School moves forward

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, April 12, 2017
The school board created a new nursing position, talked transportation and food and discussed ELC numbers during its meeting Monday, April 3.

To begin, the school board created a second full-time nurse position, which will aid the district’s only full-time certified nurse on staff, Julie Yoerger.

The talk of adding a second nurse has been going on for several months, given Yoeger’s work load and responsibility to the entire district.

However, school board member David Millage asked that the district plans a division of responsibilities between the two positions.

“Both nurses would be district nurses, and the assignment will be according to need and the judgement made by the administrative team,” said Superintend Steve Hanson.

However, he said they would craft a plan. The new nursing position is being posted in all appropriate areas. “We will craft more specific assignment details,” said Hanson.

Next, transportation is in top form according to WLCSD Maintenance and Transportation Director Steve O’neil, who overseas the bus network.

Currently the district has 12 busses, nine of which are used every day to complete the nine different bus routes while the remaining three are used as spares.

“Our bus fleet is in pretty good shape, we’ve purchase a few over the last few years,” said O’Neil. “Most of the time we’re in pretty good shape on that.”

“Right now we’re sitting pretty good on bus drivers, for a while we were really short on bus drivers and it was hard to get any help,” he added.

WLCSD transportation receives around 600 to 650 transportation requests a year, from athletic tournaments to academic endeavors.

Currently, the district is leasing a car, but is looking into purchasing one. It also has three trucks, including one with snow plow and various vans.

Director O’Neil handles the paperwork and lining up drivers for events while Roger Morrison, bus driver, usually takes care of repairs on the fleet.

However, O’Neil is also in charge of overseeing the district’s maintenance, which averages around 100 to 150 work orders per year.

There are currently eight full-time custodians at WLCSD with around four to five temporary custodians hired just for summer.

In fact, summer is a busy time for maintenance, since most teachers and staff are gone, its the perfect time of year to tackle several issues thought the district’s four buildings.

Director O’Neil stated that’s when he focuses on preventative maintenance as well as Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) projects.

“The summers go by pretty quick,” he said. “Everybody thinks you have three months off during the summer but then Aug. 1 rolls around.”

Right now he’s working with Superintendent Hanson and Business Manager Brietta Collier to identify summer projects for 2017.

Next, there’ll be a few changes to food service in the district in order to get it on par with national standards set forth by the Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services.

For instance, the school had been serving 100 percent whole grain products 50 percent of the time, but learned it needs to be serving 50 percent whole grain products 100 percent of the time.

This pertains to food items such as cereals, cookies, spaghetti, buns and cake mixes according to Chris Wilson, Food Service Director.

She helped conduct an administrative review of the entire food service program this year to measure its compliance with standards and sent a report to the school board.

Other little things: the info inspection report will be moved from Wilson’s office window to the cafeteria’s bulletin board and more training is needed for food service staff.

“She’s had enough training to meet requirements but the rest of the staff still needs more hours of required professional development,” said Superintendent Steve Hanson.

But overall, the district faired well during a review. In fact, it was noted that it has a good variety of entrees and met various vegetable requirements.

When it came to some free and reduced application a few errors were reported. However, those were corrected this week on the federal verification report.

Finally, the Early Learning Center has enough students to merit using six classrooms for the 2017/18 school year, but expects that last minute registration will push it into seven.

It’s a situation that occurs just about every year. Pre-registration in April determines the staffing numbers for ELC, but registration later in July bumps the numbers up.

The result, every April a teacher is let go due to lower preregistration numbers, but then in July a teacher is hired when the numbers go back up to normal.

It’s an odd cycle that often results in the ‘let go’ teacher transferring to another position in the district, causing the school to hire a brand new teacher every year.

“If I were a betting person I would say we’re going to need that other classroom,” said ELC Principal Missy Johnson of 2017/18. “But can I say that with 100 percent certainty ? No.”

Therefore, the discussion by the board revolved around the possibility of hiring a seventh teacher and guaranteeing them a position, even if the numbers don’t merit another classroom.

The ELC and Principal Johnson are convinced they’ll need the seventh teacher; after all, that’s the way it’s played out for the past several years.

But if, for some reason, registration doesn’t go up in July, having that seventh teacher would either result in smaller class sizes or be used as a full-time substitute.

To be clear, the discussion is not about hiring an additional teacher at the ELC, it’s about retaining that seventh that’s already been in place, rather than rehiring one.

Right now the latest numbers have 71 kids in preschool for the upcoming year. That doesn’t include the number of three-year-olds they may have.

“And that’s high number for a round up,” added Principal Johnson, “It makes me wonder if this will be another big class.”

Numbers are always an issue for pre-school. It’s unlike other grades where predictions can be made by looking at the the class size of the previous year.

The board made no official decisions, it will discuss and possibly make a final decision about the seventh teacher at the following board meeting Monday, April 17.
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