Latest from The Spokesman-Review
More Info: School trustees in Coeur d'Alene have tweaked the district's weapons policy to give principals and the superintendent more discretion regarding disciplinary action when a student unwittingly brings a pocketknife to school. “It's so common. It's as simple as, 'I went fishing with my grandpa and I forgot it was in my backpack,” said Trustee Tom Hamilton. Until Monday's board meeting, a student in that situation would have been automatically suspended for several days. The child would have to go to an expulsion hearing before the board before being allowed to return to school. Now, if a child immediately reports that he or she brought a pocketknife to school, the policy calls for the principal to conduct an investigation into the child's possession of the item.
Question: Common sense prevails?
Item: Cost of counsel: Price of public education increasingly includes legal fees/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: The Coeur d'Alene School District's recent consideration of whether to privatize school busing went on for several months, and it included 64 hours of legal work with an average cost of $180 per hour in attorney fees for the district. The bus privatization plan was expected to save $1 million, but facing public opposition, the board decided in June to step away from the idea. The $11,520 bill for the legal work remained. That's just one of the items adding up to $238,000 in attorney fees that the Coeur d'Alene School District incurred in the most recently completed fiscal year which began July 1, 2012, and ended June 30. The previous year the district spent $38,000 on lawyers
Question: $238,000 for legal fees? Seriously?
In the “Believe It or Not” Department, the Coeur d’Alene School Board will decide whether Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper” is appropriate reading in eighth-grade classrooms. Before you dial the district office, however, there’s more to the story. Seems the Coeur d’Alene School District is saddled with a policy requiring a review of all novels planned for class consumption. The books are reviewed by an ad hoc committee and then face a 30-day public review. That’s the fallout from the 2008 patron outcry, in some circles, against “Snow Falling on Cedars,” the award-winning novel by David Guterson, which contained some sexual references. No one has complained about Twain’s classic. Yet. And the ad hoc committee has recommended the book for acceptance by the Coeur d’Alene School Board. But it appears that common sense is lacking in district handling of classics like Twain’s/DFO, SR Huckleberries. More here.
Question: Should teachers be allowed to decide which books are good for classroom reading (as long as they provide an opt out for families that object to their choices)?
School officials in Coeur d'Alene are anticipating an influx of newly enrolled students when school starts again next week. Preliminary numbers show a district-wide spike of at least 200 children over last year's enrollment. “We're looking at a steady increase across all the elementary schools, with stronger peaks at the northern schools,” said district spokeswoman Laura Rumpler. The middle schools and high schools will have more students attending as well. There will be 20 more students at Lake City High and 23 more kids at Coeur d'Alene High School this year. “We're seeing new growth that we haven't seen in the last several years,” Rumpler said. The school district's enrollment declined in 2010 and 2011/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Did you send a child off to school today? Was s/he ready to begin school again?
Item: Coeur d'Alene School District's servers damaged/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: Waiting for a reply to an email you sent to someone at the Coeur d'Alene School District? You should send it again, along with any other important electronic communications sent to a school district email address in the last few weeks. A power surge or outage seriously damaged two critical servers, and knocked the district's email system off line sometime late Friday or early Saturday. The situation, deemed a catastrophic failure, occurred despite battery back-up and protection on the server. “We've got power surge protectors all over the place,” said Wendell Wardell, the district's chief operating officer.
Question: When did your computer last melt down?
Jean Bengfort, director of the Coeur d'Alene School District technology department, sent out this email around noon Tuesday, telling of a major data center meltdown:
“Over the weekend, we experienced a “severe power event” that impacted our data center. Two critical servers were affected – our Exchange server (email) and our data storage (p drives). Unfortunately, the server that housed our email back-up was also damaged, so we had to completely re-build our Exchange (email) server. Here are the facts:
- 1. All accounts have been re-created.
- 2. All email messages before August 3rd, 2013, calendar events and contacts are no longer available.
- 3. If you have a smart phone which was syncing with Outlook, your old mail, calendar events and contacts have also been deleted.
