The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Cathlamet schools plan for start of classes


The Wahkiakum School District Board of Directors met on Tuesday to approve the budget for the 2021-2022 academic year, learn about a possible opportunity to fund remodeling, and get an update on preparations for school in the middle of a pandemic.

Following a budget hearing, directors approved a 2020-2021 budget with revenue estimated at $7,766,972 and $7,989,503 in estimated expenditures, as well as a four year budget resolution.

“I did learn that the State Auditor’s Office looks at the four year budget,” Business Manager Shelby Garrett said. “If they see you go into the red at the end of the four years, or within the four years, they want to know what your plan is. Wahkiakum is not going into the red; we are well off financially.”

Garrett said the district expects to see a drop in enrollment in the future, which they will accommodate by dropping expenditures. She also said that in the next couple years, the district will hopefully be able to purchase a bus.

Pat Stephens, who is with Apollo Solutions Group, gave a presentation on what his organization does, and what it could do for WSD.

ASG is an energy service company approved by the state to negotiate directly with school districts. They go into the school and look for ways to reduce energy and operational costs, at no cost to the district, and then present a plan to the district. They incorporate everything on the school’s wish list, and they help prepare the district in their bid for grants. Eventually, if the school is awarded a grant, the district agrees to hire ASG to do the work, using the money awarded to them by the state.

“If you don’t get a grant, you don’t pay any money,” Stephens said. “If you do get the grant, you work with us to get the job done,”

Apollo was able to help Oakville School District secure $5 million to make improvements, Stephens noted.

“We would like to do the same thing with your school district,” he said.

Superintendent Brent Freeman then gave an update on the district’s plans to return to school.

“We hoped to open school on the 31st of August,” Freeman said, “I’m still hoping.

“At the end of the day we’re focused on two objectives. We have to create a space that is safe and can accommodate both our students and staff. And on the other hand, we have to figure out the learning piece to that.

“We have been really fortunate that we work closely with our health department. I want to give a shout out to how well our health department and really our county as a whole has worked with us in finding solutions.”

The school is well prepared for sanitization and cleaning. Procedures are in place. Hand washing stations are coming. Stands that have cameras with thermometers are going to be ordered. They’ve purchased two small UV sterilizers, and have purchased PPE, masks and rubber gloves, and enough hand sanitizer to get through the year.

“We have everything we need to operate this school,” Freeman said. “We’ll be able to keep this place pretty clean and from a safety aspect, I’m really confident we’re going to operate the school as a safety zone.”

But the challenges keep coming, and they have to prepare for any possible scenario. The goal is to have every student in school on August 31, but that outcome is uncertain with covid-19 numbers rising in the state.

So while they grapple with small hallways that make social distancing difficult, how to set up classrooms, or establish cohorts with the older students who move about the school and how to respond when students get sick with the flu or covid-19, they are also having to consider how to tackle teaching and learning when they aren’t certain if students will be able to return to the classroom or if they must continue with remote learning.

Directors approved principal contracts for the 2020-2021 year. Principals Stephanie Leitz and Nikki Reese will each receive a salary of $109,977.

Directors also approved the hire of Amee Crawford as the Assistant High School Secretary, and a resignation from Shelby Robinson.


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