NASELLE - The Naselle-Grays River Valley School Board, at its regular June 15 monthly meeting, extended the contract of Superintendent Gerald Schmidtke one more year, through June 30, 2005.

As that decision was announced, the board also announced the acceptance of Schmidtke's resignation as superintendent, effective on that date. Each of these decisions was made as a unanimous decision by the five-member board.

Schmidtke, in a letter to the board dated June 15, 2005, stated, "Please accept my letters of resignation from the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District effective June 30, 2005. This will give the board an opportunity to find a suitable replacement.

"My decision to resign was finalized after long and careful consideration of all factors. I regret leaving friends and colleagues, however, I feel the change will be beneficial to my long-term career goals and objectives. I assure you that I will complete any outstanding projects and business affairs before my departure. The transition will be handled professionally to insure no internal or external problems.

"It has been a pleasurable experience working as part of the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District team. I have enjoyed every day as part of that team and with every employee and student success."

Board chairperson Deanna Gjovik later stated, "The board has approved a one-year contract with Mr. Schmidtke. The board also accepted his resignation, to be in effect at the end of the 2005 school year. We look forward to working with him in his last year and I, personally, am sad to see him go.

"There will be a lot of work ahead of us, as we prepare to do a superintendent search. The community will get their opportunity for input and, hopefully, with the help of a professional facilitator, we will figure out, in a civil manner, which direction the district needs to take in terms of the superintendent position.

"My personal hope is everyone who is interested steps up to the plate and works as a team. We will weigh all the options out there and try to discern which option is in the best interest of the district. There will be announcements in the paper and on the reader board, when we figure out the schedule for those meetings."

Several community members provided verbal input at the board meeting before the board finalized its decisions in an hour-long executive session. Providing generally positive comments on the superintendent's job performance were Robert Torppa, Ed Darcher, Phil Raistakka and Peter McGuire. Those providing generally less favorable comments on the superintendent's job performance were Tom Gradt, Steve Gacke and Judy Indermark.

Schmidtke's career in the local school district began in 1992 when he became the district's part-time business manager, following a 30-year career in school districts in the Puget Sound area. In 2000, he succeeded Robbie Johnson as the district's part-time superintendent along with fulfilling the business manager's position.

In other personnel matters, the board hired Chandra Shrive as the football cheer-leading coach, hired Ken Laine as a groundskeeper and hired Berniece Helton as a summer school teacher; approved a RIF (Reduction in Force) for Leo Finzi and Gail Heppner; approved Eileen Williams for part-time employment next year; accepted the resignations of Judy Paavola as bus driver and Lori Dearmore as cheerleading coach; and approved the 2004-05 certificated contracts.

In unfinished business, the board approved the purchase of the piece of property at the west end of the school campus for $6,000. The property had been appraised for $7,200.

In new business, the board heard a report from Dan Pimm of Chartwells that the food service operations will be "running in the black" for the year; approved the use of school district vehicles for the transportation of athletes playing in summer league programs; approved the attendance of the boys basketball team with coach Brian Macy at a basketball camp to be held in Soap Lake June 21-24; and approved Tim Kopp's involvement in a three-year program in "Board of Examiners Training" provided by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (More information on this program will be provided in a future article.)

In curriculum matters, the board received a Power Point presentation by sixth grade teacher Bruce Williams and kindergarten teacher Barbara Swanson on the cooperative "Buddy system." That system involves sixth-grade students working with the kindergarten students for short weekly periods during the past few weeks under the supervision of the two teachers and instructional assistants.

In a related letter to kindergarten parents, principal Karen Wirkkala explained the culminating activity was a field trip of the combined classes to the Seaside Aquarium, along with parent chaperones.

The board also approved a new Spanish textbook series which had been approved by a review of a curriculum committee. The estimated cost for the adoption of the new program was to be $6,000 to $8,000 including the supporting material. The Spanish curriculum will not be reviewed for another seven years when it comes up again in the review cycle, Wirkkala told the board.

In the business report, Schmidtke reported that the district's monthly enrollment has varied from 314 to 323 FTE students with an average of 319 students. The Youth Camp School had an enrollment of 149 students with a high of 159 during the year. Schmidtke reported the district having an estimated cash reserve of $235,000.

In the facilities report, Schmidtke reported that the newly installed school district sign, on the side of the commons visible to the highway, was to be redone to make the lettering more noticeable.

In the principal's report, Wirkkala reported that the kindergarten "roundup" for next year had produced a potential class size of at least 18 students. She also reported that the schools had observed a minute of silence in honor of the memory of former President Ronald Reagan.

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