- 4. All users will need to rebuild their contacts and calendars.
“Webmail is now functioning. If you can’t open Outlook on your local machine, please use Webmail to send a tech repair for assistance. Your shared drives will be restored within the next couple days. Thank you for your patience during this difficult situation we find ourselves in. We are making some changes to further protect us in the future.”
DFO: A Berry Picker explains what this means: “ALL email, and contacts, from before August 3, 2013, is GONE. Any email that was sent to teachers over the summer- gone. Any attempt for anyone to do a Public Records Request on email — ALL gone.”
Four controversial issues were settled and put to rest Monday evening during a four-meeting of the Coeur d'Alene school board. The board decided 4-0, with Christa Hazel abstaining, to opt out of the state's new Wi-Fi contract and move forward its own local contract to improve technology throughout the entire district like they told the taxpayers they would during the bond election earlier this year. Trustees also voted unanimously to sell the district's Northshire property to Lutheran Academy of the Master for $480,000 to help pay off a new district office. They split their vote 3-2 on the adoption of the new Common Core curriculum that will be used, and also split 3-2 on rescinding a resolution passed in June that would obligate the district to engage in a statewide effort to strengthen Idaho's Right to Work laws/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Do you like/dislike direction of new school board?
The Coeur d’Alene Press reports today that the Coeur d’Alene School District, one of the largest in the state, has decided against opting in to the statewide WiFi contract signed last week by state schools Superintendent Tom Luna and Education Networks of America. Wendell Wardell, the district’s chief operating officer, told the Press the district's board next week will instead be considering awarding a $278,000 wireless bid to a local company, Ednetics of Post Falls. “It’s more robust than what the state’s got,” Wardell told the newspaper. “It’s got bigger antennas, more capacity.” Plus, he said, “We want our service to be based locally.” Also, Wardell said the district prefers to own its wireless network and equipment; under the state contract, all equipment will be owned by the vendor, and will be removed if the contract ends. You can read the paper’s full report here from reporter Maureen Dolan.
I've since followed up on this and written my own story; you can read it here. Coeur d'Alene's deal with Ednetics, which is up for final school board approval on Monday, will provide wireless service district-wide, to all 17 schools including the three high schools, plus the district office, maintenance center and more. The cost will be one-time, and Ednetics will support the products. That local support was key for the district, Wardell said.
School districts have until midnight Thursday to decide whether to opt in to the statewide contract. “We’ve got a better system,” Wardell said. “We’ve got a better mousetrap, and we’re pretty excited about it.”
Item: War at the Core: Formation of Idahoans for Excellence in Education announced/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: The Idaho Core Standards are the Gem State's version of the Common Core standards, an effort to elevate and align education benchmarks across the states. Supporters say it will add academic rigor and improve the state's dismal college completion rate, and create a stronger workforce. Detractors claim educators were not involved in the development of the standards, that the creation of the standards was motivated by private, corporate interests and driven by a federal government that wants to create a national curriculum and a national database of citizens' personal information. Opponents also claim the standards represent a loss of local control of curriculum. They dismiss the backers' claim that the Common Core effort is “state-led,” rather than led by the federal government.
Question: Do Common Core foes have much of a chance to stop implementation of the standards?
All that talk by the previous Coeur d'Alene School Board may have chased some of the old hands to the sidelines. Huckleberries Online has just received this SOS circulated by CSD Transportation Director Jill Hill at interim Superintendent Matt Handelman's request looking for four new, full-time drivers ASAP:
“Just wanted to send a note and let you know that I really, really, really need to hire people. I currently will need to hire 4 driver’s and 1 aide to begin the school year. I am hearing rumors that one more of the drivers will not be returning so if that’s the case I will need to hire 5 driver’s and 1 aide. Although I do have subs that I assume will move into the benefitted positions, I am still very low on subs. See below for the current pool of people that we have. If Martin, Todd, Don, and Steve all apply then I will be 4 short on the sub list. I am worried because I will not have enough people available to cover everything that we do. If we can’t get new hires then we are going to have to come up with a plan B. Just a thought. (No trips until after 4:00 ish) What I need is to fill the 4 vacant positions (Possibly 5) and fill the one (1) aide position. In addition I need to hire 12 – 15 people that would be interested in a sub driving position. Things that we have done: There has been an ad placed in the paper and on Craig’s List.”
