As of Friday, December 28, 2018
GRANGEVILLE More than 135 people filled the Grangeville High School Library Monday, Dec. 17, for the regular meeting of the Mountain View School District 244 board.
Since a Dec. 6 budget meeting held at district office, talk was spread throughout the community about a variety of budget cut proposals the board discussed.
“I’m not sure what everyone’s heard, but we’re not going to be voting on a budget tonight – that’s in April,” chair Lot Smith told the room.
This announcement didn’t stop patrons from speaking (during three-minute-per person public input session) to subjects they have heard about what was discussed at the budget meeting.
“We have a community that supports the levy each year – the community is centered around our public school system,” said parent Kirsten Jensen. “Why can’t we use the forest funds that have been used for years.” Jensen referenced what she heard about 20 days being cut from the school year as well as RIFs (reduction in force).
“We love our teachers. I am fully comfortable stating our community does not agree with the proposed cuts,” Jensen added.
Her comments met applause from the crowd.
Patron Nancy Moser spoke about her two sons who graduated from GHS and the different needs of each.
“Not every child is academic – music, art, PE and shop are all so important, too,” she said, as well as sports and other extracurriculars.
Parent Susan Graves said she would like to understand the rationale for potential cuts.
“Part of putting kids first is putting teachers first,” she said. “The staff needs to feel appreciated and cared for by their bosses. Cutting 20 days is unacceptable.”
Teacher Katrena Hauger implored the board to hold a public meeting and “give the community a chance to talk.”
“The mentioned cuts would be devastating,” she added.
Parent Katie Matthews admitted her confusion on what is going on based on what she’s heard in the comments and from teachers.
“The great things happening here – and there are great things – are not coming from first-year teachers, I know, because I was one,” she said, alluding to the disparity in pay between new and veteran teachers. “We need our seasoned teachers,” and need to cultivate the relationships.
Teacher Joe Tosten said he was speaking as a parent.
“You are the elected officials trusted to care for our school system,” he said. “The trust in your leadership is waning.”
Reyna Phillips spoke to the uncertainly of the cuts.
“Maybe I’m misinformed or need clarification, but why are you trying to get rid of my husband?” she said of Grangeville art teacher Patrick Phillips. “This affects families; it’s very stressful.”
“What makes you think we’re trying to get rid of your husband?” trustee Mike Dominguez asked.
Phillips said she has heard about possible art, extracurricular and other cuts, adding “my husband is the art teacher in Grangeville, not one of several.”
“Don’t believe everything that goes around,” Lot Smith said.
Superintendent Marc Scheibe explained at the budget meeting a series of cuts totaling $1.6 million – the expected budget deficit for 2019-20 – were brought to the board at the Dec. 6 workshop as options and examples of what that would look like.
“The board isn’t trying to cut programs,” he explained. “They’re trying to balance the budget.”