Oroville has the most students going on to college in valley
“We always hear rumblings that Oroville kids are not going on to college and I know that’s not true. This is a positive, it doesn’t matter if we are the biggest or smallest district, Oroville is the highest up and down the (Okanogan) valley.” OHS Principal Kristin Sarmiento
OROVILLE – Although the decision wasn’t announced during the Monday, May 26 Oroville School Board meeting, it appears OHS Principal Kristin Sarmiento will not be transferred back to a teaching position for the 2014-15 school year.
“The board overturned the transfer,” said Sarmiento, upon coming out of the district office about 10 minutes after the board had officially adjourned.
At a special meeting, held in closed door session the previous Wednesday, May 21, the school board met to discuss whether or not to overturn Superintendent Steve Quick’s decision to end Sarmiento’s position as high school principal and transfer her back to a teaching position next year. Sarmiento had requested the board reject Quick’s decision and she remain as principal. After hearing from Quick, Sarmiento and several of the high school staff, the district’s attorney, Rockie Hansen said state law allowed the board to not make the final decision in an open public meeting, but instead had 10 days to inform Sarmiento in writing. Apparently the board ruled in favor of Sarmiento, who had several teachers write letters of support, as well as testify one at a time during the closed-door meeting.
Leader In Me Grant
As usual Monday’s board meeting started with “good news and announcements” and it was reported that the Oroville Elementary had received a Leader in Me grant.
“You know Waterville had to apply three times… so this is a huge, huge accomplishment,” said School Director Todd Hill.
According to their website: The Leader in Me program is described as a “whole-school transformation model that acts like an operating system of a computer” improving performance of all other programs. It is based on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and is said to produce transformational results such as higher academic achievement and reduce discipline problems. It is also said to increase engagement among teachers and parents, as well as equip students with the self-confidence and skills they need to thrive in the 21st Century economy.
Protest for Popular Teacher
During the public comment period, School Director Rocky DeVon said, “It’s come to my attention that several people are here to discuss an item not on the agenda regarding an employee. It would be illegal to discuss with him not here.”
Although DeVon, the board chairman, did not mention the employee by name, just outside the district board room’s window, protesters, mostly students, could be seen, and heard, chanting and holding up signs demanding teacher Ryan Frazier be retained by the district. Frazier is a first year teacher at Oroville and his name was not among those on the re-hire list for the coming school year which was approved later in the meeting. As a first-year teacher Frazier is probationary and is not an automatic rehire. While waiting to speak on Sarmiento’s behalf the previous week the popular teacher said that it was Supt. Quick, not the principal, who had made the decision not to include him on the rehire list – a list he was included on the previous April, according to Frazier.
Marlene Barker, director of the HOSTS (Help One Student to Succeed) reading program discussed the success of HOSTS at Oroville Elementary.
“It’s a research-based intervention program for second and third grade students,” said Barker, who adds that HOSTS is in its 22nd year at Oroville.
“The students receive individualized instruction from mentors from the community. The mentors help keep the kids in school and HOSTS helps with their homework and throughout the student’s academic career,” said Barker.
She added that some recent students had entered the program with only a first year reading level and are now at a 3.5 or 3.7 reading level.
“The program started in 1992 at the Oroville Elementary… 22 years ago. We have one mentor who has been there every single year,” Barker said. “So I just wanted to say I appreciate your support and hope to have it in the future as well.”
Sixth Grade Camp
Elementary teacher Julie Schilgen reported on the success of the recent Sixth Grade Camp at Lost Lake.
“It wouldn’t be possible without all our presenter,” she said, listing a number of the presenters and programs during the week-long camp.
These included presentations on wildfires, noxious weeds, fire extinguishers, loons, beavers, wetlands, aquatic insects, wolverines, the importance of thinning trees, planting trees, fire prevention, wild flowers, watersheds and water quality. She also said there are a number of night classes including birdhouse building, nature art, geocaching, fly tying, emergency shelters, day packs and track casting.
“The kids learn a lot about camp life, like carrying firewood, doing the dishes and cleaning,” she added.
In addition to hearing a report from Lili Hilderbrand, the student representative to the board, reports were given by the principals, superintendent and business manager.
Principal Sarmiento said the district recently completed its secondary accreditation.
“We received the accreditation and are now good for five more years,” she said.
She also reported that she had met with some of the district’s Running Start partners and it looked like the high school will be able to offer more college classes than ever before. And at least one four-year college, Central Washington University, is looking at making two-year Associate of Arts degrees available, while other colleges are resistant to doing so.
“If all goes well we will be on track to offer AA degrees within the next four years,” she said.
“Is that something that we should be legislating for?” asked DeVon.
“If colleges don’t them accept as transfer credits then I think that’s what you should do,” replied Sarmiento. “It looks like it might not be as difficult as we once thought.”
Sarmiento also presented a slide showing a graph comparing the different school districts in the county and the number of graduates who go on to two and four-year degrees. With the exception of the Methow Valley School District, a higher percentage of Oroville graduates continue on to post secondary education up and down the valley, according to the state statistics.
“We always hear rumblings that Oroville kids are not going on to college and I know that’s not true,” said Sarmiento. “This is a positive, it doesn’t matter if we are the biggest or smallest district, Oroville is the highest up and down the (Okanogan) valley.”
She added that she would like to see the number even higher, but asked the board to keep in mind the data did not include the many kids who go into the military or seek education in a trade, like through a lineman or mechanics school.
“Lots of our kids attend post secondary schools, but they’re not necessarily two- or four-year colleges,” she said.
“We also need to follow the kids, to track and see if they finish their two- or four-year degree, or if they quit and get a job early because some students just get offers they can’t refuse.
Supt. Quick reported that the district would be opening bids on the remodel the bathrooms at the elementary school at a special board meeting on Tuesday, June 3.
School Director Brad Scott emphasized his desire to try and hire a local contractor to do the work and put the dollars back into the community.
Quick assured the board that the bid package had been advertized locally and felt that the district would be getting some interest from local contractors.
Under “New Business” the board voted on several items on the agenda, including approving the rehire list – hiring teachers for the upcoming school year. Several people were in the audience that wanted to discuss the fact that Frazier was not on the list.
“This meeting is for the hire list; not the non-hire list. It would be illegal to discuss… it would be a violation of the employee’s rights,” said DeVon, who suggested those present attend the next meeting of the board on June 23.
While DeVon was making the comment the sound of people outside shouting “Frazier, Frazier, Frazier” could be heard.
Business Manager Shay Shaw reported on several expenses, as well as the forecast the school would be receiving $80,000 to $100,000 in energy incentives from the BPA for the improvements in the HV/AC system at the high school.
She also reported that the district’s enrollment was continuing its downward slide.
“As of the May 1st count we probably dropped five or six kids,” she said.
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