- Huckleberries hears … that School District is no longer considering idea to privatize bus drivers.
Negotiations with Coeur d’Alene teachers have taken a positive turn just two weeks into the seating of a new school board majority. The board proposed a contract Monday that was a considerable improvement over a May version that took a bone saw to health insurance benefits. Under that plan, pregnant teachers would have faced a potential $15,000 out-of-pocket extraction for having their babies. The minimum monthly premium for a plan that did not cover prescriptions would have climbed to $333. It’s a stretch to even call a plan like that “insurance.” One teacher called the offer “insanity,” which was closer to the mark. The new offer will make cuts, too, but not so deep the patient dies/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.
Question: Is that a fresh wind blowing in the Coeur d'Alene School District?
Item: Handelman signs one-year contract: Former associate superintendent to lead while district seeks Bauman's successor/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: Matt Handelman's new contract is signed and ready to go into effect on July 1, the day he officially takes over as superintendent of the Coeur d'Alene School District. Handelman, the district's associate superintendent since 2010, was offered the position in May after Superintendent Hazel Bauman submitted her resignation so she could accept a superintendent's position in the Central Kitsap School District in western Washington. “These are clearly exciting times,” Handelman said.
Question: Anyone have any problems with this changing of the guard?
Ginno Construction Inc. of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was awarded the Sorensen Magnet School Remodel and Additions general construction project for $3,368,700 which is a base bid of $3,260,000 plus alternate bids 2 through 6 for $108,700. The Coeur d’Alene School District Board of Trustees awarded the project to Ginno during a special board meeting held at 12 noon today. The original construction budget for Sorensen was $3.6M. “I believe we are in a terrific fiscal condition,” stated Chief Operating Officer Wendell Wardell/Laura Rumpler, Coeur d'Alene School District. More here.
The Coeur d’Alene School District is proposing to drop all health coverage for the spouses and dependents of teachers, while raising deductibles from $200 to $2000, doubling premiums and setting up health-savings accounts. District officials, who are in the midst of contract negotiations with the local teachers union, said they need to make up a $3 million-plus budget shortfall. “We really can’t think of any other things to cut,” said school board member Tom Hamilton.
Under the proposal, a teacher who had a baby would pay $15,000 out of pocket, and no prescription drug coverage would be offered. “This is unconscionable,” said teacher Michael Emory, who was among more than 350 union members who attended the public negotiation session between the district and the Coeur d’Alene Education Association last night. You can read a full report here at spokesman.com from S-R reporter Jody Lawrence-Turner.
The Coeur d’Alene School Board tapped Matthew Handelman to be interim superintendent of the school district Friday, replacing outgoing Superintendent Hazel Bauman. Handelman is the associate superintendent of Coeur d’Alene public schools. Bauman this week accepted an offer to become interim superintendent of the Central Kitsap School District in Western Washington. The Coeur d’Alene board met today to accept Bauman’s resignation and release her from her contract effective July 1. Trustees voted unanimously to offer Handelman the interim job, and he will take the helm of the district for the year beginning July 1. “I believe we have an extremely solid executive team in place and Matthew Handelman is the right choice to lead us at this time,” board Chairman Tom Hamilton said/Scott Maben, SR. More here.
- Coeur d'Alene SD news release here.
Question: From the quotes in the CSD news release, it sounds as though the trustees are already leaning toward Associate Supt. Handelman for the permanent job. What do you think?
