School board hears maintenance reports; virtual graduation plan
May 21, 2020
The Wahkiakum School District Board of Directors met Tuesday night to approve several items, listen to presentations from the technology director and the business manager, and get updates about graduation, the food program, and the conversation about the coming school year.
With the Washington State legislature facing a possible $7 billion deficit, Superintendent Brent Freeman said, the talk about Wahkiakum receiving a $13-15 million bump to help renovate the high school was unlikely.
“I don’t think we’re going to get a bond without a big match from the legislature, and I don’t think we’re going to get a big match any time soon,” Freeman said.
Meanwhile, there have been four roof leaks in the last two months, and two of those leaks damaged IT equipment.
“Right now we can’t afford to not do anything, and we can’t afford to do anything,” Freeman said.
So he’s been looking in a new direction. Apollo Solutions, a group that has worked with other school districts to find funding, had asked to give the school board a presentation sometime in the near future.
The board agreed.
The board also approved several items under new business:
• a 1.6 percent IPD (implicit price deflator) pay raise for the 2020-2021 school year,
• a new HR/Payroll Accountant position,
• $8,000 raises for the Transportation Supervisor and the Maintenance Supervisor, to make their salaries competitive with similar positions elsewhere,
• A four year contract with a base pay of $120,000 for Superintendent Brent Freeman,
• The 2020-2021 academic calendar, with the first day set for August 31,
• An annual resolution regarding membership with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association,
• Joyce Wilson and Cheryl Parker’s retirements, and
• A continuous learning plan, a resolution to waive school annual hour requirement, and a WSD emergency school closure waiver application.
These final three items will allow Wahkiakum School District, whose teachers began engaging students immediately after Governor Inslee closed schools throughout the state, to end the school year on June 12, instead of June 19 which was prescribed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The teachers’ contracts end before June 19, and it has been the district’s position that they should not be required to work without pay. Other districts took a lot longer to get started with remote learning and their school year will end on June 19.
Paul Ireland gave an overview and history of the IT program at the district, which he has been instrumental in improving, campus wide.
In the last year, they have taken their core infrastructure wireless, Ireland said. There is access to wifi all over campus and the district could now do live broadcasting for several sporting events at several locations on campus.
That’s the good news, but upgrades are always needed, as well as questions about how to fund the fixes.
Business Manager Shelby Garrett gave a presentation on the budget status.
“We’re about 75 percent through the year, but we’ve only spent 62.8 percent of our budget, and that does include the buses, but not the scoreboards,” Garrett said. “We’re doing pretty good.”
Enrollment is frozen at 491, Freeman reported.
“There is a lot of anxiety about what the future holds for us,” Freeman said. “What I will share is that we’re holding to the June 12 graduation date, and the June 12 end of school.”
He said they had been working with Chris Bischoff, the Director of Health and Human Services, Principal Stephanie Leitz and a couple students to work out the details of graduation, which they plan to livestream in the gym with just the seniors and necessary staff.
The district has provided more than 5500 meals since Washington schools were closed in March, and will continue to do so until June 19, when a summer meal program will take over. They are figuring out how to transition at this time.
Freeman said there were also discussions about what school might look like when it resumes in the fall.
“We like options that fit Wahkiakum, not options that are necessarily best for Seattle, We’re fighting hard for that, and I think we’re getting some traction,” Freeman said.