In communities the size of Philomath, it's natural that many residents' lives to a certain extent revolve around the local schools.
Parents send their children to the local campuses to be educated. Many of them attended school in Philomath themselves as youngsters and continue to support the district through various means.
The schools are also very visible in the community through activities, athletics and fundraisers. A good number of residents utilize facilities from use of the high school's community room to staying in shape at the swimming pool.
During Thursday night's regular meeting of the Philomath School Board, the swimming pool came up through a proposal to form a committee.
Not another school board committee — but a community committee. Board member Shelly Brown believes it would be appropriate for folks outside of the school district to get involved in Clemens Community Pool.
"I feel like the community does need to step up, not necessarily the city, but I think there's a lot of people in the community that need to be reached out to that would definitely be invested in trying to participate," Brown said.
The swimming pool dates back to 1960 when Rex and Ethel Clemens donated $106,000 toward its construction as a gift to the community. The couple believed that every child in Philomath should know how to swim.
From the beginning, the schools had priority when it came to usage of the pool, but the community was also invited to swim. Some references in 1960s newspaper articles labeled it the "municipal pool" and it was often rented out for events.
In recent years, the aging swimming pool has seen financial challenges with structural and other maintenance issues.
"I still feel like funding, regardless of whether the levy passes or not, is still possibly going to be an issue," Brown said while making reference to a levy renewal that will appear on the May 15 ballot. "I'm really hopeful that we can get something started. ... I'm not quite sure what it can look like or if it's something we can propose because it's a public pool that the school district runs."
Brown said she has talked about the possible formation of a community committee with swimming pool director Ellen Luke.
"She was very receptive of that because she has a lot on her plate," Brown told the board. "Any time you can bring more people together with more ideas ... it's going to be more efficient."
Superintendent of Schools Melissa Goff said that from what she was hearing from Brown, she envisioned a group similar to the Clemens Field Grandstand Renovation Planning Committee.
The grandstand renovation committee was organized last summer with the idea of including key stakeholders, five community members and three district staff members. The committee would meet periodically to review renovation plans, fundraising goals, a construction timeline and so on.
"I think the 'Stand Grand for Philomath' piece has been a very nice community project that the district is still engaged in and ultimately making decisions about," Goff said. "I would suggest we go a similar route."
Brown said she envisioned the same sort of committee and mentioned that both Luke and herself had people in mind that would serve and contribute to the programming.
In other news from the Jan. 18 meeting:
· Goff went through her annual superintendent's report, a sort of "state of the school district" summary that includes information on goals and a budget plan to align with them, along with details on enrollment, academic benchmarks, attendance, and graduation and completion rates.
"We are a great district for most kids most of the time, that is our huge advantage. It means that we as a system can focus on that small group of students that we haven't yet figured out how best to meet their needs," Goff said. "That's the work that our teachers our doing, our instructional assistants are doing, our secretaries are doing, are principals are doing throughout the year."
· High school student body president Sarah Buddingh gave the board a report on campus happenings, including high numbers seen at this year's homecoming dance. Buddingh also announced the return this year of the Mr. and Miss PHS Pageant, which will be staged April 14. The pageant participants are raising money for Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence, and Jackson Street Youth Shelter.
· Glen Kearns of Accuity, LLC provided audit reports on the school district. Kearns reported no significant issues.
· The board discussed career and technical education through leadership reports provided by all five campuses. The information provided appeared positive with the types of CTE opportunities and strategies that are being done within the district.
· The board briefly discussed its timeline involving the operating levy renewal that will appear on the May 15 ballot. Board member Shelley Niemann shared information on ballot title and language in regards to paperwork that must be submitted, an initial filing deadline coming up Feb. 23.
· The school board approved a consent agenda that included the retirement at the end of this academic year of Sue Goodson, high school media specialist and business education teacher. Extra duty assignments approved included Jennifer Grube as the middle school Outdoor School coodinator, and Lily Smith as an assistant coach for Warriors softball.
· School board member Jim Kildea said an executive session meeting would be coming Feb. 1 to finish up the superintendent's evaluation process.
· Goff reported that the school district was in compliance with all 55 state standards. Goff mentioned actions that were taken to become compliant with programs and services for talented and gifted students, such as the formation of an advisory committee. A new standard included on the list involves teacher training related to dyslexia.
· The board approved three resolutions related to financial matters, which business manager Bill Mancuso described as cleaning up paperwork. They were for the adoption of an amended budget, transferring appropriations within a fund and approving unanticipated funding.
· The board approved a resolution involving the local service plan with the Linn Benton Lincoln Education Service District.
· The board looked at dates for upcoming budget meetings, which kick off with a work session Feb. 8.
· Lindsay Ross, co-chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee, briefed the board on a parent survey. A positive outcome could be seen in the area of overall parent involvement with the statewide percentage at 78.7 percent and the Philomath School District considerably higher at 92.0 percent. Ross also mentioned focus areas, such as updates on student goals targeted in Individualized Education Programs and beyond high school.
· Jean Chiappisi, Oregon School Employees Association representative, and Beth Edgemon, Philomath Education Association, gave brief reports that included the possibility of their oganizations providing funds to help with the levy renewal campaign.
· Goff stood before the board and read a proclamation from Gov. Kate Brown that January be "School Board Recognition Month."