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The East Valley School board on Tuesday took its first step to begin layoffs. The board approved a resolution that states the layoffs would help the district avoid a fiscal emergency they anticipate because of declining enrollment and consolidation of the seventh and eighth grades into one building next year.
The East Valley School Board discussed the process of finding a new superintendent Tuesday, and agreed to have a work session April 14 to meet with recruitment companies. The search firm would provide the district with a pool of candidates, which the board can approve, ask for a new pool or agree to in part and ask for other candidates. Once the board narrows that pool to two or three candidates, there is a process of meetings with the public, staff and board. The search firm’s payment is contingent on the district hiring one of its candidates.
The East Valley School Board voted to unwind its K-8 configuration Tuesday, directing Interim Superintendent Tom Gresch to hash out the details. Gresch hopes to have this done for the 2014-15 school year. The four K-8 schools, Trent, Trentwood, Otis Orchards and East Farms will be K-6 and a new middle school for seventh- and eighth-grade students will open. Continuous Curriculum School, which has always been K-8, will remain as it is.
The East Valley School Board met in executive session Tuesday to discuss the contract of Interim Superintendent Tom Gresch. Gresch was chosen as the interim superintendent Feb. 14 after the departure of former Superintendent John Glenewinkel. The agreement, which went into effect Tuesday, will expire June 30. At that time, Gresch will be entitled to return to the position of assistant superintendent of general services, a position he previously held, for the 2014-15 school year.
East Valley School District Superintendent John Glenewinkel and the district’s board have reached an agreement that will release Glenewinkel from his contract. “He would have liked to have stayed,” board Chairman Mike Novakovich said. He said Glenewinkel had concerns that he wouldn’t be the right person to lead the district, if the board decided to reverse the K-8 model of education that the district finished implementing this school year. “There has never been any discussion with the board to fire him.”
The East Valley School Board has heard many comments from the public during the past several months, and Tuesday’s meeting was no exception. In order to more fully discuss issues with constituents beyond what’s allowed during the structure of a board meeting, the board will host two town hall meetings on the future of its K-8 model.
Since 2010, parents and community members in the East Valley School District have been talking about the transition to K-8. Tuesday at the district’s school board meeting, community members turned out to discuss the transition, fully implemented since the beginning of the school year. The board is looking at the direction of K-8, whether they should keep it or wind it back to a more traditional model, with elementary and middle schools. So many people came to the meeting it was moved from the district office to Trent Elementary School’s auditorium.
Tensions in the East Valley School Board came to a head Tuesday, resulting in one board member walking out of the meeting. Another board member felt the superintendent was being accused of financial wrongdoing. Mike Harris left the meeting after board member Roger Trainor asked Superintendent John Glenewinkel about a financial audit conducted by NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101. Trainor said he contacted ESD 101 and was told that organization didn’t do a full audit.
Next year, the East Valley School District is scheduled to complete a transition to a system in which students stay at the same home school until they graduate from eighth grade. But with the recent failure at the polls of a $65 million bond measure, district officials find themselves planning for the transition with limited resources. While the board is planning to move forward with the conversion to K-8, there is disagreement among parents on how to do it, when to do it or if they should even do it at all.