Hedrick to step down from board
Last updated 5/12/2022 at Noon
The biggest news from the Sisters School District board of directors meeting on Wednesday, May 4, came just before adjournment: Board Chair Don Hedrick, who has served for over 11 years, announced that he would be stepping down effective at the June meeting.
He said, “It’s been an honor to be on the board for 11 years, and the reasons are mostly, I am going to say, age-related.
Community comments at the outset of the meeting included Steve Swisher reminding the board of the importance of actively recruiting budget committee members for the upcoming school year.
Two students spoke regarding concerns over plans for Sisters High School to move to a trimester schedule, noting the challenge such a schedule would make for students to be in music throughout the year due to potential conflicts.
Joe Nickelson, a parent, addressed the board regarding concerns that he has regarding what he termed a sometimes “hostile environment” within classrooms at Sisters Middle School and was redirected to take his concerns back to school administrators rather than the board itself.
Audrey Tehan of Seed to Table, which has had a partnership with the school district for nine years, gave an update about the way her organization is working with grades 2-5, including four farm visits a year by the students. The program helps students to become more connected to the natural world (soil, worms, seeds) and helps them develop an appreciation of where their food comes from and the goodness of fresh produce. Some of the produce makes its way into the school cafeteria as well. Part of the mission of Seed to Table is to provide equitable access to fresh produce, according to Tehan.
Brad Tisdel, creative director for Sisters Folk Festival (SFF), spoke to the board about SFF’s long-term connection to the school district which dates back to 1997, and reported on the Community Arts Celebration that took place April 29-30, which was held in person for the first time since 2019. The event, a multigenerational celebration, included student art displays, live music by students and professionals, and an auction, among other activities. Tisdel reported that SFF remains committed to sustainable, equitable, high-quality art education for all grade levels in Sisters.
Following the presentation by Tehan and Tisdel, Sisters High School Principal Steve Stancliff remarked that as he was pursuing the job opening for his position last year, he heard about the community connections.
“Now that I am here, it is unlike anything I have ever experienced in education,” he said.
Jim Barnett, a member of Citizens4Community (C4C), reported some detailed results of a survey the group conducted earlier this year to get community input and ideas about what the current elementary school property could be used for once the new building is completed.
More work is planned by the group, but the initial results indicated that the top responses included using the property for community sports, pre-kindergarten child care, community meeting space, and senior center space.
Other ideas included a community swimming pool and a dog park.
The focus for now remains on uses that would not rely on the outlay of more money from the school district.
The school board will ultimately decide what this asset will be used for.
Sherry Joseph, the district business manager, reported that all is well with the current budget, but did note that fuel costs are running about 33 percent higher than anticipated due to the jump in oil prices over the past few months. While this is not an immediate concern and because about 80 percent of school bus costs are covered by federal dollars, the increase does affect the local budget to some degree.
Superintendent Curt Scholl acknowledged to the board that school nurse Trish Roy was named the School Nurse of the Year.
Enrollment has stayed level with very little change. He did not have a lot to report on the new elementary school building project other than some of the permits and other work being done have taken a bit longer to complete than anticipated. He hopes to have a much fuller report on the progress at the July board meeting. He said the partnerships on the project are going well. He acknowledged the continual work is being to done be sure the school district is continuing to address the needs of students following the impact of school disruption the past two years.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 1 at 6 p.m. at the district office.