Corbett School District Regular School Board Meeting
Wednesday November 19, 2014
The below notes were taken by Karina Lande, who was in attendance and recorded the meeting.
* NOTE: This web site is provided as a courtesy for those interested in following along with the happenings in our district, especially those that live in Corbett. This site and these board notes are not meant to replace official CSD board meeting minutes, which are usually online 3-7 months from each meeting. Thank you to Karina Lande for sharing the below update from the above meeting. Audio is also available if anyone questions the content.
* My personal comments as well as related past facts are in parenthesis, you may choose to read or skip them and just continue with meeting notes.
• There was an Oregon school board convention last weekend. Charlie, Bob & David attended part of it, Victoria Purvine attended the entire conference. Charlie stated it was good and he enjoyed it. Victoria Purvine earned her silver and gold medal leadership awards from the Oregon School Board Leadership Institute for board operations, development and leadership. Way to go Mrs. Purvine!! Both Victoria & Anette earned Bronze awards last year and to my knowledge none of the men on our board have done the training to earn any of these levels.
• MESD gave a presentation and spoke regarding many topics. One of which was the fact in Oregon we have about 1 school nurse per 4000 students and they have found office aids etc disbursing meds to students and that’s not a good practice. They are working on getting more nurses into the schools and have a task force working on this in hopes of getting that funded through healthcare instead of schools. They continued with financials and funding relating to MESD. They also discussed services and support programs they offer to our schools.
• Specifically, Corbett gets approx. $600,000. funding and assistance through MESD this goes towards special ed, English as a second language students, child health insurance, health screenings, outdoor school, alpha school students, migrant student programs and so forth.
• Corbett performing arts club performed for the board.
Correspondence to the board include 2 letters from the charter director and one from Corbett Education Association (the teachers union; Michelle Dawkins and Megan Shaw.) They are attached below for you.
( Originally when I checked the meeting agenda Monday morning there was a discussion item on it regarding the letters to the district from the charter (about the $220,000 they state we owe them). However upon going back to the agenda later that same day I noticed the discussion item was removed. It was replaced with an executive session “to consult with counsel concerning the legal duties of a public body with regard to current litigation or litigation likely to be filed.”
* So basically there was no public discussion or information shared regarding this $220,000 issue. Apparently we don’t get to know how our board and school district is handling the issue. They are however spending more money in attorney fees and seem to be preparing for a lawsuit.
I did email Randy Trani on Tuesday to ask if he could explain to me why the discussion item was removed from the agenda and why the public is not being informed and privy to our districts response and plans for handling the matter. I have not received a response but will update when I do.
I also find it interesting that only the letters from the charter are put out to the public but responses from Randy Trani are not shared? I suppose that will require a public records request….
I also find it interesting that teachers who only attend the random occasional board meeting are now claiming certain board members won’t support “any bond”. If they followed along they would know that is not the case and they would know the ideas and recommendations those board members have brought to the table. To blame these board members for the votes of over a thousand people, to me personally, is just wrong.
Have any of these teachers bothered to reach out to the no voters to ask their reasoning’s? Have they bothered to communicate openly with opposing groups? No they just make assumptions and accusations, as do many others. This saddens me and makes me wonder how we will ever come together to find common ground.
• Desiree Chiu (director of student services), Marlene Carol & Lauren Collins (teachers) presented information regarding programs including special education, English language learners (we now have 26 in Corbett), and general intervention services available in K-12. Brief description of what they do and a video. We also have a nurse on campus twice a week. )
April Eaton – (District Student Parent, Community Member, Taxpayer) –Good evening I’m going to speak on the recent bond failure. The bond failure in my opinion points to lack of communication, or rather lack of listening to over half of the voters in Corbett. I think that contrary to popular belief I don’t think the amount of the bond is the reason people voted no this time, perhaps the first time but not this time. I see several main issues that no voters are concerned about. The first would be the increase in student population, the second would be social and ethical accountability issues, and the third would be financial issues, and the fourth would be the demolition of the old building. These issues have swirled together to create a lack of trust for the board and some parts of the administration.
I don’t think people feel heard, they need to know that you hear them and will take their concerns into consideration. I think this is your job as representatives of the community, and families and kids. You need to advocate for us. People need to see you hear them and see you make reparations for past errors and make plans to prevent these errors in the future.
