By Naomi Hatch
Included in the Snowflake School District’s budget cuts was a reduction of the custodial staff from 16 to nine, who are being supervised by school principals and Dan LaGrange.
Last week Superintendent Hollis Merrell recommended to the governing board that the district advertise for a custodial supervisor, explaining that person would help clean the campuses, could cover for absent custodians and could supervise custodians.
“We cut severely and deeply in that area,” said Merrell. “It is impacting principals in their responsibilities.”
Merrell said they paid a maintenance worker overtime to clean Highland Primary School when a custodian was out sick.
“I really believe right now is not the time to hire a custodian,” said governing board member John Stewart, noting that he felt they could bring back three or four of the custodial staff laid off to work part-time for the cost of a supervisor. “I’m opposed to it.”
“Mr. Stewart has merit for financial reasons,” said Merrell. “We’re always open to looking at other options, but for us involved, the supervision is a concern.” He further explained that hiring a supervisor would help with consistency, coordination and training of the custodial staff. He didn’t think more coverage would help with the majority of the problems they are having.
Snowflake High School Principal Larry Titus said there was a concern when they went through the cuts, and it was agreed they could bring a lot of people, but, “If you don’t bring them through an organized door, it will be a revolving door. We need someone to teach them and be a mentor, but also bring that spirit of wanting to get together.”
Merrell said that there was not a school where the teachers and staff weren’t helping.
“I’m convinced we need supervision and leadership,” said Board President Ashley Davis,” who then moved to approve the request to advertise and hire a custodian supervisor.
“I honestly believe there’s another way to do this,” said Stewart.
After some thought, Vice President Cory Johnson said, “I believe with an organized program we can do better.” He seconded the motion, which passed in a 3-1 vote with Stewart opposing it.
In other action Sept. 13, the board:
* Unanimously approved painting Snowflake Junior High School and Snowflake Intermediate School, which haven’t been painted for approximately 10 years.
Merrell pointed out it is important to paint at least one facility a year to avoid a large scale project.
* Unanimously approved awarding the contract to paint the two schools to Pete King, who was the low bid-der.
Stewart asked if the mural that was painted by air brush student Lon Saline could be preserved at SJHS, noting he would like it to stay.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” said Merrell. “I like it as well, but we don’t know what kind of shape it’s in.”
* Approved an intergovernmental agreement between the district and the Mesa School District for a pro-gram that will be used primarily at SHS, though SJHS will have the option of using it, for credit recovery, as well as for students who have been long-term suspended. There is no start-up cost and the district will only pay the $150 fee per semester in special situations where the online program becomes the student’s general program of study, such as being homebound. Otherwise, parents will be required to pay the fee.
* Approved a multi-year contract with American Bus to purchase used school buses.
A committee evaluated this and recommended approval of the multi-year contract that will not commit the district to buy any buses the board decides to do so.
* Approved the 2013 capital plan, as requested by School Facilities Board.
Business Manager Mark Ollerton said the SFB wanted a forecast over the next 10 years, which he did, keep-ing it very conservative because of the unknowns.
* Approved the recommendation of the district’s Teacher Evaluation Committee, which met Aug. 27 and voted unanimously to postpone the implementation of the new teacher and principal evaluation until next year.
* Unanimously approved Arizona Psychological Services (APS) to provide mental health counseling services to the district.
The board previously approved the process to obtain proposals for the services and two vendors responded. APS was the low bidder. The firm was used by the district last year, and its personnel have a rapport with the students.
* Approved an intergovernmental agreement between the district and the Northern Arizona Vocational Insti-tute of Technology, which will provide satellite courses to Snowflake students in grades nine through 12.
* Approved student activity fundraisers for the band and student council.
* Approved the annual qualified evaluators in the district, including Kim Lewis, Brian Hoopes, Larry Titus, Kevin Standerfer, Neil Westover, Shon Flake, Dennis Evans, Jess Hughes, Alma Yates, Cindy Peterson, Hollis Merrell and Ron Tenney.
* Held the first reading of a revised drug and alcohol policy recommended by the Arizona School Boards Association.
By Naomi Hatch