Orcas School Dist. shores up staffers for ’08-’09 school year

At the Orcas Island School District (OISD) Board meeting on June 26 various reports on funding and staffing were given:

At the Orcas Island School District (OISD) Board meeting on June 26 various reports on funding and staffing were given:

The OISD board decided to reinstate the full time position of teacher Anne Ford McGrath in the elementary grades in order to maintain the teacher-student ratio required for government funding.

Superintendent Glenn Harris announced that Elementary Principal Tom Gobeske’s contract would be considered for renewal after his credential is reinstated, which is expected to occur the end of June.

OEA, the certified teachers’ union announced its new slate of officers: Marta Branch, re-elected as President; Suzanne McClure as Vice-President, LYN Perry as Secretary and Pam Jenkins as Treasurer.

On behalf of the Orcas Island Education Fund (OIEF), President Michelle Reed presented a Letter of Commitment for $100,000 to the OISD board. The amount has been raised jointly with the Orcas Island Community Foundation (OICF) through the Education Initiative. OIEF is committed to a donation of $72,000 while OICF will be donating $28,000. The funds have been included in the formation of the 2008-2009 budget, but the check will be presented to the board once the staffing assignments have been allocated, in order to follow the directives of the donors to the Education Initiative.

OISD President Janet Brownell also acknowledged a separate contribution from OICF for $9,000. The donation is to be used to support academic programs in two areas: vocational education and/or expanded programming for students who may be on a college track.

Business Manager Ben Thomas’ He reported that the fund balance will be about $300,000. The year-to-date accounting shows more revenue than expenses, partly due to the spending freeze, said Board Member Keith Whitaker. Thomas said that there are some outstanding expenditures, such as groundskeeping, summer water use in Buck Park, and maintenance might subtract from the fund balance in the coming months.

The board heard a report from Moriah Armstrong on the two school agencies she oversees: Orcas Island Prevention Partnership (OIPP) and Readiness to Learn (RTL). Armstrong will retire on Sept. 30. Her position as Director of OIPP has been at .594 full time equivalent (FTE). The position will be offered at a reduced pay for increased hours, of .707 FTE.

Armstrong gave an overview of the high points of OIPP, including the Town Hall held in March and the progress made in social norms perception among both students and the community. Armstrong also pointed out the ways in which RTL supports students and families, such as emergency funding, counseling and assistance with filling out paperwork.

Elementary Principal Gobeske commented on the rescheduling of elementary classes and said that with the implementation of new state math standards, he would have preferred to keep a part-time math specialist position held by Denise O’Toole.

Gobeske said that three classrooms would be available for OISD uses, such as a pre-school Special Ed Program, an elementary-level OASIS classroom or better access for the Orcas Open Arts visiting artists program.

Middle/High School Principal Barbara Kline praised the “remarkably good percentage of 10th graders who had passed the WASL tests on the first attempt.” The 87 percent of passing students is above the state standard, and is also above the OISD target. Ninety-two percent of the 10th-graders passed the reading test, 89 percent passed the writing test and 87 percent passed the math component. To date, Kline said, all OISD students have passed the WASL by their third attempt.

She announced a Navigator 101 grant which will train teachers to help students develop online portfolios of their work.

Kline is currently working to finalize staffing and class scheduling for next year.

The board tabled a discussion of a proposal for new onsite and remote service contract of ESD 189 for technical support of the district’s computer network. until the next meeting and Board Member Tony Ghazel will work on a revision of the contract.

The board also decided to table decisions on the rates for OISD facilities’ usage. The rates have been differentiated between usage by local, non-school non-profit organizations for children; by local, local, non-school non-profit organizations for adults; and by commercial groups. Sharron Mierau, who administers facilities use, pointed out the commercial use rate has never been applied.

After the board discussed various rates til August, when they have time to consider adjustments and get feedback.

Two special OISD board meetings will be held to discuss the projected 2008-2009 budget. The first will be July 7 from 3 :30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The second will be July 15 from 3 to 6 p.m.