By Margaret Hopper
The Silver District school board met Thursday at the District Office on North Swan. The work session began at 5 p.m. with all board members present. Harrison Schmidt Elementary principal Renatte Hogan gave the board members a dozen-page report recently compiled to inform them of facts, activities, test scores and an overview of key programs and materials students are using. A recent state audit of practices and procedures listed some potential weaknesses, which appeared to be addressed in the rest of the report.
Most of the rest of the work session was given to high school principal Beth Lougee and her assistant principal Marquez who listed steps they have taken to ensure that all seniors are on track for graduation. Parent notifications, graduation requirements and a host of efforts were outlined to show the process being used to meet student needs. Lougee and Marcella Marquez explained the “score banking” system students can use to put some requirements in place as early as the freshman year.
They also gave board members an impressive set of booklets and tracking materials they gave students and parents to show the process. The Parent Information Night section had over 20 pages of information, designed by the state office. Lougee noted that they had used phone calls, emails and other contacts to ensure parental attendance and the results had been poor. She was still trying to get parents informed of these needs well ahead of the graduation season.
The work session ended at 5:50 and the board voted for a break before the second session began.
In the Citizen’s Inquiries part, parent Tonya Knapp asked the board a number of questions and gave them information she had been given about student misbehaviors and apparent lacks of proper responses. She questioned the fairness of handling suspensions and the safety of the students themselves if her information was accurate.
Police captain Ricky Villalobos was present to answer some of her questions, and he assured her some of the statements she had been given by other parents were not correct. The incidents she mentioned were being given attention, and where appropriate, some were referred to other agencies, such as the District Attorney’s office or juvenile officers.
Superintendent Lon Streib said he had been visited by several parents earlier that day. One response was to set up a committee to work with La Plata, and he invited her personally to be a part of that. Many of these incidents were with minors and they had to use appropriate actions for that age group. The district was working on these problems, but they had to be handled carefully. He would like her and others to be involved.
Mike Stone of Stone, McGee and Company was present to finish the audit process that had begun in October, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. The report was 118 pages long, covering all aspects of financial activities. Stone said it should be remembered that the district was running a $31 million budget and it also had $28 million worth of assets, including buildings, vehicles and equipment. There had been three small findings on pages 115-117, but they had been addressed immediately and the exit conferences had been finished. The school had been pleasant to work with, the numbers were good, and Candy Milam was doing a great job. Stone said he hoped the board would approve the report, as he “really didn’t want to start over again.” They did in the consent agenda section, later that evening. Many thanked Milam for her clean report.
Justin Wecks of Silver City Education Association said contract negotiations had been going on for three sessions and they were making progress. The agenda called for setting the SAT testing schedule, but Streib said Lougee needed more time to check all options before finalizing her materials, and the board agreed to table it for the next meeting.
Milam asked the board to approve $4,126,660.01 in checks and a series of budget adjustments and donations. Under pupil transportation, $58,727 paid rental fees for new buses purchased by bus contractors. Final allocation and cash carryovers were requested for Title I, $179,671; Entitlement IDEA-B, $159,282; Preschool IDEA-B, $9240; Education of Homeless, $11,000. Two allocations were requested: IDEA-B, “Risk Pool”, $6,426, and Next Generation Assessments, $20,800. Capital Improvements state match guarantee was $75,309.
Donations included $1000 from Moose Lodge for Science Olympiad; Town and Country
Garden Club gave $1000 for the Cliff band; an anonymous group gave $1500 for the high school science department, $3000 for science and math, and $1000 for La Plata Middle School. Donor said it wanted students exposed to science, math and technologies.
Also in the consent agenda, the school calendars for Cliff and Silver needed approval; the audit report for Silver District from Stone, McGee and Company, CPAs; the approval of the superintendent’s contract extension for another year; and the Alternate Demonstration of Competency for seniors was requested. All were approved.
Earlier, the AD of Comp. was written as a resolution, but new information said it was not a part of policy; it would be needed this year, but phased out in the future as other requirements were put in place. The superintendent’s extension did not ask for a change in salary; he would continue with the salary already in place.
In the second Citizen’s Inquiry, Tonya Knapp asked about “drug court” or similar things available for juveniles. Chris Arvidson told about some programs and that they could be found at the courthouse. A short discussion followed. Michelle Jacquez commented that getting the grade levels together was one of the best things to happen. As a staff person, she met colleagues she might not otherwise get to know.
The board went into closed session after 7:00 p.m. to discuss the superintendent’s contract, limited personnel and pending litigation. Attendees were assured that no decisions would be made, and that at the session’s conclusion, the board would come out to end the closed session and the public session, as well. No further action would be taken.