District 47J News

School Board Approves Charter Application

The Vernonia School Board met in a special meeting on April 21 and voted unanimously to approve and sponsor a Charter School application to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).

The Charter application was prepared by a steering committee made up of school staff, parents, school board members, school district partners and other interested citizens.

The charter application  includes the entire Vernonia K-12 campus but leaves the Mist School separate from the charter and will require the creation of a separate School Board.

The District now has sixty days to submit the application and complete all paperwork with the ODE to become a Charter School in time for the start of the 2015-16 school year.


Vernonia School to Celebrate Green Certifications

The Vernonia School District will celebrate receiving LEED Platinum and Three Green Globes certifications at a ceremony on Saturday, May 9 at 10:30 AM.

The Vernonia School is the first K-12 school building in the United States to receive the coveted LEED Platinum certification.

The LEED green building rating system, developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council  is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability in the United States and in a number of other countries around the world.  It is designed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing the negative environmental impacts of buildings and improving occupant health and well-being.

The LEED rating system offers four certification levels for new construction – Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum  in five green design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

Green Globes is nationally recognized green rating assessment and certification program.

Local elected officials and other dignitaries will be in attendance.

School Board to Make Charter School Decision

The Vernonia School Board will meet in a special meeting on April 21 at 6:30 PM to decide whether to sponsor a Charter School and submit an application to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).

The Vernonia School District formed a Steering Committee earlier this spring made up of citizens, school staff, School Board members and parents to discuss the possibility of submitting an application to the state to become a Charter School.  The Steering Committee held discussions, decided to move forward, and prepared the formal application which was reviewed by a School Board Subcommittee for completeness.  Following two public hearings, the full School Board is currently evaluating the application on its merits and will make a final decision about submitting it to the State at the special meeting on April 21.

The proposed application would leave the Mist School separate from the charter.  The charter  would encompass the entire K-12  Vernonia School.  The new Charter School would require the formation of a separate Board of Directors and require independent accounting processes.

Vernonia District Superintendent Aaron Miller elaborated on the Charter School application process during a recent conversation.  Miller said the Steering Committee included several community partners and was what he deemed “a representative group” that included “a wide range of people from the community.”

According to Miller the Steering Committee identified several advantages to becoming a Charter School.  Miller said one advantage was the ability to expand the Natural Resources curriculum that the District has already made a priority as well as expanding programs like engineering, math and art.  “We feel like we’ve done a good job but the Charter School option comes with some extra funding that would provide resources and supplies we need to keep moving them forward and also provide professional development for teachers to implement new and innovative programs,” said Miller. Read More

Vernonia School Board Report

At the April 9, 2015 Vernonia School Board Meeting


Board Sets Date for Charter School Decision – The Board set a date of Tuesday, April 21 at 6:30 PM to hold a special meeting to make a decision on whether to submit a Charter School application to the State Department of Education.


Board Tables Calendar Decision – The Board tabled a decision on the 2015-16 Instructional Calendar after being presented with five options.  High School principal Nate Underwood told the board that the committee was proposing several options that provided 160 student days, 184 contact days and the required 990 hours.  The District has been unable to provide these numbers for several years.  The Board chose to table a decision until April 21 because of concerns about the state education budget which has not yet been determined and how much funding the District will receive from the state next year, as well as the pending decision about whether the District will submit an application to become a Charter School.


Board Appoints Handegard to Budget Committee – The Board appointed Angie Handegard to serve a three year term on the Budget Committee.


Board Approves Out of State Trips – The Board approved the Senior Trip to Disneyland and the 8th grade Close-up trip to Washington DC.


Board Approves Superintendent Contract – The Board approved a single contract for Superintendent Aaron Miller which was described as a full time superintendent contract which will have Miller serving as “acting elementary school principal.”  Read More

Schools Update: Two Upcoming Events

On Tuesday, April 21st, two exciting events are happening at Vernonia Schools.  First, Operation Safe Students on the Move (OSSOM) in conjunction with the Vernonia Prevention Coalition will be hosting a health fair.

OSSOM is a student led leadership program that focuses on the health and well-being of students.  OSSOM Vernonia students have hosted a health fair at Vernonia High School since 2010.  Topics have been chosen to address current issues that teens face.

This year’s topics include:

•  Impact of drugs on brain development

•  Stress/depression

•  Underage drinking

•  Suicide/self-harm

•  Healthy eating

•  Bullying and Cyber bullying

•  Stereotyping

Each booth will be interactive and participants will walk away with the most up to date knowledge of what kids are dealing with on a daily basis.  This event will be held in the Large Gym at the Vernonia Schools building from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Read More

Charter School Frequently Asked Questions

What is a charter school and what purpose would it serve?

