On Monday evening, the Enterprise School District board of directors made tentative plans for a bond measure to appear on the November ballot. They also learned that the City of Enterprise received a grant to provide a school resource officer, discussed getting new LED lighting throughout the school, and heard about preliminary guidelines for opening school in the fall.
The board reviewed a recent public opinion survey of school facilities improvements recommended through their TAP grant consultants. The survey indicated that repair of the roof, eliminating storm water damage to buildings and foundations, and upgrade of middle school science labs were among the public’s highest priorities. Replacing the circa 1953 bleachers in the gym and improving the athletic field irrigation system were among the lowest. While the survey had only 54 respondents, the board felt it provided a helpful picture of public opinion.
To make these improvements, the school district has been approved for a matching grant of up to $4 million from the state, said Superintendent Erika Pinkerton. The state will match the amount of funding the district can raise through a bond. While the total cost of recommended improvements (including the bleachers and irrigation system) is estimated at more than $9 million, the board’s discussion focused on optimizing their matching funds.
“I think a $4 million bond to match the $4 million from the state would be the best way to go,” said board member Adrian Harguess.
Most board members agreed with him. The board will make a final decision on specific improvements, the amount of a bond needed and whether to put a bond measure on the November, 2020 ballot at their July meeting.
In other developments, the board agreed to use their SB 1149 funds to match Energy Trust funds in an Energy Trust program that would provide new LED lights throughout the building. Specific costs were not yet available.
Pinkerton announced that the city of Enterprise had been awarded a grant of $125,000 from the Community Oriented Policing Services Office, the Cops Hiring Program grant. The funds will provide a school resource officer. The grant would allow Enterprise to hire the officer for three years.
“I thought it was time for some good news for everyone,” she said.
No date has been set for hiring. The officer will also patrol youth activities in the community when school is not in session, including during the summer.
Pinkerton also announced, and the board approved, the resignation and retirement of school secretary Sandy Wiedeman, who has worked in the Enterprise schools since 1991.
Pinkerton noted that the Oregon Department of Education is beginning to define what the 2020-21 school year might look like.
“They are talking about “hybrid” systems,” she said. “That would mean some classes online and others in the classroom. We might have a morning session in the school and then those students would leave and do online learning at home in the afternoon. Others would do their online classes at home in the morning, and come to school for classes in the afternoon.”
The overall effect would be to reduce the number of people in the building at one time and enable better social distancing. Other measures under ODE consideration include taking the temperatures of all children and staff each day, staggered starting times in the fall, no more than 25 students per classroom (depending upon room size) and measures to ensure social distancing on school buses.
Pinkerton expressed some frustration with ODE’s rules and rule making.
“This is hard to do when we have such a limited number of cases (of COVID-19),” she said. “It’s hard to understand why there are some big differences between the county’s phase requirements and those for the schools.”