Tag Archives: Vernonia School Board

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.


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

May 19 Elections Give Voters Some Interesting Choices

The upcoming May 19 election will offer local voters the chance to elect representatives to the Vernonia School Board, The Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District, the Mist-Birkenfeld Fire District and the Columbia County 9-1-1 Communications District.  There are also three ballot Measures  for voters consideration.

Ballot Measure 5-243 is a county wide measure that would increase the Natural Resources Depletion Fee  by thirty-five cents ($.35) per ton to a total of fifty cents ($.50) per ton. The current fee primarily provides revenue for county roads. The increase is intended to cover the costs to the infrastructure of Columbia County that result from mining activities. The additional fees would be used as follows:

• Ten cents ($.10) for road improvements and maintenance of existing roads and bridges.

• Twenty-five cents ($.25) for Columbia County Rider Transportation.

The initiative requires that none of the proposed increased funds could be used for other county general fund purposes.

Measures 5-245 and 5-246 would raise funds for the Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District.  Measure 5-245 is a ten year bond for the purchase of fire apparatus and is estimated to cost taxpayers an average of $0.2621 per thousand of assessed value each year. For the owner of a home or property owner, the estimated annual average cost would be $26.21 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value. Measure 5-246 is a five year levy which would fund  the salary and benefits package of a Training Captain. This person would be responsible for the District’s training program and responding to incidents.  This measure is estimated to cost taxpayers an average of $0.32 per thousand of assessed value each year. For the owner of a home or property the estimated annual average cost would be $32 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value. 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

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

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.

School Board Grants Riley Unpaid Leave

The Vernonia School Board met in a Special Public Meeting on Thursday, January 15 and voted unanimously to grant popular high school science teacher Jean Riley unpaid leave until February 12,  2015

Riley’s teaching license expired on December 31, 2014. She told the board she is only weeks away from completing a Masters Degree and applying to have her teaching license renewed.

Riley has been a teacher in the Vernonia School District since 2003.

Miller placed Riley on unpaid leave, according to District policy, when she was unable to complete the needed work in time to meet the December 31 deadline imposed by the State of Oregon..  Riley then made a request for  Emergency Leave in order to complete the renewal of her license.  Miller denied the Emergency Leave request based on the fact that without a teaching license Riley was no longer covered under the rules of the District’s collective bargaining agreement. Riley appealed Miller’s decision to the School Board, which led to the Special Meeting.  According to the agenda for the meeting Miller was prepared to bring forward to the Board a recommendation to terminate Riley.

Twenty-eight people spoke on behalf of Riley at the School Board meeting, including current and former students, other teachers, parents of students and community members.  All delivered a similar message: Riley is an organized, dedicated and respected teacher who challenges her students.  Many called her one of the best teachers in the District.  Riley spoke last and tearfully apologized to the audience, her students and the School Board, explaining that she had numerous personal issues over the last year which kept her from completing her license renewal. Read More

Vernonia School Board Report

At the November 12, 2014 Vernonia School  Board Meeting:

Board Hears Student Report- The Board heard a report from Alexis Baska and Summer Snow.  Both students from the Leadership Class reported on events and activities at the high school.

Class Size Report- Principal Nate Underwood provided an update on measures that have been taken to address overcrowding in the Middle School.  Underwood told the Board that all the problems have not been solved but steps are being taken.  Underwood informed the Board that a math class has been added for sixth graders and a gym class has been added.  Underwood also said an instructional aid is assigned to every one of the sixth grade classes.

Building Reports- Principal Aaron Miller provided the Board with a report from the Elementary School.  Miller reported that attendance at the Open House was down this year and estimated that attendance at parent teacher conferences on November 6 and 7 was around 80-90%.

Miller also provided an update on the Focus Schools program.  Miller told the Board that teachers are utilizing the new Independent and Reading Language Assessment program and that teachers will once again give up their own personal time on November 24 and 25 to develop instructional programs to align with Common Core State Standards.

Principal Underwood provided the Board with a report on the Middle and High Schools.  Underwood informed the Board about a Parent Survey available online at http://www.advanced.org/survey/public/4205849 and encouraged parents to participate.

Underwood’s written report also included an article about the importance of ninth grade in regards to eventual graduation rates. Read More

School Board Report

At the October 9, 2014 Vernonia School Board Meeting:


Next Board Meeting- The next School Board meeting will be Wednesday November 12 at 6:00 PM, which is a change from the usual Thursday night meeting.


Board Welcomes Guest- the Vernonia School Board meeting was attended by NW Regional ESD Superintendent James Sager.


Student Reports- The Board heard Student Reports from senior Zi_xian Chen and sixth grader Jared Armes.  Zi-xian reported on current high school activities and Jared gave report on Outdoor School.


Building Reports- Elementary School Principal Aaron Miller told the Board that students had taken part in the Salmon Watch program, a field trip to Dr. Thomas’ property along Rock Creek on Keasey Road.  The trip was a joint program with students from the Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School in Salem.  Vernonia Students from the Forestry program helped with the program.  Students learned about riparian zones, water quality issues, salmon life cycles and plant and tree identification.  They also had a chance to see salmon spawning in Rock Creek.

Mr. Miller reported that he will visit Corbett Elementary School on October 28 with ODE Instructional Coach Patti Wiemer.  Corbett is a high performing school and Miller will look at their blended classroom program and how they provide intervention services for students in need of extra reading and math help.

Middle/High School Principal Nate Underwood provided the Board with a written report. Mr. Underwood reported that thirteen students went on a Manufacturing Career Day trip; that a lockdown drill was held on October 9; that the district has four Pacific University graduate students who are assisting Mr Weisel with counseling duties; and that a ‘New Technology’ assembly will be held October 29 with a parent presentation in the evening.  Underwood also reported that Homecoming Week is October 13-18. Read More