School board planning bond sale to update aging high school
May 23, 2019
An aging school has the Wahkiakum School District Board of Directors considering a bond. On Tuesday before the regular board meeting, the directors listened to a presentation from two representatives of Piper Jaffray, about why they should serve as the district’s underwriter.
After the presentation, the board took a short recess, and then the regular meeting began.
Ron Wright is working on a project authorized by Wahkiakum County, the Wahkiakum Resource Action Plan.
“We like the idea of the county coming together on common county issues, it doesn’t matter what your stripe is,” Wright said.
The group has a lot of ideas, and part of their plans include looking for grants to support their ideas. Wright said that they were currently applying for a competitive EPA planning grant, that wouldn’t bring in money, but would bring in professionals to work with the group on planning.
Carrie Backman of the Wahkiakum WSU Extension office and the coordinator for Marine Resources Committee, has been working in partnership with the school district to build a fish processing center and commercial kitchen at the school. She said that the Wahkiakum County Commissioners had approved a Memorandum of Understanding that morning and it was ready for the school district to sign on.
With that, the board later approved the construction of a food industry and seafood handling center on school grounds.
Paul Lawrence gave an update on the facilities and maintenance and spoke about eliminating inefficiencies, particularly in electrical and plumbing.
“We are lucky to have schools with history, but with history and age comes wear,” Lawrence said. “We are noticing wear in certain areas on things that are used on a day to day basis, faucets, handles, switches, things you don’t think about.”
He is also focusing on improvements to security: fence lines, brush clearance, cameras and coverage, door locks, including an overall system that would lock the entire school.
Superintendent Brent Freeman praised Lawrence for what he described as “preventive maintenance.”
“He’s done a great job of getting ahead of this,” Freeman said.
A partnership with the PUD to replace lights with LEDs in the middle school gym and the multipurpose room in the elementary school is already saving the district money and Lawrence hopes to replace lights in the high school gym and the parking lot next time around.
“The PUD has been a fantastic partner,” Freeman said.
Principals Stephanie Leitz and Nikki Reese gave an update on science curriculum.
“Around 2012 we saw a first draft of what is called a new generation science standard,” Reese said, “It’s very different from what we worked with in the past. With next generation standards, every grade level is exposed to each domain of science, with the expectation that there is integration into other content areas, that we are really preparing our kids for college and career, and that we also have to look at an engineering component. It’s a huge shift in how we used to teach science.”
She noted that it was still a work in progress.
Freeman and Leitz gave an update on the accreditation process. It has been completed and results have been very positive, but they are still waiting to receive the full report.