School harvest break starts Sept. 19

The Aberdeen School District will be out of school for harvest break beginning on Thursday, Sept. 19, and students will remain out of school through Friday, Oct. 4.

Superintendent Jane Ward informed trustees Herb Bohrer, Todd Lowder, Mike Shackelford and Elaine Blik at the meeting held Wednesday, Aug. 21, that she had one farmer contact her asking the two early days of harvest (Sept. 19 and 20) to be moved to after harvest (Oct. 7 and 8). She contacted some other farmers and they said the way the district had it set up originally was the best for them.

The two days, Sept. 19 and 20, will be teacher in-service and Data Day for all grades. The teachers will need to be at school, but the students don’t need to attend.

Blik asked the farmers not to take students out of school before the break and not to keep them longer than the break. The students need to be in school, both for their education and for the finances of the school district.

Lowder asked if it rained during harvest if they could put the students back in school for a few days or so and then let them out again. Ward said the harvest break is in the negotiated agreement and they are not allowed to call the teachers back in school once they are let out.

Bus depreciation

Hank Povey and Buck Copeland were present to give a bus presentation. Povey, the transportation specialist for the state of Idaho in Districts 5 and 6, said the district has seven buses on the depreciation schedule. He explained that when the district purchases a bus, the state returns money for depreciation over 12 years. The last few years the district has slowed down on purchases because of finances. When the district slows down it takes more money to buy a bus later.

When a district purchases a bus they receive 68 percent of the money back over the 12 year depreciation cycle.

Povey added he would like to see the district have a steady rotation of buses. Copeland said they have nine routes. Povey said he would like to see nine buses on the depreciation schedule. They like to see the same number of buses on the schedule as they have routes.

If the district purchases a bus this year they will receive about $30,000 back on the depreciation schedule. If they don’t, they will receive about $13,000. A new bus costs around $80,000 to $90,000. When asked how much the district used to get, Copeland said when he first started with the district they were receiving around $55,000.

Trustees said they only get $1,200 to $2,400 on a bus when they sell them. Povey said some dealers will allow trade ins on the buses and they may get a little better rate on the trade in than if they sell it out right.

Lowder said, in a side note, he recently saw a bus pull off to the side of the road and let a line of cars past it. He really appreciated the courtesy that bus driver showed. Povey said as bus drivers and directors they really appreciate a good comment. He thanked Lowder for the comment.

Aberdeen, Povey said, does a good job at what they are doing with their buses. Every time he sees a group of buses he can spot the Aberdeen ones without even looking at the name on the bus. They are always clean, sharp and stand out. Aberdeen should be proud of their buses.

Bohrer told Copeland that he was doing a good job on the buses.

Superintendent’s report

Ward said school district auditor Morgan Hatt was in the office Aug. 5 through 9 to audit the books. He said they are in good order and will present his findings to the board in the future.

The teachers will be working in the Aberdeen School District Education Foundation booth at the fair. Ward said they appreciate all the help that is given during fair week from the patrons and staff. Some of the funds are used to provide supplies for teachers and students.

Ward said she gave a presentation to the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce and they suggested taking flyers on the plant facility levy to Maverik. She did and they are handing them out to their customers.

The district will be holding a school district evacuation drill. A paper was handed out in the elementary school during Back To School Night indicating what will take place. The district has organized a safety committee and this is one of the drills that is suggested they do once or twice a year. This year they will probably have two, one now and one in the spring.

Administrator reports

High school principal Travis Pincock reported the high school was once again ranked a 5 Star school. This is the second year in a row with the 5 Star ranking and the year before that the high school made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). “This is a great accomplishment. The teachers and staff at the high school are outstanding. It is a great pleasure to watch them teach and interact with the students. It also shows what great and hard working students attend our schools.”

Jeff Duffin has been hired as the football coach and Lester Stewart will be the basketball coach. Stewart was coaching basketball for Fort Hall.

Pincock said with the start of the new school year the focus is on the Common Core. Teachers have used the week before school to adjust lesson plans to the new standards. There is great excitement and uncertainty surrounding the Common Core. He added the teachers and students are up to the challenge. It is a big shift but the teachers haven’t been cynical over the change. They are more optimistic. “If the teachers are on board, then it has to be a good thing.” Ann Stevensen, the district 5 and 6 Common Core representative will be in Aberdeen Sept. 10 and 12. Teachers will learn more on the program then.

Aberdeen High School has signed up to have Douglas Ashton help with sports related injuries. His company will come once a week to check on student athletes. They have the athletes take a test to see if there is a concussion. There is no cost for this. Pincock said he thinks their motive is if there is an injury they hope the injured person will go to their clinic.

Middle school principal Ann Mennear reported the middle school teachers are on board with the Common Core and are bringing writing into everything, including math.

The middle school motto this year is “The Grass Is Greener When You Water It.”

Neal Cassell and Debbie Ellis will teach Sean Covey’s “7 Habits of Happy Kids” to the middle school students throughout the school year. They will make presentations to grade levels one time monthly during homeroom class.

On Sept. 13 the district will be having an evacuation drill at 12:35. Students will leave the school grounds and gather at the city park. There will be procedures for allowing students to leave the park, whether on the bus or with a parent. Any parent with questions or concerns should contact Connie Cornforth at the middle school.

