The Three Rivers School District Board of Directors convened Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Illinois Valley High School in Cave Junction to conduct their monthly regular session.
Zone V Board Member Jennifer Johnstun recounted that the board has received a tour of I.V. High earlier in the afternoon.
“I just want to say, even since the last time we’ve toured, there have been a lot of advancements,” Johnstun remarked. “We’ve of course had the restroom remodel, which looks great. We’ve heard a lot of positive student feedback about that. The Athletic Facility upgrade that’s about to happen here in the old weights room; we saw some CTE stuff with a lift, and it looks looks really good and I’m grateful that we keep, a little at a time, improving some of these things around our schools.”
TRSD Superintendent Dave Valenzuela reported on the district’s culture summit that was held the previous week, which served as a meet and greet for district faculty.
“Three River School District is a school district and it’s comprised of people,” Valenzuela remarked. “We deal with people; that’s what we do all day every day and I’m looking around at some people that I know that have made some commitments, some impacts and connections in students’ lives – that have changed their lives, saved their lives. And that’s why we are committed to a climate and a culture of care in Three Rivers School District and I’ll never apologize for the investment we made last week in this staff and in these students and what we do for people by people.”
The superintendent added that he had the opportunity to meet three recently hired educators within the first ten minutes of the event.
“Our people-first commitment is something that I’m wildly proud of,” Valenzuela added. It’s amazing and I’ll hang my hat on it all day every day and so what this was, it was an opportunity for us to understand how to make more connections quickly with our staff and we know that our student culture will follow our staff culture.”
Valenzuela also gave updates on the district’s “long-range facility plan and facility investment,” a matter he admitted was “really dry and boring” but also “really important.” He hit some highlights of the plan on his superintendent’s report, which began with the roof replacement at I.V. High. He reiterated that the I.V. High roof replacement was the first time the district has fully replaced a roof, rather than making incremental patches and repairs.
The team of professionals that assessed all the district’s assets ranked the importance of projects on a scale of one to five, explained Valenzuela, and deteriorating school roofs were given priority one.
The superintendent said he felt it was important the district start looking at full roof replacement for other locations because Josephine County is likely not positioned to pass a “$250 million” bond to build a new school. “We have 15 learning sites so it’s important we protect the investments that we have,” he added.
Moving on, Valenzuela noted that mechanical systems – HVAC, heating and air control systems – were given priority two. “Those wings are all failing as well.”
“So long story short, this plan is going to come to you, the board, and you guys will get to see it and it will have a a report of like what I just described but also a recommendation of what we need to fix today,” said Valenzuela . “Well, actually it should say what we needed to fix yesterday but let’s try to fix it tomorrow and it’ll have a price tag based on today’s construction prices.”
The superintendent said early indications are that fixing all priority one infrastructure would cost around $59 million.
The board began a new tradition of recognizing valuable community partners last week, with Siskiyou Community Health and the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office getting the spotlight Oct. 18.
During the board’s Say Something Positive segment, Zone IV Board Member Nancy Reese said she was impressed by the I.V. High students who gave feedback during the student panel that was held earlier that day, calling them “intelligent and very caring young people.”
Zone I Board Vice Chair Jenn Searle, who represents the Illinois Valley, said that attending the student panels is “one of my favorite aspects of being on the school board.” She added, “I appreciate the candidness and openness of the students, whether it’s something positive or something negative.” Searle also shared her excitement with the new Southern Oregon Success Academy West campus in progress near the high school, calling the newly erected sign for the school, which will expand the offerings of the existing SOSA in Merlin, “a beautiful sign and I just thought that was really neat to see today.”
Zone II Board Member Pat Kelly, who joined the board alongside Reese in July, declined to take part in Say Something Positive, offering this reasoning: “I just have a concern with this section, just for me personally. I feel as a board member I have to act as essentially a referee and a judge between people, the administration, the board, kids and everything so it just goes against my grain. I’m going to say that everybody has been nice so far but I’m just trained not to appear biased towards one side or another. I don’t mean to mean it – it just bothers me and it’s fine everybody else does it but I have 45 years of training that says I can’t do this and so I’m just going to skip me the next time but just understand that I like everybody; I’m not mean but it’s kind of my role to be objective and open, and that’s the way I’m looking at it. Sorry.”