Tag Archives: Vernonia School Board

Vernonia School Board Report

At the September 11, 2014 Vernonia School Board Meeting:


Enrollment is Up at Vernonia Schools- Superintendent Aaron Miller told the Board that as of September 8, enrollment is at 593, including nineteen foreign exchange students and eighteen students at Mist School.  Miller told the Board that all students who have left the District have not yet been removed, so the count is artificially high.  Last year there were 540 students enrolled at the end of the school year.


School Receives Green Globe Certification- Superintendent Miller told the Board that the School has received three of four globes from Green Globes certification.


Board Approves Hire of New Band Teacher- The Board approved a recommendation from the Administration to hire Matthew Urban as the new middle school/high school band teacher.


Board Hears Transportation Report-Shelley Cota, representing Curl’s School Bus Service, updated the Board on the current transportation situation.  Cota told the Board there are five large bus routes and seven small bus routes with ten assigned drivers, three substitute drivers and one driver in training.  Cota reported that last year there were zero accidents, and zero breakdowns while transporting students, and zero late arrivals. Because of overcrowding on buses, high school and middle school students in the walk zone will no longer be eligible for courtesy rides.


Board Approves Transportation Contract- The Board approved an amendment to the current transportation contract with Curl’s School Bus Service.  The amendment extends the contract until June 30, 2020 and increases the monthly fixed cost by $1,000 per month.  Superintendent Miller told the Board that the District will issue a request for Proposals in 2019 and that the contract will not be extended again. Read More

Vernonia School Board Report

At the August 14, 2014 Vernonia School Board Meeting:


Board Hears Questions About K-2 Blended Classes-Over twenty people were in attendance, most   were there to ask questions about the District’s plan to group all kindergarten through second grade students together for instruction this coming school year.  Superintendent Aaron Miller addressed the audience concerns for over an hour.


Security Cameras Being Installed- Superintendent Miller told the Board that installation of a security camera system is being completed with cameras in strategic locations to deter vandalism.


Miller Gives Construction Updates-Superintendent Miller told the Board that Spencer Park construction is continuing with all the new dirt in place and that the backstop at the new softball/baseball field is being installed.  The project is on schedule to be completely constructed by the September 1st deadline.  The SHPO (State Historical Preservation Office)  monument that is a requirement of FEMA should also be installed by September 1.  Permits for the new shop were approved and construction should begin shortly.  The new softball field at the new school is on hold.   Read More

Vernonia School Board Report

At the July 10, 2014 School Board Meeting:


Board Elects Chair and Vice Chair-The Board elected Bill Langmaid as Chair and Jim Krahn as Vice Chair for the 2014-15 school year.


Board Approves New Hires- The Board approved two new temporary hires for the 2014-15 school year.

Laura Blacker has been hired to teach 4th grade, replacing Robyn Richmond who is on maternity leave for the year.  Blacker has been working and volunteering in the district for several years and just finished her student teaching assignment in Vernonia last year.  A resident of the Vernonia community and active in the local PTA, Blacker served as the coach of the high school golf team this past year.  Blacker received her Master’s Degree in Education from PSU.

Margi Fry will be the fifth member of the K-2 combined teaching team.  Fry has taught grades 1-8 over the last five years, has a Bachelor’s Degree of Science from Warner Pacific College and is a graduate of Gresham High School.


Board Approves Student Fee Schedule-The Board approved the Student Fee Schedule for 2014-15 which includes  a $0.10 increase to full breakfast and lunches for elementary, middle and high school students.  The Student Body Fee for high school students increased from $20 to $25.  An Instrument Rental fee of $50 for elementary band students was added to the schedule, although Superintendent Miller stated that the fee was already being implemented, it just was not on the schedule. Read More

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.

Read More

School Board Report

At the April 10, 2014 Vernonia School Board Meeting:

Instructional Calendar Approved-The Board approved a 175 day instructional calendar for next year, recommended by the Calendar Committee, with the stipulation that if more funds become available through the budget process, more days will be added.  According to the approved calendar, the first day of school will be September 2, graduation would be May 23, and the last day of school would be June 4.  The calendar includes four Snow Make-Up Days, 6 Teacher Work Days and has one full week off at Thanksgiving, 2 full weeks off for Winter Break and one full week for Spring Break.


