March 16, 2022 — The Siuslaw School District 97J (SSD) Board of Directors met for their regular monthly meeting on March 9. All directors were in attendance and the meeting was live streamed via YouTube for those who wished to watch from afar.
The order of business most anticipated by the community was the announcement of plans for the COVID-19 mitigation protocol after March 12, when the State of Oregon lifted its indoor masking order.
Superintendent Andrew Grzeskowiak recommended that, moving forward, the decision as to whether to mask should be put in the hands of parents. The board approved his recommendations unanimously. For more thorough coverage of the decision, see “Statewide Indoor Mask Mandate Ends Today” from the March 12 Siuslaw News.
Another important order of business conducted by the board was the finalization of the plans for three modular buildings to be installed at Siuslaw High for the 2022-23 school year.
According to Grzeskowiak’s recommendation, two of the buildings would be installed at the south side of the school, at the end of what is called the science hall. These modular buildings had been deemed necessary because of a need for more classroom and science lab space.
A third building would be installed on the north side of the school, between the student parking lot and what is now the north entrance.
Currently, the school office is in the middle of the school, far away from the actual entrance. Adding this building will create a secure entrance to the school, which was the impetus for the need for this addition.
The board approved the plan for the modular buildings unanimously. All three will be ready for the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.
Next, the school board went over the evaluation of Grzeskowiak’s job performance, as it does every year. Part of the process involves gathering feedback from staff and the community. Using this data, the district creates an Evaluation Summary, which was presented to the public at the March meeting.
There are eight categories that Grzeskowiak was rated on.
He received the top score, “accomplished,” for the standard relating to “Effective Financial Management.”
For six of the standards, (Visionary District Leadership, Ethics and Professional Norms, lnclusive District Culture, Culturally Responsive Instructional Leadership and Improvement, Effective Organizational Management and Policy, Governance and Advocacy), Grzeskowiak received the score of “effective.” Lastly, for the standard of Communication and Community Relations, Grzeskowiak received a score of “developing.”
Based on the scores he received, the board gave two goals to Grzeskowiak for him to work towards. Both were aimed at improving positive communication with the community and staff, as well as furthering an inclusive district culture.
According to the board, progress has already been made towards these goals.
After the board reviewed Grzeskowiak’s evaluation, Board Chair Bob Sneddon commented.
“I think the consensus of the board is we appreciate you and value your efforts on behalf of the district and the community,” he said.
Another important part of the meeting was when Business Manager Kari Blake gave a summary of the feedback she received after the district budget tour, where she and members of the board toured the district’s schools and got feedback from staff regarding what they think district expenditures should be focused on.
“I think the common thing amongst all the staff in all the buildings is that they’re tired,” said Blake. “They need more help. They need more time. Updated furniture for both students and staff were another thing that came up often. More space was also mentioned.”
The last significant development at the March meeting was Blake’s official announcement of her resignation.
The SSD’s monthly meetings typically end with each director each having an opportunity to voice their “acknowledgements or communications.” This month, all seven board members used their time to thank Blake.
“I’ve only been on the board for a little, but I’ve spoken to staff about you and they all speak extremely highly of you,” Director Brian Lacouture said.
Director Maureen Miltenberger talked about how every time she talks to staff in the district, they express how important Blake is to them.
“The teachers really appreciate Kari Blake because they know what she’s gone through for them and how hard she works,” she said.
Sneddon spoke last about Blake. He mentioned that he’s observed or been a part of public agencies for more than 30 years, and Blake is one of a kind.
“I’ve seen several financial directors for this school district through the years,” he said. “You [Kari Blake] are, by far, the only one that I’ve ever seen, in a public audit, come back with no recommendations and no exceptions, ever. One thing nobody has mentioned yet is that we’re also going to miss you at the helm of the volleyball team too.”
The SSD Board of Directors meets on the second Wednesday of each month. The next meeting will be April 13. To view the March meeting, in full, go to youtu.be/I1-x84TuVnI.
For more information, visit www.siuslaw.k12.or.us.