By Shannon Rapose
Kern Valley Sun
The South Fork Union School District Board Meeting convened at 6:07 p.m. on Thursday, February 8.
President Dale Creighton opened the meeting with the flag salute and acknowledged that board members Eric Hafenfeld and Karrie Bunting would not be joining them for the evening.
The first action on the agenda, the Consent Calendar and Other Routine Items of Business, passed with no discussion or objections.
The board moved right along into the Communication and Correspondence section of the agenda, where Creighton commented on the attendance daily average rate of 94.8966 percent reflecting the flu that has plagued the South Fork School like so many others this year.
“But at least enrollment is up, so that we can celebrate,” said Creighton.
Bob Shive was then asked to give the MOT Report, where he stated that things were going great with Prop 39 and the EMS system is in finally after three months of work. He also drew the attention of the board to the new smart thermostats that were installed all around the campus. The HVAC systems have also been installed at five weeks ahead of schedule because the crew that came in to do it accomplished it in only four days. He also stated that the new lights for the school are still four weeks out, but he feels it will be a quick install as well.
Shive also said that they had received a few quotes for the school’s “Field of Dreams” project, waiting on fencing quotes and mentioned that an electrician was coming out on Thursday, Feb. 15, to discuss options and give a quote on the project’s well site.
Board Clerk Sherry Nichols also made mention of the new “Look Both Ways” sign that had been installed on the opposite side of the entrance to the school as suggested at a previous meeting by Kelso Valley resident Darl Snyder.
Shive added that he hadn’t heard from Snyder any further on the matter, so it is assumed the issue at the intersection has been resolved.
The After School Program Report was giving by Jake Rudnick, the director of the program, where he reported that as soon as basketball season ends, they will start music lessons on piano and singing lessons for the students. He also stated that the program has been taking the students on hikes since January and is going quite well. Rudnick also discussed the report they received from Julie Boesch who is from Kern County Superintendent of School (KCSOS) and Kern County’s After School Education and Safety (ASES) Program liaison. He stated that everything went fine.
Rudnick also reported that he took two paraprofessionals to a STEM Hub workshop on Jan. 20, which went great, and there will be another one in April. He also stated that he is attending an After School Program Director meeting in Camarillo on Wednesday, Feb. 14, where he hopes to gain more knowledge and network in hopes of increasing South Fork’s chances of receiving grants, like the ASES Universal Grant, which could help increase funds for the program. Rudnick also spoke about The Grow Rural Education program that allows eligible farmers to nominate their local public school district for grants to help enhance STEM education. Once nominated, school districts submit applications to compete for $10,000 or $25,000 grants to help fund projects that enhance their STEM curriculum. Creighton interjected by saying he had discussed the matter with Eric Hafenfeld and his wife, Jamie, about taking on the project with South Fork’s After School Program, and they were interested. Rudnick said he would follow up with them soon.
The meeting moved on to the South Fork School and Community Foundation report, where Nichols, who is the Foundation’s Treasurer, reported that they had just received a $1,000 check from the last “That’s My Brick” fundraising sales. She also reported that they are working on the Fun Run that is coming up, wrapped up all the expenses from the Shoot Out last year and they are raffling off a gun, so they are selling tickets for that as well. The drawing for the gun will be April 14 and the next Foundation meeting is on Feb. 26 at noon.
Nichols also mentioned that they are in the process of doing the Foundation’s taxes, and once that is done, they can work on transitioning the financials for the Kern Valley Aquatics Program (KVAP) over to the district. She also wanted to remind everyone that KVAP is holding the Polar Plunge event on Saturday, March 10.
Superintendent Kim Villani delivered the School Site Council Report, where she stated that they are finalizing the safety plan and that the next meeting is March 7 at the Fay Ranch campus in the cafeteria at 3 p.m.
Middle School teacher Summer Campbell presented both the Staff Report and Student Council Report. She began by stating that she and other members of the middle school staff attended a Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) for Associated Student Body (ASB) Workshop for student council finance training.
“It was eye-opening,” said Campbell. “Good news, we are doing well at South Fork.”
She also mentioned that Dee Ann Behm will be attending an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and Trauma Informed Care Training soon.
As far as academics, Campbell reported that the middle school students are reading the novel Wonder and they have plans to take the students to see the film adaptation at the local theater.
According to Campbell, Annette Thomey is taking a group of seventh and eighth grade girls to “Expanding your Horizons for Math and Science” at China Lake Naval Weapons Center. This will be the thirteenth time Thomey has taken a group of South Fork students to this event.
Campbell also wanted to inform the board that a quarter of the school’s eighth graders are currently taking Algebra I and will move directly into geometry their freshman year of high school in hopes of continuing on to higher math studies such as Calculus. The middle school staff is also currently examining the new Social Studies Framework and is in process of ordering curriculum samples for the adoption of a new history curriculum.
Campbell also reported on some of the events that happened at the school recently, such as an assembly on Feb. 6, where Gaelynn Lea gave a presentation on following your dreams to the middle school students. Mrs. Carver’s class went on a hike down to the South Fork River for scientific exploration of what forms the riparian forest habitat and they hope to do a follow-up visit before spring break.
Coming up on March 15, the school intends to take 40 middle school students to the Leaders in Life Conference at the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. According to the Leaders in Life website, the conference provides an opportunity for students to strengthen their leadership skills by inspiring and encouraging youth with presentations by nationally recognized speakers, interactive break-out sessions targeted to address issues faced by teens and an opportunity to focus on youth advocacy in schools and communities. There will also be a resource fair with information booths from colleges, universities, career planning and other youth-serving organizations.
Campbell also boasted about the school’s basketball program doing very well this season.
“It has been a huge spirit lifter for them,” she said. “They are getting better and better every year.”
There are also plans to take second and third grade students, who have had a 95 percent or better attendance, to “Farm Day in the City” on March 20 in Bakersfield.
On other matters, Campbell also reported that she and Special Education teacher Diana Hinkey are currently completing the accelerated induction program to clear their teaching credentials. She also mentioned that Student Council is currently doing a “Change Wars” Fundraiser at the moment and has raised nearly $800 so far. She also added that here will be a Krispy Kreme Donut Fundraiser in March and a Walk-A-Thon will be in May.
For the Superintendent Report, Villani informed the board that she will be attending the Small School District’s Association Conference from Feb. 19 to 21 in Sacramento and will also be participating in “Lobbying Day” on Feb. 21 where she hopes to discuss community concerns on school safety as well as the encroachment of special education classes on the school’s budget.
She also mentioned that the board policy for Saturday School is in place and they are working on setting up a once a month Saturday School Day for students that have multiple absences to make up attendance hours. The hope is to have it fully implemented soon and have it from the start of the next academic school year.
Villani also informed the board that their previous auditors are no longer providing audits for schools, so they have sent out the requests for proposals to seven different auditors. They are due back on Feb. 26 and will be presented to the board for approval in March.
Villani finished with praise for Campbell who gave a presentation on helpful techniques for teachers to use to help their students with the performance task, which is a writing project tied to state testing.
“I really appreciate that extra mile,” said Villani. “She’s really stepping up and being a leader for us.”
The board approved all the remaining actions on the agenda with little discussion and entered closed session at 6:38 p.m. They reconvened at 7:07 p.m. and presented a new action of replacing the school network and computer technician, which was approved.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:10 p.m. and the next South Fork Union School District Board Meeting is set for Thursday, March 8, at 6:00 p.m. in the Kelso Valley Campus Cafeteria.