The final West Side School Board meeting of 2020 focused on COVID-19. The board has received multiple complaints centered around the restrictions for sporting events put in place in hopes of preventing the spread of the disease. They wish to express that they also find the restrictions displeasing but they have been mandated by the governor’s office and as such they stand. The school board and district as a whole answer to the governor who in turn answers to the health department. The board wished to stress that if the current restrictions are not upheld by the school the state can shut the school down all together, and then there really will be no sports or any other activities for that matter. As a few districts in the state have chosen to not follow and intentionally disregard requirements of the Governor’s Stage Two orders, more specific details are set to be released by the Governor’s office. Specifically, school districts that repeatedly violate the restrictions will automatically forfeit individual games and eventually the entire season if it continues.
The next major issue on the agenda was the less than thrilling update to the schools Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation Policy or policy 3085 for short. The policy states that, “The purpose of this policy is to promote working and learning environments that are free from sex and gender-based harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and to affirm the district’s commitment to non-discrimination, equality in education and equal opportunity for employment.” This policy affects and updates seven other policies in accordance with Title IX regulations. Title IX is part of the Federal Civil Rights Act which makes it illegal for any employer to list an employee’s race, gender or sexuality as the reason for firing, or not hiring in the first place.
On a more positive note in Share the Good Times, the Christmas Store set up by the Parent Teacher Organization is proving to be a big hit. The board is grateful for the countless hours of service and willingness to go above and beyond each month by members of the organization. In the Beutler Middle School a packaged and canned food drive is going great thank in part to a little sibling rivalry between two kids in different grades. All the food goes to the Elk’s Club. Eric Summers, manager of Airgas in Logan, has donated some new equipment to the high school Ag program: a Scotchman cold saw and metal bandsaw. Both pieces of equipment make for a charitable donation of over $8,000.
In other news the school is applying for a grant needed to keep the full-day kindergarten program running but also in the hopes of beginning to offer preschool as well. The goal is to have two sessions of four-year-olds that together total 25 students, one group of 13 the other 12. These groups would be split into Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday groups in the morning. The current plan is to have them in one of the old middle school classrooms that are currently empty. There was concern raised by Boardmember John Jensen that the implementation of such a plan could cut into the revenue of certain members of the community who rely on running their own preschools for added income. The current plan is that the preschool program would be for those kids with special needs or whose parents cannot afford it otherwise. About five years ago, the school district had a similar preschool program, but was unable to continue because of rigid certification requirements for employees working in this program. This forced the school district to contract with other entities to administer these services. School administrators feel the proposed program would better meet the needs of students who are in need of such services.
The final item was a review of the drivers ed program since 2015. The class is now free, thanks to the Idaho Advanced Opportunities Credit, which goes to students who are taking a full load of high school courses in addition to an elective credit. The state also reimburses the district $150 to help cover things such as gas and maintenance. The current drivers ed car is a 2002 Buick Lesabre. District superintendent Spencer Barzee pointed out that the odometer is still below 200,000 miles and though it requires regular maintenance, is not in need of replacement.