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Longtime East Valley school board member Mitch Jensen will step down from his seat effective Oct. 14. “I am not giving in, I am not giving up, I have simply had enough,” Jensen said in his letter of resignation. “I am a proud parent of a Knight and will turn my energies to being involved solely as a parent.”
The East Valley School Board voted to extend Interim Superintendent Tom Gresch’s contract through the end of the 2014-15 school year. According to the contract, Gresch will receive $150,000 in an annual base salary, plus $1,000 a month for reimbursement of travel expenses.
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.
Although K-8 wasn’t on the school board’s agenda Tuesday, East Valley School District parents and teachers showed up to share their opinions. The boardroom was so crowded people were sitting on the floor and standing along the walls.
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.
East Valley School District is waiting on the deed for the Walker Army Reserve Center after signing transition papers last week, school board chairwoman Kerri Lundstroth said. No capital funds were used to acquire the property near Sullivan Road and B Street, Lundstroth said. The building was surplus and was transferred from the Department of Defense. Besides, Lundstroth added, the district doesn’t have the capital funds to purchase it outright.
It’s been a tradition at East Valley High School – no one is quite sure for how long – to host a holiday lunch the last day of school before the winter break. “I’ve been here 20-some years and they’ve been doing it since I’ve been here,” said kitchen manager Barb Harvey.
At the latest community meeting of the East Valley School Board, Wednesday, upcoming state budget cuts and plans to merge East Valley and Mountain View middle schools were discussed. Superintendent John Glenewinkel explained to a large group at East Valley Middle School what he expected in state budget cuts which were approved by the state legislature shortly after East Valley’s meeting. He then outlined plans to ease the transition for students at both schools and took questions from the audience.
Since 1979, Mountain View Middle School in the East Valley School District has been educating students in the East Farms area. The aptly named school, which has a fantastic view of Mount Spokane, has a long tradition of teaching students and involving them in a family atmosphere. “You can have your own groups, but everyone treats each other pretty fairly,” said Hayden Stevens, an eighth-grader who is the Associated Student Body secretary.
The East Valley School Board met Thursday to discuss what to do now that its $33.75 million school bond failed to garner a supermajority April 26. The board threw around several options. One was how to brace for a possible $1.5 million to $2 million cut in funding from the state. Closing a middle school or two is still on the list of options.
Proponents of East Valley School District’s construction bond and reorganization plan are ramping up efforts to encourage residents to vote yes. “It’s time to do it,” said East Valley School District Board Chair Mitch Jensen. “We haven’t passed a bond since ’96 in this district. Our buildings are literally falling apart. They look good, which is an incredible statement to our custodial staff and our maintenance staff. But when you scrape through that tissue paper and spit and paint you find out that they are not all that wonderful.”
As the chair of the East Valley School Board I felt a need to clarify some of the facts about our Re-Visioning Plan. The plan, as was voted on Tuesday, Jan. 4, is to convert four elementary schools, East Farms, Otis Orchards, Trentwood and Trent to PK-8 academies, close East Valley and Mountain View middle schools. Below, in no particular order, are several highlights.