Originally posted at 8:05 p.m. Thursday
Coeur d'Alene Superintendent of Schools Hazel Bauman sent out a mass email to her staff at 6:36 this evening, saying she was a finalist for a job as superintendent of the Central Kitsap (Wash.) School District. Here's that email:
Good Evening Fellow Staff,
With a great deal of mixed emotions I am sending this message to you in regards to my candidacy for a position as Superintendent in the Central Kitsap school district in western Washington.
I learned last night that I am a finalist and will be interviewed this weekend.
Because the interview and application process is public I wanted to let you know about this tonight. I respect and admire the work you do everyday for children and hold you in the deepest of regards.
To say I will miss you and the community of Coeur d'Alene is an understatement of biblical proportions , however I am excited for a new opportunity to be closer to family and to use my skills in a different way.
Question: Do you think the turmoil surrounding the Coeur d'Alene School District prompted Superintendent Bauman to look for work elsewhere?
On Tuesday, the Coeur d'Alene City Council gave final approval to the purchase of Person Field and Bryan Field from the Coeur d'Alene School District. But two council members weren't happy about it. In her draft minutes, City Clerk Renata McLeod reports comments made by Councilmen Ron Edinger and Deanna Goodlander during the discussion:
Councilman Edinger stated that he would be voting against the agreement because he does not believe in buying something that is already owned by the City. Councilman McEvers wondered if the City voted against it, what would the neighbors say, and what is the alternative? Councilman Edinger stated that the School District would have a problem because they have already moved into their new building, and maybe they would be willing to negotiate. Councilman McEvers expressed concern that the parkland could become homes. Councilman Edinger does not believe the land would be developed as homes and that the 1995 agreement was legal. Councilman Goodlander stated that she believes the City is paying a ridiculous price for something they already own and it is hard to vote yes.
Question: Did the Coeur d'Alene School District get the better end of this deal, as Councilmen Ron Edinger and Deanna Goodlander seem to believe?
Christie Wood (RE: Poll: Trustees should been there): Elected officials are asked to attend many functions in their official role. Sometimes it can be a bit expensive for a volunteer board and that does matter. It is nice if the School District can build a few events into the Board Budget. Boards are often reluctant to have much of a budget for themselves since it is all taxpayer dollars. I think if you are in an unpaid position and there is an expectation for you to attend many civic events there should be some consideration for that in the budget. The events can be limited by Board policy, or budget but they still should have some financial support. The hard part is choosing which events. Board members can always contribute an additional private donation if they so desire.
Question: Christie makes a good point. I'm sure elected officials are asked to attend various events staged by constituents. All. The. Time. Anyone mind if a school board, for example, sets aside a few bucks to help trustees underwrite appearances? Also wouldn't it be wise to divvy up important events among 5 trustees, to make sure there's a board presence at the important ones?
“You're gay.” Coeur d'Alene middle school principals told members of the school district's new Anti-Bullying Task Force on Tuesday that the phrase is the most common statement students in grades six to eight sling at one another as a form of derision. The 32-member task force is part of the school district's renewed effort to combat bullying. Tuesday's gathering in the school district's Midtown Center meeting room was the group's first official meeting since school members called for the formation of the task force on March 4. It was formed in response to an outcry from parents who told the board in February that school officials and teachers aren't doing enough to protect their children from bullies/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Maureen Dolan Press photo: Assumptions made about bullying line the walls and doors at Coeur d'Alene School District's Midtown Center.)
Question: Do you appreciate the fact that the School District is taking the problem with bullying seriously?
The relationship betwen the Coeur d'Alene School District and the city of Coeur d'Alene was souring even before the decision by the school trustees to sell its part of Person Field last night. On Aug. 2, Superintendent Hazel Bauman, pictured, and finance officer Wendell Wardell informed the city by letter that the district was going to more than double the fee charged to the city for recreational use of school facilities, from $30,000 to $75,000. The letter said: “The district's maintenance director calculated the district's current costs for the jus-ended fiscal year on the total of 11 facilities used by city at over $65,000. You can read the entire letter here. In response, on Sept. 6, Recreation Director Steve Anthony wrote that the city has reimbursed the School District $923,000 since 1993 to enlarge gymnasiums and provide amenities (bleachers, scoreboards, volleyball equipment, restrooms and storage) for school district and city recreation activities. Also, Anthony said, the city allows the school district to use school district to use its facilities (i.e., McEuen Field, Famsey Park, Tubbs Hill) at little or no cost. You can read Steve Anthony's response here.
