A variety of subjects were covered at the April meeting of the trustees of the Preston School District.
Julie Johnson asked the trustees to consider a trimester schedule, citing higher testing scores in schools that use the schedule. She attributed the higher scores to teachers having more teaching time.
Stormy Hines, who teaches English at Preston Junior High, supported the discussion, saying that she taught on the trimester schedule in Pocatello, before coming to Preston.
District trustees took Johnson’s suggestions under advisement and asked the district superintendent to look into the subject further.
The trustees then approved the purchase of new textbooks for CTE and Spanish courses in the district. Each core subject at the district is up for new textbooks every seven years.
The district determined to increase awareness of its policy to provide alternative opportunities to students whose parents have concerns about videos presented in classrooms. Although the policy is available on the district’s website, it was determined that the policy is vague in regards to content, and needs to be better publicized.
In regards to construction in the district, Superintendent Marc Gee said the second pod of classrooms at the Oakwood is expected to be finished by mid-May.
The next pod will be demolished as soon as school is out.
“If everything goes perfect, they can get it done this summer,” said Gee. The Oakwood was originally designed with an open classroom concept — one incompatible with current standards of security. With the completion of the second pod, there are three left to convert. Conversion of the fourth pod will include relocating the school’s office closer to the front door of the building and require all persons who enter to go through the school’s office.
Installation of air conditioning at the junior high is scheduled for the Friday before school gets out, or just after the end of the current school year. The district also hopes to replace the track and the HVAC system at the old gym at the high school over the summer. Whether they do now or not will depend on the increased costs of construction materials. The district is also looking for a contractor to take on the job.
To date, the district has received about $110,000 in unplanned costs for plant facilities this year. They include replacement of a tele-handler forklift used for maintenance and construction, HVAC updates at the Pioneer Elementary and the district’s bus shop, and a travel bus.
Although the HVAC and bus were scheduled to be replaced in the future, failing machinery and having “a great price come up up” for the bus pushed them into the current year.
“Since they were going to be part of plant facilities down the road, we did them now,” said Gee.
Furthermore, the district is looking at hiring a construction manager/general contractor to oversee the ongoing projects within the district. The responsibilities of the CMGC had belonged to long-time district business manager, Brian Mendenhall, who passed away last year.
It was also noted that the district is holding a surplus sale. Sealed bids for the following items must be received at the district office by May 6 for consideration: three school busses, a travel bus, a Dodge van, a microwave, a table saw, two Delta shapers, a Delta feeder, a grass hinge cutter, a Powermatic feeder, four bookshelves, two teacher’s desks, two media carts and a coatrack.
Finally, the district noted that it will hold its first ever gala to recognized outstanding employees. It will be held May 6 at Preston High School. About 350 nominations have been made for educators of the year at each of the district’s schools, as well as for one district-wide award.
“I can’t wait to share some of the things people are writing about our educators,” said Gee. Local businesses have contributed gift certificates for teachers that will be presented at the gala.
It was also noted that the Preston Education Foundation will award $40,000 in scholarships to this year’s graduating class. The foundation is now handling the scholarship program instead of Preston High School.