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New hires approved, transitional kindergarten postponed by Board


June 11, 2020

POMEROY–The School District Board of Directors, recommendations for filling four open positions: Science and World Language; Elementary second grade teacher; High School Volleyball coach; and Music teacher, were made at the May 28, 2020, meeting. Three were approved by the School Board.

Three candidates were interviewed and the team recommended Kristina Knebel as the Science and World Language teacher. The letter of recommendation stated she holds a Master’s Degree in Agriculture Science Education, with experience teaching Biology and “other cross-credited science courses.” Knebel’s teaching experience has mostly been at the Dayton High School in Dayton, Wash.

Out of four candidates for the Second Grade, one-year teacher position, Michelle Conn received the recommendation from the interview committee. She is a recent graduate from Lewis Clark State College, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education, and a minor in Spanish. The recommendation stated that she “has a true passion for teaching and learning.”

The third position filled was for High School Volleyball Coach. Adam Van Vogt was recommended for this position by Athletic Director Toddette McGreevy. He has been associated with the school district as the Jr. High Volleyball coach, as well as Head Coach of the Jr./Sr. High Track team for many years. He will continue in those capacities, as well as add the new position of high school volleyball. He has most recently been the high school volleyball coach in Clarkston.

The Music teacher position has been re-opened after a candidate removed his application for consideration.

Superintendent Rachel Gwinn announced the plans to implement a transitional kindergarten class will be postponed until the 2021-22 school year. It was decided that starting a new program amidst the uncertainties for what the fall schedule will be for the 2020-21 school year could prove to be difficult.

The Business Manager’s report, made by Kelly McKeirnan, included that new copy machines were purchased for the district, as well as 90 new Chromebooks paid for through COVID-19 funds. New security cameras will be installed at the elementary school. McKeirnan is currently working on the 2020-2021 budget, but according to Gwinn the budget for the next school year is secure with funding from the state. The 2021-2022 school year budget, she expects, will suffer about a 15% cut in funding.

Gwinn presented the district’s Continuous Learning Plan for approval by the board. The plan explains how the Pomeroy school district has been providing distance learning during the COVID-19 closure of schools. It specifically describes how the staff monitors students’ progress and communicates with students and parents, and how the district identifies assignments as essential work, as well as the district’s grading policy. The plan is required by the state, and was approved by the school board.

The Continuous Learning Plan was also required to be included in information sent to the state along with an Emergency Waiver for Instructional Hours. Required by the State is 180 days of school, and an average of 1027 hours of instruction. The closure in March has affected the average number of instructional hours, but changing the last day of school to June 17, did meet the 180 days requirement. The waiver must be sent to the OSPI for final approval, after receiving approval from the school board.

Gwinn reported that High School Principal Amy Miller is in the process of sending out letters to high school students who have not completed the minimum of two assignments per class since the shutdown. Letters for 13 seniors were sent out stating that the work must be turned in by June 10 to fulfill graduation requirements. Those students who do not complete the minimum required will receive an incomplete in those classes, and will receive an additional packet to be completed over the summer. Miller is making plans to hold a “boot camp” two weeks before school starts in the fall for any incompletes still remaining.

Computer Science, Web/Video Design, Vet Assistant, and Natural Resources are new classes planned for the 2020-2021 school year as Career and Technical Education credits. Miller is working with Walla Walla Community College and Eastern Washington University to arrange “College in the High School” courses for English and Biology.

Gwinn reported that the last week of school for the elementary students will include fun distance learning activities, and she hopes to have popsicles for them on the last day. Check-out days have been scheduled for high school students, assigned by class.

The next meeting of the school board was set for June 29, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the Shepherd Room of the elementary school.


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