Question: Should the School District proceed with plans to more than double the cost to the city for using school facilities?
Coeur d'Alene High cheerleaders practice routines in front of other cheerleading squads in this photo taken by proud papa Dave Chamberlain at the USA Cheer competition at Eastern Washington University this summer. Dave's daughter is one of the Vik cheerleaders. A Coeur d'Alene School District dress code would ban the cheerleaders from wearing their uniforms to school on game day. Coeur d'Alene Press story here.
The comprehensive dress code policy adopted a year ago by the Coeur d'Alene School District applies to all students, even cheerleaders in uniform on game day. Leslie Damiano, the parent of a Viking cheerleader, attended Monday's school board meeting and told trustees that her daughter and the rest of the girls on the cheer squad learned at practice Wednesday that their cheer uniforms violate dress code and can no longer be worn to school. Damiano said she was speaking on behalf of the cheerleaders who sat in the audience wearing their Viking blue and black outfits. She asked the board members to think back to their own high school days, when on Fridays, they saw their cheerleaders in uniform. “You knew right away, 'We've got a game tonight. Friday night lights are up. They're on,'” Damiano said. She said she believes that cheerleaders in uniform boost the morale of the athletes and help unify the students to support their team/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo)
Question: Should Coeur d'Alene High cheerleaders be allowed to wear their uniforms to school?
In a guest opinion for the Coeur d'Alene Press, Finance Director Wendell Wardell of the Coeur d'Alene School District discusses the $32.7M bond election set for Aug. 28: “A school construction bond acts like a home mortgage for the school district. It has a principal and interest payment and, in this case, repayment is spread over 13 years. Another funding mechanism used to support buildings is a School Plant Facility (SPFL) which is a simple levy over a similar time frame. Of the two ways, the School Bond we are proposing is the most homeowner and community friendly. For the community, it's about jobs and putting an economic infusion of $32.7 million dollars into circulation relatively quickly. For the homeowner, the cost is spread over 13 years. The district seeks to lock in (within the bond market) the current $.42 per $1,000 of assessed property value. We can maintain this current tax rate because both the Lake City High School Bond and KTEC School Plant Facilities Levy are expiring this year.” More here.
Question: Why are/aren't you supporting the $32.7M school bond?
One of the newest trustees on the Coeur d’Alene school board would like to see a mandatory student uniform policy instituted at every school in the district. Jim Purtee, who was appointed to serve as a trustee in April, pitched the idea at Monday’s school board meeting. He was elected to serve as the board’s vice-chair at the same meeting. Purtee said he’s promoting uniforms because he feels it’s his duty as a trustee to bring forward ideas and programs that will improve students’ academic results. “As has been proven, across the country, allowing casual dress is allowing a distraction to the learning environment, so why allow that?” Purtee told The Press on Thursday. At least one of Purtee’s fellow board members, Tom Hamilton, disagrees/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Do you agree with Trustee Jim Purtee that all schools in the Coeur d'Alene School District require mandatory student uniforms?
Coeur d'Alene #271 School Board of Trustees are convening a special meeting today at 5 pm to discuss the open vacancy for Zone 4 left by Dianne Zipperer when she resigned earlier this month. There are five applicants to be considered: Ann Seddon, Linda Davis, Rebecca Smith, Dan Sheckler, and Jeff Childs. It is not clear whether or not the trustees will hold a formal panel interview or will question candidates based on their applications. Also unclear is whether or not the board members will hold a vote to appoint at this evening's meeting. What is clear is that the board meeting agenda alots 45 minutes tonight for this process. You can view the agenda here. You can view the Coeur d'Alene Press article that includes letters of interest and resumes of the five applicants here.
