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Mike Johnson gets a hug from a supporter Jessaca Willis following the June 17 school board meeting.

GRANGEVILLE – Following a nearly five and one-half hour board meeting and two hours in executive session Monday, June 17, the Mountain View School District 244 trustees voted 4-1 to change a decision they made at the June 3 meeting.

“Due to some different information I received, I make the recommendation to the board that we extend the contract for Grangeville Elementary Middle School teacher Mike Johnson,” superintendent Marc Scheibe said.

Trustee Rebecca Warden moved to accept Scheibe’s proposal, adding that “a very strict improvement plan” was to be followed. Johnson teaches junior high science and shop.

Only board member Casey Smith voted no as a crowd of about 50 people, who stayed until after 10 p.m., erupted with applause and cheers at the board’s decision.

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Patron Melissa Kaschmitter brings petitions on behalf of Mike Johnson to the MVSD 244 school board.

Earlier during the meeting, patron Melissa Kaschmitter brought a stack of petitions to the board.

“There’s more than 700 signatures there and we had more than 1,000 online,” she said. “Mr. Johnson means the world to my kids.”

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Student Kailee Sullivan speaks about teacher Mike Johnson.

Soon-to-be eighth grader Kailee Sullivan spoke to the board saying, “Mr. Johnson is never boring, always engaging.”

“He helps us retain information because it’s interesting. Please reconsider,” Sullivan pleaded to the board.

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Student Martha Smith offers words on behalf of teacher Vincent Martinez.

Clearwater Valley High School ASB vice-president Martha Smith spoke on behalf of CV teacher Vincent Martinez, whose contract was not extended for 2019-20.

“We need Mr. Martinez – we need a positive local example,” she said.

Applause rocked the Grangeville High School library where more than 100 patrons were present for the first several hours of the meeting.

“Please hold your applause – this isn’t a talent show,” board chair Lot Smith told the room.

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Student Dakota Gorges implores the board to reconsider its decision to let go teacher Vincent Martinez.

CVHS ASB president Dakota Gorges called Martinez "an effective and impactful educator."

“He is an essential component of our school community – please reconsider,” she implored.

Lot Smith let the audience know that personnel items would not be discussed; however, both he and trustee Mike Dominguez stated during the meeting that neither Martinez nor Johnson were let go because of budgetary reasons.

The board voted to pass a $12 million budget for 2019-20 and soon after went into executive session. Following this and the reinstatement of Johnson, the board also voted to RIF (reduction in force) one employee. Scheibe had announced seven FTEs needed to be cut. Due to attrition and retirements, this became one employee (one person) as well as the following: the district librarian and Clearwater Valley Elementary School counselor will not be replaced; elimination of elementary physical education throughout the district and .67 high school P.E.; a position moved to another funding source; and the elimination of one (unnamed) shared position.

Although it was not stated what one employee would lose his or her job, Katrena Hauger is the only P.E. teacher at GEMS.

More details on the meeting will be in next week’s Free Press.

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