By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Brookings-Harbor High School (BHHS) senior Aynika Nelson was recognized at the Nov. 14 Brookings-Harbor School Board meeting for earning the Outstanding High School Student award from the Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition.

Teacher Lisa Piscitello was awarded as an Adult Ally for her work as the LGBTQ+Straight club advisor.

Nelson, who is president of the club, earned the award for spearheading the movement to get new bathroom signs installed at the high school last year.

“She dealt calmly with any adversity in their path, “ Piscitello said. “All I did was get out of the way and let her lead.”

The signs stated, “Please use the bathroom which best fits your gender identity or expression. Just make sure to wash your hands. Thank you, please come again.”

High school Principal Lisa Dion said last year that the district had installed similar signs and covered them with plexiglass.

Dion and Superintendent Sean Gallagher said BHHS added the signs to bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with Brookings Harbor School District (BHSD), Oregon School Boards Association and Oregon Department of Education (ODE) policies.

Absences and truancy

High school Vice Principal Mark Herbert reported improvement on attendance and truancy, saying the new procedures initiated this year appear to be working.

He said 15 students with chronic absences had met with officials, and 14 of the 15 had “turned it around.”

The remaining student had been sent to truancy court.

Students and parents are changing their approach to attendance because of interventions at the school, according to Herbert. The presence of the truancy court, new to the district this year, is affecting absences as well.

Herbert credited resource meetings with improving attendance, and he described the meetings with students and parents as collaborative problem solving.

“We look at the situation and decide where the problem lies,” he said. “We often look at grades because they are affected and then we get the student and the family to make a plan.”

Herbert planned to more specifically define and control what is defined or considered an excused absence, noting that often parents think if they call and excuse their child, then the absence is excused.

Herbert said the school would be looking to more “tightly define” the concept of an excused absence so he could intervene with parents who are “excusing” absences.

Board member Jay Trost and Herbert said the school should be defining what is and is not an excused absence.

Grants

The district accepted three grants at the meeting including a 2018-19 Food Service and Start Up and Expansion Grant, an Oregon Robotics Outreach Grant and an Oregon Mentor Project Grant.

The Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program awarded the BHHS program $4,000 for a laptop, robot construction supplies, a teacher stipend, money for meetings and travel expenses and other materials.

Director of Special Programs Angela Crum said the Southern Oregon Mentoring Consortium (SOMC) had welcomed BHSD as a new member and also offered grant money to fund the local mentoring program.

The consortium would provide training to high quality mentors, professional development, and ongoing support throughout the year, according to a letter Crum submitted to the board.

A related document reported a grant would cover $49,461 in costs for the program.

The mentoring program would offer the district strategic mentoring support with specialists who would travel to Brookings, according to Crum, and a middle school representative would travel to be trained as an on-site trainer as well.

The program provides mentoring for all first and second year teachers.

Substitute teachers

The district agreed to contract with Education Solution Services (ESS) for substitute recruitment, hiring, and placement. ESS will also manage compensation for subs and decrease the workload placed on district employees to manage substitutes.

The new service will allow substitutes to be paid weekly and decrease the district’s liabilities by eliminating many of its HR responsibilities, according to Fiscal Services Director Jerod Nunn..

Board Chair Bruce Raleigh said the district will pay ESS a fee to manage the substitute program, and ESS will pay substitute teachers the same rate as the district. However, he added, after decreasing the duties and costs now incurred without ESS, the plan will save money for the district.

Outdoor School

Measure 99 recently passed in the state legislature and will provide money for an existing law giving each child in the state access to Outdoor School.

An Azalea Middle School (AMS) committee comprised of administrators, teachers, instructional assistants and others did site visits during the spring to determine the best way for the school to use the funds, according to AMS Principal Nicole Medrano.

AMS Applied for funds through Oregon State University Extension Service (OSU) and was approved for a three night trip and/or day trips.

Medrano said AMS is researching day trips for sixth grade students and plans to provide opportunities during the spring of 2019.

According to the OSU Extension Service, outdoor school is designed to “incorporate physical engagement that engages all senses and uses 21st Century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.”

Documents call the program student-centered, inquiry-based and hands-on and state it is focused on environmental and science education.

Other school news

Kelly Garvin, whose classes created the World War II exhibit that has been displayed in town and at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, said the displays have been improved since Portland.

They have been cleaned and put on plywood, she said, and the full exhibit is being displayed at the Chetco Valley Historical Society Museum.

In Portland, the museum only displayed the panels from the display room and did not install the time-tunnel. At the Chetco Museum, visitors can enter the time-tunnel and learn about the key events of war before they enter the display room.

According to Garvin, the school’s next project will cover the history of the Brookings-Harbor School District and focus on alumni.

“Students in the high school history society are the main catalyst for this project,” she said. “But they will receive help from classes.”

The exhibit will be displayed at the Chetco Valley Museum Dec. 1 and 8 from noon to 4 p.m.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com .

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