The Coeur d’Alene School District is pleased to announce the hiring of Wendell Wardell as the district’s Chief Operating Officer. Wardell’s first day with the district will be May 31. Wendell Wardell brings over forty years of financial and executive-level management experience to his new position. “We are thrilled to have found a person who has the depth and breadth of experience in both the private and public sector to bring a fresh set of eyes to the finance and operations of the district,” stated Hazel Bauman, Superintendent. Wardell has served as the Business and Finance Manager of the Community Library Network in North Idaho for the past twelve years. Prior professional experience includes President/CEO of Bromar Arizona and Montana, a food brokerage company, and service in the United States Air Force/Laura Rumpler, Coeur d'Alene School District. More here.
As a student, Jimmy McAndrew, a 1997 graduate of St. Maries, never gave much thought to school budgets. “When you’re a student, you have no idea what goes on behind the scenes,” he said. “Idaho, though, has had its share of budget cuts and funding restraints.” Mr. McAndrew is the president-elect of the Excel Foundation, which supports teachers in the Coeur d’Alene School District 271 with grants to pay for innovative classroom projects. He will serve the organization as president starting next year. “I’ve been with the organization for three years, but the Foundation itself has actually been around for 25 years,” Mr. McAndrew said. The organization awarded $70,000 to teachers last year. “We actually just gave away our millionth dollar this year,” Mr. McAndrew said/Summer Crosby, St. Maries Record-Gazette. More here. (St. Maries Gazette-Record photo: Jimmy, Julie & Grace McAndrew)
Question: Anyone want to join me in giving J-Mac a shout out?
A superb trustee has been booted from the Coeur d'Alene School Board because two new board members objected to the manner in which she was appointed. Removing Wanda Quinn hurts in the short run, but this is the right call and the district's patrons will benefit in the long run. This newspaper ardently supported Quinn, one of the state's most respected education officials, to replace Edie (Brooks) McLachlan. Last May, McLachlan announced she was resigning from the board, but she stayed on long enough to help ensure Quinn took her place. As superb as Quinn is, the process used in her appointment was legally and ethically flawed - and the board's newly elected members, Tom Hamilton, left, and Terri Seymour, right, filed a complaint in district court last June to have it nullified. A district court judge this week agreed/Mike Patrick, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: What kind of candidate would you like to see fill the board vacancy?
Hazel Bauman will continue leading the Coeur d'Alene School District for another three years. At Monday's school board meeting, trustees voted unanimously to extend Bauman's contract as superintendent for another year through June 30, 2015. The terms of Bauman's employment contract have not changed, nor has Bauman's salary increased. Her annual pay amount remains $123,971, the same amount she has been receiving since July 1, 2009. In March of that year, the board allowed Bauman to take a voluntary 5 percent pay cut decreasing her then $130,496 salary by $6,524.80/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Bauman must be doing something right to get the unanimous endorsement of the split Coeur d'Alene School Board trustees, right?
The man who's leading the charge against subversive education — otherwise known as International Baccalaureate - is trying to muster support for his position that compassion and the opportunity to actually educate less fortunate children is a cross that should not be borne by public schools. What's sad is that Duncan Koler probably isn't the only Coeur d'Alene School District patron who feels that way. When Koler railed last week against what he called the “social services bureaucracy” that he alleges the school district is becoming, he packaged feeding, clothing and providing health care for children into his list of mistaken steps the district is taking, leading it down the slippery slope of socialism. Duncan's sarcastic rant Monday (you can hear it on cdapress.com) followed a December presentation on a backpack program that's gaining a strong foothold in Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls/Mike Patrick, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (SR file photo: Sean Glenn, 8, and his sister Jenna Glenn, 6, eat breakfast at Ramsey Elementary in Coeur d'Alene. Ramsey is a summer meal site, part of a federal program to provide free breakfast and lunch to any child who shows up)
Question: Should schools be involved in meeting social services needs of children?