(KS Brooks/Chewelah Independent)
LEVY ON THE MIND: Board talks about some details concerning the newly passed Capital Levy in Chewelah…
The Chewelah School Board of Directors met last Tuesday, November 13, and Chairperson Loretta Burkey took the opportunity to commend the winners of the recent election, all who were in attendance. Deanna Norvell congratulated them, adding that it was challenging at times but worth it. The new board members will take their seating at the December 18, 2019 meeting.
Along with this, the board also approved the new agreed on contract with the Chewelah Educator’s Association.
Some changes with the new contract are the state funded cost of living adjustment, a state-funded professional development day, building administrators must now appoint a “designee” when they will be out of the building to act as the building principal and updates were made to the contract to reflect the new state laws surrounding student discipline.
The contract has already been ratified by the CEA and agreed upon by the district’s negotiation team.
Later in the meeting, Judy Bean brought up the fact that the board had heard from a number of people who worked on the Facilities Committee concerning the capital levy. That precipitated her taking a look at what might be some possible policy considerations, looking at laws, research and at other sample policies. She mentioned a number of online resources which addressed what facilities planning should look like, and did some draft work and some audit criteria and what might be some considerations as far as long-range planning, Spokane and Mead do 25 year planning, smaller districts will do 10 year which is pretty common. The next Facilities Committee meeting will be on November 20.
Superintendent Rich McFarland presented Hailey Crise with a certificate celebrating her work moving desks and for being a self-starter. He stated that the district hoped that she would work for them again this summer.
In the new business section of the agenda, the capital levy – which passed at the November election – was discussed, and questions were raised as to what those funds would cover. Superintedent McFarland mentioned that close to 56 percent of voters had been in favor of the measure. He thanked the community as well as the committee who did a “fine job of promoting the levy. We appreciate their efforts.”
McFarland stated that, in reference to the levy, they need some time “to figure out where we’re at and organize and we’ll be reinstituting our technology meeting with staff again.” He mentioned that we need a more robust system than what we have
Burkey asked, “Are we looking at improving just our tech infrastructure or are we actually going to get some new computers?”
“It depends on how far we can stretch those dollars and use some of our erate money to extend those dollars. We fully expect that half those dollars will be spent in the communications upgrade, phone and video camera system,” McFarland answered.
He went on to say that there is another piece with the instructional technology around projectors and what the teachers use to bring learning alive for our students. “If you look, they have gone away from projectors and to flat screens. We need to do a combination of what makes sense. … We’re also looking at, is there a way to standardize some of our equipment because we’ve gotten so much over the years from different places, that projectors and printers are different in every classroom, that isn’t there some efficiency in having standards as well.”
McFarland stated that different technologies may be needed at different levels, such as elementary vs. high school, math vs. language arts, etc.
“We’re going to get input from staff because we need it because they are the experts at teaching that,” he said.
After briefly discussing some possible economical equipment in using Chromebooks instead of laptops, the enrichment levy, which failed in Mead, came up.
“We’re working on that right now. Our admin team started meeting on Tuesday to start a conversation and identify what aspects of our program will fully support the future and making sure that we get that report to the SPI so it can be supported and get it on the February ballot,” McFarland explained. There were some questions about why a February ballot, and he clarified that it seems to be a better timing and have better voter turnout, and it gives them the option of running it again in the fall if it fails in the spring.
An update was given on the wind damage and roof repairs at Quartzite Learning Center. McFarland stated, “It has a shiny new roof – because it was damaged by the wind and it lifted, we were able to get it covered by insurance. They found asbestos which had to be abated. Kudos to the maintenance department and the roofing vendor.” He went on to say that the Quartzite staff had done a phenomenal job of making that a highly functional space.
McFarland announced that he had received official notice that a $34k grant had been awarded to the district that was designated to plan the replacement of the boiler which is a $1.8M project. “If we’re receiving a planning grant for that, then we are much closer to receiving a grant to do the actual work,” he said. He went on to explain that the $1.8M number is for the entire heating system at the high school.
Principal Erin Dell then gave a presentation for the school district’s 2019 Assessment. She detailed In ELA (English Language Arts) we have maintained above state, as well as science, but we are slightly below the state average in math, and we are definitely working to address and make changes in those areas. The report showed “cohort growth” which means it follows the exact same student every year to give a better picture of how he or she is doing and/or improving. According to the reports, 121 students had improved.
The board approved an overnight trip for the Special Olympics Bowling to Tri Cities, some additional overnight sports trips and revised extracurricular salary schedule.