KAMIAH — At the April 19 regular meeting of the Kamiah Joint School District 304 trustees, Jamey Hix was sworn in as a new board member. Hix fills the district 2 vacancy left after Brandaan de Groot resigned in February.
Jim Engledow, KMS teacher and track coach, presented the #Kamiah Cares award to volunteer Tim Lee for extraordinary service to Kubs sports (track and wrestling) mentoring student athletes for the past three decades. Engledow said that Lee has always been a fixture at Kamiah track, remembering Lee from his own high school days. Engledow recounted a story of Lee out by himself shoveling deep snow from the first lane of the track so the kids could practice.
Lee beamed as he accepted the award, saying, “Thanks for letting me do what I do. I love it, seeing the second generation, the kids of kids I had. I’m praying and hoping I can keep doing it.”
#Kamiah Cares is a monthly award presented to community members and businesses who have shown outstanding support for the district and its students.
Misty Perry, leader of the Kamiah elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) group, addressed the board during public comment. Perry described three activities planned in May: teacher appreciation week, book fair and end-of-year student party. Perry has a volunteer lined up to adopt each teacher and put together a basket of goodies for them for teacher appreciation week, May 3-7. The book fair will be the 2nd week in May. Perry said she has talked to Kamiah fire chief Bill Arsenault to create a hands-free obstacle course for the end-of-year party.
Superintendent Merrill introduced Christine Cearley, recently hired as the new Kamiah Middle School principal. Cearley will begin in the 2021-2022 school year replacing Peggy Flerchinger who resigned as principal.
“I am impressed with her attitude and philosophy of education,” Merrill said. He added that “her passion is at-risk children.” Cearley, who recently moved here from Oakdale, Calif., has served as principal at two middle schools and curriculum director at a charter school.
Cearley, when asked what she thought of Kamiah, said, “I love Kamiah, the people are friendly and there is no commotion.”
Later in the meeting the board approved a change to the current administrative configuration designating Cearley as principal for pre-k through 8th grade, and William McFall as principal for grades 9-12 for the 2021-2022 school year. (In the current school year Flerchinger is principal for grades 4-8 and McFall is principal for the high school and pre-k through 3rd grade.)
The board unanimously approved one-year contracts for Superintendent Merrill for 0.5 (half-time) for $50,000 and for Cearley (full time) for $74,000 for the 2021-2022 school year. They also approved a one-year contract for McFall for $62,000 with board members Don Skinner, Hix and Damon Keen voting aye and Hix and Rikki Simler voting no.
Merrill reported on plans for summer academy from June 21-July 29. The goal is to address learning loss.
“We are trying to get students caught up,” Merrill said. He noted ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund)monies are available to pay for this, since some of the learning loss is COVID related. Other students may want to take classes to get ahead.
School district business manager Patty Hamilton reported, “The state legislature canceled the budget and everything’s changing daily.” Hamilton said, “My preliminary budget is very bare.” Merrill added, “It’s a political football right now,” referring to education funding.
Merrill discussed the need for a full-time social emotional counselor “to help with the underlying needs of kids.” Although the board previously approved a halftime counselor, there were no qualified applicants. Merrill also described the need for lower class sizes for special needs kids by hiring an additional special education position.
“I think it is important to hire additional special ed staff to get what we need,” Skinner said. Board Chairman Simler asked board clerk and HR director Tracy Lynde to advertise for the full-time counselor and special ed positions.
In a unanimous vote, the board removed the requirement to wear masks on school transportation (buses). They maintained the requirement for temperature checks and hand sanitizer at the door.
“Temperature checks are good not just for COVID but other diseases,” said board member Keen. Several school staff agreed that it helps keep sick kids out of school.