Prairie school enrollment slightly higher this year
The total enrollment is up slightly over last year at Prairie Schools as reported at the September school board meeting Monday, Sept. 21.
The Elementary School reported 132 total students in K-4, up 10 over last year. The Middle School reported 124 students in 5-8 grades, down 10 from last year. The High School reported 157 total students in 9-12, up 5 from last year. The total of 413 students enrolled is up 5 over last year’s total of 408.
You can see the future declines coming though as the Middle School had 30 fewer students over the same number of grades as the high school and the Elementary School has only 8 more students than the Middle School despite having one extra grade. Superintendent Gary Blaz they still need to be looking at things and making recommendations by February about the possibility of cutting back to two buildings by the 2011-12 school year.
In other business Jake Forsmann was approved for the school maintenance position. They had 47 applicants and the committee of Roy Schumacher, Della Gehring, Dave Remacle, Todd Shumway, Rene’ Forsmann and Blaz winnowed that list down to 4 applicants that they interviewed. Of those 4 their initial first choice withdrew his application. Of the remaining 3, Forsmann was selected. Schumacher said they spent nearly an entire day doing this process but feel very confident with their choice.
Sarah (Remacle) Walsh was recommended for hire for the assistant girls basketball coaching position. Sarah was the point guard on the 1998 state championship team and played college ball at Treasure Valley Community College. She was approved by the board for the position.
Joy Perkins of Kamiah was approved for hire for the Middle School GEAR UP position. GEAR UP funding pays for this position which is a one-year only position as the current 8th graders are the last group in the Middle School involved with the program which follows the classes of 2014, 2013 and 2012 from when they were 6th, 7th and 8th graders through the graduation of the class of 2012.
Blaz reported the asbestos abatement has been done at the high school gym and they got a clean report. The tester tried to recreate conditions as they were when the old floor was removed and his report said they didn’t put anybody at risk during that process.
The wood for the new floor has arrived and they hope to start putting the pool liner moisture barrier down on Monday, Sept. 28. The gym should be ready to go for the girls first home basketball game in November.
Cost of the asbestos abatement process came to about $23,000 and procedures in the process are mandated by the state.
Once that process was finished Arnzen Construction was able to start with the interior painting, repairing of tiles and reshaping of the stage to accommodate the cross-court baskets better.
Board member Pat Alfrey brought a request from a patron about bringing back family passes for school ball games. Currently there are punchcards available that save $1 per game for adult entry. Shumway said in the past and at other schools there are problems with family passes because, “what constitutes a family?” and how many should be allowed in on one pass. He said he doesn’t like to make their volunteer gate people have to make those kind of decisions. Plus the gate money helps fund those sports programs and pay for referees and they discovered family passes were a money losing proposition.
In the Robert’s Rules of Order discussion, Bill Hill’s concern was having the chairman be a non-voting member of the board. He said with Gus Hoene abstaining on the bill-paying vote due to the fact his business is quite often one of those being paid, that one board member’s absence could cause a vote failure that month on paying the bills because even with 2 yes votes, Gus’ abstention and the chairman not voting being counted as an abstention leads to a 2-2 vote which is in essence a non-pass. It could also lead to two board members being able to take over the board and get their agenda pushed through when one board member is absent.
He pointed out that Robert’s Rules allow the chairman to vote. The reason the Cottonwood School Board chairman doesn’t is primarily tradition. Board chairman Schumacher said he has no problem with voting on motions and they’ll just make it a policy that the chairman do so from now on.
In administration reports Rene’ Forsmann reported the router has been hooked up at the high school and they have 6 megs of bandwidth to disburse around the district. The extra bandwidth is part of the Distance Learning Pilot project and will allow the district to disconnect the two T-1 lines which would save the district approximately $312 per month as of Oct. 15.
She reported the 6th graders will be attending the McCall Outdoor Science School next Monday through Wednesday. 
Also Colleen Sonnen has invited 8th grade students to take part in the Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) program. 8th graders and high school students will be trained to be teachers in the curriculum and go to the K-6 classrooms and teach lessons. She said there were about 14 8th graders and 10 high school students interested.
She said they have also started a “week in review” email that they send out to all parents with email addresses. 111 of 123 students’ parents have email accounts so the report goes out to 90% of the parents.
She said 89 parents have access to the parent portal of Power School meaning 72% of parents have access to their child’s grades, attendance and lunch balances online.
The Middle School has also been awarded a $1200 Lego League grant. This gives the advisor a $500 stipend and helps pay for the bus costs to attend the regional competition in Post Falls. Forsmann reported State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna feels this is a good program that needs to go out to more schools and authorized the grants.
Shumway reported that the volleyball squad has been very busy with matches and that hosting games at the Middle School has worked out well.
The football team is doing very well and the cheerleaders did 266 jumping jacks at last Friday’s game. The cheerleaders/dance squad will be doing their sandwich fundraiser Oct. 1. He reported there are enough girls interested this year to have a dance team again. They will start the first part of December.
A Dual Credit parent meeting was held Sept. 2 to inform the community about costs and value of these courses and it went well.
Knowledge Bowl will be starting their season on Sept. 28.
The Drug Free group hosted a Friday night activity after last Friday’s football game with 50 students attending.
Blaz reported the book sale/open house went well last Thursday. It was very well attended.
The departmentalized classes in the afternoon are working out extremely well. Blaz reported they are improving instruction in every discipline and he has been observing some very dynamic changes in positive instruction and communication of staff. Even teachers who were skeptical at first are saying it’s working very well.
In his superintendent’s report he said he has been working with Summit Academy to inform their staff about working with them on the Title and Special Ed programs.
He also expressed kudos to Gus Hoene for his help cooking burgers at the NICI appreciation picnic. A huge crowd attended and it was very well received by all community members.
The board had two executive sessions during the meeting. An early one regarding student discipline and a later one regarding personnel. They adjourned the meeting to the second executive session at 8:45 p.m.
The next regular board meeting will be Monday, October 19 at 7 p.m.

Cottonwood, Idaho 83522


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503 King St.
P.O. Box 157
Cottonwood, ID 83522-0157
Fax 208-962-7131
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