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509-J board discusses Big Muddy School, hitting facility

Meets at Buff Elementary

by: Photo by Susan Matheny - Buff life skills teacher Jean Jones shows teaching materials to Superintendent Rick Molitor, left, and board members Stan Sullivan and Tom Norton.

A "field trip" to visit the classes of specialists at Buff Elementary was taken by School District 509-J Board members at the start of Monday night's meeting.
   Teachers of the music, Title I, library skills, English language development and physical education classes gave short presentations on what they do with students.
   After the tour, the meeting continued in the support services board room with a visit from around 12 parents, students and instructors from the Big Muddy School on the Washington Family Ranch west of Antelope.
   Teacher Dena Palmaymesa appealed to the board not to cut her teaching assistant. Her classroom has decreased from 20 to 11 students, but those students range over five grades from second to seventh-grades, she explained.
   "A full-time educational assistant is critical to learning and outcomes," Palmaymesa said, noting the assistant can work with younger kids when she is trying to teach algebra to the seventh-graders.
   "To teach without interruption -- that's huge for both groups," she said.
   Superintendent Rick Molitor said it was a numbers and budgeting issue. "With the decrease from 20 to 11 students, it even difficult to justify a part-time educational assistant out there," he said.
   The current assistant has the option of transferring to Metolius Elementary, which needs an assistant, but Palmaymesa noted "that's a ridiculous drive" (57 miles one way, with half of that on a gravel road).
   The superintendent and board agreed to wait until October to make a decision, while they look at all the options.
   Adam Randall, Madras High School baseball coach and teacher, gave a presentation on his proposal for a MHS Indoor Hitting Facility.
   He has private donors interested in helping pay for the practice building, which could be used by MHS baseball and softball teams, Little Leagues, and other groups.
   Options include a pole barn-type building, 80x60x20 square feet for around $80,000, or a steel structure, 110x100x20 square feet, for around $250,000. The estimates include equipment for the building.
   "If they can secure the funding, we need to look at what the associated costs would be," Molitor said, mentioning lighting, heating and maintenance.
   The board members favored the idea. "I support it. It's refreshing to see a coach with vision. But, the district needs to be involved with the heating and insulation decisions," said board member Stan Sullivan.
   Melinda Boyle, director of instruction, reported that Oregon is one of 46 states that have joined the Common Core Standards movement.
   New instructional standards will be implemented in 2014, which will have all 46 states using identical, and more strenuous educational goals. "Our kids will be globally competitive," Boyle said, noting the changes will be phased in gradually.
   Director of Operations Darryl Smith reported on the Westside Building, and asking that a 10-year lease be approved for the Kids Club and a year-to-year lease for the Jefferson County Historical Society.
   To get the Kids Club area ready for winter, Smith said $28,000 would be needed to install heat pumps, since the old boiler wasn't in working condition.
   In lieu of a lease payment, the Kids Club has proposed to pay half ($14,196) of the heating system cost for the cafeteria, gym and upper gym.
   It would cost an additional $6,543 to heat the boys locker room, which the Kids Club would like to use.
   The historical society will not need heat, as it is only using its area for storage of museum artifacts.
   Smith said another $18,000 would be needed for abatement of asbestos tiles and pipe linings in these areas of the building.
   Maintenance supervisor Tim Whitaker said he would like to see the district spend the $6,543 to put a heat pump in the boys locker room area, because of active water pipes there that might freeze. The Kids Club will be asked to pay half of that.
   The board approved the leases and expenditures, not to exceed $22,000, for the asbestos and heat pump projects, which will come out of the district's capital improvements fund.
   Under personnel, three counselors were changed from temporary one-year employees, to probationary/permanent employees. They are Seth Burke, Amy Gervais, and Brook Johnson-Thygeson.
   Smith noted the reason was because, "It's hard to find highly-qualified counselors, and we want to keep them by making them permanent employees."
   One-year hires included Hannah Kaseberg, kindergarten, Madras Primary, and Annette Roberts-Hennessy, P.E., Jefferson County Middle School.
   The resignation of Chad Wunsch as MHS freshman boys basketball coach was accepted, as he is moving out of the area.