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New hires address large class sizes

509-J School Board
Some 35-40 teachers arrived at Monday night's meeting of the 509-J School District Board of Directors to show their support for settling contract negotiations.
   During the time for citizens comments, teacher Mike Preston noted the Madras Education Association and 509-J District have been bargaining since May.
   He mentioned "language issues" in the contract and the MEA's request for cost of living and health increases as areas on which they haven't come to agreement.
   "The teaching staff is 23 percent smaller than it was five years ago. We're smaller and work harder ... We feel we've made a reasonable request and are not asking you to touch the contingency fund," Preston said.
   Teacher Carrie McPeak also spoke, noting there had been 12 bargaining sessions. "We're really disappointed over the language issues. We'd like to see some positive spin verses negative spin on the language for plans of assistance (and other areas), and are willing to try to meet you half way," McPeak said.
   The contingency fund was the focus of another meeting topic -- large class sizes at Madras Primary.
   Darryl Smith, director of operations, presented requests from principals for additional staff to alleviate this fall's higher student enrollment. The estimated cost of $275,000 would all have to be paid for out of the district's contingency fund.
   At Madras Primary, kindergarten enrollment is averaging 27 students per classroom, and second grade has 28 1/2 students per classroom.
   Principal Gary Carlton requested the hiring of an additional kindergarten teacher, and four educational assistants -- one for each second grade room.
   Space at the school can't accommodate an additional second grade classroom, so class size will remain at 28 1/2, but each teacher will have the help of an educational assistant, Smith explained.
   Carlton also asked for two additional educational assistants to be shared between Madras Primary and Buff Intermediate for the two schools' reading programs. The board approved his request.
   At Jefferson County Middle School, there currently are P.E. and band classes with 47 students. Principal Simon White requested the hiring of an additional teacher to offer another elective class to ease crowding. The request was approved.
   Extended responsibility hirings included the approval of Joe Dominiak as the new head baseball coach for Madras High School.
   Tribal council and 509-J representatives met in Pendleton last week to interview architectural firms for the new Warm Springs school. Superintendent Rick Molitor said the recommendation was to hire BBT Architects of Bend, which the board approved. However, BBT Architects will also have to be approved at the next Tribal Council meeting.
   For the construction projects in the Madras area, a committee will be established to interview architectural firms. Proposals will be due Sept. 26, and interviews will be Oct. 4.
   New options for the Westside Building are being explored. Supt. Molitor said 22 community members, and special interest representatives from the museum, city, county and Kids Club attended a meeting conducted by four consultants from the nonprofit Center for Innovative Schools group.
   Molitor said the group discussed, "What's in the best interest for the school district, what things we shouldn't be spending money on, and things we should be looking forward to."
   School counselor Julie Nisley reported on the success of last week's Challenge Day activity, and how it's already changing the atmosphere at MHS, making kids more accepting of each other.
   She said 300 students and 85 adults participated in the training, which will be offered again in October and November for JCMS as well as MHS students.