well attended, families had a lot of fun and the PTO earned $540 to put toward our next event,” said the principal.

The PTO’s next event is the Bikes, Boards, Blades Rodeo and BBQ, which will be held on Friday, April 26, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event will be a chance to teach bike safety and have fun.

She also reported that the Hawk’s Nest Laundromat had partnered with the Bees Knees Boutique at the school to wash all donated clothes.

“Since Christmas they have washed 32 loads of laundry, free of charge. Thank you to Cindy and family for their support,” she said, wishing her and her family well as they move to the next stage in their life.

Mikelson also thanked Jessica Prieto for doing an outstanding job creating the math intervention position this year.

“She has taken our building’s vision for RTI intervention time to the next level and has helped our staff move forward with using data to monitor student progress and adjust instruction,” said Mikelson.