No 509-J reconfiguration this year


After Warm Springs K-8 academy opens

by: SUSAN MATHENY - Walls go up on the Warm Springs K-8 Academy in November.There will be no reconfiguration of schools in the 509-J School District next year, as the new Warm Springs K-8 Academy opens.

Following discussions and a staff survey on different options for moving some grade levels to Jefferson County Middle School, Superintendent Rick Molitor recommended Option 1, which was no reconfiguration at this time.

“We will focus our time and attention on a successful opening of the Warm Springs K-8 Academy. The educational program we are working on for the new K-8 school is an exciting opportunity for us to expand to a personalized mastery system and beyond,” Molitor stated in a letter to staff members.

Board member Stan Sullivan agreed, saying, “We have enough change going on right now. Let’s go slow.”

Board member Lyle Rehwinkel commented, “Let’s give it a year and see what happens. We’ll continue to look at it knowing that in 2015-16 there will be a potential change.

A reconfiguration of grades is being considered because of crowding at Madras Primary and Metolius Elementary schools. In the meantime, Molitor said he would be working with those schools to find solutions, such as additional instructional aides.

In a report from SGA auditors, the 509-J District received a clean audit report for 2012-13. When asked about the error last year, which led to a $2.5 million overpayment of State School Funds to the district, the audit representative noted, “The error was in the electronic upload, which didn’t match your financial statements, and the state didn’t compare the two.”

Several parents attended the meeting, held at Jefferson County Middle School. Dan and Ronica Comingore and their two sons spoke in support of continuing the Ethos music program, and support letters were read from other parents.

Ronica Comingore said their sons had taken after-school music lessons for three years, which included violin and guitar. Her son Conner brought his guitar, played a riff for the board, and told them what he liked about the Ethos music program.

“We’ve seen our boys build confidence and pride in what they are doing (in Ethos). As a teacher, I see kids come back from music lessons energized and with more creativity. I think about our performing arts center, that we asked the community to support, and I ask you to support a music program in our schools,” she said.

Molitor noted, “We have a commitment to continue working with Ethos, but it is federally funded and the continuation of that funding is up in the air with the federal budget. We’d like to continue some sort of relationship with Ethos, with or without that funding.”

Following the Impact Aid hearing, comments from Warm Springs tribal members were accepted through the district website and by letter.

Suggestions included hiring additional social service workers and school counselors, increasing police presence, future planning to expand instruction to preschool classes and possible year-round instruction, installing cameras in school buses, and bringing back the Native American Student Union organization.

The budget committee will begin meeting April 22. The final adoption of a budget will be made at the June 9 school board meeting.

Under personnel, Richard Mendes was hired to teach math at Madras High School, and Melissa Bunting to teach sixth grade at JCMS. A resignation was accepted from sixth-grade teacher Nathan Anderson.

A 4 percent salary increase was approved for Darryl Smith, director of human resources and operations, and Joan Starkel, deputy clerk for the district.