Local schools start year with fewer faculty faces

Photo by Kim Lamb<br>Kindergartner Karianne Zollman (l) look a little apprehensive as Rhett Retherford (r) is reassured by his mother Jo Lynn on the first day of school at Joseph Elementary on Monday. Brittany Gibson stands in the background.

The 2002-03 school year started in the Joseph and Wallowa school districts Monday, with final school funding still uncertain and a few fewer faces in the faculty lounges.

Total enrollment for both districts, according to first day figures, has continued to decline. Joseph School District reports 276 students in K-12, compared to 301 last fall, while Wallowa counted 297 on Monday, compared to 308 a year ago. This fall's figure was exactly the same number of students Wallowa ended the 2001-02 school year with in the spring.

A more complete run-down of the county's school enrollment will be reported next week, since Enterprise students don't return to classes until Thursday (today).

A major change for Joseph is its adoption of the four-day school week, which Wallowa went to last year. Wallowa, on the other hand, has followed Joseph's lead in initiating a full-day kindergarten this fall.

Joseph has two less teachers than last year: longtime 2nd grade teacher Rena Wishart who retired and second-year middle and high school music instructor Doug Williams who resigned. Others have reduced or changed work loads. A bit of shuffling around in class assignments was reported to accommodate the changes. One aide, Carla Eschler, also retired, and her position was not filled.

Other changes in the Joseph school roster include: Kendall Hayes, part-time science and part-time high school band and choir instructor (former full-time science); Claudia Boswell, now K-8 choir and band teacher and part-time Title I (formerly K-4 music and Title I); Betty Belcher, new first/second grade teacher (formerly third grade); Lori Kissinger, third grade teacher (formerly middle school Title I); Karen Patton, half-time math and middle school Title I (formerly full-time math, PE and Title I); high school librarian Shannon Maslach, from full-time to part-time; and Linda Botts, from full-time classroom teacher to combination classroom teacher and two periods in high school library. Larry Johnson now teaches all of the high school PE, though his class load has been reduced from seven to five periods.

"We didn't cut any subjects, but we did cut down on the number of sections in some cases," said Joseph superintendent Rich Graham.

Wallowa Elementary also had a few shifts in the classroom, with teacher Nancy Roberts moving from being a sixth grade classroom teacher to replacing Nickie Estes as math tutor.

Former first/second grade teacher Donna Smith is now a resource teacher, former first/second grade teacher Vearl Lewis now teaches sixth grade, and Marilyn Soares, former third grade teacher, is first/second grade instructor this year. The school's two third grade classrooms were reduced to one this year.

"We don't have any staff changes in the high school," said WHS principal John Nesemann. "We've been trimming for years. He noted, for example, that some positions, such as high school aides, had already been eliminated in past years.

He said WHS benefited number-wise this year by the combination of a small graduating class being succeeded by a large crop of freshmen; there were 100 WHS students a year ago compared to 110 on the first day of this school year.

Meetings were still taking place Tuesday morning in Enterprise, and staff changes not completely finalized. Enterprise school district has been reporting the most drastic budge cuts of any county district in the last few months, and numerous changes are expected.

Two major ones at the administrative level is the assumption of both the superintendent's and the Enterprise elementary principal's position by former Enterprise High School principal Brad Royse. Formerly, both were full-time positions filled by Bill Eggers and Dave Carlson, respectively; both have left the district. New high school principal is Blake Carlsen, who was previously an Enterprise sixth grade teacher.

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