SLSD board ramps up for 2017-2018 school year

© 2017-Cottage Grove Sentinel

Monday night South Lane School District had their first school board meeting of the 2017-18 school year. The meeting, that was nearly two hours, went over a variety of topics including the following:

Bond Update:

A key aspect of the meeting was the discussion of the bond that the school board is working with. Last May, the district passed a $36 million dollar bond for various improvements and upgrades around the district. The biggest hurdle that the district is facing is that the pre-bond estimate for the new Harrison Elementary School was 18.4 million but has since been pushed to 23.4 million. 

“The cost escalation is really difficult,” said South Lane Superintendent Krista Parent. “Just trying to figure out how do we honor what the citizens voted for in terms of the bond and still stay within budget. We have to do that and we’re finding ways to do that but you can see that it’s taking some maneuvering of dollars to be able to do that. I think we’re going to be fine but we want to keep the board updated all the time about that.”

In addition to the new school, the money from the bond is going to a number of projects and with each project, the price is changing for how much it will cost. One element is for safety and security which was initially for a new Lincoln Middle School front office and some renovations to the middle school. This was going to cost 1.4 million dollars but because of the changes, now it will just focus on the office which will save the district 700,000 dollars which will then go to the new school.

Parent noted that there are various other projects that have been cut down, but not eliminated, to save money including the Kennedy High School, Harrison Elementary property reuse and upgrades to technology. Those projects will save over 500,000 dollars. The money is also going to an early learning center that was initially going to be one million dollars but is now priced at 1.8 million. Other money from the bond is going to the pool, fees, permits and equipment.

“When we built Cottage Grove High School 14 years ago, it was just the school. We didn’t have all these other projects so it makes it a little more challenging this time,” said Parent. 

School Board Goals:

The school board continued to work on their goals for the current school year and are going to work to finalize the wording in them next meeting.

“From the superintendent’s perspective, the way I want to see goals happen in this district is I want all of the goals aligned. So principals do goals, teachers do goals, the board does goals, the superintendent does goals. And typically what happens is I suggest goals for the year, they give input to that, and that kind of sets the tones for principals and everybody to build off of,” said Parent.

Parent and the board keyed in on three main goals of focusing on the bond, community engagement and communication. Various board members noted that these are all working with the ultimate goal of helping students learn. 

New Hires: 

Director of Human Resources and Staff Effectiveness Brian McCasline gave a brief presentation on the new hires who are now part of the district. 

McCasline noted that there were 46 new hires around the district in varying positions. There were 18 new certified teachers brought on (five at bohemia, four at Latham, three at Harrison, two at Lincoln and one at CGHS, Dorena, Kennedy and London) in addition to the 28 classified hires. The classified hires include 16 education assistants, five food service positions, four bus drivers and one counselor, administrator and supervisor. McCasline highlighted the success of the summer trainings with these groups.

Additionally, over 60 math teachers across the district took part in a workshop going over the new math curriculum this summer in preparation for the school year. 

Air Quality

Because of the wildfires around the state, superintendent Parent went over how the district is dealing with changes in the air quality. To determine both athletic contests and outdoor recess, Parent is using the guidelines that the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) sent out last week. Every two hours throughout the day the district monitors the air quality index to determine how to proceed. 

More In Education