SHOCASE donates $7,000

Benny Westcott

At the Sept. 11 Sweet Home School District board meeting in the District Office, the Sweet Home Coalition for Artistic and Scholastic Enrichment (SHOCASE), donated $7,000 to the district for renovations to the high school auditorium.

Some of the money reimburses the district for the expenses of installing new curtains and the stage projector at the auditorium. $3,000 is earmarked for future improvements to the auditorium’s lobby.

SHOCASE Representative Rose Peda said “One of our main goals has been working toward renovations of the auditorium. We were here several years ago with a check for the sound system and part of the lighting, and we’ve worked tirelessly in our community to raise this money for the auditorium.”

Board Chair Jason Redick said “The transformation in that auditorium is amazing. I don’t think we could have gotten where we have without you guys and your help and the driving in the community.”

Also at the meeting:

-Superintendent Terry Martin shared that district-wide enrollment was at 2,369 as of Sept. 6, up 28 students from the end of September last year and 120 students from the year before. “We are one of the few districts that continue to be at and above pre-pandemic levels,” Martin said.

-District Business Manager Kevin Strong said that year-to-date spending through Aug. 31 of this year compared to the same time period last year was up just over a quarter of a million dollars. He said that contributing to that increase are escalating liability and property insurance expenses, as well as labor expenses.

“That’s to be expected,” he said of the latter. “We filled some positions that were unfilled last year, plus we have negotiated salary increases included.”

-Certified Representative Steve Thorpe said “I’m excited for this year for what we get to do. We’re going to have challenges just like every year. But I look at these [other] schools starting off the year and they’re ready to strike, they’re on strike, they’re trying to settle a contract… but ours went smooth… like I’ve never seen before. We’re starting into the contract, and it’s great. It’s a good contract.”

He saw positive signs in the district the first few weeks of school. “You like to go somewhere that’s fun. That’s why people visit Disneyland, right?” he asked. “So our principals in our schools made it inviting for kids, and made it a warm, good place to be.”

Thorpe also noted that the high school has one of the biggest freshman classes in a long time.

-The board unanimously approved a resolution granting exemption from competitive bidding to authorize the use of the construction manager/general contractor method of procurement for an upcoming $3.1 million Oak Heights Elementary School renovation project.

A letter from Strong and Facilities Manager Josh Darwood to the board of directors stated that “We have successfully used the CM/GC method of contracting for the Sweet Home High School auditorium project, the Foster Elementary, Hawthorne Elementary, and Holley Elementary seismic projects, and the Sweet Home Junior High renovation project. By having a construction manager/general contractor who is actively involved in the project’s design, we believe we will get the most value for the money spent on the project and potentially eliminate costly change orders resulting from unknowns in the field.”

-Declared as surplus a 1997 Chevy Suburban known as Maintenance Chevy Van 159.

-Accepted a donation of school supplies from Fir Lawn Lutheran Church.

-Approved the hire of Karen Nichols, Spanish teacher at the high school for the 2023-24 school year.

-Approved the hire of Sheila Cremer, BLS transition teacher at the high school for the 2023-24 school year.

-Approved the hire of Emili Riggs, PE teacher at Oak Heights Elementary for the 2023-24 school year.

-Approved the hire of Guy Felix, .5 ELA/.5 social studies teacher at the junior high for the 2023-24 school year.

-Approved the hire of Deborah Stratton, Title 1 teacher at Foster Elementary for the 2023-24 school year.

-Accepted resignation from Julie Jefferson, fifth grade teacher at Oak Heights Elementary for the 2023-24 school year.

-Redick noted that there are currently seven district budget committee vacancies: #1 Holley, #2 Liberty, #4 Cascadia, #5 At Large, #6 Crawfordsville, #8 At Large, and #9 Sweet Home.

“This is a point where the community can get in and get involved and see what we do as a board and how we direct this funding and have some input in this too,” he said.

-The board voted to conduct a third and final reading approving a number of board policies, including ones titled Discrimination Complaint Procedure, Cybersecurity, Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance, Religious and Cultural Holidays, Program Exemptions, Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, Cyberbullying, or Teen Dating Violence Reporting Procedures, Expulsion, Public Complaints, and Public Complaint Procedure.