Wallowa schools superintendent/principal John Nesemann informed the Wallowa School Board Monday night that Wallowa students met or exceeded state standards in every category in the 2003 statewide testing assessment compiled by Educational Data Systems. Tests were given at the third, fifth, eighth and 10th grade levels in reading and literature, mathematics, writing, math problem solving and science.
Although slightly above the state average, only 47 percent of WHS 10th graders met or exceeded state standards in mathematics. Nesemann said it was the first time he could remember a Wallowa testing score below the 50th percentile.
The board voted to send a letter to the Oregon School Board Association, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators and Oregon legislators supporting the Wallowa County Education Service District which is facing a challenge of consolidation. Nesemann said the local service district has the lowest overhead cost of any ESD in the state and that services cannot be provided any cheaper with a merger. "I sure don't want to lose our ESD and have it move to Pendleton or even Island City."
A short letter from Wallowa Education Association President Keith Wellens informed the board that the WEA will negotiate contracts during the school year. The consensus from the board was that negotiations would start early in 2005.
Nesemann gave an Oregon Progress Board presentation on the economy, people and environments of Oregon counties where Wallowa County ranked highly. While Wallowa County ranked 35th from among Oregon's 36 counties economically in 1999 and 30th in 2003, said Nesemann, it ranked first in education benchmarks both years. He said that the county ranked first in social support in 1999 and fourth in 2003.
A negative statistic from the Oregon Progress Board data came in state alcohol and drug use among teens where Wallowa County ranked 35th in counties at the eighth-grade level. The Wallowa superintendent/principal thought the information was misleading and inaccurate because of the low sampling in the survey.
In other business, Mel Byers was approved as high school wrestling coach, an unpaid position.