Vernonia School Board Report

At the May 8, 2014 School Board Meeting:


Budget Committee Meets- The School District Budget Committee held their first meeting.  Brett Costley was elected Chair and Don Shulte was elected Vice Chair.  The Committee discussed the budget goals and Superintendent Dr. Ken Cox presented the budget message.  The budget includes revenue of $6.22 million and provides for a 2.5% cost of living wage increase for employees.  The General Fund includes a 2% contingency of $126,486; this should be 5%.  According to Cox’s Budget Message, the budget does not address some critical needs.  Class sizes will be large.  The budget does not meet the needs of the students or staff but does fulfill the District’s fiscal responsibility to their patrons.

Board Approves Spencer Park Proposal- Dr. Cox informed the Board that the District has received bids to complete Spencer Park construction.  Cox informed the Board that the District has spent almost $300,000 of the $495,000 they had left to build the park.  The lowest bid to finish the construction, from Green Thumb Landscaping,  was for $307,329.  Cox worked with the City to find ways to create cost savings and removed several features from the plan, including two pathways, additional soil in non-play areas and 2 inches of topsoil on the baseball/softball infield.  City Council approved this plan.  Cox said that with Board approval, the District can negotiate with the low bidder to try to find additional cost savings.  The Board approved the low bid.


Shop Construction Proposal- The District received three bids for completion of the shop.  The low bid was from Titus and Sons.  The project will be built using funds from the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Grant.  The Board approved the low bid.


OSBA Executive Director Visits Vernonia- Betsy Miller-Jones, the Executive Director of the Oregon School Board Association (OSBA) visited the Vernonia Schools and addressed the School Board at their meeting.  Jones said she received a tour of the School by School Board and OSBA Representative Greg Kintz.  She told the Board that OSBA is working on their behalf at the State Legislature to generate more spending for education and will continue to do so.


Students Report on D.C. Trip- Eighth graders Ashley Jackson and Lily Buchanan reported to the Board on the Close-Up trip to Washington D.C.  The students told the Board they visited numerous monuments, along with the Smithsonian Institute and Arlington National Cemetery.  Both students said it took a lot of work to fund raise for the trip but it was definitely worth it.


Miller Reports on Wetlands- Principal Aaron Miller reported that a recent monitoring visit determined  the wetland mitigation project is on track and going well.  Miller said  the work of the Forestry Class and school-wide Sustainability Days are having an impact.  Miller reported the plants that have been introduced are growing,  invasive species are being removed, and signs will be installed soon.  Dr. Cox added that the work of the Forestry Class and students is saving the District $40,000 per year.


Special Education Report- Special Programs Director Gienah Cheney gave a report  on the 2012-13 Special Education Report Card from the State of Oregon.  According to Cheney the District is meeting state targets in many areas, including students being including in regular classroom activities.  The District is not meeting targets in several areas including  graduation rates and enrollment in higher education or employed following graduation.


Assessment Reports- Principal Nate Underwood provided the Board with data about Assessment Testing results.  Underwood told the Board that the District has seen some improvement and some drops.  Improvements have come at the High School and 5th grade; decreases have occurred at the 8th and 3rd grades.  Underwood noted that it has been difficult to get students to complete the testing.  When asked, Underwood told the audience that students who do not meet the standards will not graduate.


Board Declares Surplus Equipment- The following equipment was declared as surplus:  Jet Metal Lathe, Jet Turret Mill, 2 three phase table saws, 1 three phase planer.


Board Grants Leave of Absence- The Board approved a Leave of Absence for the 2014-15 school year for Elementary School Teacher Robyn Richmond who recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy.


School District Starts Facebook Page- Dr. Cox informed the Board that the District has started a Facebook page which can be used to better inform the community.