ILWACO - Probably the last thing the Ocean Beach School Board Directors ever thought they'd hear this school year is how far over budget they are in enrollment. But that was indeed perhaps the most important thing they heard at Monday night's meeting.

After a mass exodus of students took place last year, dropping the district under 1,000 students for the first time in who knows how long, the district went into stop-gap mode, prepping for another down enrollment year, setting the budget on an estimated enrollment of 920 students for the year.

But then a funny thing happened, the school year started a few weeks ago and they were actually up in enrollment. The official count this month had a total of 972.8 students in the district, and an unofficial count on Sept. 20 had a count of 988.38 students.

"It's certainly higher then we budgeted," said district Business Manager Linda Thompson, who reported the figures. "We're one month in, eight to go, so anything can happen. But it bodes well for us being higher than average."

While reporting on the budget, Thompson reminded that the Associated Student Body (ASB) budget may be affected for the first time this year by helping subsidize the travel of the high school band and cheerleaders to district and state sporting events. The extra-curricular budget has set aside $25,000 for coaches and athletes travel, down from $32,000 last year. The district will still provide meal money for all students on trips however. Thompson said that band and cheer could look to ASB or fundraise on their own to make up the difference.

Meeting math challengeHigh school Principal Lisa Nelson and middle school Principal Todd Carper each took turns giving lengthy presentations on the schools' continued strides to improve math skills and proficiency. Both Carper and Nelson talked about the math labs they are offering to students needing math assistance, and Nelson touched on the summer school math program offered to 10th grade students that just missed passing that portion of the WASL last year.

She also noted that the school is no longer on the block schedule they went to a few years ago, due to the fact that they felt it was disadvantageous to math classes that in some cases would have several days between meeting. The school went to the schedule originally to give kids a longer exposure to subjects, as the class times would range upward of two hours each.

Construction progressDistrict Construction Manager Russ McElroy gave another update on the progress at the three new schools. At Ocean Park, McElroy said that the tile and rubber flooring replacement was finally finished. One issue of some importance, said McElroy, was the quality of water the school is getting from the new North Beach Water Company, which according to him has "a lot of sediment" in it. The school has installed what McElroy called a "sophisticated filter" to clean the water now coming into the building, but noted that they will have to flush their system in order to rid themselves of any water already in the system.

At Long Beach School, McElroy was not pleased to announce that the flooring was still not done yet. He also said that after having the exterior paint inspected, it has been found that the painters did not do a very thorough job.

At Hilltop, things are continuing to really be coming along. McElroy said the administrative office is nearly ready for sheetrock, the equipment for the gym is onsite - it won't be long until they hang the basketball hoops - and the commons is almost completely sheetrocked. The cabinetry in the classrooms is nearly complete and the gas turrets for the science rooms are in. McElroy also reported that the city of Ilwaco has agreed to pave a sidewalk from Hilltop down to the high school parking lot this summer, and has talked of doing the same on the other side of the hill, going toward downtown Ilwaco.

Going Back East

After making a pitch for it as a great educational experience for students, the board approved high school social studies teacher Jo Peterson's proposed trip to the East Coast in April. Peterson had yet to inform the students of the possible trip until she had board approval for it, so she did not know how many would be going yet. The average cost per student will be just under $2,000.

The students will be gone for eight days. In that time they will travel to Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. While there, the group will tour such historical American spots as: Lexington and Concord, The John F. Kennedy Library, The Empire State Building, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, the Supreme Court, the Smithsonian Museum and the U.S. Capital Building.

Chinook school transferSuperintendent Rainer Houser reported that at their Sept. 13 meeting, the Port of Chinook signed the documents to transfer the Chinook School property from the school district to them. The port did have one caveat - they would like some wording in the reversionary clause changed to reflect the fact that they may want to allow a business like the water company to rent a space in the facility when it is refurbished. Houser said the two sides' lawyers will meet to work out the details. They now have 45 days to sign the final documents.

Houser also had praise and appreciation for Dan Gove and the district custodial staff, who have been hard at work for the last couple months moving the different facilities around.

The board also approved changing the location of the monthly school board meetings to the new district offices, located adjacent to Long Beach School. The regular meeting will still be the fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m., and a board worksession will take place on the second Monday of the month at 5:30 p.m.

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