The Three Rivers School District Board of Directors’ Jan. 18 meeting kicked off with an appreciation video from Lorna Byrne Middle School, featuring staff members and students lip syncing and dancing to popular songs by artists including Shania Twain, Taylor Swift and Celine Dion.
LBMS Principal Danny Pratt addressed the board during the humorous tribute, saying, “We’re so grateful; we couldn’t do this without you.”
The video concluded with a montage depicting the classes of LBMS delivering a simple message in unison: “Thank you school board!”
Board Chair Jennifer Johnstun called the meeting to order, remarking, “January’s always a really wonderful, welcoming environment to come into because it is School Board Appreciation Month, so that’s why we have these really awesome decorations and gifts and notes… I just treasure these and I think probably all of us board members do. It’s a nice reminder when we get these handwritten notes of why we’re here.”
Moving into the board’s “Say Something Positive” segment, Johnstun opened a gift to the whole board from Illinois Valley High School. The card read, “Three Rivers School District board members, on behalf of I.V. High School’s staff and students, we thank you for giving your time to make this a fantastic district. You are appreciated. Thanks again ~ The I.V. High School family.”
The gift was a piece of wall art featuring the names of all schools within the district.
Superintendent Dave Valenzuela used his “Say Something Positive” to shine a light on how the district is upholding its core value of physical security and safety. He thanked the TRSD school resource officer, Robbie “Deputy K” Kineisnee, as well as Hidden Valley High School Assistant Principal Jessica Faulkenhagen for conducting safety training that reached around 550 district employees. This training was provided in the Illinois Valley in December and the North Valley area earlier this month.
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“We provided staff with ‘Stop the Bleed’ training, and Robbie did a great job of getting volunteers from AMR, Asante, local fire, other police officers – there was a ton of volunteers here,” remarked Valenzuela.
Another district-wide safety training event is being planned for August, according to the superintendent.
Valenzuela also used his speaking time to convey a message for School Board Appreciation Month, saying in part, “I would like to commend this school board for persevering through some difficult and sometimes hostile issues, opinions and feedback. It’s not always easy to stand firm in the oaths that you have taken as school board members, but you have shown great courage and leadership in some very difficult times.”
During his superintendent’s report, Valenzuela discussed an upcoming April workshop that he has coined the “Data Academy for School Board Members,” because it will see educators from district Professional Learning Communities teams participate in a roundtable talk with the board.
PLC is “essentially where teachers get together and look at data from their common assessments, so assessments that each teacher has given the same way, and compare that achievement data,” Valenzuela explained. “And then if someone is excelling in their achievement data, they find out what’d you do? How did you get those results?”
Valenzuela expects that meeting with PLC representatives will give the board members greater insight into how assessment data correlates with student achievement, so that in the future the board can regularly hear reports from teachers and students about that data.
The superintendent shared images depicting damage to the roof at Illinois Valley High School, which he said was just one of 15 roofs of district facilities that need renovation.
“In our amazing foresight,” Valenzuela said sarcastically, “we built really flat roofs in Oregon, so they collect water and every time we patch a hole, the water goes from that area to another and finds another hole. We’ve been battling this for a really long time.”
Three bidders are vying for a contract to repair the I.V. High roof, a project that will be funded by board-approved contingency dollars.
“I anticipate that work being done by the beginning of August hopefully,” said Valenzuela. “We’ll solve that problem then we have 14 other roofs that need attention and we’ll figure them out one by one if we have to.”
On the topic of renovations, the superintendent updated the board on the district’s project to convert restrooms from stalls to singular rooms with toilets that connect to a larger room with sinks. This project is intended to boost student privacy and dignity in the bathrooms as well as cut down on any student misconduct in restrooms as there will be wide doors and windows looking into the part of the restrooms with just sinks so students can be better supervised.
“Design is done, it’s engineering stamped, we’ve had contractors walk through all the schools and they’ll be placing bids so we have a general contractor – Vitus Construction – and now he’s getting plumbers and electricians to do all that work, because it’s quite a bit.”
The district also plans to install devices that detect vaping and loud noises, which bullying and fighting would trigger.
“Vaping in the restrooms is a chronic issue,” Valenzuela said. He added that with the installation of these sensors, he hopes the district will be able to “greatly reduce the amount of vaping that’s going on.”
“Every one of the 141 stalls will get a vape sensor,” Valenzuela concluded.
During her “Say Something Positive,” Johnstun reflected on the “remarkable” culture within the district and the “awesome display of gratitude” she and her colleagues have been met with.
Board Member Rich Halsted praised the district’s “awesome staff,” adding, “There are students that are working so hard and the staff is meeting them completely across the way to make sure that not only do they accomplish the tasks they need to accomplish but complete the academic rigors there.”
Board Member Jenn Searle thanked the students and staff for their gifts and tributes. She also thanked her colleagues, saying, “It’s a pleasure working with you guys. And I look forward to many more.”
Board Member Jamie Wright expressed her gratitude for staff who write newsletters for the schools. “I have so much gratitude for the time it takes to put together great newsletters,” she said. Wright added, “Keeping parents informed and getting information out I think is one of the things that’s going to be and continues to be important, but it’s already a priority.”
Board Member Susan Fischer-Maki, who attended the meeting virtually, reflected on the board’s process of picking a new health curriculum and how parent and community involvement was prioritized during the process. “I’m proud of our district and feel so positive about how we work to recognize differences and similarities of how individuals identify regarding gender and sexual identity and the importance of treating others with respect regarding their gender expression and sexual identity.” Fischer-Maki concluded, “Our district is somewhere every student belongs.”