Sequim schools may return to hybrid model in late January

Resolution of superintendent delayed

SEQUIM — Sequim schools could reopen to students as early as late January, though it’s still unclear who will be the school district’s top administrator.

Sequim School Board directors last Monday night delayed a decision regarding the possible reinstatement of Rob Clark, the superintendent for the past year and a half who was placed on paid leave by the district Oct. 22 pending the outcome of a complaint.

Directors had anticipated making a decision regarding Clark’s contract — he is under contract through June 30 — but with some details still yet to be worked out, they agreed to remove the item from the agenda.

The board moved the decision to its next regularly scheduled meeting, set for 6 p.m. Jan. 19.

Instead, the board agreed to extend acting superintendent Jane Pryne’s contract through Jan. 20 at a rate of $711 per day.

Pryne’s original contract for services, signed in October, expired Dec.31.

“Just wanted to thank Dr. Pryne for coming in and assisting us in such a critical time. Happy she’s here to assist us,” board director Eric Pickens said last Monday.

The school board on Dec. 22 apparently voted to follow legal council recommendations to resolve the situation regarding the complaint against Clark.

Following an hour-long closed executive session, the board unanimously voted to approve an unspecified action that was discussed in the executive session; later, board president Brandino Gibson clarified the board’s vote “was to allow legal counsel, giving them authorization to move forward.”

Re-opening plans

With more than 50 in the virtual audience for Monday’s meeting, Pryne noted the district is preparing to begin re-opening schools via a hybrid in-person/remote learning model by late January.

The district’s second semester starts Jan. 25.

Pryne said the school district will be closely monitoring not only the COVID-19 case rate for the region but guidance provided by local and state health officials.

“We are looking at the end of January to start bringing back students … but we’ll have to see where we’re at,” she said.

“There are just a lot of factors.

“I know that’s just three weeks away, but a lot can happen in three weeks.”

Pryne said a quick recent survey of Sequim School District staff showed 72 percent of the 288 who responded would be interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Getting vaccinated is not mandatory for school staff, she noted.

“It’s important that our students and our staff are safe as we’re moving forward,” Pickens said.

Levy proposals

Pryne detailed a flier slated to go out to voters in the mail regarding the district’s two upcoming levy proposals.

Voters on Feb. 9 will consider a four-year, $15 million capital projects levy to address a number of building issues, as well as a four-year, $29.7 million levy that would replace Sequim’s current local tax and pays for core learning functions not supported in the state’s basic education formula.

Taxpayers in the district would pay between $1.87 ($1.24 for the EP&O levy, $0.63 for the capital projects levy) and $1.89 ($1.26/$0.63) per $1,000 of assessed property value starting in 2022, district officials said.

The capital projects levy would pay for a number of projects across the district, including: a video surveillance system, network system, voice system district-wide; a replacement of roof, heating system, network upgrades and sewer connection at Greywolf Elementary; installation of a fire alarm system at Helen Haller Elementary; a replacement of roof, gym floor repair and cafeteria floor replacement at Sequim Middle School; a replacement of heating system, science and career/technical education classroom upgrade and modernization, gym floor replacement and roof replacement among other things at Sequim High School, and replacement of the track and restrooms at the Sequim athletic stadium.

The EP&O renewal levy, which accounts for about 17 percent of the district’s annual budget, pays for salaries for additional teachers, paraeducators, counselors and nurses, the Highly Capable program, extra-curricular activities (sports, music, drama, field trips, etc.) and other staffing costs.

Pryne said she’s set to promote the levy proposals on two radio broadcasts and has calls out to more than a dozen community groups to speak with their members.

“In the end, we have to remember these levies are for … our students and our staff and making the best learning experience for our kids,” Gibson said.

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].

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