In regards to the next upcoming bond, I suggest that you change your course of action in regards to the old building. I don’t see much changing in the other issues I listed but this is one area you could change and I think pass a bond. I suggest you use the design & ideas of Paul Conway & Ben Keizer with Core First, they have also offered to help us get grant money and I think this would be a great opportunity. This would be an opportunity for you as community leaders to step up and create a plan that many can get behind.
Using the building we already have will help show responsibility with the resources we have at hand. Campaigning to repair, renovate and renew what we already have will be seen as responsible and reasonable. This would address safety issues and would also show respect to the community by keeping a building that many feel is a land mark. At this point and time I don’t think you have enough trust to demand a new building. This may change in the next 10-20 years and you may be able to go up for funds for a new building at that time. I think you owe it to the community to explore all of the options available with the old building and not just demolition or wasteful abandonment. Thank you.
Ruby Robison – (Middle school transfer student): Students need to be in a comfortable environment to learn I think that temperature is a part of a comfortable environment. Had you been in the middle school recently you would have noticed it’s freezing. There are kids walking around all day in their winter coats, me included. Yesterday the temperature was 53 when you walk in in the morning and that’s not comfortable to not be wearing a coat. By 2:30 it was up to 62 which is still not very comfortable.
In the last couple weeks students have been shivering in class constantly, one student had his arms turn purple and peoples toes are cold most of the time to. It’s very hard to write a paper when your hands are shaking and then your teacher yells at you because your handwriting is terrible. I think that when temperatures are impairing students from doing well academically something needs to be done. Having to dress like your going skiing is not the solution. In conclusion I think the students of the middle school deserve to have a building that supports our desire to do our best work. Thank you.
Kristy was not in attendance but will answer any questions via email.
GO Bond – Randy Trani
The newest update from the county is 909 yes votes, 1073 no votes. Our board goals say fostering intellectual development and to maintain adequate and safe facilities. We have reduced class sizes in the last 3 years and we’ve taken back sports from the boosters and added intervention services. When it comes to facilities we’ve added custodial and maintenance support. We’ve created more fencing for safety concerns on site. We’ve increased transporting by busing hundreds of students to cut traffic.
I can assure you our current facilities are not adequate though, particularly in regards to the middle school. We have now gone and purchased as many electric heaters as we can but it’s still not a good learning environment. Because of the way the building is constructed we can’t get 30 kids at a time on the internet. The average middle schooler is expected to take one 7 & 1/2 hour internet based test and we have no good solution. We think the best option is to transport them to a nice facility the MESD is going to let us use.
What’s happening is there are spaces in that building being used for instruction that were never designed for instruction. Closets where people work out of and then take kids out of class to teach them in those closets. If we just rebuild it as it stands, it’s not to today’s fire life & safety standards. (Should these things maybe have been considered before adding 500+ kids in the last 6-8 months?) Something needs to be done to make the building up to today’s standards, and I haven’t even talked about the dangerous nature of the building.
We’ve known for a long time that it’s dangerous and by a long time I mean since August of 1970.
(Yet when questioned in the past regarding why the Springdale school was a priority over the middle school he said because we didn’t know then how dangerous it was.)
Debbie found a couple of very old reports and I’ve been reading through them. The inspection of the newly exposed wall section reveals that the wall had been constructed in two separate pours and had not been reinforced. Another report a few days later, very little bond exists between the old building foundation walls and the basement wall installed in the 30’s. Minor cracking is prevalent but no major cracks or structural failures were found or observed. All this leads me up to my question, what do you want me to do?
Resolutions approved to hire sub bus driver, and winter sports coaches. One teacher on leave, and teacher Richard Ferguson is resigning from Corbett school district.
* Resolution – to direct superintendent to form a task force to research and make recommendations to the board by the Dec 17th meeting regarding alternative housing facilities for students, as well as a timeline for future bond campaigns and suggestions for possible closure dates for the middle school building for classroom use due to significant seismic & fire/ life safety concerns.