The middle school is focusing on academic vocabulary. All teachers, core and elective, will be teaching content specific vocabulary throughout the year, using Marzano’s methods as described in “Building Academic Vocabulary” and “Vocabulary for the Common Core”. They are going to teach one or two words per week and the students will be writing about the word.

Special education director David Vaughn reported summer school had an average of 133 students per day attend.

Sandra Kindt was hired as the new pre-school/special education teacher. She has taught for many years in Montana and in some eastern states. She attended the Early Childhood Summer Institute in Boise. She was glad to have attended and reported she received a great deal of information which will help her this school year.

Several new aides have been hired to replace those who left. They include Lexi Schritter, Rosa Zamora, Kerry Beck and Molly Sharer.

Vaughn reported he completed the star rating appeal and submitted it to the state. The high school received a 5 Star rating, the middle school a 4 Star rating and the elementary received a 3 Star rating from the state.

Several aides are being shared between Title I and Special Education. Vaughn said they are scheduling them so they can meet the needs of all students.

There will be no ISAT for grades three through 10 this year. It will be replaced by the Standards Based Assessment Consortium (SBAC). There will be a field test this year. As a result the district will keep the same star rating this spring.

Elementary teacher Robbi Jo Colton reported they will be holding an evacuation drill Sept. 13. Cassell will provide related information and procedures as it becomes available.

Cassell will also give presentations to the K-5 students on the “7 Habits of Happy Kids” beginning in October.

Teachers are planning reading and writing in each lesson. The elementary is also implementing math journals to increase writing in math.

An attendance incentive program will be implemented to increase the average daily attendance (ADA). They will be giving tokens or tickets for 100 percent attendance. They will be given weekly, monthly, etc. and will be put in for a big drawing at the end of the school year. Students need to be in school all day long to qualify.

Bohrer said he attended chamber and they had some ideas on getting 100 percent attendance. The board will continue to see what they can do to focus on attendance.

Data Days are scheduled for Sept. 20. This is the first one for K-12.

IRI testing will be administered this fall for the elementary school.

Consent items

Consent items submitted included the July 17, 24 and Aug. 8 meeting minutes, the July claims, the June financial report and the county tax report for July and August. All these items were approved.

Business items

Policies 411 (Personnel Files), 441 (Assignment and Transfer of Certificated Employees), 443 (Early Retirement of Certificated Employees), 444 (Employment Contracts with Certificated Employees), 444.50 (Grandfathered Renewable Contract Employee), 445 (Evaluation and Probation of Certificated Employees), 446 (Negotiated Agreement Terms), 448 (Reduction in Force), 453 (Support Programs), 454 (Discharge of Certificated Employees), 457 (Supplemental Contracts), 459 (Reassignment of Administrative Employees), and 460 (Informal Review Process for Certificated Employees) were approved. These changes were required by the state.

Meadow Gold Dairy was given the milk contract for the school district.

Larry Walters of Jerry’s Oil Company was given the gas and diesel fuel contract for the school year.

The resignations of Wayne Adams and Cory Hollingsworth were accepted.

New teachers hired were Sandra (Sandy) Kindt for preschool/special education teacher, Barbara Smith as a fourth grade teacher, Mattie Jones as English/language arts teacher in the middle school, Curtis Brown as high school English/social studies teacher, Keith Luke as high school business/technology teacher, Jan Christensen as high school English and speech teacher, and Jared Reed, who was currently in the other schools, teach physical education.

The bus routes and drivers were approved. There is one less route from last year.

Trustee input

Lowder said again he was impressed with the bus driver pulling to the side of the road to let the traffic pass that was behind it. There are many times he has been driving down the road and he has seen bus after bus not be very courteous to the other drivers. It was good to see one that was.

Blik said she liked the idea of the elementary giving incentives for perfect attendance. It is important to reward the kids. She added she believed in awards and recognition. She thinks that all who have perfect attendance should be awarded, not just put in for a drawing.

She said it is important that people vote for the plant facility levy. She said it was interesting, when looking at a customer’s property taxes, that people do not pay as much taxes for the school as they do for the city and the county taxes.

Shackelford said he also thinks it is a good deal to have incentives and felt school has started well.

Bohrer said he agreed with Blik that all the perfect attendance kids need to be awarded. He said his wife, while she was in school, earned a perfect attendance award and her classmates still talk about that. He told the principals to decide what they want to do and they will find the money for it somewhere.

He said he was at the school on the first day of school and the teachers seemed ready to go. He questioned the school supply list and having students purchase things that would be given to the teachers for the room, for example dry eraser pens. He added the district asks the patrons to support the levies and felt it was unfair to have to ask them for classroom consumables.

Bohrer said the state has a nepotism board policy manual that says that the spouses of any board members can’t work for the school district. He is trying to get that changed, although it will take some time, but he feels the district is missing a lot of good board members because of the policy.

He was impressed with the way school started. It was very smooth.

Executive session

Trustees recessed from an open meeting into executive session to listen to a concerned patron. Following the closed session they reconvened in open session. Upon returning to open session, trustees moved to adjourn until Wednesday, Sept. 16.

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