News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters School Board spotlight

The Sisters School Board’s monthly meeting took place Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at Sisters Middle School with all board members in attendance.

• Board member David Thorsett expressed concern about the comparatively limited time that middle school students are in real-time contact with teachers while acknowledging that he understood that it is largely due to lack of physical space in the building to meet distancing requirements.

Board member Jeff Smith posed a question about how effective the “at home” days are for students.

The general response from principals is that the situation is not ideal, but that indicators thus far show students are holding steady on learning, and more data will provide a clearer picture.

Note: The elementary school, which has been in-person four days a week most of the year, has reported good progress among students.

The middle and high schools have only been in the hybrid model with students attending two days a week for the past six weeks, so there is not as much data collected.

• Scholl requested guidance from the board on how to approach developing a school calendar for 2021-22 and got the word to build a “Covid Calendar” as well as a more traditional one. Board members acknowledged that since it appears that most of America may have had the chance to have a vaccine by May, the hope of a more “normal” school year seems to be increasing.

• The school board acknowledged the resignation of Sisters Middle School Principal Alison Haney, effective after this school year. Haney acknowledged “Classified Employee Appreciation Week” and expressed her deep thanks for the classified staff (paraprofessionals, custodians, transportation, maintenance, and food-preparation staff) and all the variety of jobs they have taken on above and beyond the call of duty to help the schools run smoothly during the pandemic.

• Sisters High School science teacher Rima Givot and three students, Ryan Goff, Presley Adelt, and Molly Greaney shared a presentation regarding the Trout Creek Conservation Area (TCCA), which is part of the school district property behind the high school. The school district is the steward of this land in cooperation with the Forest Service and the Deschutes Land Trust. High school biology students conduct data collection and other hands-on learning in the area. The students gave an update of the flora and fauna found in the area and reported on concerns regarding the area’s protection given the increase of human encroachment in the vicinity.

• Business Manager Sherry Joseph reported that the current budget is in good standing.

• Superintendent Curt Scholl reported that the hiring process is nearly complete for a replacement for retiring Special Education Director Martha Hindman.

The posting for the job vacancy for the high school principal attracted a good number of applicants and screening and interviews are scheduled over the next two weeks.

Enrollment has increased slightly to 1,154 and is expected to continue considering all the building taking place in the district.

Regarding the proposed building levy in May, Scholl said that preliminary costs for a new elementary building considering market rates for construction appears to be at $29.5 millon.

The bond would generate approximately $33.8 million in total.

• Seven applicants for the Sisters School District budget committee will be interviewed March 11. Board Member Jeff Smith commented that he hoped some of the applicants would consider running for the open school board positions.

• Don Hedrick requested that the board vote to allow him to send a letter to the Oregon Legislature opposing Senate Bill 238, which seeks to prohibit school districts from hiring resource officers. Hedrick said he believed that it is a mistake to take local control away from districts and that districts should be able to choose whether to hire an officer if they would like. The board voted 5-0 in favor of sending the letter. Note: Sisters School District pays about two-thirds of the salary for a Deschutes County deputy to serve as a resource officer.

• The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 7 at 6 p.m. at Sisters Middle School library.

 

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