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USDA approves W.S. school funding

Hunt new Madras Primary principal


“The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given its official stamp of approval on the K-8 school, and a groundbreaking will be held Friday at 2:30 p.m., at the Warm Springs site,” announced Superintendent Rick Molitor at Monday night’s meeting of the School District 509-J Board of Directors.

Project manager Dave Fishel said the contract still had to be approved by Warm Springs Tribal Council, and signed by 509-J, but said, “We could start as soon as next week on construction.”

“It feels like a weight has been lifted, now that we’re finally starting work on the projects. It’s been a long wait,” Molitor commented. (See related article on construction timeline on page 2.)

On the topic of the district implementing a “personalized mastery” educational program, Molitor stressed the importance of getting the teaching staff and community buy-in on the concept.

“Stakeholder understanding and involvement is needed first for it to be successful,” Molitor said. “We’ve got the new K-8 building coming, (which will mean a) possible reconfiguration of the district, and will have a lot on the line next year.”

A group of board members, administrators and teachers recently toured three out-of-state school districts where the personalized mastery system was being used, and agreed that everyone must be on board.

Molitor suggested the board table the discussion of implementing it districtwide, until more stakeholder meetings could be held to get teachers and the community involved in the discussion.

Board member Brad Holliday asked what that meant for Madras High School, which has already implemented a “proficiency-based learning” system, to help student reach state standards.

MHS Principal Sarah Braman-Smith explained that personalized mastery was different from proficiency learning. “The work MHS is doing will get students ready for a personalized mastery system, if that’s the way we decide to go,” she said.

Reading mastery consultant Ann Arbogast reported to the board on her work at Warm Springs Elementary.

She said language concepts was one issue, and it included things like students having trouble distinguishing between “t” and “f” letter sounds. “Our first job is to work on the language program,” she said.

Students need to build up their reading fluency, accuracy and ability to “retell” or tell about what they just read to show they understood it.

She also said Warm Springs teachers “need to teach the program as it’s written.” She said teachers had gotten so involved in using strategies to engage the students that “the program became unrecognizable.”

Working with the staff, Arbogast figured out the trouble spots and they came up with remedies. In classes she worked with, the students' reading progress has already shown improvement, and she suggested the program be expanded next year.

Director of Operations Darryl Smith reported on an extensive new teacher/administrator evaluation document that administrators and staff from every building spent over 2,000 hours developing.

The new evaluation system will be implemented next year as a pilot project, and is part of national teaching standards adopted by Oregon to qualify for a waiver to No Child Left Behind Act requirements.

Teacher Carrie McPeak said she thought the document was beneficial. “Rather than have an administrator observe as class and say `That’s pretty good,’ now we have a document that defines what good teaching looks like. It will also inform new teachers to the district,” she said.

Under personnel, Deborah Hunt was hired as the new Madras primary principal, replacing Gary Carlton, who is retiring. Hunt has taught at the school for 10 years, and most recently was its instructional coach.

Smith said they received 17 applicants for the principal’s position at the new Warm Springs school, and with Warm Springs staff, narrowed that down to the top four candidates to interview.

Three candidates were from out of state, and the fourth, an Oregonian, had already accepted another job when contacted. Smith said the committee would be interviewing the three remaining candidates this week.

Other hirings included: MHS reading teacher Elizabeth Hoolehan, on a two-year contract; first-year probationary teachers, Stacey Bennett, Samuel McCormick, Lillian Worona, all MHS, and Ashlee Johnson at Jefferson County Middle School; second-year probationary teacher: Georgian Monrean Fugate at MHS; and one-year temporary teachers, Lenida Bilanovic, Charlotte Sipe, Johanna Held, Natalie Hill, Matt Edgmon, Jessica Williams and Lisa LaPlante, all at JCMS.

Resignations were accepted from, special ed teachers Holly Conger and Jill Ford, and JCMS teacher Lisa Stroup.

Extended responsibility resignations were accepted from, advisors Juanita Payton, Sharon Brown and Sue Young; eighth-grade volleyball coach Melissa Wheeler; and JCMS head track coach Caron Smith.

A retirement breakfast for teachers and staff will be held this Friday, at 7:30 a.m., at the MHS cafeteria.

Chief Financial Officer Martha Bewley reported that the district could save $21,000 per year by combining all leased copy machine contracts with just a single vendor. Currently, the district has several vendors and spends $140,000 per year on lease contracts. The board approved her suggestion to accept the bid from Ricoh Americas Corp. for a five-year lease agreement.

A change in policy to boost sports admission fees from $4 to $6 per game and admit seniors (age 60 and up with card) free, was given a first reading. Board member Tom Norton said he didn’t want increased fees to cause poor attendance at games.

Donations of $8,130 from the Oregon Community Foundation for MHS track coaches (Bowermans') expenses, and $10,390 from Jefferson County Rotary for Madras Primary playground equipment, were accepted.

A service plan was approved with the Jefferson County Education Service District, along with contracts to have Molitor serve as the ESD superintendent, Bewley as the CFO, and district executive secretary Cindy Stanfield as the ESD executive assistant.

The three will work a few hours a week, which saves the ESD the cost of hiring three additional people. The JCESD serves the 509-J, Culver, Ashwood, and Black Butte school districts, providing specialists for technology, special ed, school improvement, administrative services and more.




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