May 192011

By Sam Conner–

The Winslow Unified School District Governing Board held an open hearing May 4 on dating abuse information, another meeting on the expenditure budget and, finally, its regular meeting.

Superintendent Doug Watson addressed the board and the audience regarding the meeting required by the state legislature to discuss incorporating dating abuse information into the curriculum. He stated that no action would be taken at this meeting, but that the item would be on the agenda at the next board meeting.

Watson introduced Winslow High School Principal Chris Gilmore, who briefly reviewed how the issue has been handled at the high school up to this point. School Resource Officer Foster covers the subject in his Contemporary Issues class and also teaches most, if not all, other students in other classes as part of the SRO grant. Doug Walton covers the subject in his Criminal Justice and Street Law classes.

Officer Foster addressed the board and handed out information about his lessons, including healthy relationships, stalking and the legal aspects of abuse. He also shared a video made by his students to be submitted to the state to compete for a spot on the Law for Kids website.

Walton also discussed his classes and curriculum. He handed out materials regarding his lesson plans, including teen dating abuse, domestic violence and the legal aspects. He gets a majority of his lessons from Law Related Education, and he discussed websites for resources and assistance.

The members of the board then asked questions.

Board President Marian Scheid invited public comments.

Theresa Warren, director and advocate of Alice’s Place, addressed the board. She introduced those in attendance with her, including President Dr. Greg Hackler, Case Manager Dede Pritchard, and members Tiffany Hartman, who serves as director of Social Services at Little Colorado Medical Center, and Officer Kristi Tausinga of the Winslow Police Department.

Dr. Hackler distributed a handout regarding statistics and facts on teen dating violence from the Arizona Coalition of Domestic Violence.

Warren thanked the board and administration for the work being done in the schools regarding dating abuse and domestic violence. Alice’s Place has been working with Officer Foster for over a year. She discussed a goal of creating 2,500 folders of information and resources for students to combat dating abuse. They have applied for grant to fund this. Ideas for distribution and applicable grade levels were discussed. Warren said that this type of abuse starts with young students.

Officer Tausinga discussed domestic violence in Winslow and some of the efforts to combat it, such as self-defense strategies taught in the P.E. classes and the discussions of healthy relationships. She said that children as young as fifth and sixth graders have been the victims of dating abuse and related matters, and stressed that it is so important to reach younger students.

Warren said that efforts made to reach young students to help them understand, prevent and deal with dating abuse will cut down on adult problems in the future.

During the regular meeting, the transfer of substitute district bus driver Victoria Harmon was approved. Resignations were approved for district bus driver Fred Bard, substitute teacher Christie Bratt and speech therapist Louise Merkel.

The board approved the out of state travel paid by the WHS athletic program of two employees and 12 students to travel to Durango, Colo., June 3-5, for a boys’ basketball varsity summer team camp; two employees and 12 students to travel to San Diego, Calif., June 22-27, for a boys’ basketball varsity summer team camp; and eight employees and 14 students to travel to San Diego, Calif., July 13-18, for a girls’ basketball summer tournament.

Also approved for out of state travel were two employees and one other adult to travel to Gallup, N.M., May 5 and 6 to attend the Four Corners Summit.

The board approved PracticeMax as a sole source provider for Medicaid billing, and approved the execution of an updated food service agreement.

A donation of $110 for Washington Elementary School from Arizona Restaurant Systems Inc. for Sonic Night was approved.

Watson said that both WHS and WJHS officials are completing paperwork to apply for the SRO grant for the next three years. He stated that the high school’s services are at risk now because the funding for SROs has been cut in half, but Winslow’s chances should be increased because of the model program at the WHS. Other districts request Officer Foster to come and show how the program should be run.

Watson noted that the State of Arizona has made budget reductions for this school year that amount to approximately $350,000+ for Winslow. The state budget deficit is somewhere between $110 million to $132 million. School districts will be allowed to use the Ed Jobs money to cover the reductions. It was planned that the Ed Jobs money would last two years, but now will not. The reductions hit poor communities harder than more affluent communities with a larger tax base. Watson discussed the inequality of the budget cuts as relating to nearby districts.

Assistant Superintendent Lance Heister said that as of that day, 179 second through fifth graders had applied to attend the magnet school. Applications will be accepted through this week, and the application is on the district’s home page. The demographics of the applicants mirror the demographics of the district as a whole.

He also said that paperwork has been submitted to apply for Provision 2 status for the district, which, if granted, will mean free lunch for all students. This will be a great benefit to the people of the community. The key to getting this designation will be getting as many applications completed and turned in as possible.

The magnet school applications were discussed, and Scheid stated that she is very excited about the magnet school.