At the August school board meeting on Tuesday, discussion took a lively turn regarding the legislated $367 allotment for a mandated Highly Capable Program (HCP).
Wahkiakum School District chose not to take part in the program for the last few years because of poor funding. This year, however, the legislature changed the language regarding HCP, and school districts can no longer opt out.
Superintendent Bob Garrett conferred with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction regarding the $367 allotment. The representative from the fiscal office could not provide a definitive answer but he believed that Wahkiakum school district would actually receive between $3500 to $4000, Garrett said.
According to Garrett, this remained an insufficient amount to do an effective program, as witnessed in years past.
“Hopefully there will be more money down the road,” Garrett said.
The school board is required to go on record regarding the mandate by September 1 and declare whether the year will be used for transition or an HCP.
“I don’t see any harm in tabling this another month,” school board member Tim Hanigan said, “and see if we can find out what the actual dollar amount is.”
“They put due dates on everything,” Garrett added. “Are all due dates met? No. Will anything happen in the month of September because I haven’t submitted this plan? I doubt it. But OSPI’s due date is September 1. If you want to table it, the minutes will reflect your decision.”
“There are only two choices,” Tina Schubert said.
“There are all sorts of choices,” Hanigan replied.
“They give you two choices,” Garrett said. “Tim is suggesting we don’t even do that and sort of be the case study of what really happens if the district says this is ridiculous that you are going to have us do a program with so little money. I doubt they are going to withhold any portion of funding if you wait a month. “
“You are saying ‘doubt’ and the fiscal officer is saying he is fairly certain that its $4000. Those words are not comforting,” Schubert said.
“There are other districts that are in the same boat,” high school Principal Stephanie Leitz said. “Not exploring is sending a message that we don’t want to do anything for those kind of kids.
“I don’t think that is the message we are sending at all," Hanigan said. "I’m sending the message that I’m not going to do a program for $367 and have all the other ones put money into it and take it from other programs that are funded. At some point someone has to step up. I think it’s a great program.”
“Can we have more discussion?” Hanigan asked.
“I don’t think it hurts us to have the transition year,” JA Wendt Principal Theresa Libby said, “and find out more about it. Start talking to people, how is the district supposed to do this?”
The motion passed unanimously. The school district will use this year to transition toward implementing an HCP.
“I thought we might have our first split vote,” Garrett joked.
In other business, Sue O’Connor of Skamokawa signed the oath of office after being approved as a board member to fill the position vacated by Mike Quigley.
“I believe it is important to support the school,” O’Connor said. “If our kids are not educated, we’re not going to make it.”
Contracts were approved for a new math teacher Michele Haberlach and English teacher Audrey Petterson.
Meal prices will remain the same as last year.
The school board discussed the possibility of moving from five district representation to three districts and two at-large positions. The matter will be left to voters on an upcoming ballot along with the M&O Levy.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for September 24 at 5:30 p.m.