By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“We’ve lost some really good young teachers over the last few years,” School Board Chairman Brian Pederson said at the board’s Aug. 27 meeting, where it approved unanimously a $25,678,288 dollar budget.
That turnover in teachers means the district has had to devote more of the 2013-2014 school year budget to training and pay for substitute teachers, Superintendent Diane Reaume said.
“With more new teachers, we need to devote more resources to making sure they have access to the training they need,” Reaume said.
Spending for teaching activities is up almost $3 million: from $16,802,564 in the 2012-2013 school year to $19,633,320 for the coming year.
Board members Starla Daman suggested the district ask teachers during exit interviews why they’re leaving.
Reaume said many pointed to Forks’ remoteness as a prime reason for leaving the district.
“Location is definitely one of the big reasons,” she said.
“It’s a tough place to be single.”
Reaume said the district is changing some of its hiring practices to bring in more teachers who will stay.
Hiring earlier in the season and recruiting husband-and-wife teacher teams gives the district an advantage when trying to lure in talent.
“At the same time, I’d much rather have a supertalented teacher here for a few years than bring in a less-than-ideal teacher that will stay for 20 years,” Reaume said.
The district also is bringing in retired teachers from the area to help mentor new teachers on how to handle troubled students and workloads.
Rob Shadle begins the school year as the new principal of Forks Elementary School.
Parent Debbie Preston, speaking at the most recent School Board meeting, said the board had not devoted enough attention to administration at the elementary school.
“My kid’s 13 . . . and we’re on our fifth principal at the elementary school,” Preston said. “And I have to think part of that reason is because they have too much put on them.”
Preston suggested the district consider creating a vice-principal position at the elementary school to help with teacher evaluations and deal with the expected 511 elementary school students.
“Why don’t we have one?” she asked, noting that state guidelines call for a ratio of one principal to 400 full-time students.
Reaume said the high turnover of teachers at Forks High School requires more review.
The board did say it would consider the need for a vice principal at the elementary school.
“We’re going to look into it. Absolutely,” Reaume said.
The district is expected to open the year with 1,107 students. That total increases to 3,168 when factoring in the 2,019 students the district gets to count because of its affiliation with the Insight School of Washington.
For the past eight years, the district has administered the for-profit online school, which enrolls students from all over the state, including 301 in Forks, Reaume said.
Funding for the Insight school flows through the district, and Forks staffers ensure the online school’s programs meet state and federal curriculum guidelines.
Once again, the main thrust of the district’s spending on its buildings will be roof repairs.
Scheduled for the coming year is $65,000 to replace the roof on the district office, $40,000 for a new roof on the alternative school, $17,000 for a new roof on the industrial learning center and $7,000 for new drain vents on the middle school roof.
Reaume said the district soon may look into rebuilding the middle school, meaning full-scale replacement of the roof now wouldn’t be feasible.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.