• Martha Hindman, special programs administrator, gave an update at last week’s school board meeting on mental-health support still available through the Child Center with some changes. Students referred will now have access to therapists assigned to them based on student needs rather than having just one therapist for all types of cases. Two paraprofessionals have been hired as support staff. Hindman remarked how good it was to see the K-3 students back in school when she spent time at the elementary doing some observations.

• Sisters High School Principal Joe Hosang reported that distance learning is underway, but added that some small groups have been meeting in person per health guidelines, including biology and woods students. 

Counselor Lindy Weddel and assistant Lynne Fendall made some house calls over the past weeks to check in with students who were struggling as the school year got underway. Grade-level team members also checked in with students via phone.

Hosang also alluded to the impact, response, and outreach of the deaths of two high school seniors and one 2020 graduate in the past two weeks and reported that support will continue. 

• Tim Roth, Sisters Middle School vice principal spoke about supporting students and staff following the recent tragedies. Counselor Brook Jackson and Community Liaison Gabe Cobos made 17 home visits in recent weeks to help engage some students who had fallen out of touch during distance learning.

Like the high school students, some have been served in in-person small groups, including tutoring and ECOS class. Roth proudly announced that the middle school had 95 percent attendance for the first month and handed out “Strive for 95” hats to each of the board members. Strive for 95 is the program implemented last year to improve and sustain good attendance. Roth reported that 27 middle school students are using Sisters Educational Options this school year rather than being enrolled in comprehensive distance learning and that things appear to be going well. 

• Elementary School Principal Joan Warburg spoke about how happy K-3 students are to be back in school during the past two weeks. In fact, even the fourth-graders who came in to do diagnostic testing in small groups had smiles on their faces to be back in the building.

“When have we ever seen kids happy about being tested?” she asked.

Warburg also gave an update on the Preschool Promise (see related story on this page) with hopes to open the preschool for 4-year-olds by October 19, following a backlog of applications being processed at the county level. 

• Superintendent Curt Scholl reported the district has seen a small bump in student enrollment while also losing about 50 kids to other educational options due to the pandemic and will continue to reach out to those families as the school year progresses. The new transportation facility located behind SPRD is fully functional and buses are being moved over to the site in the days ahead.

“It’s night and day compared to the facility that has been used for so many years,” he said.

ADA-compliant sidewalks are being completed at the elementary school after being delayed due to the heavy smoke in recent weeks that stopped construction. 

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 4 at 6 p.m. at Sisters Middle School.