In Oregon, a charter school is a comprehensive public school that operates semi-autonomously under a contract (charter) with a sponsoring district.  According to the Oregon legislature, the purpose of charter schools is to take responsible risks to create new, innovative, more flexible ways of educating all children within the public school system.

The purpose for Vernonia’s charter school proposal is to continue development and implementation of our current innovative K-12 programs, to obtain input from the parents and the community on the innovative school programming they would like to see implemented, to obtain funding to develop and implement those programs (supplies, materials, staff planning time), and to obtain funding to impact the long term financial stability of the Vernonia School District.

What are the teacher licensing requirements in a charter school?

Per the federal No Child Left Behind act, 100% of teachers in core academic areas must be “highly qualified” at the time of hire, and a minimum of 50% of the FTE of the charter teachers and staff must be licensed by the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices commission.

What are the benefits? Why is Vernonia considering moving to a charter school model?

Vernonia is considering exploring the benefits and challenges of pursuing a charter model as a school-of-choice for students and families. Potential benefits of the charter model include:

• Greater room to innovate and grow our K-12 Science/Technology/Engineering/Art/Math (STEAM)-based curriculum

• Increased ability to collaborate with local business and industry partners

• Better preparation for students to forge careers or paths to colleg.

• More staffing flexibility to better capitalize on local expertise

Another important consideration is an Oregon statute that presently enables public schools converting to a charter system to access state funding at close to twice the per-student standard public school level. This one-time funding would be used to implement the innovative programs of a charter agreement, and can also be applied to significantly reduce the District’s capital debt with no additional tax burden to residents. Current calculations estimate this extra charter funding at approximately $5.3 Million.

Read More

Vernonia School Board Report

At the March 12, 2015 Vernonia School Board Meeting:

Board Extends Contract – The Board approved Resolution 1415-05, extending an Administrative Contract.

Building Reports - Both Elementary Principal Aaron Miller and High School/Middle School Principal  Nate Underwood thanked Classified Employees, which includes Instructional Assistants, Secretaries, Custodians, and Food Service Workers,  for their dedication, hard work and essential service and noted they had been recognized during Classified Employee Week.  Miller also reported that PTA family Week was a big success with good attendance at several events. Underwood recognized members of the Girls Basketball Team who, in addition  to taking 4th place at the State Tournament, were also named 3rd in  OSAA Academic All State.  Underwood explained that all team member’s GPA are averaged for the competition.  The Vernonia Boys Basketball team was named 8th.

Superintendent Report -  Superintendent Aaron Miller reported that enrollment has dropped throughout the school year and is now at 561, but is still ahead of the ending number from last year.

Miller reported he is working to present a balanced budget to the Board and Budget Committee at their first meeting on April 30. Miller said he is still waiting for the state to decide the level of funding.

Miller told the Board they will receive a draft of the school year calendar next month, which will offer options for both a four day and five day week.

Miller told the Board final work is being done on Spencer Park fields and that the new shop facility is almost complete.

Charter School Update - Superintendent Miller provided the Board with an update on the progress being made by the Charter School Steering Committee.  Miller told the Board the Steering Committee is moving forward with two proposals: A District Charter Proposal and a School Charter Proposal.  Under the District Charter Proposal the Mist School would be eliminated.  Miller presented an updated timeline and informed the Board that two Public Hearings have been scheduled for March 30 and March 31. Read More

Vernonia School Board Report

At the February 12, 2015 Vernonia School Board Meeting:

Teacher Riley Goes Back to Work – After deliberating in Executive Session the Board removed the termination of teacher Jean Riley from their agenda.  Riley had been placed on Unpaid Leave while she attempted to renew her expired teaching license.  The Board had Riley’s termination to consider if she was unable to renew her license.  Riley did renew her license and following the Board’s decision, was scheduled to return to work on Monday, February 16.

Board Approves Teacher Extensions – The Board approved Resolution 1415-03 extending all regular and probationary teacher contracts for two years.  Contracts for two temporary, one-year positions were not renewed.

Board Sets Cap for Transfers – Per state regulations,  the Board had to set a limit on Interdistrict Transfers.  The Board voted to set the limit at fifteen students.

Interagency Agreement With Jewell District – Superintendent Aaron Miller presented the Board with a signed Interagency Agreement between the Vernonia School District and the Jewell School District that sets terms and conditions for resident students in the Vernonia School District who attend the Jewell School.  The agreement calls for Vernonia to pay Jewell 50% of their state General Purpose Fund for each student and for each special education student.

Board Approves Budget Calendar – The Board approved the Budget Calendar for fiscal year 2015-16.   Budget Committee meetings are scheduled for Thursdays on April 30 and May 14.  A  public hearing and adoption of the budget is scheduled for June 11. Read More

VSD to Explore Charter School Application

Vernonia School District Superintendent Aaron Miller has announced the District will explore a proposal to consider making an application to become a charter school.

