Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Board Approves Interim Superintendent

A regular meeting of the Wahkiakum School District Board of Education convened at the high school library Tuesday, June 18th at 5:30. The full house was awaiting the news on a decision of the choice the board would be making as leadership for the district after current Superintendent Brent Freeman announced his retirement in May. The board unanimously voted to suspend the current search and to select an interim replacement, Ric Palmer. Palmer will begin his duties on July 10th and work through next June to assist the board with the transition of hiring a highly qualified individual to carry out the district's vision for leadership. Palmer will be tied to an hourly contract which is not set in stone and is flexible with firm dates being set at the next board meeting.

The board spent five days interviewing five candidates and did not find the right fit for the district. The board will use Palmer's expertise and experience to find a superintendent to carry out the groundwork outgoing Superintendent Brent Freeman has established. Freeman worked diligently to establish grant funding, navigate the district through the pandemic and make the rural school district noted in the state.

Sue O’Connor, Vice Chairperson of the Board of Education, recognized Freeman’s efforts by thanking him for his dedication and work over the last seven years. “We’ve earned respect as a district going from where we were, to now having a seat at the table across the state,” O’Conner remarked as she thanked Freemen for his commitment to the district. Board member, Patty Anderson, shared her sentiments as well, “it is an honor to serve with you and I respect your die on the hill commitment for staff and students.”

Freeman credits that he entered the district in great hands, following predecessor Bob Garret. In addition, he shared his appreciation with the board, staff and community. Freeman leaves the district in a comfortable financial shape considering the enrollment continues to decline. The school year ended with 415 students and a projected 406 expected in the fall.

Business manager, Sue Ellyson, reported that the district is at 80% spending with 83% of the year completed. There was $232K in expenditures as the district worked through grants, security upgrades, cyber installation and Curriculum Associates’ renewals. “Spending is higher now to save money in the long run,” shared Ellyson. The general fund balance is $1,677,506.57 with June expenditures at $232,305. Freeman boasted it is ideal to have $1.2-$1.3 million and we have $1.6. There are also 28 million dollars in grants that have been front loaded prior to Freeman’s departure.

The consent agenda included approval of vouchers, minutes, resignation and termination as well as supplemental contracts. Furthermore, the approval of the 3.7% salary increases for classified, certified, administration and exempt employees per collective bargaining agreements and the principal contracts were approved, along with the WIAA annual resolution for continued service.

Old business included updates on the playground and weight room improvements. The playground has been completed thanks to a Healthy Schools Playground grant. Freeman shared that the weight room improvements are delayed as materials are currently sitting in Portland awaiting delivery.

Anderson spoke from the pool advisory meeting sharing the news that a new manager has been hired and 11 lifeguards have been trained through the Y. Many upgrades, including a new pool cover, and cleanup have been done for summer. Thanks to the work on a grant with the robotics program, new filters have been installed and the pool looks great going into summer.

A long list of grants was shared including the playground addition and fitness room as well as, the updated ADA compliant doors and ramps. There are several more on the radar providing the district funding to look forward to over the next several years to address the school track and lighting, mobile Wi-Fi, cyber infrastructure and FEMA emergency planning.

As the board passes the reins onto Palmer, interim Superintendent, Freeman has provided crosscut directions with calendars and various issues to be addressed for a seamless transition. Ric Palmer is a retired superintendent from Bickleton School District. He has experience in implementing the four-day school week and in remodeling schools. He understands small districts. His former school district is smaller than Wahkiakum, located in wheat country east of Goldendale, WA.

A board workshop will be held on July 16th from 9-3 in the auxiliary building. The board budget public hearing will take place on July 23rd at 4:30, followed by the regular monthly meeting at 5:30 pm in the high school library. The community is invited to meet Ric at 5:00pm between the budget hearing and regularly scheduled meeting. The public is always encouraged to stay for the regularly scheduled school board meeting beginning at 5:30.

The Board wants to express our heartfelt gratitude to our outgoing superintendent, Brent Freeman, for his work in shepherding our district over the past seven years.


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