School board hears vaccination, maintenance concerns
April 1, 2021
The Wahkiakum School District Board of Directors met March 23 to listen to reports and discuss several issues including the bus depreciation schedule, assessments, continued building needs and funding, and more.
One of the directors said she had been approached by a constituent who was unhappy that teachers were not required to be vaccinated.
Superintendent Brent Freeman said he respected those concerns, but added, “It’s a personal choice. It’s an experimental vaccine. We aren’t requiring anyone to take the vaccine. We have encouraged people to do it.”
The average fleet age of the buses is currently 11.3 years, but with coming turnover, they hope to reduce it seven years.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Freeman said. “We got rid of two buses. We’re going to rotate out Bus 3 and Bus 9. That’s over half a million miles in those two buses. We’re not using them.”
He suggested that the district purchase a lift bus in August or September when they have $82,000 available in depreciation dollars through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s bus depreciation program.
“We have two lift buses, and they are our worst buses,” Freeman said.
Directors were pleased that repair bills have gone down since the district decided to participate in the program.
Principal Nikki Reese talked about math, reading, and literacy assessments the district has been using to identify gaps possibly caused by last year’s closure.
As for math, she said they found a higher number of students were in the intensive range in their assessment following last year’s closure, but from fall to winter, they had decreased the number of students in that range by eight percent in K-8. Kids who were needing strategic intervention dropped by 12 percent, and benchmark increased by 19 percent.
“That is overall, great,” Reese said.
“The hope would be that as you provide those real intentional interventions at the younger levels, that you would see fewer of students needing that intervention as you move forward,” she said.
“Overall, with the year we’ve had, in having the K-3 four days a week, and our 4-7 returning for days of week at the end of January, and eighth graders attending twice a week. I feel really good that there has been growth in every grade level,” Reese said. “We certainly have some grade levels more concerning than others. They are cohorts that overall, their data over the last couple years, regardless of covid-19, were lower and those students are needing more intensive intervention. I’m really excited to see what that 4-7 grade winter to spring date looks like since those students will have been back to school four days a week. Already we are seeing such positives out of those kids being able to come to school more frequently. I’ll hopefully have more to report on that growth in math around the end of May or early June.”
Freeman continued to discuss the district’s needs and gave an update on how he is trying to find funding.
He said that he had reengaged Construction Services Group and has brought in a couple contractors in the last couple months, including someone to look at the roof.
He said he would like to submit a request for quotes to get some mechanical engineers in to make an assessment on electrical system, HVAC, and the roof.
“We can run that bond as many times as we want, and waste time and tears, but if we can start going after different components of this, and getting them bundled up, then we can start breaking the costs down. At some point the community does need to pay. That’s the way Washington is, communities pay for schools. We need to get some skin in the game, but it needs to be fairer skin in the game, not seven times the amount of skin that somebody in the other part of the state has to pay,” Freeman said.
Freeman said a project to get a crosswalk on SR 4 to get kids over to the Farm Forest safely was moving forward.
“There will be flashing lights, and painted lines,” Freemans said. The proposal is to drop the speed limit to 35. And when the kids push the button and lights are flashing, traffic will stop. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that this summer or possibly this fall.”
The board of directors adopted a resolution for an emergency waiver of high school graduation credits and approved the hire of Bailee Perleberg as the high school academic and graduation support teacher on a non-continuing contract. They approved an asset preservation program review.
The board of directors closed the meeting for an executive session to discuss personnel.