School board member: public, union were heard


School board member Richard Black responded at the last school board meeting, Dec. 11, to discipline issues within the school district.

Black had held several positions within the Grand Coulee Dam School District prior to taking a seat on the board, including acting assistant principal and athletic director, and feels he knows the dynamic of the schools from being an active participant for a number of years.

He addressed about 30 people in the audience, visitors, and staff members.

“You are being heard,” Black assured the audience.

He said it is the practice of the school board to listen, but not immediately respond, to issues being commented on at board meetings.

“The board normally tries to speak with one voice, with president of the board being that voice,” he stated. Because Black has been active for a number of years within the school building, he chose to speak.

At the November school board meeting, about 60 people turned out and the Public Service Employees union made a presentation on discipline, or the lack of it. Black said his takeaways included:

It was suggested that board members should spend more time in the school building so they would have a sense of what is going on;

that the district needed full-time administrators who aren’t saddled with unrelated duties;

that rules of the district’s student handbook concerning discipline be applied consistently;

that there is a need for a “break-out” classroom where students acting up can go, and

students should have consequences for inappropriate behavior.

Black stated that the district should move on a mentorship program for classified personnel.

He acknowledged that the suggestion of two new counselors was a good one, but acknowledged that the district is under budget restrictions, and doesn’t know where the money would come from.

Black also said that vice principals should be freed up from secondary duties.

Additionally, he pointed out that the district needs to move ahead with the sale of Center School.

“Sometimes you can find a way around the absence of funding. You just have to be a little smarter,” he said.

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