At the March 13, 2014 Vernonia School Board Meeting:
Miller Named Interim Superintendent-Vernonia Grade School Principal Aaron Miller was named the Interim Half-Time Superintendent, replacing current Superintendent Dr. Ken Cox, whose contract expires June 30. Miller will be given a one year contract.
Snow Days-Superintendent Dr. Ken Cox informed the Board that the District will make up two snow days on April 18 and May 9.
Administrators Contracts Extended-After recessing to Executive Session under ORS 192.660(2)(i) “To review and evaluate the performance of the chief executive officer or any other public officer, employee or staff member…,” the Board returned to open session and voted unanimously to approve Resolution 1314-03, extending the contract of high school principal Nate Underwood and grade school principal Aaron Miller for three more years.
Lower Columbia College Partnership-Dr. Cox informed the Board that the District is close to reaching an agreement with Lower Columbia College (LCC), located in Longview, WA, to provide dual credit and college credit courses for high school students. Cox reported that several schools are already using LCC for this purpose; LCC will graduate sixty high school seniors with Associates Degrees this year. Rainier High School already has a contract with LCC. The program could offer distance learning and possibly local classes, along with college credit for current students as well as students who have already graduated. Cox said LCC currently has eighty-seven classes available on-line. When asked why the District is looking at partnering with LCC and not Portland Community College, Cox responded that LCC is actively working to expand their student base by making these classes available to high schools in Oregon.
Green Globes Certification-Dr. Cox asked the Board to approve an application for the new school building to become Green Globes Certified. Dr. Cox told the Board it could cost the District a total of about $25,000 to submit the paperwork for the needed evaluation and become certified. Cox told the board that a Green Globes certification would allow the District to approach members of the timber industry and ask for fundraising donations. When asked, Cox told the Board he believes there is $37,000 in donations currently pending from the timber industry. After a discussion in which Board member Ernie Smith expressed reservations, the Board voted unanimously to approve spending up to $25,000 for Green Globes certification.
Board Authorizes Project Management Contract-The Board voted to authorize the Superintendent to negotiate a contract for construction project management services, not to exceed $16,000, for the remainder of 2014. Board member Ernie Smith voted against the motion.
Superintendent Report-Dr. Cox told the Board the Town Hall held on February 25 was a success with over sixty people in attendance. Topics of discussion included: The CTE Revitalization Grant, plans for the new shop building, progress on new sports fields; establishing a four-day school week.
Cox told the Board the greenhouse is now fully enclosed thanks to the help of Dan Titus, a parent and local contractor. Titus will also be working on the trenching for new electrical lines to the shop building. Cox also thanked Earl Davis for helping the District by felling some dangerous trees at the District office. The Forestry class will do clean up and sell the firewood as a fundraiser.
Dr. Cox told the Board the RFP for completing Spencer Park is available for review. He told the Board he hopes to have the RFP approved by the City of Vernonia and Columbia County this week.
Principal Reports-In addition to a written report which gave details of Family to School Week and a Focus School update, Elementary School Principal Aaron Miller also provided the Board with an Attendance Report. Miller noted that of 207 students at VES, 63 had missed 4 days of school and received a call from a teacher; 57 had missed 8 days and received a call from the Councilor and a letter was sent; 15 had missed 12 days and received a call from the principal and a second letter-an initial truancy report had been filed concerning those 15 students and 2 had a mandatory meeting with the principal and the truancy officer. At Mist Grade School, Miller reported of 24 students, 9 had missed 8 days.
The Board received a written report from High School Principal Nate Underwood which explained the Synergy Parent VUE and Blackboard Connect systems which allow parents and students to access midterm grades from a computer; gave updates on the VHS Red Cross Blood Drive and the VMS plant sale March 7-April 10; and announced All League recognition for winter athletes. The Report also noted that the next Sustainability Day will be May 13; that the first round of state testing has been completed; and both VMS and VHS held their mid-year dances.
Underwood also presented the Board with a proposal to reduce the elective graduation requirement by 1.0. Underwood explained that VHS requires 26.5 credits to graduate, with 7.0 credits considered electives. The state requires 24 credits to graduate. Because of reduced staff, VHS is unable to offer as many electives as in the past. Reducing the elective requirement would not take away from the required curriculum but would allow more flexibility in scheduling.
SHAW Clinic Report-Sherrie Ford from the Public Health Foundation of Columbia County reported that the Spencer Health and Wellness (SHAW) clinic has been closed due to personnel situations. Ford informed the Board that a new staff member, Physicians Assistant Sandy Kosik would be starting the next day and that the clinic would be reopened on Fridays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM to provide primary care services. Ford said that a second employee, Nurse Practitioner Carol Opheikens, would be starting after Spring Break and the clinic would be open a second day on Wednesdays from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Ford noted that during the closure 24 of the 43 students who had established care at SHAW had been seen at the local community clinic. She also noted that an additional 72 school aged children had established care at the Vernonia clinic.
Volunteer Coordinator Report-Volunteer Coordinator Amanda Wolf presented a report to the Board and told them the District has 378 approved volunteers with approximately fifty active. She noted that to date volunteers have logged 1,654 hours of time. She told the Board that a “Volunteer of the Month” is being recognized in Vernonia’s Voice. Wolf told the Board that new software used to track volunteer hours has been very helpful. Wolf listed over sixteen school activities and events she has supported and participated in as Volunteer Coordinator. There will be a Volunteer Appreciation Dessert this spring; Wolf invited the Board to attend.
Community Indicator Presentation-Bill Langmaid and Scott Laird made a presentation to the Board on the Vital Vernonia Indicator Project (VVIP). The VVIP is an effort to explore community vitality in Vernonia by setting forth a series of goals that can be used to monitor community progress.
School Schedule Task Force-Members of the Task Force, which will be investigating the possibility of switching to a four day school week, were in attendance. Dr. Cox presented a list of possible outcomes for the Task Force to consider. Board members Jim Krahn, Carrie Levenseller and Tim Bamburg were assigned to work with the group. An initial meeting was scheduled for Thursday March 20th at 7:00 PM at the District office.
Budget Committee Vacancies-Dr. Cox informed the Board that there are four empty spots on the Budget Committee. Anyone interested in serving should contact the District Office.