School Board Entertains Ideas for Potential Skills Center

At the March 21 regular meeting of the Chewelah School District Board of Directors, school officials heard a presentation from Scott Oakshott, Program Facilitator of NEWTECH Skills Center in Spokane.


The Skills Center currently offers technical and professional education for many students in the Spokane area. The training is tuition-free and available to public, private and homeschooled students. Oakshott suggested that the Chewelah district could partner with the Skills Center and offer many of the same programs locally, acting as a hub for this region’s schools.

The Skills Center in Spokane offers programs in 18 occupational fields including automotive technologies, dental assisting, construction, veterinary, culinary arts, and others. Oakshott said the program has a very high success rate and gives students marketable skills when they are finished. Additionally, the courses often give students an extra “nudge” to move on to post-secondary education.

Kevin Kernan, Jenkins High School’s Career and Technical Education director, added that this program would fit well with programs already offered in Chewelah, including his summer construction program where students have learned valuable skills including excavation, concrete, framing, siding, roofing, and electrical. He said it has been a “win-win” program providing a service for the District and giving students the opportunity to learn technical skills.

Oakshott explained that students in his programs spend half of their day in their normal high school setting and the other half in the technical training course. Each course lasts for a full year. Many of the programs also offer credits that can be tranferred to colleges.

For more information about NEWTECH Skills Center, visit

In other board business, approval was granted to hire Jason Tapia as high school assistant track coach, and Pat Gaffney as high school assistant softball coach. Approval was also granted to post for positions of middle school assistant track coach, 8th grade boys assistant basketball coach, and assistant high school tennis coach.

Director Larry Kristianson reported that approximately $4,300 will be given to the district from the settlement of the estate of Larry Richmond.

Superintendent Rick Linehan discussed topics for an upcoming board workshop on April 10. Topics will include the district’s reserve fund policy, effects from the state budget, and staffing numbers for the next school year.

Linehan also explained the format for the upcoming Facilities Task Force meeting to be held Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 p.m. at JHS. The task force includes many members of the community and all concerned citizens are invited to attend and provide input on the future of the district’s buildings and other facilities. With declining student enrollment and aging buildings, the district must develop a plan to consolidate students. The meeting will focus on how to accomplish this in the best way for the community.

The board also read a new policy and procedures for the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in the schools, reviewed the Affirmative Action Plan for 2010-2015, and approved payroll in the amount of $608,832.04.

By Jared Arnold, The Independent Staff