Mapleton School Board hosts first meeting of school year

New staff, Film Studies class among topics

Sept. 22, 2021 — The Mapleton School Board met Tuesday, Sept. 15, for the first meeting of the 2021-22 school year. Many topics that come with a new school year were covered.

First, the board members discussed having a student participate in school board meetings. All members agreed this would be beneficial. The student body president, at the high school, is typically the liaison to the board. That student is no longer attending Mapleton High, so other options will be investigated and discussed in the future.

Next, new staff was introduced, and each was given a chance to tell a little about themselves and what brought them to Mapleton schools. Susan Fenton, special education and third grade math, Crystal Massie, food service coordinator, and Tucker Ford, K-12 P.E. and middle school language arts teacher, were all introduced.

“Mapleton does a really good job of fostering a community, but some of that community is disbanded when kids graduate,” said Ford. “After I subbed here last year, I didn’t even look for another job in another district. I cannot express how amazing it has been now that I’m full time and being able to connect with the kids every day. I also love being football coach as well. So far, this year has been awesome.”

Sean O’Mara, new Western Civilizations, social studies and language arts teacher, was not present and will be introduced at the next meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 20.

Next, teacher Mollie Dooley presented her list of films she would like to potentially show in her Film Studies class she teaches at Mapleton High. She included a list of movies, some of which are R-rated, and asked the board to allow her to send home a permission slip to allow students to watch these movies.

School board policy prohibits students from watching R-rated movies in class.

However, Dooley was asking if permission could be granted by having parents sign a permission slip listing all the possible movies.

She said she chose these movies because they cover history from different era in a wide ranging way. Some examples of the R-rated movies from her list are “Young Guns,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “300,” “United 93” and “Bonnie and Clyde.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the list of movies and to allow students to watch R-rated movies in Dooley’s class with a completed parental permission slip.

Next, Mapleton Superintendent Jodi O’Mara went over district enrollment numbers. There are 80 students in pre-K through sixth grade and 60 students in seventh through 12th grade, for a total of 140 students. This is slightly more than were enrolled when in-person school returned after last year’s COVID shut down, when the total was 127.

Next, O’Mara discussed delaying the start of preschool because of a “flooring hiccup.” The problem was taken care of, and preschool should be open by today, Sept. 22.

Following this, O’Mara listed safety protocols that have been put in place to combat COVID this school year.

She mentioned the following: requiring students and staff to be masked at all times when indoors, staying at least three feet away from each other whenever possible, seating charts for classrooms and buses for contact tracing purposes and encouraging teachers to take students outside. Lawn chairs were purchased for students to use outside, and tents are being looked at for when the weather inevitably turns bad.

After that, O’Mara said there had been a Lane County COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Mapleton on Sept. 10, and that the school district hopes to host more in the future.

Following this, O’Mara discussed the possibility of moving up parent/teacher conferences. These are currently scheduled for late November, but a proposal to move them up to mid-October would give a chance to get ahead of any situations students and parents may run into with the return to school this year.

The school board members agreed it would be good to check in sooner than later.

The next point of discussion was COVID vaccine rates for staff.

According to O’Mara, 72 percent of staff are currently vaccinated and by Oct. 18 the number will be 83 percent.

O’Mara said, “I'm working with the unvaccinated staff. Those that aren’t vaccinated have filed exceptions and there are some very strict additional safety protocols that they're having to follow in order to remain employed.”

As the meeting progressed, District Maintenance Director Randy Duval talked about progress he and his crew have made on the new preschool. He also said FM Sheet Metal assisted with issues involving the district’s HVAC equipment.

In addition, Duval was able to modify some of the district’s bus routes to allow later pick up for children in the morning.

The maintenance discussion was followed by Business Manager Jeron Ricks filling the board in on some of the district’s technical issues he’s been dealing with.

Ricks said they set up 120 desktop computer units for students and staff and did the same with 140 Chromebooks. He set up a new phone server for the district and talked about switching the district emails to a more user-friendly Gmail system.

At the end of the meeting, directors discussed the district Equity Committee and the fact they had not met yet this year. The plan is to try and recruit more staff to the committee and try to meet at least twice a month.

The Mapleton School Board meets the third Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is Oct. 20.

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