School board recognizes athletes, receives positive budget audit

Mitch LeClair photo Jon Mishra and Neely Kirwan, principals at Sandstone and Armand Larive Middle Schools, present information on their schools' intervention and exploratory classes to board of education members Monday evening.

The Hermiston School Board met Monday evening for a special session, despite blowing snow and freezing roads outside the windows of Highland Hills Elementary.

Members listened to presentations on teaching strategies at the elementary school and both middle schools in town, learned of the district’s financial condition and recognized six stellar athletes.

The state champion cross country team from Hermiston received special recognition from the board for their success this season, which Superintendent Fred Maiocco said the school only gives to the most honorable athletes in the district.

Brian Schimel, principal at Highland Hills, began Monday night’s meeting by highlighting new methods the instructors at his school are using to teach reading.

“They’re calming down,” Della McGinley, a first-grade teacher, said in a short video presentation. “Learning time has grown, discipline time has shrunk.”

The film showed students at Highland Hills using hand motions as a learning device and responding to visual cues from their teachers.

Neely Kirwan and Jon Mishra, principals at Sandstone and Armand Larive Middle Schools, gave board members an overview of intervention and exploratory classes at their respective schools.

Kirwan said the two programs provide extra time and teaching to students that may need additional help or stimulation in their learning, depending on their individual needs.

Both principals said more flexible scheduling and the newly created classes have helped match students with the most effective times and courses for their learning abilities and raised students’ scores on state math and reading tests.

Richard Stoddard of Barnett and Morro, a Hermiston accounting firm, presented a healthy financial audit to the board.

He said the district ended last school year with $25 million in net assets. Maiocco said the audit — which the board will accept or decline at its next meeting — was the cleanest he had seen in years.

Assistant Superintendent Wade Smith gave a short update on the boundary realignment process, which will send about 400 students to different schools next year.

He encouraged parents and students to contact the schools or visit the district website with any questions that a soon-to-be-sent letter from the district may not answer.

Board members also unanimously approved two consent items Monday.

They cleared funding for an adjusted contract for Jillian Malmberg, an assistant cross country coach at Hermiston High School and accepted the resignations of Mary Ann Dimbat, an office assistant at Highland Hills, and Elvira Myers, a special education assistant at West Park Elementary.

District administration also announced an open house for West Park Elementary at the new school location for 4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 13.

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