For educational system's future

by: SUSAN MATHENY - Metolius Elementary students enjoy a pizza dinner with their families Monday night following a presentation to the 509-J School Board.A presentation on creating an overall vision for education in the 509-J School District was presented by Charles Schwahn at the April 14 school board meeting, held at Metolius Elementary.

A retired superintendent, Schwahn, of Schwahn Leadership Associates, has been a consultant for some 50 school districts, and also businesses, to help them set a direction and align employees and the organization with that vision.

Schwahn said the current educational system of courses and grades was created in 1890 following the Industrial Revolution.

“The rest of the world has changed significantly, yet we continue to do the same thing in education. We’re not using current technology,” he said. But he warned board members, “If you’re going to make the changes education needs, you’re going to need some courage.”

He helps school districts identify their beliefs, mission, student outcomes, and a vision of “What you will look, be, and feel like in the future.”

“You must have student outcomes (accomplishments) that are life-role based, and have a commitment to transform our school from an assembly line to modern-style learning,” Schwahn said.

However, all stakeholders in the community must be involved in developing the vision. To do that, a district sends out letters, inviting key people from a wide variety of areas to share their area of expertise at the workshop to build the best vision for the district.

Feeling the district is on the cusp of change, the board set tentative dates of May 15-17 for a board workshop on strategic designing with Schwahn.

Student representative Ian Oppenlander announced that June 7, at 2 p.m., had been selected for Madras High School’s graduation ceremony at Jefferson County Middle School.

The board discussed policy regarding visitors at different schools, and directed Superintendent Rick Molitor to review district policy and align it with the stricter practices at Madras Primary. A first draft will be presented at the next meeting.

At Madras Primary, parents need to become a volunteer to go into classrooms, which requires a background check. People with “visitor” badges don’t need a check, but must be accompanied by a staff member. Parents who aren’t volunteers have access to their children at all times by having them called to the office, but they can’t go into classrooms at any time, it was noted.

Molitor said schools don’t want to discourage parents from being involved, but they want to ensure the safety of students and not disrupt classroom teaching.

With budgeting time approaching, citizens Michael McGinnis and Shannan Ahern spoke in support of continuing music in the elementary schools, particularly mentioning Ethos music teacher Joe Baumann.

“If you don’t have a music program, who’s going to perform at the new Performing Arts Center? Students can’t perform if they don’t start at a young age,” McGinnis said.

The board accepted several donations: an Oregon Community Foundation grant of $20,000 for an extended day program at Westside, $16,000 from the Bean Foundation to help resurface the MHS track, $22,453 in OCF grants to upgrade the resurfacing of the MHS track, $180,160 from an Oregon Department of Education grant for the career and college readiness program for JCMS and MHS students, $110,997 carryover of School Improvement Grant funds, and a $25,000 Ford Family Foundation Grant for the Mentors and Connections through the Arts Program.

Molitor reported that the 509-J District was in compliance with all state school standards.

Under personnel, Annette Hennessy was hired to teach special education; retirements and resignations were accepted from Pam Scranton, Laurie Thomas, Margie Long and Mark Munger; administrator contracts were renewed for Barbara Garland (special programs), Buff Principal Rosalynnn Jaeger, and Metolius Principal Craig Morgan.

For teaching staff, two-year contracts were given to Sara Hertel and Megan Vibbert. They have been teaching half-time and job sharing for six years, and will now each be full-time. First-year contracts were approved for special ed teachers Jenny Anderson, Allison Low and Kristen Grottkau.

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