Robotics grant report at N/GRV School Board meeting


October 27, 2022

On October 18, the Naselle/Grays River Valley School Board held their monthly meeting. All board members were present and approximately six attendees from the community. After the usual opening steps on the agenda, including approval of the last meeting’s minutes, board member Tyson Vogeler expressed appreciation for the excellent minutes prepared by Rhiana Jacot. At the time for public comment, an individual from the audience asked if the board had a chair since former President of the Board, Chuck Hendrickson resigned in August. Vice-Chair Amy Hunt replied that she is the acting chair and that new officers will be chosen in December.

Personnel changes on the agenda were all approved as follows: resignation of Kelsi Nelson, Drama Director; hiring of Michael Johnson as para-educator for 2022-2023 school year pending background check; hiring of Karl Johnson as Knowledge Bowl coach and hiring of Blake Updike for Middle School Girls’ Basketball coach. Funding for the new position filled by Michael Johnson is through a one-year grant from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction rather than from local funds.

In new business, the board acknowledged the continuation of unsafe walking routes to the school. This step is necessary for the district to receive state transportation funding for students who live within one mile of the school. This was approved, along with the fall surplus list, and an out of area teaching assignment for Daniel Messing (Band).

Principal Justin Laine introduced Ron Wright, Carrie Backman and Clarissa Colson who all gave reports on the robotics program’s grant through WSU that supports Ron and Clarissa working in both the Wahkiakum and Naselle/GRV districts. They are teaching robotics in all grades in a gradual program that will provide basic information to the lower grades, then more advanced instruction to the middle school, on through to in-depth instruction to the high school students. This increase in computer science, specifically in robotics in all grades, will prepare students for a variety of careers. The program came through a grant Carrie Backman applied for through her position with Washington State University’s Extension office in Cathlamet. The grant includes $89,500 in funding to support hiring both Colson and Wright to help both districts. Wright will instruct high school students in both districts. The grant further funds supplies and basic sample robots for all primary grades and advanced projects to be developed in the high school computer science classes. High school students will share what they’ve learned at career fairs at nearby community colleges. The intent of the grant and program supports students becoming aware of the job and career opportunities in the emerging robotics field. Backman remarked that she’s been pleased with the parent and student response.

Superintendent Lisa Nelson reported that a $10,000 grant from the Templin Foundation has been received to support replacement of the scoreboard on the football field. A grant has also been applied for with Pacific County to make improvements to the baseball fields. Superintendent Nelson also reported on the survey requested by the board to gain information voters may have about the district, the board, ideas for changes, thoughts on future curriculum or any other issues the public would like to see addressed by the board. It was mailed out this week to all registered voters in the district. The community is encouraged to respond and to take time to fill it out and think through the questions. A self-addressed stamped envelope will be included so it is hoped all will spend time on it and get it returned by mid-November. The survey will provide more in-depth information that will support future strategic planning included in the annual goals of the board.

Lonnie Eaton, school board member, introduced the idea of the school supporting a local summer lunch program. A local church has funding available to help with food and asked if the school would be interested in supporting the idea and becoming involved. A discussion followed with no vote. Lisa Nelson reported the idea will be explored by staff with more discussion to follow.

Before the meeting ended, board member Tyson Vogeler raised the matter of progress on the board’s annual goals which includes a strategic review of policies and plans. The board directed the review of two or three policies at each upcoming meeting, and to have a workshop on December 6 at 5:30 to review school safety planning and discuss board/superintendent operating guidelines.

All meetings are now available over Zoom or by telephone. Prior to all meetings, the agenda and other materials for the meetings are available on the district’s web site. The next district meeting will be held on November 15 at 6:30 p.m. Community members are always welcome, in person, by Zoom or by telephone.

Note: This reporter invited board member Tyson Vogeler to review this report and provide any further detailed information. As is often the case, the Middle School Commons room is not an easy room for clearly hearing all that is said. Further, meetings are usually personally recorded by this reporter, but unfortunately this meeting’s recording was mistakenly deleted. Vogeler has verified the information. This reporter apologizes for the deletion of the recording.


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