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Bridges Career and Technical High School to change name to Bridges High School.

HOLLY M. GILL - The School District 509-J Board of Directors passed the district's budget, issued a press release on a principal's resignation, and discussed fewer meetings at its May 15 meeting.A budget of $58,796,794 for the 2018-19 year was adopted at the School District 509-J Board of Director's meeting on May 14.

Taxes will be levied for the budget on property owners at the rate of $4.58 per $1,000 of assessed property value. There is also $2.8 million debt service being levied on general obligation bonds from the building of the Warm Springs K-8 Academy and Madras Performing Arts Center.

Principal Hunt leaving

The resignations of staff and administrators are no longer being announced at board meetings, since, by law, board approval is not needed for a resignation. However, a press release was issued May 15, announcing a principal has resigned.

"Madras Elementary School Principal Deborah Hunt announced last week that she will be leaving Jefferson County at the end of this school year to be closer to family in the Portland area."

Hunt said it was a difficult decision. "I'm excited to move closer to family, but I'm going to miss this community, my students and my team more than I can say. I have loved raising my family and growing my career in Madras and it will always hold a special place my heart," Hunt said, who began her time with 509-J as a teacher at Madras Elementary in 2003, and later served as an instructional coach. She became principal of Madras Elementary in 2013.

"Deborah has been an incredible leader and role model for staff and students alike," said Superintendent Ken Parshall. "She is an outstanding teacher and principal and has helped our district move forward in many ways. She will be missed, but we support her decision to live closer to family and wish her the very best."

Parshall added that the district will be working to recruit and hire a new elementary school principal over the next few months.

School name change

The board gave its approval to change the name of Bridges Career and Technical High School to Bridges High School.

The new name was suggested following a recent audit, which said the original name was misleading, since no career or technical courses are offered there. Students who want CTE courses have to ride the bus to Madras High School, where those classes are offered.

"The logical name change is just to call it Bridges High School," Parshall said.

Board members also discussed a policy requiring them to only visit schools on board-approved, prearranged days in their official capacity as a board member.

Board members Courtney Snead and Tom Norton Jr. both said they didn't want to have to get "board authorization" to talk to a principal.

"We've talked about the pendulum swinging too much, with the board too involved in talking to principals and teachers. But now, I think we've come back too far the other way," Norton said.

Snead clarified that being in a school as a parent, mentor or at events was not considered an official (board member) visit.

Board Chairman Laurie Danzuka said, "I don't want policy to restrict us from doing what we need to do. Now, I feel like I can't do anything."

"This would be a great topic for a work session," Parshall suggested. Board members agreed, and passed other policy updates, but left the board visits out for further discussion.

On another topic, Parshall made a proposal that the board meet just once a month, instead of twice a month. Many other school districts have that format.

"The perception might be that the board is being less involved with what is happening in the district," Snead said. Parshall said that the number of board work sessions (where no official action is taken) and school visits would be increased.

"We're taking opportunity away from the public by cutting down on board meetings. At work sessions, we're learning more, but the public is not involved," Danzuka said.

Parshall said the reason was to be in the schools more and make more efficient use of time. "It's not to lessen the role of the board," he said.

Because board member Stan Sullivan was not present at the meeting, the matter will be discussed further with his input.

In other business:

. Under personnel, new hires included Kayla Mitchell at Warm Springs K-8, Cori Oyler and McKenzie Branstrom at Buff Elementary, Hannah Deede and Megan Harding at Madras Elementary, and Deborah Notari at MHS.

. Donations approved included a total of $11,890 from Buff Boosters, the Samuels Johnson Foundation and Bean Foundation, for student body funds; $600 from the Jefferson County Cultural Coalition for the MHS Drama Club; $500 from MADras Runners for Buff Elementary's Fun Run; $1,000 from Indian Head Casino for the Warm Springs K-8 student store.

. In executive session, the board continued work to evaluate the superintendent.

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