New K-8 school in W.S., performing arts/athletic facility in Madras

by: SUSAN MATHENY - Walls are going up at the new Warm Springs K-8 school, where a tour is planned for Friday, Nov. 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a chili feed.The walls started going up last week on both the Warm Springs K-8 School and the Performing Arts/Sports Complex in Madras.

Acres of concrete have been poured for the foundation of the Warm Springs school and wooden walls have been raised and propped up on one section.

“They’re building it a section at a time, so they will get the kindergarten wing done first, then move on to other sections,” said Superintendent Rick Molitor.

He said a community preview is being planned for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8, with a chili feed and tour of the school’s construction.

At Madras High School, the performing arts/sports complex walls aren’t as dramatic, since they are all being constructed with brick and are going up slowly. The auditorium will be fitted with larger, better seats, and will seat 575 people.

The direction of the track bed has been rotated, the track has been curbed, and work will soon begin on the football stadium.

“We’re at the point now where we’re ready to order the stadium. It’s prefab and will be shipped to us,” said board member Brad Holliday, noting it’s similar to Ridgeview High School’s and will seat 1,200 with premium style seats.

A detailed report from in-town construction manager Skanska, which tracks local hiring, said that 1,523 man-hours of subcontracting has been hired from Jefferson County, for a total of $201,197 as of Oct. 17.

An additional 1,863 man-hours, amounting to $670,139, of subcontractors have been hired from the tri-county area.

“We’re still on track for athletics, but the performing arts/sports center won’t be ready until mid-October of next year,” Molitor said. Until then, the old MHS lockers will be used for sports teams in September.

On the Warm Springs project, Molitor reported that 40.9 percent local contractors were being used for the work.

Lunch prices

Food Services Supervisor Patti Jobe’s request to raise school lunch prices by 25 cents was discussed, along with a previous idea to offer free lunches to students across the board.

Free lunches would have cost the district an additional $105,000 last year, according to Martha Bewley, district chief financial officer. She said raising lunch prices by 25 cents would bring in an extra $10,000 in revenue.

Jobe said federal government guidelines on pricing will require the district to raise prices for paying students next year. The government sees an inequity because it now reimburses the district $2.90 for free lunch students, while the district only collects $2.25 from paying students.

The board voted to not increase student lunch fees at this time.

Student transfers

Molitor reported on the number of students moving in and out of the 509-J District, either through the open enrollment law, which districts must allow, or by interdistrict transfer requests, which districts approve or disapprove.

Molitor said 509-J lost 27 students to Culver School District through open enrollment, and 74 through interdistrict transfer requests (one to Bend/LaPine, one to Crook County, 58 to Culver, three to Redmond, and 16 to South Wasco districts).

On the other side, 509-J gained seven students through open enrollment and five students through interdistrict transfers. Adding everything, there was a total loss of 94 students from the 509-J District.

“What are we doing to get those students back? This needs to be discussed,” said board member Lyle Rehwinkel.

“The largest percent of students leaving were middle school students,” Molitor said. He noted 16 were students in southern Wasco County who live much closer to Maupin schools. A few others had attended Culver, but their families moved to Metolius, and they wanted to continue at Culver.

“I’ve been very liberal,” he said of granting transfers, adding, Wasco County students would have to ride the bus for 1 1/2 hours, and that’s not in the students' best interest.”

Molitor said the district gets approximately $6,000 per student in state school funds, and for 100 students transferring out, that would amount to $600,000 going to the accepting school district.

He suggested the board change policy to reflect what he is currently doing (basing requests on best interest of the student), and handle state funds in a different way.

For interdistrict transfers he suggested, “We could do a tuition agreement, where we get a 10 percent fee for letting a student leave our district. We could keep the state school funds and pay tuition (to the accepting district).”

That would also allow 509-J to receive Impact Aid funds, which it would collect and give to the Wasco County School District where some tribal students attend, to provide services for those students.

The board approved of looking into the tuition and fee idea, which the accepting school would also have to approve.

At the last meeting, the board was interested in reinstating a valedictorian at the high school. Molitor said MHS Principal Sarah Braman-Smith was still surveying students and parents and researching what other schools do. She will make a recommendation at the December board meeting.

Student representative Sophie Gemelas reported that a Veterans Awareness Day was slated for Nov. 5, Sadie Hawkins Day would be Nov. 15, and Challenge Day training for MHS and Jefferson County Middle School would be Dec. 16 and 17.

Board member Lyle Rehwinkel mentioned that the Buff Boosters crab and tri-tip dinner and auction netted approximately $17,000, and was attended by around 270 people.

An Impact Aid hearing for tribal parents and the community was set for 6 p.m., Nov. 18, at Warm Springs Elementary, to be followed by the regular board meeting. Tribal Council will be invited to attend.

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