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Preston School district asks patrons to renew levy

Preston School District is asking its patrons to renew a plant facility levy for $4.5 million over the next five years, on March 10.

The levy is exactly the same as one that was approved in 2015, said district Superintendent Marc Gee. It will raise $900,000 each year for the next five years.

To answer questions and explain the district’s need for the levy and what the funds will be used for, the district’s board of trustees is holding a public meeting March 4, at 7 p.m. in the Preston High School’s Library.

Projects the new levy will fund if approved are:

• update to the old classrooms and office spaces at Preston High School

• resurfacing of the bus parking area and junior high west lot

• air conditioning installed at Preston Junior High (PJH)

• replacement of bleachers at PJH

• an addition to the music room at PJH

• resurfacing the track surface at PHS

• redo the high school soccer field

• add classrooms to PJH

• add parking areas around PJH

• replace HVAC system in old section of PHS

• roofing at PHS

• replace HVAC system in old section of Pioneer Elementary

• Remodeling the office of the Oakwood Elementary

• Interior door and lock updates at PHS, PJH and Pioneer Elementary

The past levy paid for the following projects, some of which are still in progress:


• Preston High School Addition: three standard classrooms, one CNA/EMT/EMR classroom, football field concession stand, district technology offices and

• Pioneer Elementary Addition: (new gymnasium, eight standard classrooms, two multipurpose teacher meeting rooms, new main office, remodeled cafeteria, new kitchen

In progress:

• PHS football field concourse and press box

• PHS stadium seating

• Oakwood Elementary pod remodel

Grant to promote diversity at Larsen-Sant Library

The Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) awarded the Larsen-Sant Library, and 10 other Idaho libraries, grants to promote “equity, diversity and inclusion.”

The Larsen Sant Library will put $300 to increase its Spanish language section, including Spanish/English bi-lingual books.

It will also use $200 for signage to promote a welcome feel to all library patrons.

“We are just trying to include everyone and let them know they are important,” said Teresa Rasmussen, assistant director of the library.

The library, located at 109 South First East, Preston, is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday — Thursday, from 10 a.m. — 6 p.m. on Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

District supports training youth for in-demand skilled jobs

The Idaho Legislature is considering a resolution that will show legislative support for the Idaho Board or Education to conduct a review of high school graduation requirements to create multiple paths to graduation or a high school diploma.

One of those that need recognition is that many students follow a career technical education path instead of a college path, Rachel Madsen told the Preston School Board during its February meeting. Madsen is the director for the Southeast Idaho Technical Charter School that operates within Preston High, West Side High and Malad High.

“We must always look at the demands of the workforce and change the program to meet those demands,” said Madsen.

The need for skilled employees is growing around the country. In Idaho, where the unemployment rate has been below the national average for about two years, at 2.3 percent, it is difficult to find qualified employees to fill a growing number of jobs.

This has led to some businesses to take training into their own hands, partnering with College of Eastern Idaho to help fund training, offer experienced instructors to teach those skills. They also send employees to the school to get the training they need them to have. Apprenticeships through CEI are offered by the Idaho National Laboratory, Premier Technology Idaho Steel, Spudnik Equipment and American Fabrication to name a few.

According to Kathy Ray, executive Director for the Four County Alliance of Southeast Idaho, there is a growing need for a variety of skilled employees in Franklin, Oneida, Caribou and Bear Lake counties: millwrights, welders, PLC (programmable logic controller) writers, HVAC installers, plumbers, electricians, process flow, diesel techs/mechanics, electrical engineers, CDL licensed drivers, construction project managers, draftsmen and architects. The workforce also needs employees with training in communication skills and soft skills (communication skills), states Ray.

Madsen explained that SEITec offers opportunities to today’s high school students to learn some of the above skills. “Nationwide, I feel like, finally, over the last three- four years, people are starting to realize the value of skilled workers and technical training.”

Students taking programs offered by SEITec are dual enrolled. This year, it has over 400 students enrolled in its programs between PHS, WSH and MHS. At PHS the program graduated 38 students and over 50 are on track to graduate this spring, said Madsen. They earned dual graduations from SEITec and Preston High School.

Students leaving high school unready to get a job is one of the problems SEITec has tackled though offering opportunities to learn and practice interviewing skills. Also, in partnership with local businesses, like The Preston Citizen, SIETec offers apprenticeships to students.

Apprenticeships give students opportunities to see if a field is really what they want to pursue.

SEITec has also provided funds to improve programs that are already being offered through Preston High and other high schools. For example, SEITec provided funding to purchase programing kits, computers, a 3-D printer on which students can learn coding for robotic manufacturing systems in an automated manufacturing course offered through SEITec. “Kids taking the course here are earning hours at Bridgerland,” said Gee. “As they finish here, they can move right into Bridgerland.”

The charter school is governed by a board, which currently has as its chair Preston School District Superintendent Marc Gee. West Side School District Superintendent Spencer Barzee serves on the board as does a representative from Bridgerland Technical College.

West Side cashes in on Volkswagen settlement

West Side School District is currently seeking new buses thanks to a new round of grants issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through a Volkswagen settlement. The settlement is for the emission scandal involving their attempt to use a cheating device to fool EPA emission tests so that they could get their vehicles past The Clean Air Act’s requirements. Volkswagen had to cough up $1.45 billion, a small piece of which the school now has a chance to get.

If the grant is awarded it will pay for 25% of a new diesel bus. The district chose diesel over propane because the diesel buses have more seating and will be able to be fueled at more locations. Under Idaho State law there is such a thing as reimbursable miles, ex. Bus routes, and non-reimbursable miles, ex. field trips and sporting events. The bus the district is looking to buy will be a travel bus, with extra storage meaning strictly non-reimbursable miles. The reimbursement system works over a 12-year period from the Idaho State Department of Education. The first 12 years of a bus’s service the state helps pay for it with the peak coming in year six. This bus is expected to cost over $100,000. It will save operational money since it will cost the district $1.50 a mile to run as opposed to $3.50 a mile.

In share the good times the students of H. B. Lee Elementary and their families had a wonderful time at the Hoe-down which helped to raise enough funds to send all the classes on a future field trip. The middle school talent show had over 30 participants. The best news of all came in a letter to the board from, Janis Buttars, a teacher. She took some of her juniors up to ISU to experience a Reality Town program — a microcosm of real life with bankers, landlords, poll workers and balancing a monthly budget. She felt that, “It was time well spent.”

West side is planning an intervention for struggling students on April 10. It will be an early out day where students who are getting a C in a class can receive personalized help from the teachers to help them grasp concepts better. High school principal Tyler Telford said that the high school students are getting a lot of mileage out of these interventions with students handing in more work the week before than any other time of the year. This day was chosen because the high school track and softball teams are both leaving early to participate in their respective events.

The 20-21 school year calendar has been approved. The only difference between this calendar and the current one is when parent teacher conferences are scheduled. Near the end of the discussion on the topic the subject of snow days was briefly touched on. Superintendent Spencer Barzee mentioned the possibility for next year of having late start snow days instead of just canceling school. One of the key concerns the board is exploring is whether or not such a day would still legally count as a “school day”.

The district has updated its video surveillance policy to clarify who is able to share video footage.

The addition to Beutler Middle School is proceeding smoothly; the plumbing and electrical on the second floor has been inspected and approved. The top floor is being sheet-rocked this week and the bottom floor sheet rock has been completed. The tile is expected to be laid in March. The whole expansion is expected to be finished by the first of July.