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Certified music teacher added, drug testing removed from athletic handbook.

DESIREE BERGSTROM/MADRAS PIONEER - There are new faces in many of the 509-J classrooms this year and they all began their orientation to the district Tuesday morning at the Madras Performing Arts Center. The teachers include Bradly Padgett, Lauren Short, Hillary Skeans, Kayla Kneeland, Adam Kau, Michele Jimenez, Aaron Simundson, Anna Keifer, Laurie Thomas, Alexandra Trueblood Barrett, Glenn Darr, Beau Herman, Heidi Casper, Brinna Keillor, Lauren McCartney, Emily Crowley, Walter Stahl, Riley Mcanally, Jenny Miesen, Elizabeth Villano, Mike Dove, Olga Peters, Nikole Leinweber, Shelby Ulam, Lori Stock, Charity Gillihan, Samantha Vincent, Linda Adams, Johanna Dunn, Megan Pollock, Carmen Lawson, Brooklynn Bertram, Nicole Schmidt, Macy Crowe, Kim Sumner, Stephanie Strickland, Mark Combe, Lee Hofman, Valerie Mallory and Sarah O'Gorman.
Changes to the athletics handbook, discussion of the in-service schedule and approval of several new hires were among the actions taken by the School District 509-J Board of Directors Monday night.

Six different positions were approved for hire by the board, consisting of Tom Norton, Laurie Danzuka and Kevin Richards, who made up the quorum. Two board members were not present.

The new positions include the somewhat late hire of Bambi Van Dyke as the principal of Warm Springs K-8 Academy.

"We are excited to get (her) on board," said Ken Parshall, 509-J superintendent. "She served as a principal of a K-8 school just outside of Billings, Montana, on the Crow reservation. She taught there at the school for a number of years before becoming the principal."

Another spot just filled welcomes a full-time certified elementary music teacher to the district. The teacher, Mark Combe, will be splitting his time between Buff and Madras elementary schools. The district budgeted to hire certified music teachers for the elementary schools last spring, and Combe is the first one the district has been able to find.

In the past, the schools have had AmeriCorps volunteers teaching music, who, according to Parshall, did a great job. The volunteers received a very small stipend for their work, but were able to get funding through the program to go on and further their education. Both teachers ended up leaving to do so.

"They are hard to find," Parshall said, about certified music teachers. "We were looking at the college students in education programs. We saw four music teachers statewide in all programs."

The board also approved the removal of a passage in the athletic handbook that said the district would require mandatory random drug testing of athletes during the season. The policy hasn't been in use for several years, but it remained in the handbook.

District in-service begins next week when teachers and staff members will go through different trainings and prepare classrooms for student arrival during the first week of September.


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