“We are considering moving forward with applying for charter school status for a significant portion of the students in our district,” said Miller.

Miller and the School Board discussed the opportunity at a board workshop on January 29, 2015.  The Board unanimously gave Miller the green light to move forward and begin studying the possibility of having a portion of the school district create a charter proposal.

“There are a lot of things to consider through the application process and what it means as far as the programs and curriculum we provide for our students,”  said Miller, “but there some very real resource opportunities and benefits  to us becoming a charter school.”

Miller says a steering committee made up of teachers, classified staff, district administration, parents and other community members will be formed immediately to begin considering a charter school option.

“If we do choose this option we want to make sure we have a product that is going to work for everybody—students first, but the teachers, parents and community as well,” says Miller.

According to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) a charter school in Oregon is a public school operated by a group of parents, teachers and/or community members as a semi-autonomous school of choice within a school district. It is given the authority to operate under a contract or “charter” between the members of the charter school community and the local board of education (sponsor). Under Oregon law, a charter school is a separate legal entity operating under a binding agreement with a sponsor.  A public charter school is subject to certain laws pertaining to school district public schools, is released from others, and must operate consistent with the charter agreement. Read More

Vernonia School Board Report

At the January 8, 2015 School Board Meeting:


School Building Suffers Water Damage from Leak-School District Superintendent Aaron Miller informed the Council that a water leak was discovered early in the morning of Thursday, January 8 which caused significant  damage to the library and computer lab upstairs and the  school office on the ground floor.  Miller told the Board the staff all helped with clean up and the building was ready for students when they arrived with no delays.  Because the damage had just occurred that day, Miller told the Board he had not had a chance to talk with the insurance company, and was unsure how much of the damage would be covered.  The Board later approved Resolution 1415-02 declaring an emergency  that needed to be remedied through emergency contracts for repair work.


Student Reports- Fourth grade students from Ms. Blacker’s class made a presentation about volcanoes.  Lily Lindsley and Taylor Titus, representing the Leadership Class reported on activities at the high school.  Alexis Baska and Summer Snow presented  Board members with a gift to thank them for their service in honor of School Board Week.


NWRESD Report- Lisa Poehlitz and Paul Peterson, representing the Northwest Regional Education Service District (NWRESD),  provided the Board with their Annual Report. The NWRESD assists school districts by providing educational services and opportunities for special needs students, for technological assistance and other instructional services.


Attendance Report- Elementary School Principal Aaron Miller provided  the Board with an Attendance Report.  Miller reported that of 236 students: 69 or 29.2% had missed more than 4 days; 19 or 8.1 % had missed more than 8 days;  7 or 2.9% had missed more than 12 days; and 1 had missed more than 15 days.  Miller told the Board he had filed two initial truancy reports and had one meeting with the Truancy Officer.  At Mist Grade School 4 students had missed more than 4 days.  Miller told the Board that mandatory contact from school staff to parents of chronically absent students was having some impact for certain students.  School Board President Bill Langmaid told Miller, “We have to do better.”


Fall Sports Report- Athletic Director Gordon Jarman provided the Board with a Fall Sports Report.  Jarman told the Board that Girls Volleyball team were league champions with a 14-4 record and qualified for the state tournament.  The JV team only had one loss.  Julia Fletcher, Taylor Titus and Brittany Young were all named First Team All League and Kassidy Fetch was named Second Team All League.

The Girls Cross Country team, made up exclusively of exchange students, won the league championship.  The Boys team finished second in the league and were led by Drew Cheney.

The football team won one game this season and ended the season with thirty-one players.

Jarman unveiled Northwest League Championship banners for the Volleyball and Girls Cross Country teams, which will be hung in the gym.


“The Promise of Oregon” Campaign- Board member Greg Kintz made a presentation to the Board on  “The Promise of Oregon, ”  a campaign  to focus attention on the accomplishments of Oregon’s kindergarten-14 students and the need to adequately fund public education.  The campaign was designed by the Oregon School Board Association.  Kintz showed the Board a short video created for the campaign.  The Board later passed resolution 1415-01 to support “The Promise of Oregon.” To watch the video go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2R2_I4-VPs 

Board Hears First Reading of Policy Updates- The Board heard the first reading of eight policy updates.


Division 22 Standards- Superintendent Aaron Miller provided the Board with the Division 22 Report to the Community, which shows the school district’s compliance and non-compliance with Oregon Administrative Rules.  According to the report the district is in compliance with every rule except one-Required Instructional Time at the High School level.  The Board later authorized the district to include up to thirty hours of professional development in the calculation of instructional time.