High school staff request working intercom system
by Samantha White
Burns High School (BHS) teacher Jim Walker attended the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County School District (HCSD) No. 3 Board of Directors on Oct. 13 to discuss the results of pretests that were administered to BHS sophomores at the beginning of the school year.
Walker reported that the students’ reading and grammar scores were “very low,” and, after conversing with parents and colleagues, he recommends offering a 10th grade remedial English course. Walker added that he taught a similar class in the past and has already developed a curriculum.
However, he said some of BHS’ course offerings would have to be altered in order to make room for the class, and he suggested prioritizing remedial English over personal finance and economics during the final trimester of the school year.
Board chair Lori Cheek questioned the efficiency and timing of offering the course at the end of the year.
“The last trimester is the only time that we can do it,” Walker replied, adding, “At least they [the students] would have an opportunity to have some review or have some remedial work.”
Cheek asked BHS Principal Brandon Yant whether the high school can offer the remedial course this year.
“I don’t think we can,” Yant replied, explaining that personal finance and economics are needed to fulfill curriculum requirements.
Cheek and board member Ralph Dickenson said they’d like the discussion to continue.
On behalf of BHS staff, teacher Jimmy Zamora urged the board to install a “good, working intercom system.”
He explained that the high school is currently using its phone system for announcements, and it’s incapable of reaching all areas where staff and students are located. He expressed concern that this lapse in communication capabilities is a safety hazard, as emergency messages cannot be heard throughout the school, and he urged the board to prioritize the safety of students and staff.
Yant said an intercom system is at the top of his wish list. He added that improvements to the bells and phone system are also needed. He explained that announcements are not being heard in several classrooms, and some of the bells don’t work. He added that only one of the office’s seven phone jacks is functioning.
Yant said he believes the intercom and bells can be incorporated into a single system, but the phone system would have to be separate.
HCSD No. 3 Superintendent Dr. Marilyn McBride said there are many needs across the district that have to be carefully considered before a decision can be made.
“We want to move forward with some of the projects we feel are really important, but we want a process,” she said.
Upon recommendation from Slater Elementary School Principal Nancy Moon, the board agreed to offer Sarah Huckins a temporary fourth-grade teaching position at Slater for service beginning upon licensure through the remainder of this school year.
Huckins will be the class’ third teacher this school year.
Dickenson said, “Please tell me this isn’t just another warm body.”
Moon replied that this is not the case. In addition to listing her credentials, Moon said Huckins has volunteered at Slater and been engaged with the school’s staff.
“This is an emergency,” Cheek said. “We need to support this situation for the whole fourth grade, especially that class. Let’s help.”
Cheek also commended substitute teacher Wendy Bull for assisting in the interim.
The board also agreed to rescind its motion to hire Evan Franulovich for the fourth-grade teaching position, as he was unable to obtain his license.
Dickenson questioned the necessity of rescinding the motion, as it was made pending licensure.
McBride explained that Franulovich may receive his license at some point in the future.
Chad Boyd attended the meeting to provide an update on the BHS Site Council.
In his report, Yant explained that the council began a project to “improve and direct” the high school’s long-term vision and goals.
Boyd, who is a member of the council, said its mission is to “make education relevant,” explaining that the goal is to link high school education and career options. He outlined four core career paths, which include: attending a four-year college, attending a two-year professional program, joining the military, or entering the work force directly after graduating from high school. Through this model, education will be tailored to students’ chosen paths.
Boyd explained that this can be accomplished by providing adequate diversity in classes, high-level instruction, and counseling to support students’ career path options. He added that students and parents must also understand the school’s discipline matrix, and teachers must implement it effectively with strong support from administrative staff.
Boyd said another criterion for successful implementation of the model is aligning hiring to meet course offering needs. Additionally, he said staff and building administration should evaluate their progress annually and adapt as needed.
Boyd added that parent involvement is critical, explaining that parents should be a significant part of the career path discussion, which will begin when students are in 8th grade.
Yant added that students will evaluate their progress toward graduation and adjust their schedules to ensure that they’re on track.
The role of the school board and administration will be to support building administration and staff and empower and support implementation of the model.
“That’s a fancy way of saying, ‘It’s going to take some money,’” Boyd said, adding that funds may be garnered from nontraditional sources such as grants.
Boyd also emphasized the importance of community involvement, explaining that community members can act as mentors or provide technical training.
He concluded that this model will provide a framework for strategic decision making, increase empowerment, and curb nonproductive debate.
“Thank you. This is well laid out,” Cheek said.
In other business, the board:
• received reports from Yant, Moon, McBride, Hines Middle School Principal Jerry Mayes, Eastern Oregon Academy (EOA) and Monroe School Principal Ron Wassom, and Student Services Programs Director Chandra Ferguson;
• agreed to purchase a bus for $112,912;
• agreed to accept a bid from IntraLogic Solutions Inc. for a security system for BHS.
Board member Lisa King asked whether a new intercom system could be included with the security system, and Yant replied that an intercom system would have to be purchased separately;
• was entertained with musical performances by three EOA students.
In addition to enthusiastic applause, the performers received gift certificates to Dairy Queen;
• received a report from paraprofessional Monica McCanna regarding her trip to Washington, D.C. to represent classified staff. She said student nutrition and school safety were among the topics of discussion;
• approved Stefanie Haines for a volunteer head coaching position for the BHS dance team;
• was addressed by representatives from the high school’s art club regarding a proposal to raise funds for a mural project to be installed in the BHS hallways;
• took a virtual tour of the district’s new website;
• was encouraged to complete the Committee for Better Schools survey;
• accepted donations from Jett Blackburn Real Estate Inc. ($100), Dr. Leon and Susan Peilstick ($50), Robert and Janice Oswald ($40), Mary Ann Daniel ($20), and A.L. Brinkoetter & Daughters ($50) to the BHS band in memory of Deborah Smith;
• accepted the donation of a clarinet (valued at $200) from Brendan and Teri Cain to the BHS band;
• accepted a $1,467 donation from Zoetis Industry Support Program made on behalf of Harney County Veterinary Clinic ($175), Central Oregon Ranch Supply ($1,207), and Sage Country Veterinary Services PC ($85) to the BHS FFA;
• accepted a $1,000 donation from Nick Miller for BHS cross country;
• after some discussion, agreed to table policy JHCDA “Prescription Medication;”
• accepted the second read on policies JECB “Admission of Nonresident Students,” KGB “Public Conduct on District Property,” and IK “Academic Achievement;”
• received an update from Cheek concerning the boiler project.
The next regularly-scheduled school board meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. in the district office building.