By Georgie Kulczyk
The Courier 

Student Safety Stressed at School Board Meeting

 


The Glasgow School Board met in regular session on June 20. All trustees were present along with one dozen school personnel and a handful of community members.

The meeting began with the public comment period, which allows attendees to comment on items that are not on the agenda. Candy Lagerquist utilized the time to voice several concerns that she had regarding the safety of school district buses, stating that she believes the safety of kids, drivers, coaches and teachers is in jeopardy. Lagerquist cited several areas of concern regarding the buses used to transport kids to and from activities, including bus doors that open while the bus is in motion, leaky ceilings, mirrors that are taped on with black tape, faulty air conditioning and blown tires. She said the new bus cost the district “a tremendous amount of money” and there is a lot of unnecessary expense being put into it. “There are 14 windows on that bus,” she explained. “Only seven of them have shades. The rest of them are broken, so when the air conditioning didn’t work the kids couldn’t even pull the shades to get relief.”


Lagerquist questioned who is in charge of making sure things are taken care of with the buses, as she has been told that parts are ordered for the buses, but things don’t get repaired, or that there isn’t any money in the budget to fix things. “Who do we complain to?” she asked.

She concluded her statement by emphatically requesting that the buses be added to the next agenda so things can be resolved and said, “Not one single trip was enjoyable for the Scottie golf team this season. Not one.”

Also during the public comment period, teachers LeeAnne Billingsley and Betty Jo Bense requested that all schools be notified of surplus items that are available, explaining that items offered to the public as surplus items recently could have been used by teachers and classrooms in other schools. Specifically, it was noted that Christine Gilchrist recently received a grant to purchase chairs for Irle School, but the school district was offering chairs for sale to the public.

Moving onto agenda items, the trustees approved all presented personnel items except for the hiring of a school psychologist, which was tabled. The recommendation regarding hiring a school psychologist was to hire Jennifer Cunningham at $50,096 annually, with the expectation that she would achieve full credentials within three years of hire. According to Superintendent Bob Connors, it takes three years to become credentialed and she will not be able to do specific “testing” until she achieves that goal. He noted that she would be able to take classes online through Eastern Washington University. In addition, until she was able to become credentialed, she would still have to be supervised by someone that is qualified. Trustee Mona Amundson voiced concern about the cost of hiring someone that isn’t qualified and having to incur the extra expense of someone to supervise her. Trustee John Daggett also voiced concerns, stating that he preferred to hire someone that is fully credentialed and asked if they could continue this next school year “like we have been doing.”


It was noted that the prior psychologist resigned in February of 2016 and the position still had not been filled, possibly because the school district pays only about one-third of the going salary for the position. Daggett asked if something could be done about the starting salary if it was an impediment to hiring a qualified psychologist.

Much more discussion was held regarding the position prior to the item being tabled without resolution.

Following a few routine agenda items, the topic of a possible playground fence at Irle School was addressed by Connors. (A number of residents attended the previous board meeting held May 16 to propose and advocate for a fence to be built enclosing the existing playground at the school).


Connors explained that the building committee for the New Irle School wanted a “neighborhood school” that would allow the playground to be open for use after school hours. He noted the unintended consequences of installing a fence would be: hindrance of snow removal, additional weed-eating and possible inaccessibility of the fire hydrant. He also mentioned that there was a certain look for the school that the building committee wanted.

Trustee Amundson asked if there were specific issues that could be cited, explaining that she didn’t want to hear about the “what-ifs.” Nicole Cole shared a discussion she had with a parent who voiced concerns because, “Just last week, my child just about got hit by a vehicle.”

Continued discussion revealed that the safety committee had been discussing the need for a fence around the playground for some time. Betty Truscott shared with the trustees that the committee, which is made up of nine members, had been discussing the need every month for several months, at least since November, 2017. Furthermore, the committee drafted a letter to the board of directors in January, 2018 stressing their concerns and provided examples of problems that have arisen over the last few years. The committee, according to Truscott, never received a response, although most of the trustees present indicated that they did receive the letter.

Local resident Cara Pinder joined the discussion in support of building a fence around the playground. “It’s so important!” she stressed. “Let’s be proactive.”

Pinder recounted things that happened at the school when they lived in Livingston, including five pit bulls that were observed walking toward the school. “Saying that a fence won’t be inviting should be void,” she said. “The question is, why is it not there?”

Following Pinder’s presentation, which included a written estimate for the installation of a four-foot chain link fence, Amundson questioned whether there is money in the budget for a fence and Connors replied, “No.”

Trustee John Daggett proposed that the safety committee meet with Connors and Irle School principal Rachel Erickson to come up with a plan for a fence, and it was stressed by several in attendance that it needed to be completed before the start of school. Daggett’s motion was approved.

Other agenda items addressed:

The board has received a grievance and will be meeting to review it.

The board approved a 1.5 percent increase in the superintendent’s salary.

Current enrollment is at 887, which is 50 more than last year. Connors advised that the district is on the verge of a four-percent “bump” in enrollment that could trigger the availability of emergency funds.

As part of his report at the meeting, Connors again addressed the issues with transportation.

The problem with the tires may be a “curbing issue” and the question is why the tires are not doing well now after purchasing the same ones for years.

The faulty air conditioner appeared to be resolved with the flip of a switch, possibly user error because it worked the next week.

There were mechanical issues on the Great Falls trip, but those can’t always be avoided.

Resolutions include: Better communication from Brenner Flaten to Connors, proper certification for Devin Rasmusan which will allow him to substitute as a driver when needed, continued training and open lines of communication.

Connors validated a statement made by Lagerquist at the start of the meeting, stating, “I agree with Candy. I’ve played a little and coached for 40 years and don’t remember having issues like these. It’s frustrating.”

The meeting adjourned with the next regular board meeting set for Wednesday, July 18. The trustees will also be attending a board retreat sometime in July.

 

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