Funding for next year remains a mystery, explains JSD 171 Superintendent, Dr. Michael Garrett at the last regular board of trustees meeting April 19. He said his superintendent’s group had been advocating as much as possible through calls, texts, emails and meetings.

Legislation has not yet passed the budget for K-12 education. Schools are waiting to see what evolves. As for SR-2 money the district was promised to receive in the amount of $822,000, the state held back five percent of the money. They used federal money to fill in the budget to even it out. The district will get half of that money this year and the other half next year.

“The district has not received any numbers or worksheets from the state. In our office,” said Garrett, “we have a lot of the numbers lined up to gain a better understanding as we move forward. Salaries were frozen this year. The state said they were committed to move teachers to where they should be on the pay scale”.

Trustee Chris St. Germaine announced that she had just received an email from the state’s congressional delegation indicating the upcoming Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funding of $19.2 million for Idaho’s schools, roads and bridges.

Garrett pointed out that due to a change in regulations, District 171 went from receiving $400,000 on SRS funds to $23,000 over the past two years. Even while including every county in the district, the number of those applicants for free and reduced meals fell below the 50% poverty level. The district’s count of students below poverty was 49.94, just shy of the 50% required.

Again, everyone is encouraged to fill out an application for free and reduced meals. This helps pay for much more in our district than just child nutrition.

Curriculum

After much discussion and research, the district is asking for an additional full time teacher at Timberline for expansion of the arts.  It was also recognized that a greater demand for technical training existed at both high schools, than presently offered.

OJSHS is looking at expanding Career Technical Education (CTE) programming and connecting/partnering more and more with industry to help guide and expand their curricular offerings. The district will work with community members is areas such as resource management and health fields assisting with facilitation for some of our students to go out and get hands on experience in the community.

Potentially there is a pilot program with the University of Idaho and Lewis Clark State College to bring some of those resources into the district. We’ll be integrating more Math and Language Arts skills into our technical education fields. We continue to look into the needs of our students and the community as well.

Trustee Chris St. German shared with the board that the format of the sixth grade forest tour was changing a bit. She was asked to locate and bring in logging equipment simulators for the next class. “I’m excited to show our youth opportunities using technology in natural resource management, Hopefully, this will help to kick off a little more excitement about careers we have locally”.

Testing

Dr. Charity Robison, Board Chair noted that school reports reflected the focus on Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) testing which is typically administered this time of year.

OJSHS principal Brian Lee shared that teachers found MAPS Growth testing to be more accurate and more timely in determining where each student’s strengths and weaknesses lie, as well as resources and  information for how to best intervene and help to resolve the problem.

For that reason as well as the extra time involved to complete ISATs, students in ninth and eleventh grade will now have the option of whether or not to take the ISAT test that year.

Jason Hunter, Principal for Timberline Schools, fully agreed with the positive results of MAPS testing, adding that he had seen a much lower failure rate in freshman math classes.

They are at the age that if they don’t understand something, they are much less likely to say so. The MAPS program helps to identify student needs before they give up and become disengaged. 

Transportation

The district is still in need of bus drivers. Ben Jenkins, Transportation Supervisor reported that currently extra-curricular travel remains limited as the driver shortage continues and spring sports are in full swing. “We are still relying on self-transport regularly”.

Please send anyone their way who might be interested.

Timberline construction

Preliminary plans were presented to the board for the new fourth and fifth grade classrooms to be constructed at Timberline. Garrett said he had been working with Jerry Brotnov, Architect out of Clarkston for a plan to be “the best fit for the least money”. He warned the board in advance that the sticker shock took a little time to process.

Estimates were close to $850,000 for the initial plan to include four classrooms, two to replace the two that were damaged, as well one for the single wide trailer presently used for reading groups and intervention.

The fourth classroom may be used as the new special education classroom, allowing the current site made available for an art room. The trailer may be moved to the Programs Office for storage.

Garrett was asked if the district could afford the cost of new classrooms at Timberline. “Over the past four years we’ve built our fund balance to where we need it, exactly for things like this. It’s roughly between $2.1 and 2.2 million dollars. It will be less than we want it to be for a while, but we’ll build it back up. It’s just the right thing to do. There is also the $1.8 million in our SRS refund, unfortunately we still don’t know when that will be received.

“Our kids deserve to get out of a temporary classroom and we need to begin as soon as possible if it is to be ready for next year,” reasoned Garrett.

Everyone wished to know more information from the architect before making a decision. A special called meeting was held April 26 to speak with Brotnov, the architect.

Garrett stated they were looking at moving the District Office to the Programs Office, beneath OJSHS.  “It will be a tight squeeze but we need to focus our expenditures at Timberline to expand their elementary as well as the heating and cooling projects at Orofino schools.”

Money will also be saved in the near future with the new HVAC systems. Currently OES pays $18,000 a month just to heat the building.

It was determined there was no need for an executive session that evening. 

Action Items

Locally Covid cases remain low, the COVID Operational Plan will continue as it has, with masks still highly recommended.

Trustees approved policy updates for the 4000 series, with work continuing on the 7000 series. 

Action on Leadership Stipends was tabled until after the Leadership meeting this next week.

Mr. Therien, Principal for IDYCA, spoke on behalf of one of the academy’s cadets, and asked the board for their consent to accept 26 credits received from his attendance at a non-accredited Christian school for his Freshman and Sophomore years, maintaining a B average. Therien said he received a B+ average even as he attended Kellogg High School the following year.

The state doesn’t recognize credits from a non-accredited school and the board’s consent is needed for the student to successfully graduate from IDYCA this year. Therein said the young man has done exceptionally well in his time with the academy and he would like to help foster his success.

The board questioned whether Therein believed he had met the requirements for graduation and Therein answered he believed the student has exceeded in mastering the concepts required. The board approved his request.

Trustees tabled making a decision on the Timberline Classroom Build until more information was available from the Architect. A special called meeting will be held April 26.

Contract renewals were approved for certified staff. Terms will be determined once the district has a better idea of this year’s budget.

New hires / separations

New hires for April include: Darrell Bennett, full time Custodian at Orofino Junior Senior High School; Donna West, full time Paraprofessional at Timberline Schools; and Roxann Hubbs, Cook at OES for the 2021-2022 school year. Leaving the district is Carolann Duree, Cook at Orofino Elementary School.

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