Vernonia School Board Report

At the September 12, 2013 School Board Meeting

Fundraising Training-Prior to the start of the regular School Board meeting, the board was invited to join members of  the Vernonia Education Foundation and  participate in a Fundraising Training presented by Metropolitan Group.  The training covered the history of fundraising for the Vernonia Schools Project.  Part two of the training will be presented prior to the October School Board meeting and will provide fundraising strategies.

Public Comment-Amy Cieloha asked about concerns that have been raised about the quality of the new sports fields that are being constructed at the old school site.  Dr. Ken Cox said he would address this issue during the Superintendent Report, which he did.

New Staff Introduced-High School principal Nate Underwood introduced two new staff members to the board: Andrew Morrow is the new music instructor and Suzanne Myers is the middle school special education case manager and is also teaching seventh grade language arts.

Student Report-Alexis Baska, a junior and member of the Leadership Class gave a high school report.  Baska reported that some students really like the new modified block schedule, others do not like it very much.  Fall sports have started.  Seniors are starting to raise money for a grade school student, Jesse White,  who has cancer in his neck.  The forestry team is recruiting new members.  The high school has nineteen foreign exchange students this year.  The school newspaper, which was restarted last year, will continue this year. The robotics club had their first meeting and will be run by students, parents and teacher Eric Urban.

Transportation Report-Shelley Cota presented a transportation report.  Cota reported that there are seven total bus routes this year.  Cota reported that the bus service had a little bit of a rough start during the first couple of days mostly due to parents who don’t sign their students up prior to the practice runs that the drivers make, and so the drivers don’t know where the students live.  Cota said they would work with the Kindergarten Round-Up to better inform parents.

Finance Report-Dawn Plews presented the financial report and told the board that she would be better able to project revenue after enrollment figures are finalized.  Plews noted that she is concerned about the enrollment numbers and that the budget projected too high of a number.  She also noted that the budget includes $100,000 more projected in the Vernonia Education Foundation revenue than last year.  Plews said the District will need to keep a close eye on those two items and may need to make adjustments.  It was also stated that the Governor is expected to reconvene the State Legislature and make changes to PERS which could give the School District added revenue.

Surplus Items-The Board approved a request to declare a list of outdated and non-working items, as well as the mound of excess soil that has been used as topsoil for the new sports fields at the old school site,  as surplus.  Dr. Cox stated that the soil was not worth spreading on new fields the school would build on their campus, even if it was screened to make it usable.

Kintz Nominated for OSBA Board-The Board voted to nominate Greg Kintz for the Oregon School Boards Association for position #14, North Coast Region.  Kintz currently holds this position.

Board Hears Report on Summer Meals Program-The Board heard a report from Nicholas Welch representing the Summer Meals Program.  The School District was a sponsor for the program this year.  Welch reported that 2,691 meals were served to children, 249 meals to adults and 150 meals to volunteers this year.  There were also 232 snacks served at the Library.  Welch also reported that the program recorded 235.5 adult volunteer hours and 84.75 youth volunteer hours; 68.5 of the youth hours  were counted as VHS Community Service hours.  Welch also took time to thank the School District for their help and mentioned Marie Knight for fiscal administration assistance and Barb Carr for help with background checks and general help.

Board Hears Report on Teacher Evaluations-Instructor Juliette Safier gave the Board a report on the new Teacher Evaluations that take effect this year.  The new evaluation format was made possible through a Collaboration Grant.  Safier shared a draft of the evaluation form teachers will use to establish, implement and track  Student Learning Goals they will create.

Superintendent Report-Superintendent Dr. Ken Cox told the Board that he testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Energy Efficiency and Sustainability.  Cox was invited to speak about the Vernonia Schools Project in Portland by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley who chaired the committee. Cox was one of seven speakers who gave testimony on various projects in the Portland area.

Cox handed out a press release from the Oregon Department of Education concerning statewide testing results.  Cox also distributed Vernonia test scores.  Statewide scored dropped in almost every area. Vernonia scores also dropped.

Cox addressed the construction of sports fields at the old school site.  Cox reported to the Board that the School District has been working with the City of Vernonia to address concerns about the quality of the soil that is being used to construct the new sports fields.  Cox said the concerns raised about the soil quality was justified.  Cox said that he had  met with a third-party consultant from Pacific Sports Turf who told  the District that the soil was not quality and that they would have a problem getting anything to grow and be maintained.  Cox reported that the consultant suggested that four inches of new topsoil be added to the site.  Cox also said that the District and the contractor are addressing concerns raised by the City about rocks and sticks that are in the imported topsoil.