Counseling program a plus for district
Elementary school counselors gave a presentation on services they are providing for the 509-J School District at the Feb. 13 board of directors meeting.
This is the second year of a grant, which allowed the 509-J District to hire full-time counselors for each school.
The counselors provide individual counseling, group counseling and crisis response. Information obtained is confidential, unless child abuse or neglect is suspected.
In each school, counselors meet with students in all classrooms every two weeks or more often to teach age appropriate lessons on: recognizing and managing emotions, behavioral self-regulation, problem solving and decision-making skills, communication and social skills, diversity, perspective taking, empathy, respect and assertiveness, safety skills, and physical and sexual abuse prevention and safety response skills.
Counselors also provide behavior tracking for students, work with homeless students to find assistance for them, and collaborate with many outside agencies including BestCare Treatment Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, medical professionals, and the Department of Human Services.
"This is the second year of the three-year grant, and it's shown that the things they are doing are vital," Superintendent Rick Molitor said, noting that the district will have to work funding for full-time counselors into the budget if it wants to continue such services after the grant runs out.
The board took time to vote on multiple names of people who submitted letters of interest for serving on the superintendent search screening committee. The list was narrowed down to eight people: Ken Stout and George Neilson, representing parents and the community; Joe Whitaker and Jackie Hawkins, representing classified employees; Cody Kollen and Jacob Struck, representing teachers; and Principal Simon White and Chief Financial Officer Martha Bewley, representing administrators.
A special board meeting and executive session will be held at 6 p.m., Feb. 23, at the Performing Arts Center, to train the screening committee, which will be followed by a screening of the superintendent applications and a ranking of the candidates (applications were due Feb. 17).
Director of Operations Darryl Smith reported that every water faucet (around 180) in the district had been tested for lead. "Three came back with traces of lead," Smith said, noting that the state says a percentage of .02 or less is OK. The three 509-J faucets with traces were measured at .012, .002, and .003.
"That's acceptable, but we want it at zero. We will go flush those faucets out, and if they still have traces we will pull the faucets out and replace them," Smith said, noting the lead could be in the solder used to make the faucets.
Molitor noted that terms of school board members Lyle Rehwinkel, Laurie Danzuka and Tom Norton, will soon be up, and they must file to run in the May 16 election if they want to continue serving.
Parent Jamie Hurd spoke to board members, urging them to keep funding for the Ethos music program in the budget. She said her son is able to get cello lessons for $10 through Ethos, which otherwise would cost $50 per hour and they would have to travel to Bend for a teacher.
Molitor said Ethos is a very good deal for the 509-J District. "What's in question is the AmeriCorps funding (the Portland-based Ethos program uses AmeriCorps instructors). We have funding, as long as AmeriCorps continues," Molitor said.
The 509-J District is trying to arrange a joint meeting with Tribal Council and possible dates were discussed. "It's to discuss where we're at and where we can collaborate," he said in regards to tribal students' education.
Under personnel, the resignation of Madras High School science teacher Scott Coles was reluctantly accepted, effective at the end of the school year. He will be moving to Montana.