School district prepares for new year
August 22, 2019
By Diana Zimmerman
The Wahkiakum School District Board of Directors met on Tuesday to go over a variety of issues.
The board approved the hire of a new middle school science teacher, Jennifer Berry.
“Jennifer comes to us most recently from Toledo having taught high school science,” Principal Nikki Reese said. “She’s super passionate about her content, she also has a background in robotics, and is willing to do some drama and just brings a really nice well rounded talent to us.”
“I really am excited,” Reese continued, “because Jennifer just exudes this enthusiasm for science. When asked what a typical day in her classroom would look like, she said ‘not typical.’ We might not even be in my classroom. We’ll probably be outside, hands on. I was really excited to hear that, because I think our kids just thrive from those hands on experiences.”
The board also approved a new head coach for the middle school football team, Garrett Miller.
Substitute teachers will received $150 per day, and the board approved a $350 Traffic Safety Fee for 2019-2020, a $20 increase from last year.
“That’s still a greatly subsidized reduced price for traffic safety. We don’t charge for fuel, insurance, vehicle usage, any of those other things,” Superintendent Brent Freeman said.
Freeman gave an update on the commercial kitchen/fish processing center, now referred to as the FISH Center. Detailed plans were approved by the board, but the project is still up in the air while they try to find a willing contractor.
“There is one contractor that has shown interest,” Freeman said. “They have given us a fair shake and a hard look. They are really working with us and the architect and their sub-contractors to see if they can make this feasible. These guys at Northwest Legacy understand the compelling need for us. They’ve stuck with it and said that they believe in giving back to the community. They realize they are not going to make the profit margins that they would other places, but they haven’t said no yet.”
Freeman admitted that his hopes for this project had faded, but the last few days he feels like they have a 50-50 chance.
“We should know by the end of next week whether we cut bait and move on or if we have a chance to move forward,” he said. “If it happens, it’s going to happen fast.”
He had high praise for Carrie Backman, who in her leadership role with the WSU Extension office in Wahkiakum, has been a partner in the project.
Reese and Wahkiakum High School Principal Stephanie Leitz gave an overview of the training teachers had received this summer and plans for the new school year.
Freeman reported that Brian Hornbeck would be at the school as a liaison officer from the sheriff’s office. He expressed gratitude to Suzanne Holmes and Robin Westphall for their work with the Outdoor Cafe which provided 875 lunches this summer at a cost of $1.96 per meal, with the help of 33 volunteers. He encouraged directors to stay engaged with legislators as they continue to face funding issues. He shared a school bus mileage report, which said that drivers traveled $75,245 miles during the last school year. He said that the school had received a grant that will allow them to put in a crosswalk on SR 4 in the future, along with flashing lights and a lower speed limit and discussed other issues like enrollment, lighting, and chromebooks.
School begins September 3.