Heather Newson photo

Patron Heather Newson addresses the Mountain View School District 244 board at the Dec. 21 meeting.

GRANGEVILLE — “I want to thank you for your service — I know it is a thankless job and you do not get paid anything, it’s all volunteer,” Grangeville resident Heather Newson told the Mountain View School District 244 board at the Dec. 21 meeting.

Newson approached the board with concerns about passing a levy in 2021.

“We need to educate the public as to exactly what the money is going for,” she said. She referenced the book “Schools Cannot Do It Alone,” and said she felt the community felt the board was asking for a “blank check” last year when the levy failed.

“I think the details need to be thoroughly explained,” she said. She also advocated for keeping the levy at the same amount and not trying to go any higher than the $3.9 million requested in 2020.

Superintendent Todd Fiske told the board there are only two meetings left to discuss the levy and decide upon an amount.

“The vote would be March 9, and that is fast approaching,” he said.

Fiske reiterated there is no way to run the district without the financial support of a levy.

“The levy is not going away,” and this is “Not generated by the district,” he said, saying the levy amount will be figured based on what the state funds for the school district.

He told the board he has visited nearly every other district in the region and feels MVSD offers “a pretty good bang for the buck.”

He spoke about the aging schools as they approach 60 years, and commended the maintenance staff for the “great upkeep, inside and out,” he said.

“But we’re going to have to keep our foot on the gas pedal in that area because it has the ability to slide the other way pretty quickly with aging buildings,” he added.

In other news, Fiske said enrollment has seen an uptick at Grangeville Elementary Middle School (GEMS) from the first of the year and has leveled out at Clearwater Valley High School in Kooskia.

“Really, there are no big surprises or shocks and have fairly similar enrollment,” to pre-Covid numbers, he said.

Fiske said he has fielded some “unpleasant” calls from parents who have been upset about the extracurricular audience policy.

“I understand there are some other schools who have not been following protocol, but I have tried to explain to parents that, while I know it is difficult, we are following the governor’s orders for Stage 2,” during the pandemic, Fiske said. He said the athletic directors and administrators are trying their best to rotate 10 spectators through so everyone has a chance to see their children play.

Board chair Rebecca Warden said she attended a state executive board meeting and Governor Little was “displeased” with the schools who were not following orders.

“Basically, in the end, it will only hurt the students,” if the governor decides to enforce consequences, Warden said. “I am glad we have done what we are supposed to do. I’m also glad we had planned and set up a way — via on-line — for parents to watch games prior to us even knowing if there would be restrictions. I think that has really helped.

Fiske said he understands frustrations as there are discrepancies such as being allowed to have 30 kids in a classroom or 70 on a bus, but, “we have to follow the guidelines as best we can.”

GEMS Principal Adam Uptmor gave a report in which he thanked the board for approving the early release time on Wednesdays.

“It has been very beneficial to me in that I can get around to more meetings with teachers,” he explained, also saying the time has been good to spend with kids who need extra guidance, cooperative time between teachers and for needed training sessions.

He explained he and his team are currently seeking ways to developing assessments to help increase ISAT (Idaho Standardized Achievement Test) scores and continue to track student progress.

He added GEMS has about 15 students planning to turn out for wrestling in the new year, as well as more than 40 for volleyball.

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