By Susan Matheny

General Editor

Salem resident Glenna DeSouza has been hired as the planning principal for the new K-8 Warm Springs Elementary, now under construction.

DeSouza and her husband Steve both attended the Monday night School District 509-J Board of Directors’ meeting, where she was introduced. Superintendent Rick Molitor said in this second attempt to find a principal, the district received 32 applications. Of those, the field was narrowed down to five, then the top three candidates, who were interviewed.

“Glenna’s our choice to get us ready and open in 2014,” Molitor said, in recommending her selection to the board, which voted to hire her.

In speaking to the board, DeSouza said she has been in education for 20 years, and a K-6 principal in Sweet Home for the past seven years. “I’ve been a part of two new schools opening, and have seen the whole process,” she noted.

She and her husband, who is also a teacher in Salem, indicated they plan to live in one of the district’s teacher housing units in Warm Springs. She said she has relatives in LaPine and Bend and are very excited to be moving to this area.

Molitor updated the board on the $2.5 million mistake and overpayment of funds, which the 509-J District recently discovered and reported to the Oregon Department of Education.

“We got the money and didn’t spend it, otherwise it would have been a different situation … We had put that money in the bank, and that’s why our reserve fund was so high,” Molitor said.

The worst case scenario for repayment of the funds is a three-year repayment schedule to the state. “It will be a reduction of our payment sum from the state (state school funds),” Molitor said, adding, “We will be asking the state to extend it to five years.”

“Over five years that would be $500,000 a year. It will be close, but hopefully, it will come in under our target, so it won’t require the reconvening of the budget committee,” Molitor said.

In other business, Mike McGowan, with Payne West Insurance, reported on the district’s coverage and costs. The overall premiums this year will be $356,440, compared to last year’s of $338,011.

Director of Curriculum Melinda Boyle displayed preliminary student achievement charts, which showed steady improvement in math and reading and a reduction in the achievement gap among student subgroups.

“We’re making really great progress. The hard work with the Read to Succeed program is really starting to pay off,” Boyle said.

Boyle and Renee Rodin also recently attended a seminar in San Francisco as part of a new $100,000 “Next Generation Learning Challenges” planning grant for the Warm Springs school.

The 509-J district had the only public school in Oregon selected for the grant. When the school is completed, the district can apply for another grant of up to $450,000 to help open the school. The grants are for “breakthrough model schools that integrate personalized, blended, competency-based approaches in creative, promising ways.”

Under personnel, besides DeSouza, a first-year probationary contract was approved for special education teacher Carissa Shupp; a revised contract for Darryl Smith, director of human relations and operations, was approved; and three-year contracts were approved for Operations Supervisor Tim Whittaker and Nutrition Service Supervisor Patti Jobe.

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