NASELLE — After several years of declining enrollment generated concerns about the future of one of Pacific County’s largest employers, Naselle Youth Camp and its associated school are “busting at the seams” with youths ordered there for rehabilitation.
NYC School keeps its teenage students on track for high school graduation after they are sentenced to the camp by Washington state judges and Department of Social and Health Services Rehabilitation Administration. The school is part of Naselle-Grays River School District and Alan Bennett is NYCS principal.
“In regard to finances, it is a different situation from last year,” Bennett told the school board at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17. “This year, instead of having fewer students than were envisioned during the funding process, we have more. We were funded at 70 students and currently have 85.”
Increasing enrollment is good news for the district, which would otherwise have a student body comprised only of the children of local residents. (The youth camp also is Naselle’s biggest source of government jobs for the parents of local children.)
But having more students creates complications for NYCS. “The other side of the story is that we are busting at the seams,” Bennett explained. “Scheduling classes and other activities in order to accommodate that larger number of students has been a challenge.”
Bennett told the school board that DSHS is pleased with how things are going.
“John Clayton, assistant secretary of the Department of Social and Health Service, toured the NYCS facility and, after speaking with students, reported he was impressed how our students are able to earn online credits over a wide range of subjects,” Bennett said.
Bennett explained, “NYCS has teachers who are very accommodating of kids who want to earn credit. These teachers have created many ways for earning credit and the school currently has about 45 kids who are on independent contracts for gaining credit.”
Bennett reported the number of Department of Natural Resources youth crews has been dropped from three to two. Bennett said, “It’s a good move. With three crews the young men have been going out hit and miss and not able to earn needed credits. With two crews, the young men will be going out every day and will be able to earn the occupational-education credits they need for graduation.”
In her Superintendent’s Report, Lisa Nelson noted the work on the practice field is holding up to the current weather. Nelson commended Randy Tienhaara for his efforts in repairing the field. Nelson also said she expects the Facilities Committee to have some prioritized recommendations to bring before the board at the February or March meeting. Nelson reported she is moving forward to finish up the batting practice building that, to this point, has been constructed with volunteer labor. Nelson thanked the volunteers for their outstanding contributions to the project, in particular Randy Lindstrom and his crew.
Nelson showed a video that received a good deal of interest and comment from the board. The video showed students in teacher Greg Nelson’s Design Technology Class learning to use software to develop objects through measurement and design and then fabricating those objects with a three dimensional printer. A number of objects created by the printer were passed around the board and audience that included workable pliers and a crescent wrench.
Nelson had planned on a recognition event for long-time board member Robert Torppa’s service to the district. Since he was not able to attend the meeting, it is hoped the recognition can take place at the board’s next meeting on Dec. 15.
Nelson also reported the balance in the general fund at the end of October was $1,138,874.
The board approved the following:
• Purchase of a 78-passenger Thomas bus for an amount not to exceed $139,000 plus tax;
• An out-of-area teaching assignment for Rebecca Teubner to allow her to obtain a needed credential in art so art can be offered to Naselle students as an elective;
• Acceptance of a gift of $1,600 from Reach Out Ministries in Long Beach to meet music program and children’s needs;
• Adoption of policy 2030 – Service Animals in Schools; adoption of policy 6101 – Federal Cash and Financial Management; adoption of policy 6114 – Gifts/Donations; adoption of policy 6115 – Grants.
Nelson provided a first read on an amendment to policy 2029 entitled, “Animals in Schools.” The amendment addresses the need to insure health issues of animals are addressed before permission is given to allow the animal on a school campus.
The board then adjourned for an executive session to hold an informal performance evaluation on Nelson. A formal performance evaluation is scheduled to occur during an executive session held in conjunction with the board’s February meeting.
Only three of the five board members were present Nov. 17, possibly due to inclement weather and resultant flooding.
The next regular meeting of the board will take place on Dec. 15 in the new fire hall in Grays River belonging to Wahkiakum County Fire Protection District 3. Starting time of the meeting will be 6:30 p.m.