David Gorman makes the motion to approve resolution and shares his thoughts; We all know that the bond failed and we keep hearing that it failed for a variety of reasons. I know one we keep hearing is communication and I was really disappointed because we held I think 6 or 8 open forums for the community to come and discuss their concerns about the bond and about the new school and over the course of 8 public forums I counted maybe at most 15 different faces and there were several where no one even showed up. It was just disappointing because we went to truly listen and no one came and talked and I really wanted to hear the opinions of those who were opposed to the bond and I really wanted to hear why and they weren’t there.
One of the primary objections to the bond is the proposed building size and really the district size. There’s clearly a concern that the district is too big and a new school will only make it bigger. But certainly all the evidence I’ve seen is we need a district the size it is to be self sufficient. I’ve heard a lot of talk about dropping down to 700 students which is the in district size and from the financial numbers I’ve seen the school wouldn’t be able to be in business. It would’ve been great if people came and made recommendations as to how we could make this district function at 700 students. No one has shown that to us.
(I’ve never heard people say district only, what I have heard is there’s too many and the number of transfers needs to be cut back, not completely eliminated. Remember we were operating just fine with the charter and by eliminating them we in essence doubled our funding. So yes we could cut back half of out of area students and still operate, the same as we did with less funds when the charter took the bulk of the pie.)
By all definitions a district that is less than 2500 students IS a small district. So I don’t think we’re in any danger of becoming a large district even though certainly we are larger than we were. (Note that David is from New York and attended a very large high school with thousands of kids. Perhaps he doesn’t quite grasp the significance of small town life in America and specifically Corbett?)
Another primary objection is that residents do not want to pay for the education of out of district students but as it turns out, the out of district students are paying for the Corbett kids to go to school. If it weren’t for the out of district students we might end up transferring our kids out to Reynolds. What we’re trying to do with bringing in the out of district students is keep this school functioning for the Corbett kids. Corbett students are 58% of the population. What it comes down to is that Corbett taxpayers only contribute about 15% of the total expenditures here. (Um did he forget about the state/federal money that comes with our kids? So add that to the tax money and residents are funding 73% of the total expenditures, not 15%!)
Bringing in the out of district kids is a total financial wind fall. You know who benefits is not the board, not Dr. Trani, but it’s the kids. Ya know another thing these issues we’re squabbling over are adult issues and I’d really like us to focus on the kids.
Then some people object because they think the MS is just fine but that’s simply not true. Ya know, we may be able to use it for another hundred years but what if we’re wrong? If we build a new one the kids get a decent building and so we spend a little more in taxes. He continues on with the same issues Randy went over earlier.
Todd ( Board Member ): Just to go along with what David said, we did look at the numbers and it’s more to restore the building. With Core First we heard it would impede on size a little and we really can’t afford to have any space shrink down. If we do something like that it will save lives if an earthquake happens but then the rest of the building is on the ground. If it’s a new school the potential is it will still be standing. That’s my take.
Charlie ( Board Chair )do I have any descending views on the resolution?
Victoria ( Board Member ): I didn’t actually hear anyone address the resolution, the resolution says are we going to direct Randy to form a task force to do research. It wasn’t about how we feel about the school or how the people feel about the bond. It’s supposed to be about whether or not we’re going to direct a task force.
Charlie interrupts: I think their comments were leading up to the importance of the resolution.
Victoria ( Board Member ) : My thought is that at this point and time this is what the board should be doing, coming up with a timeline and coming up with suggestions. The board needs to be doing this work, not having somebody else do it. Also within one months worth of time? Either this plan is already put in place and you already have ideas and if not then that’s really not enough time to come up with an alternative solution, that time doesn’t seem reasonable to me.
I do know that there’s discussion going around in the community already that at principals chats they’re already discussing closing the middle school, there’s discussions of putting kids temporarily in the gymnasiums. It’s already being talked about (by staff/admin) so to me it seems like we’ve already jumped the gun here, and we’ve already started it? But I think that the board needs to be doing this work.
Charlie ( Board Chair ) : Any other descending views?
Annette ( Board Member ): Yes I think this is the boards work 100%.
Charlie ( Board Chair ) : Bob what do you think?
Bob ( Board Member ): I agree with doing it (the task force).
David ( Board Member ) : It’s true there’s been discussion of what do we do and it’s my feeling we shouldn’t keep the kids in the building any longer than we absolutely have to.
