School board talks BestCare

At its regular Feb. 11 meeting, board memebers discuss facility moving next to school
General Editor
   Feb. 13, 2002 -- The 509-J Board of Directors was questioned on its opinion about locating a residential facility for people coming out of alcohol and drug treatment across from Madras Elementary at its Monday night meeting.
   Two parents attended the meeting, believing a representative from BestCare, which is in charge of the facility, would be there. No representative attended, so parent Amy Brown addressed board members.
   "I have concerns with the BestCare facility. What's your opinion on it being right across from an elementary school?" Brown asked.
   Board Chair Jim Manion noted that board members had just found out about it themselves. "We haven't had time to talk about it yet," he said.
   Brown said she had heard the house would have only Hispanic clientele, and from six to 13 residents.
   Director of Support Services Dick Junge mentioned that Best Care had just submitted a building use request to use the Madras Elementary gym.
   "Parents are upset and up in arms over this, but I don't know if there's anything anyone can do. I think it's a done deal unfortunately," Brown said.
   "I support the facility, I know there's a need for it. It's just the location is poor," she added.
   Assistant Supt. Keith Johnson, and former city council member, said city zoning allows the facility the way the rules are written.
   A note from school Principal Steve Johnson, who was not at the meeting, said the facility would not have any violent clients or sex offenders. (See related story).
   In other business, Supt. Phil Riley announced adjustments since Vice Principal Darryl Smith has been called into military duty in Kuwait. Teacher Melinda Boyle, who has an administrative certificate, will be an additional dean of students and work at Buff Annex.
   Looking at the state's pending budget cuts, Riley said proposed cuts have been lowered from the $300,000 discussed two weeks ago, to $112,000 now. That figure would mean a loss of$200 per student, or around $800,000 for the 509-J District. This is all still under discussion at the state level, however.
   Riley mentioned that the Warm Springs Tribal Education Committee is interested in applying for a $25,000 Oregon Public Charter School planning grant. The funds would be used to explore the possibility of acquiring the old Warm Springs Elementary building, once the new elementary is built, and converting it into a middle school.
   Board members voted to eliminate a separate Impact Aid fund used for Special Education, and put the money into the general fund, while still tracking the Impact Aid funds separately.
   This would provide a more accurate record of all funds spent of Special Education, which could result in increased amount of funding from the State School Support fund.
   Under personnel, Walter Ponsford was hired as the head drama coach at MHS, replacing Gordon Nance, who moved from the area; and Dan Hiatt was hired as the MHS head golf coach. The resignation of Landon Belveal, Warm Springs librarian for 16 years, was also accepted.