After swearing in new board member Susan Yardley, the Preston School District trustees were scolded for not prohibiting movies some consider inappropriate for children.
Timothy and Brenda Moosman said they know the district has a policy in place to prevent problematic media, but feel that the policy is either not being used, or is being too widely interpreted.
"I owe a huge apology to my daughter and to the other kids in school for not following through and not making sure this didn’t change," said Timothy. The difficult thing, said Brenda, is that kids don't want to stand up and say they are uncomfortable with a show such as "House of Flying Daggers," which was shown at the high school. It contains scenes that suggest a rape. But they are uncomfortable, said the Moosmans.
"Pornography is an addiction. Like drugs and alcohol, it is a lifelong addiction," said Brenda. "Our school has better standards. Our community has better standards and values than this," said Timothy. "Our kids' safety, morals and values must come first."
"I don’t need to see statue of the David to appreciate Michelangelo. There are other options," said Brenda.
Following their remarks, the trustees were asked by Lindsay Madsen to make it easier to schedule gym time for recreational programs such as the one she coaches for volleyball. She told the board it would be in their best interest to make the schools' gymnasiums more available to help youth improve their skills.
"The volleyball program is not good and hasn’t been for a while," she said. "Why are we paying a janitor when they tell us to turn the lights off and they aren't there?" she asked.
Without public comment, the trustees thanked the Moosmans and Madsen for their comments and proceeded with welcoming two new teachers to the district.
Courtney Henry is a first grade teacher. Raised in Preston, she is happy to be back in her hometown. She has spent several years teaching in Malta, where she was the only first grade teacher there. She has also taught kindergarten. "I hope I can bring wonderful assets to the school here," she said.
Lindsey Ross comes to the district from Utah County's Alpine District as a speech/language pathologist. She will work with preschool to third grade students at the Pioneer ad Oakwood elementaries. Ross has worked in California, Nevada, and Utah. "Being in a small community is exciting," she said.
The trustees approved a trip to the National FFA Convention in Oklahoma City later this fall.
Dr. Lance Harrison told the trustees that the district has had two staff members out with COVID-19, but that the district is fortunate to still be open. "Some districts have already shut down," he said. The schools have also had a stomach flu and other sicknesses running their course through students.
"We don’t want to go virtual. The first time we went virtual it didn’t work out. We didn’t have ... all these different platforms to use. But we do have things in place now. We have contingencies in place, with hopes we don't have to use them," he said.
"Our students suffered being out of school. Unless the governor makes us, I just think it is so important they be in school. We can be generous about absences or teacher or staff not being able to make it, but we gotta have them in school," he said.
Population at the schools has remained constant, within a small percentage of change, it was noted. Right now, there are 818 students enrolled at PHS. That number hoverers within five or 10 percent each year.
When the 2020 Census is completely released, the district will likely realign the boundaries of its districts.
Dr. Daniel Wendt, principal at Pioneer Elementary, reported to the district that the pandemic has not only affected current student test scores, but has affected incoming kindergartners. In 2019, 47 percent of entering kindergartners were at grade level in literacy. This year, they were at 38 percent, he said. He reports similar trends among the school's other grades.
"The interesting thing, every year they are in Pioneer Elementary, they are improving," he said.
The trustees also discussed efforts to improve math scores. One method that is now being used to help kids comprehend math principles is the Star System.
"One obstacle we are facing, is that high school students need three math classes. A lot of them are not taking math as a junior and they are tested at end of junior year," said PHS principal Russ Lee. To compensate, the district has created intervention classes for students struggling in math this year. It was also suggested that the district require four years of math.
"I worry we are not raising the bar high enough," said trustee Dax Keller. It was agreed that kids need math to be able to compete for careers.