Winslow school board tables closed lunch for junior high

At the regular meeting of the Governing Board of the Winslow United School District August 2 The major topic of discussion was whether Winslow Junior High School was to have a closed lunch or not. In the end it was tabled for the meeting of August 16. The other topic of continuing interest involved the future remodeling or replacement of the "Old Main" building at the high school.

Discussion of the lunch hour closing at the junior high began with the call to the public. Dr. Jay Decker, who has entered his name to run for the board this fall, said that he thought the idea of a closed campus was a good one for the safety of the students. He hoped that the school would try it for al least a year to see how it works. "You have to be careful," he said. Decker added that he appreciated the hard work done by Principal Jim Mac Lean to develop this proposal.

Roy Rogers said, "I do not agree with the theory of the closed campus completely." He thought it was important for the students to be monitored and supervised during lunch. Rogers said the school should reconsider closing and modify it for those who ask to go home and to establish monitoring for those who are going to local establishments for lunch.

Principal Jim MacLean gave his presentation to the board supporting the proposal to close the campus. The board had asked him to assemble further statistics on closing the campus. MacLean emphasized that any parent at any time can sign their child out of school. He said, "If they can walk two blocks or so [during lunch], we can work out a pass system. Lunch hour is a time that is very volatile."

MacLean said that when he checked with other junior high schools they all had closed campuses, except Joseph City, which has no cafeteria.

Assistant Principal Troy McReynolds said that the angle they were taking is to do what is best for the kids. "We'd like to keep the kids in a safe environment," he emphasized.

When the board made comments they expressed concerns that still lingered. Vice-Chairman Dodie Montoya said that she was concerned about adequate supervision during the lunch break, but that she would like to see a pass system for those who wish to go home. "This allows accountability," she said.

Royce Greer made the motion that the issue be tabled until the meeting of August 16, Mrs. Montoya seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

After the meeting Principal MacLean said that this would leave the junior high very close to opening without being able to send out a letter to parents and students on the policy. However, he added, the school has already asked everyone to participate in coming to a decision, so they are aware of a possible change. The staff will just have to make two plans, so that they can move quickly to implement whatever the board decides.

"Old Main" renovations

When Superintendent Dr. David Black presented the information from the Student's First Report, it included the possibility of renovation or replacement of the WHS "Old Main" building. Black stressed that his priority was to preserve the historic building, but that some of the decision making is now being done at the School Facilities Board in Phoenix. This is where the money is for school renovation. All the Winslow projects were in the high range of need. They include a serving kitchen for Bonnie Brennan, fire sprinklers for Washington, a new electrical panel and a serving kitchen for the Old Gym at WHS and lighting for the vocational education building.

There are 28-30 classrooms being used in the central WHS building. The pipes and wiring are old and the question is whether it is financially feasible to replace them rather than build a new building. No decision has been made and any decision on this historic site will have to be made very carefully.

Dr. Black presented letters of resignation from two school nurses, Cindy Arrossa and Debra Kamzelski, Special Education Aide Jana Bays and Bus Driver Michelle G. Aragon. The resignations were approved by the board without objection.

A letter of resignation from Mrs. Shannon Newman, Mathematics teacher at Winslow High School was a different matter. She is under a certified contract and resignations under those contracts are supposed to be made by June 15. After that acceptance of a resignation is contingent upon finding a well-qualified, certified teacher to replace the one leaving. With school starting in two weeks that seems unlikely. Both the new Assistant Principal Tom Watson and the old one, Bill Taylor, said that much of the summer was spent finding teachers. Watson said, "Since I've been there pretty much all I've done is look for teachers - and they're just not out there."

Mrs. Montoya said, "I just don't believe we should start doing something like this." And Mr. Greer said that the board needed to do what was in the best interest of the kids. Greer made the motion to deny the request and it passed with one no vote from Roger Graybeal.

Dr. Black recommended the hiring of four teachers, one for the district and three for WHS. They are: Vicky Robinson, music strings teacher for the district; Eric Meudt, science teacher for WHS; Michelle Cuellar, math for WHS; and Debbie Kordon, math for WHS. Black also noted that three employees transferred to new positions: Patricia Pate to WHS math, Lisa Soehner to 4th grade at Jefferson and Senaida Gonzales to part-time reading teacher at Washington School.

In other business:

The board awarded bids for the Indian Education Services building to Charlie Hancock Building of Winslow; for the gym parking lot to McCauley Construction of Winslow; and delayed the acceptance of bids to repave the high school lots until after certain decisions are made by the Arizona School Facilities Board concerning the main building.

Dr. Black reminded the board that Wednesday, August 16 is the day when new teachers report for orientation and they are invited to come too.

Expulsion hearings

In a separate meeting, held August 4, the Governing Board, in executive session consulted with attorneys on the question of discipline and /or expulsion of a group of students who allegedly assaulted other students. The Governing Board had previously directed the administration to hire a hearing officer and proceed with expulsion hearings for these students.

After these hearings, an attorney representing a group of alleged victims of the assaults presented a written demand to the district not to proceed with the hearings because of the additional trauma such hearings could cause the victims. Some of the victims would not be allowed to testify at expulsion hearings because of this, at least at this time.

The board has also been informed that plea agreement offers have been made and may be finalized around the end of August.

Upon advice of counsel, the board moved that expulsion hearings for the alleged wrongdoers be postponed indefinitely and that the administration bring this matter back to the board when it is appropriate, but as soon as it is reasonably feasible to do so. It was further moved that the matter be considered at the regular meeting of September 6.

All the members of the Governing Board were present at both meetings except Mr. Joe Hancock, who was absent both times.

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