The public will soon be able to keep tabs on construction on the Warm Springs School and Madras High School performing arts center via Web cameras that the 509-J School District has ordered and plans to install on site.

Darryl Smith, 509-J director of operations, gave an update on construction projects at the Monday night board of directors meeting. He said GPS-guided equipment was used for the grading and leveling at the Warm Springs site. “The site is ready to go and they started putting in top soil, and sewer and electrical utilities today,” Smith said.

He noted the earthmovers had scraped off and saved a “mountain of top soil” at the site before digging deeper, which saved the district $30,000, out of what had been budgeted to haul in top soil.

There is an issue with a deep water runoff pond right at the entrance to the elementary school, which Smith said they are hoping to resolve. Once construction starts on the building, he said, “We hope to have the walls of the gym up by mid-November.”

Board member Laurie Danzuka is part of the committee that screened over 200 applicants for construction jobs on the Warm Springs School, which seeks to hire qualified tribal workers when possible.

“We’re doing really well on Indian compliance. Seeing people they know working out there is really positive for the Warm Springs community,” Danzuka said.

At Madras Primary, the new parking lot on the south of the building will be paved, starting next Monday, and sidewalks are being poured this week.

Many people have been wondering why the old football field is just sitting vacant with no construction going on at MHS. Smith explained they were waiting on paperwork, saying, “We just got a conditional approval to start moving dirt.”

At Jefferson County Middle School, the new track has been curbed and an under layer of asphalt has been applied. “We’re just waiting for the asphalt to cure and the surfacing of the track will begin in two weeks. It will be ready for the start of school,” Smith said. A 30- by 60-foot storage building has also been ordered to store track equipment.

Superintendent Rick Molitor told the board that the district’s request to extend its repayment of $2.5 million in state school funds received in error from two years to five years is still being processed by the Oregon Department of Education. The district should have an answer by the end of August. The district discovered the error and self-reported it to the state.

Molitor said an unexpected donation of $200 to reward the 509-J maintenance department had been sent in by citizen Bob McConnell, who was impressed with the exceptional job the crew does in maintaining district buildings and grounds.

Under personnel, administrative changes included Melinda Boyle, director of instruction, being also assigned to be principal of the Big Muddy Elementary School; Deborah Hunt being the new Madras Primary principal; and Glenna DeSouza being the K-8 planning principal for the new Warm Springs school. Dawn Smith continues to be the principal of the current Warm Springs Elementary, which has kindergarten through fifth grades.

Karen Rothery was hired as a first-year probationary special education teacher at Warm Springs Elementary, and Rick Wells as a second-year probationary part-time Title VII teacher at JCMS.

New teacher hires included former MHS graduate and wrestler Jesse Armstrong, who will teach social studies at JCMS, and Suzanne Yecha, a Title I teacher for Buff Intermediate.

Resignations included Jacqueline Minikis, third grade at Buff Intermediate, who is moving, and John Adams, MHS assistant football coach, due to recovery from surgery.

Board member Tom Norton Jr. brought up the topic of incentive pay for principals and other administrators. “I want us to be competitive with other districts in the area and make sure we’re hiring the best of the best,” Norton said.

The district has been implementing Ready to Read, proficiency learning and other programs in an effort to reach more students and boost academic achievement.

“I want to make sure we’re paying enough to the people who are trying to turn this thing around,” Norton said of changes the board hopes to see. The topic will be discussed further at future meetings.

The district has a long list of used mowers, and other equipment, which was declared surplus property so that it can be sold by bids, auction, or other methods.

Board members approved a new policy on the selection of a name, mascot, and school colors for a new school.

The policy said the superintendent will form a naming committee of board members, students, teachers and community members, which will seek public input and select up to three names for consideration. The school board will make the final decision.

For the school mascot and colors, the new building will form a committee led by the principal. Input will be sought from students, staff, parents and community members. The committee will recommend up to three suggestions to the superintendent, and the school board will make the final decision.

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