Concerns about the health of the Sisters High School health program, about attendance and about student vaping occupied the Sisters School Board at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 2.

The meeting also focused on reports from the principals, an update on the school enrollment, and support for the mission and vision project that is entering its implementation stages.

The meeting opened with comments from three members of the audience including a parent who expressed concern about the status of the high school’s health occupations program following the departure of long-time teacher and coordinator Heather Johnson, who took a new job in Bend.

Sisters High School Principal Joe Hosang assured those present that everything possible is being done to keep the program vital through creative problem-solving.  Board chair Jay Wilkins echoed the sentiment, acknowledging that his own daughters have taken part in the program and agreed that Johnson’s departure was a “huge loss” on many levels.

Elementary Principal Joan Warburg and Middle School principal Alison Baglien joined Hosang for a joint administrator report, which was a bit of a question-and-answer regarding the way the schools are weaving in the mission and vision into each building’s goals, but included other topics as well, including attendance, vaping, and social/emotional support in schools.

Board member Jeff Smith asked for feedback regarding daily school attendance in the district, which he cited as being at about 79-80 percent in the latest reports.

He asked, “What would you say is the origin of that seemingly dismal number?”

Hosang answered first, noting that student success goals include improving attendance at all grade levels and explained that lower attendance rates than previous years is something that many school districts are grappling with, particularly at the high school level. Hosang indicated that causes of absenteeism range from families taking vacations to school-related absences, to people simply not fully understanding how much regular attendance affects learning.

All three schools are working on action plans, led by Tim Roth, to encourage good attendance and to do more to make the school community more aware of the issue. Roth shared how he is working with the principal and said, “We have some good foundational pieces started and we are working on a systematic approach to deal with this issue.”  

Hosang acknowledged to the board his thanks for their backing over the past two years to enhance the support services in the district, by adding Roth’s position, more counseling, a school psychologist, and more. Scholl followed up with news that there is a potential partnership with the Child Center for further mental-health support.

Superintendent Curt Scholl reported that enrollment in the district is up,  totaling 1,115 students K-12, “with some bubbles in certain grades.”

Additionally, Scholl explained that the district continues to be concerned about student vaping.

“We are trying to be proactive as a school system and are looking into ways to detect usage during school and to further educate our students and families,” he said.

Concluding the meeting, the board moved to support the mission and vision statement and the goals that are outlined with it. Following adjournment, the board met in executive session to address a complaint and notice of tort claim from parents regarding girls basketball (see related story, page 1).

The next board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 6.