ILWACO - Junior high school students will have a facility of their own at what is now Hilltop Elementary School in Ilwaco, and Ocean Park and Long Beach Elementary Schools will teach students in kindergarten through fifth grade under a plan adopted Monday, Nov. 25, by the board of directors for the Ocean Beach School District (OBSD).

This much-anticipated decision was voted on and approved, as the board presented its proposed grade configurations in regards to the upcoming school bond levy.

The new grade configuration would feature kindergarten through fifth grade at Long Beach and Ocean Park Elementary Schools - currently both are K-3.

Hilltop Elementary School would become a more traditional middle school with grades six through eight - currently it is four through six. That would allow the junior high grades to be removed from the high school building, resulting in Ilwaco High School housing only grades nine through 12.

Having the junior high school students out of the high school environment is one of the top priorities of the grade-shuffling.

The facilities plan calls for expansion of the two elementary schools to accommodate two additional grades at each, and a top-to-bottom reconstruction of Hilltop.

The board also released the statistical findings from a recent poll of the community showing their choice as to how the school's grades should be changed. The results showed 251 to 168 in favor of K though 5.

Last Monday's school board meeting started off with some welcome news for area teachers. The Ocean Beach Education Foundation awarded over $13,000 towards requests made by OBSD teachers for the purchase of educational supplies. The money will fund items as far ranging as speakers and microphones, to yoga mats and calculators.

OBSD Business Manager Cindy Decker reported that as of Nov. 1, the district was still gaining students and that they currently have only one more student right now than they did this time last year.

"I wish whoever took our first-graders would give us some of them back," said Decker jokingly about the fact that the district has 15 fewer first grade students than they had budgeted for.

Decker mentioned during her budget report that the district had yet to receive over $140,000 in funding from the state of Washington that was to go towards special education programs. This was money they already had in their budget.

"Well, they've decided that instead of just getting that funding, we're going to have to do a bunch of calculations," said Decker. "And maybe we'll get it and maybe we won't."

The November general fund was approved at $174,852.47, ASB fund approved at $40,730.42, and the monthly payroll was approved at $630,347.26.

Superintendent Tom Lockyer spoke about the annual WSSDA conference, which he and the other school board members recently attended in Spokane.

"It was a well done conference," said Lockyer. "An awful lot of good information was brought back."

Board member Ed Sayce commented on the conference as well saying that he learned a lot about the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act.

Lockyer also congratulated high school drama instructor Travis Ruhter and his students on their recently completed performances of "The Sound of Music."

"First class stuff," said Lockyer.

The board accepted a donation from Laurel Kelly and Susan Porter, who gave several bags of art supplies to Ocean Park Elementary School.

Only the budget and facilities committees met last month. Ed Guelfi reported that the special education funding was one of the items also discussed during the budget committee meeting.

Sayce reported several items discussed during the facilities committee meeting, including the fact that the Hilltop Elementary School ventilation project is currently on-going and on-track. He also said that they discussed the leaks in the roof of the high school weight room. He mentioned that this was of some concern because of the fact that there is new Nautilus exercise equipment in the room that could be damaged.

To wrap up the meeting, a procedure left unresolved from last month's meeting was approved.

Procedure 2023P, addressing the use of names and photos on the district's web sites was passed. The approved action provides that school district web pages may not contain the last names of students, but will list first names only.

Board member Sayce held his ground from the previous meeting, saying that even first names could help identify a student to someone who may be looking for them for illicit reasons. The web sites may display photographs or video of groups of students, however, no names are to be associated with them. Written parental permission is to be required now as well for the display of individual student photographs.

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