Board Approves Superintendent Contract-The Board approved a contract with Aaron Miller to serve as part-time, interim Superintendent.  Details of the contract were not discussed.  Last month the Board also approved the extension of Miller’s contract as VES Principal for three more years.


Board Approves Travel Request-The Board approved a request for Out-of-State travel for Aaron Miller, Barb Carr and Ronda Lennon in August to attend a work conference in Vancouver, WA, as well as a request for Debbie Stalnecker and Gienah Cheney to attend a conference on Language Assessment this school year.


Athletic Program Receives Grant-Athletic Director Gordon Jarman told the Board that he has applied for and been awarded a $10,000 grant for field improvements at the new school campus.  The grant is a Participation Grant through the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA).  Jarman’s application, called “Fields of Dreams” would put top soil and goal posts on the proposed football field at the new school, improving the practice area and allowing 8th grade football games to be played there.  The grant calls for $8,200 in matching funds, which Jarman says still need to be raised. Read More

School Board Report

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.

Vernonia Schools Announce Interim Superintendent

Superintendent-AaronMiller-webThe Vernonia School Board has unanimously approved the appointment of Aaron Miller as the part-time interim superintendent for the Vernonia School District.  Mr. Miller will begin his one year appointment on July 1. The board made the approval during their March 13 meeting to help the schools transition smoothly from the leadership of departing superintendent Dr. Kenneth Cox.

“We’re excited to build upon what Dr. Cox and the community have created. Our school board sought an interim superintendent who could lead our efforts to address the achievement of all students and to analyze our gap issues,” said School Board Chair Bill Langmaid. “Mr. Miller showed professionalism and leadership in various educational experiences that we believe will serve Vernonia very well during the coming year. He impressed us during a conversation on the importance of sound leadership during this interim phase when he said, ‘The students are our most important concern. Every action we take must benefit them.’”

Mr. Miller received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR, and earned a master’s degree in teaching, specializing in elementary education, from Oregon State University in Corvallis. His coursework for the initial and continuing Administrator license was performed at Portland State University.

“I have spent the last 24 years dedicated to children in several different communities, and I’m honored to be chosen by the board,” Mr. Miller said. “I feel it is essential for an interim superintendent to engage in a collaborative fashion with the school board, community, administrators and the staff to ensure a productive and successful school year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to extend my role in the leadership team this year.”

Mr. Miller currently serves as the full time principal at Vernonia Elementary School. He began his teaching career at Lebanon Elementary, moving to Scio after two years. There, he taught second and third grades for 13 years. His move to Vernonia came in 2005, when he stepped into the role of principal. His appointment as part-time superintendent will not eliminate his position as building principal, and the district expects to see some shifts in administrative duties to accommodate his new position.

Mr. Miller will replace Dr. Kenneth Cox, who joined the District in 2006. Dr. Cox was tasked with serving as both project manager and superintendent during his tenure, as a major flood in 2007 necessitated relocating the entire campus out of the flood plain. After opening the new school in 2012, Dr. Cox has stayed on for two years to ensure a smooth transition into the new environment. Dr. Cox will be leaving the district at the end of his current contract on June 30.

Vernonia School Board Report

At the February 13, 2014 School Board Meeting:


Superintendent Cox Resigning-Board Chair Bill Langmaid told the Board that Superintendent Ken Cox’s current contract expires on June 30, 2014 and that Cox  has informed him that he is not interested in renewing the contract. The School Board voted to accepted Cox’s resignation.  The School Board approved opening an internal search for a replacement starting February 17th and ending February 24th.   The Board approved a Qualities and Qualifications Draft for the Replacement Superintendent.  As part of the replacement process the School Board is requesting community input on the qualities and qualifications they would like in a Superintendent.  Community members are asked to send their input by February 20th to Barb Carr at the District office at: bcarr@vernonia.k12.or.us.  Input will also be taken at a School Town Hall meeting scheduled for February 25th at 7:00 PM at the School Commons.  School Board Chair Bill Langmaid, on behalf of the Board,  thanked Cox for his service.


