In recognition of Gov. Chris Gregoire's proclamation of January to be known as School Board Appreciation Month, superintendent George Juarez opened Monday, Jan. 28's school board meeting by presenting the members with plaques to commemorate their hard work. Juarez said people don't realize the amount of time it takes for the board to do what it takes to help the kids in the Othello School District succeed. There's always plenty for them to take care of and this particular night they discussed ongoing construction in the district, student school board representatives, tennis court fees and called for community input for an upcoming workshop.
District construction The meeting began with district facilities manager Mike Currie reporting the two main construction projects underway should be wrapping up in the spring. At the high school addition, ceramic floor tile is being installed in the hallway, ceiling tiles are in place and with the coming of fairer weather, work on landscaping and concrete sidewalks will begin shortly. Currie expects the building to be occupied late this month or early March. Currie also reported work at the ALPS building is going well with windows, sheetrock, insulation and HVAC wrapping up recently. In addition to that, his crews have begun putting in water lines for the fire sprinkler system and he expects the construction to wrap up by spring break in April. Board members also moved to approve by a 4-0 vote to begin and fund a project to renovate the OSD office located on Juniper St.
Student representatives and board compensation In the past, the board brought up the question of creating a position for a student to be a representative at meetings. At this meeting, the board discussed the ways such a position would be valuable to both the student and the school board. Board member Rob Simmons said it would be a good experience for the student to have the knowledge of what goes on during a typical meeting and also have opportunities to attend conferences. For the board, they would have access to a student's opinion to help them weigh in on tough decisions. A senior from Othello High School would hold the position and do the tasks required and a junior would be chosen to be an assistant and learn how to take over the position in their senior year. The board hasn't come to a decision but will continue to determine the way to implement the idea in the future. In the previous meeting, board members proposed an idea to compensate board members for the time they spend in meetings and workshops. The consensus in the recent meeting was that instead of pocketing any potential money to be made, the board members would donate their shares into a scholarship fund. Board member Tony Ashton said this sounds like a good idea but objected saying he wouldn't want anybody to be on the board solely for compensation.
City of Othello usage fees Juarez announced to the board that the Othello City Council has tabled a proposal to charge OSD for use of public parks and fields, particularly tennis courts. Juarez sat in on one of their hearings on the matter and shared his findings that he hasn't seen any other districts required to pay to use public sports facilities.
Community involvement with ELL expansion The board is planning to host multiple workshops inviting community members to voice any concerns or issues they would like to bring up with the district administrators this month. These workshops are intended to discuss a number of issues, including academic acceleration, policy development and the expansion of the English Language Learners programs. The first of these was held last Saturday and again on Monday. The next is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the OSD Conference Building at 905 E. Ash St. at 6:30 p.m. Community members are urged to attend and voice their opinions regarding the possible extension of the Dual Language Program to McFarland Middle School. At this point in time, community members will have up to three minutes to share their thoughts.