by Samantha White
Hines Middle School (HMS) teacher Son Burns and Burns High School (BHS) paraprofessional Monica McCanna attended the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County School District (HCSD) No. 3 board of directors (held June 9) to recognize the staff members who are retiring this year.
Burns asked, “How do I begin to thank the people who have given so much of themselves to our children, to our community’s kids?”
He and McCanna then presented the retirees with plaques, featuring their names, years of service, and the schools where they worked. The retirees also received gift certificates.
The board revisited its discussion concerning HMS’s athletic policy.
During the previous meeting (held May 12) Jen Keady addressed the board concerning charter school students’ ability to play HMS sports. After some discussion, HMS Principal Jerry Mayes said he’d meet with a group to write a policy that could be presented to the board.
During the June 9 meeting, Mayes suggested that charter school students be charged a $500 participation fee per sport, with a maximum fee of $1,500 for fall, winter, and spring sports participation.
Board chair Lori Cheek said, “That’s a lot of money,” and she asked whether the policy would apply to Suntex students.
Mayes said it wouldn’t because HCSD No. 3 contracts with Suntex Elementary School District.
Board vice chair Doug Gunderson said HCSD No. 3 receives $7,000 for each of the students that it enrolls, but it does not receive funding for charter school students. He added that the expense of providing sports programs exceeds $1,500 per student, and argued that the fees wouldn’t necessarily have to be paid by students’ parents.
“Put it on the charter school because they get the money for those kids,” he suggested.
“I don’t like it at all,” board member Ralph Dickenson said. “I think the charter part of it is too narrow.”
Dickenson asserted that, if fees are charged, they should be applied to all non-HMS students.
He added that, because students have to compete for spots on the teams, this policy could result in HMS students losing positions to students who don’t attend their school.
Dickenson also said that the proposed fees seemed like a penalty, adding that, “It doesn’t cost any more to offer [sports] to the kid that goes to charter school than an HMS student.”
“It is a penalty,” Gunderson replied. “We want them to be in our school.”
“I agree,” Dickenson said, adding that he thinks students who don’t attend HMS shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the school’s sports programs.
Board member Lisa King said the proposed policy doesn’t address behavioral issues. For example, she expressed concern that a student who was expelled from HMS could attend charter school, pay the fee, and be back on the team. She said this wouldn’t be fair to the other students.
Cheek replied that the Oregon School Activities Association has policies to prevent this from happening.
King said, “We hold our athletes in school to a higher standard, not just academically, but personally, as well,” and she asserted that the proposed policy goes against this philosophy.
She added that the district offers students many options for success, including access to online programs.
Cheek said, “Prineville has a charter school, and they are having absolute heck on this. It is hurting them because a lot of their really good athletes have gone to charter school, and they are rubbing it in the noses of the students who have to ‘walk the walk.’ I’m concerned, myself, about taking steps toward that. I believe that the education we provide by our staff in our schools is the best we have in Harney County.”
Board member Tara McLain made a motion to adopt a policy (similar to BHS’s) that states that students must be enrolled full time at HMS in order to participate in the school’s sports programs. However, interdistrict agreements would still be honored.
With the exception of Dickenson, the board agreed to adopt the policy that McLain proposed. Dickenson explained that he voted “no” because he didn’t want to include interdistrict agreements in the policy.
Superintendent Marilyn McBride said she’d draft a new policy in accordance with the board’s decision, and Cheek thanked Mayes for his efforts.
Mayes reported that Garr Van Orden accepted a position elsewhere and is no longer slated to teach drama and electives at HMS. Mayes suggested hiring former Crane Union High School teacher Hector Martinez to fill the vacancy and transferring Roger Martin from the Burns High Alternative School to fill an additional position for an electives instructor at HMS. The board agreed to approve the personnel hire and transfer.
The board also approved personnel hires for Mary Cade (pending Oregon licensure) and Shawna Cook for teaching positions at Slater Elementary School.
The district still needs to fill four teaching positions.
The board opened the budget hearing at the beginning of the meeting, and there was no public comment.
Before closing the hearing, Cheek commented that she’d like to have a librarian at Slater and hopes to discuss possible grant opportunities with Harney County Library Director Cheryl Hancock. Ramona Revak, a retiring Slater teacher, said a committee would be meeting to discuss the matter.
There being no further discussion, Cheek closed the budget hearing. The board then agreed to adopt the budget for fiscal year/school year 2015-2016 in the total amount of $13,388,658.
In other business, the board:
• appointed McBride as district clerk, chief administrative officer, and budget officer for 2015-2016;
• appointed McBride as school district agent dealing with federal and state government;
• appointed Beth O’Hanlon as business manager;
• authorized facsimile signatures for McBride and O’Hanlon for district checks;
• established fidelity bonds on McBride in the amount of $100,000;
• designated McBride and O’Hanlon as custodians of all district funds for HCSD No. 3 for 2015-2016;
• appointed HCSD No. 3 board of directors as the contract review board for 2015-2016;
• designated the Burns Times-Herald as the official newspaper for the district for 2015-2016;
• appointed Property and Casualty Coverage for Education as the district insurance company and Field-Waldo Insurance Agencies Inc. as the agent of record for 2015-2016;
• appointed Oster Professional Group CPA’s as district auditors;
• designated U.S. Bank, the Local Government Investment Pool, Bank of Eastern Oregon, Umpqua Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank as depositories;
• set certified sub rates for 2015-2016 at $173.76 per day/ $21.72 per hour;
• received reports from Mayes, McBride, Slater Principal Chandra Ferguson, BHS Principal Brandon Yant, and Ron Wassom (principal of the district’s alternative schools);
• accepted an $800 donation for Hilander Basketball Camp, and a $750 donation for BHS softball, from the Harney County treasurer;
• accepted a $200 donation for portable toilet service for BHS softball for April and May from William F. Foster Inc.;
• accepted a $75 donation from Coffee Pot Brand LLC (doing business as Sam’s Service) for BHS softball;
• agreed to enter into a lease with Umpqua Bank for new controls to make the boiler system at BHS more efficient;
• approved a contract with Mike’s Fence Center Inc. for fencing around the BHS football field and rear section of the parking lot. The contract also includes removal of the existing, dilapidated fence;
• upon recommendation from Wassom, agreed to surplus a table saw;
• adopted the 2015-2016 board meeting calendar;
• re-appointed Cheek board chair and Gunderson vice chair;
• agreed to table the collective bargaining agreement discussion until the next board meeting;
• accepted the “Staff Complaints” policy with changes, as read;
• approved contracts for administration and contract staff.
Because the school board agreed not to hold a meeting in July, the next meeting will be held Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. in the district office building.