Frequent MSD critic speaks favorably of changes within district

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MEEKER I At the Meeker Board of Education meeting on March 15, the most interesting event, in addition to honoring, in person, the high school wrestling state championship team and participants in middle school “History Day,” were comments made by a citizen who showed up just to make his remarks.

The board always has an agenda item early in its meetings for general public comment, but seldom do citizens show up and speak to the board. At the March 15 meeting, however, past BOE member and general Meeker education critic Scott Bowman—retired U.S. Navy and a product of Meeker schools—signed up to speak. He stated that a little over a year ago, in a conversation about how bad our Meeker public education system was, he was told the situation “would never change.” Bowman proceeded to say, however, that the school district has “completely changed—for the better.”
Bowman said in his written remarks that, “With just a few personnel changes, we have come so far it is amazing. The superintendent, Mr. Selle, has completely changed the atmosphere in our district. The high school principal, Mrs. Chinn, has changed the attitude (toward) and perception of the high school. The athletic director, Mr. Kindler, is energetic and has set high expectations for athletes and students in general. The school board, the change in the makeup of our board, has given the administration and teachers the guidance to perform their duties at a higher level.” Selle, Chinn and Kindler are new in their positions this year.
“I’m in front of you today,” Bowman said, “not only to express my appreciation and admiration of the progress you have made, but also to beg you to continue on this path.”
He recited past experiences some parents have had leading them to fear retribution upon themselves and/or their kids if a complaint is lodged about a teacher or coach. He urged the board to ensure that a concerned parent or citizen can voice any concern without that fear.
In conclusion, Bowman asked that the district continue to offer the best opportunities to our students at all times, in classroom education, athletics and extracurricular activities.
“We owe it to our kids to provide them the very best we can make available,” he said.
General board business otherwise included the approval of financial reports, vouchers paid, several updated policy statements and acceptance of four resignations. The policy statements regarded support staff vacation, graduation requirements, first aid and emergency medical care, and reporting child abuse/child protection. They were approved on their third and final reading.
The four resignations accepted were from Shelly Baker as a first grade teacher, Larisa Merrell as a high school math teacher, Heather Burke as the middle school track coach and Kay Bivens as the elementary school librarian. All four thanked the district for their respective opportunities, and Bivens is retiring after 25 years of service to the district.
Personnel hires approved by the board were Marty Casey and Brittany Shubnell as the middle school track head coach and assistant coach, respectively.
In reviewing preliminary budget changes for the next school year, the most prolonged discussion by the board was about the value, necessary skills and appropriate salary schedule for the academic coordinator position.
This position was re-established last summer and has involved an experienced teacher and administrator responsible for a myriad of duties. According to the job description, these duties include assisting with the development and implementation of all federal programs such as Title I reading and math, Title IIA and Title III English Language Learner programs, all with focus on improving quality instruction and student achievement.
The academic coordinator is also to provide proactive support to the schools in program evaluation and to work collaboratively with community and school stakeholders to increase student achievement. Essential elements of the job also comprise assisting in grant writing, overseeing all standardized testing, analyzing and managing all student, teacher and other school data, overseeing the district’s curriculum—and curriculum purchasing—in cooperation with teachers and parents, overseeing professional development for all instructional staff and assisting the superintendent in teacher induction and mentoring.
Superintendent Chris Selle has carefully looked at the value of the functions for which the position is responsible and concluded the position is extremely valuable to the district. He said that by the time additions to the base value for length of service, experience, benefits, worker’s compensation and the longer work year involved, etc., were made, using the teacher salary schedule, the position would require at least the same budget commitment for this next year as is in the current district budget.
The board voted in the affirmative to adopt that construct as they approach final 2016-2017 budgeting to be completed during the next three months­