Victoria ( Board Member ) : I agree but here’s a thought though, instead of pushing for a big school that you have been told no to 3 times the community is not supporting, you start going out for the safety factors. Either you put in a school that’s the same size we have which is what people have said they will support then you also have the funding to go ahead and take care of everything else. I think we would have the building already under construction and we’d already have our kids moving toward a safe building if we had been reasonable the first time instead of pushing for the big stuff. I think we still can do it if we go for simple, take care of the kids, and go forward.
The fact of the matter is we could be a year and a half into construction at this point if we had made the decision at the start to take care of the kids and the staff. Just do the safety stuff. Either fix that middle school which people were supporting or build another 15,000 sq ft which people were supporting too. So I think we need to have a discussion as a board about what we’re going to do before we start talking about a task force and shutting down the school.
Charlie ( Board Chair ) : I think it’s pretty presumptuous of you to know what the people will accept. (Pot calling kettle black anyone?) I know people who wouldn’t spend a dime on that existing building.
Victoria ( Board Member ) : We also have not…
Charlie ( Board Chair ) : Excuse me! I have the floor now Victoria!
Victoria ( Board Member ) : Ok well I don’t think it’s fair to say I’m being presumptuous. What I said was we either fix that school OR we give them another one the same size.
Charlie ( Board Chair ) : I heard what you said the first time. ….. Ok I’m supporting this resolution because I hope that the task force comes up with ideas that will help the board do our job. We need this task force and I hope it’s heavy on school personnel. We need people who are in the buildings who know what they need and know how much room they need to come up with a plan and proposal for the board. (maybe this is why so many teachers were in attendance at the meeting when they usually are not. Has this plan already been put in place and staff selected?) I’m hoping this task force will look at different ideas for the school in the future.
I also think we need experts to come in and guide this task force and that is already in the works to have this happen. (Hmm spending more money yet again on the bond attempts but we can’t afford so many other things.) Anyway I believe the short timeline is good so the board can decide by the next election, and I am supporting it.
Todd ( Board Member ): Just to go on that, I agree we should have staff on the task force but I hope we get a large amount of the community involved in that because it’s gonna be part of our communication with the community. I hope we have some staff and a lot of community.
Annette ( Board Member ): David talks about how your ready to listen and I find that kind of odd because you guys weren’t even willing to listen to your other board members. If you truly want something to go through you need to listen and listen to everybody. Every facet of this community needs to be heard and I think sometimes you just think “oh that’s not important.”….
I’ve brought up many times that we do have residents taking their kids out of district and you can ignore it all you want but their vote goes with them. You really truly need to start listening to everyone if you want a bond to pass.
Charlie ( Board Chair ) : Well Annette I think you confuse not listening to not agreeing. If somebody doesn’t agree with you it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not listening to you and I think you make that mistake a lot Annette.
Todd ( Board Member ): So to go along with what you said Annette, to this date I have not had one community member come to me and tell me why they’re taking their kid out of the school. Not one, when they come up to me and tell me why then I’m going to listen but to this date no one has. (Just a guess but usually by this time those parents are “done” with CSD, the time for listening is the years before when they do bring their concerns. Sounds a little like David’s confusion over forum attendance, you wouldn’t listen before going on the ballot and refused community offered forums so you’ve done what you wanted, made that the bond….and any input is a mute point after the fact.)
Bob ( Board Member ): Hey Randy you sent out a little survey questionnaire to the board, did all members reply back to you and do we have some results?
Um no I heard from a few of you.
I thought we were going to have an open discussion here or read them, I didn’t know you wanted them sent to you.
We could discuss it now, I can go through them the questions are on my computer.
No that’s ok. Any other discussion on this resolution?
(Audience members say they want to hear these questions and answers of the board members.)
I’ll go ahead and send my question answers in and put them out for people who would like to hear. Select here for her answers to the superintendent’s questions.
Ok it’s been moved & seconded….. Resolution is then approved for Randy to form a task force, with Calcagno & Purvine are the only opposing no votes.
Executive session. Then meeting adjourned with no further discussion.
The Superintendent’s 7 Questions to the Board
All board members were sent a response by Karina Lande to share their responses with the public. Below are the board members that have replied so far:
Victoria Purvine – Response to the Superintendent’s questions shared
Annette Calcagno – Response to the Superintendent’s questions shared