School Board maintains superintendent contract

Sequim School District board of directors voted to maintain superintendent Gary Neal’s contract while capital projects continue to move along.

At the Jan. 22 board meeting, board directors unanimously voted to keep superintendent Neal’s current contract from July 1 2019 through June 30, 2020.

The board has by Feb. 1 to decide if it wants to cancel Neal’s contract, keep the current contract or extend it to a new three-year contract. A final decision must be made by June 30.

The board briefly discussed the superintendent’s mid-year review, and board president Brian Kuh said it was a “favorable” evaluation; the board is required by contract to discuss the superintendent’s performance and working relationship with the board twice each year.

In an interview on Jan. 28, Kuh said the board is trying to create a more formal process to evaluate the superintendent using a Washington State superintendent evaluation framework.

“Our approach is to recognize best practices used by districts around the state,” Kuh said.

Some of the goals for the superintendent this year were focused around the development and implementation of the district’s new five-year strategic plan and improvements in communication, he said.

“The (mid-year) check-in showed progress on various goals and milestones,” Kuh said. “I believe it was a favorable evaluation and communicated to Gary I thought it was a successful evaluation but also reflected favorably of him.”

Kuh said the board will continue to revisit Neal’s contract with performance evaluations as it gets closer to the contract’s expiration, and that the board could extend the superintendent’s contract at any time.

“When asked, Neal said he would not comment on his contract.”

Portables get internet

Olympic Peninsula Academy’s students and staff now have internet after fiber optics cable were installed at OPA’s six portable classrooms on West Fir Street and North Second Avenue.

The alternative education program of about 100 students did not have internet when staff and students first started school in September through mid-January. Teachers had hot spots they were using, but students did not have working internet access.

Julie Carrizosa, the program’s Parent Teacher Organization president, said when she visited OPA’s classes on Friday, Jan. 25, the students were working on computers.

“I was very happy to see (OPA) able to connect last Friday (Jan. 25),” Carrizosa said.

Neal said fire suppression still needs to be installed at the portables but staff with Guardian, the school district’s security contractor, is working on installing the system so it meets code requirements.

“This week the intention was for Guardian security to do what they needed to do to get the fire suppression for those portables (OPA), for Greywolf Elementary and Helen Haller,” Neal said in a Jan. 24 interview.

The district hired a “fire watcher” during school hours to walk around OPA’s portable classrooms every 15 minutes to ensure there were no fires in any of the buildings. The minimum wage position started in October 2018. Prior to that, a volunteer parent took on the role.

The portables still need to have fire suppression equipment installed and be up-to-code, a requirement that must be met by March; the City of Sequim has already given the school district an extension on its deadline.

The school district in July received two portables, one each at Greywolf Elementary School and Helen Haller Elementary School, that will add two new classrooms for each school — once they are in use.

The portables remain unused, however, with permit requirements still to be met.

Neal said Greywolf’s portable already is being worked on and the district is hoping to get both elementary school portables ready for staff and students to use, but OPA is the first priority at this time.

“Our primary focus is OPA coming to completion this week,” Neal said. “At the same time, we know that Guardian security is working at Greywolf and Helen Haller so they can be completed in accordance to code.”

The next school board meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at the district board room, 503 N. Sequim Ave.

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