Board Discusses Attendance Reporting-A member of the audience asked about a response from the  District concerning the recent article in the Oregonian that was critical of the attendance at the Vernonia School District.  Dr. Ken Cox stated that data that was reported needs to be verified.  It was also noted that the District has changed its policy, which was just instituted this year,  so they now contact parents after a student has missed 4 days, 8 days and 12 days; the original policy called for contact at 5, 10 and 15 days.   Elementary School Principal Aaron Miller reported that the number of students at the Elementary level who have reached the 4-day contact this year is 51; 8-day contacts are 17 and 12-day contacts are 4.   Miller also provided a report he had compiled concerning attendance at the kindergarten and first grade levels.  From September through January  attendance was at 92%; last year at the same time it was at 84%.  Chronic absenteeism (missing 10% or more of school days) has dropped from 49% to 27%.  Miller said he will have  similar reports for grades 2-5 at the next monthly meeting.    “Even though we have made some revisions to our plans for  tracking and logistics of attendance, changes and revisions will be ongoing,” said Miller.  “We are continuing to look at how we are recording and reporting and tracking the data.”  Miller addressed the value of having staff contact parents of students who are absent.  “We do get in touch with parents who say ‘They had a doctors appointment-I have a note.’ And we tell them we understand, but we still take the opportunity to communicate the importance of students being in school and ask if there is a way we can help.”  Read More

Cox Leaving at End of School Year

KenCoxVernonia School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Cox has informed the School Board that he will be resigning his position at the end the current school year.

The School Board accepted Cox’s resignation at the regular School Board Meeting on February 13th.  Board Chair Bill Langmaid told the Board that Cox’s current contract expires on June 30, 2014 and that Cox  has informed him that he is not interested in renewing the contract.

Cox retired his full time position last May as a way to cut costs for the District.   He was immediately rehired by the School Board and has been working half time while he searched for a new position.

Cox came to the Vernonia School District as Superintendent in 2006.  He was in charge of the District when all three school building were damaged in 2007 Flood and has been instrumental in the demolition of the old school campus and construction of the new school facility which opened in September of  2012.

The School Board announced they will open an internal search for a replacement starting February 17th and ending February 24th.   As part of the replacement process the School Board is requesting community input on the qualities and qualifications they would like in a Superintendent.   Examples would be: Excellent communicator and listener; High degree of integrity/honesty; Good budgeting skills; Active in community.

Community members are asked to send their input by February 20th to Barb Carr at the District office at: bcarr@vernonia.k12.or.us.  Input will also be taken at a School Town Hall meeting scheduled for February 25th at 7:00 PM at the School Commons.

School Board Report

At the January 9, 2014 School Board Meeting:


Board Approves Calendar Adjustment for Snow Days-The Board voted to designate February 14, March 14, April 18 and May 9 as makeup days to be implemented sequentially to replace days lost during the 2013-14 school year.   The District has already lost two days which will be made up on the first two replacement days.


Cox Presents District Budget Update-Superintendent Ken Cox presented the Board with a budget update.  According to Cox, the District is projecting a $297,900 Ending Fund Balance which includes a loss of $210,000 because enrollment was at 540 students, down from the estimated 560 the District had projected.  Cox reported that the Capital Reserve Fund, used for construction began the year with an audited beginning fund balance of $711,276 and has revenues this year of $95 from WOEC Energy Credits, $99,321 form the Demolition Escrow Account and $496,139 for Spencer Park Construction from the Escrow account.  The District shows current construction Projects from this fund of $627,000 including: $120,000 for the Met Group contract for fundraising, $22,500 for construction of a Historical Marker at Spencer Park, $350,000 for Spencer Park Construction, $30,000 for  Greenhouse and Shop electrical, heating, plumbing and Greenhouse completion, $10,000 for Community Action Team County Oversight, and a $50,000 contingency.   Cox also presented a long term debt summary which includes Construction loans of: QSCB of $3.4 million with annual payments of $211,000 through 2027; ODOE #1 of $1 million with annual payments of $84,325 through 2027; ODOE #2 of 1.237 million with annual payments of $106,200 through 2029; and City SDC payments of $139,159 with annual payments of $36,000 through 2016 for a total of $437,525 in annual payments.  In addition there are two previous loans that are currently budgeted from the General Fund  including a QZAB Loan for $247,577 with annual payments of $25,600 through 2022 and a OSBA Flex Loan for $640,000 with annual payments of $76,000 through 2024 for a total annual payment of $101,600.  The District has total annual payments toward long term debt obligation of $539,125.


Board Receives Audit Report-Dawn Plewes presented the Board with the annual audit and report.  Plewes reported that the audit showed that the finances for the District are all in compliance and that the audit showed no significant deficiencies.    Read More