Applications sought for Othello school facility committee

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OTHELLO — Applications are still open for an Othello School District committee that will research the district’s facility needs. The Facilities Advisory Committee will be asked for at least two recommendations to fix the issues they find.

The committee was announced at the Aug. 13 Othello School Board meeting, and will include a maximum of 25 people. That includes two school board members, and the board selected Rob Simmons and Tony Ashton as the its representatives during its Aug. 27 meeting.

In answer to a question from Isaro Pruneda, Simmons said people can apply online at the district’s website. Applications also are available at the district office, 1025 S. First Ave.

Simmons issued a word of caution to people who are considering applying for the committee. He ran for school board without really knowing how much time it would take, he said, and the committee also could end up taking a lot of time. People should think about the possible commitment involved before applying, he said.

The committee will establish its own timetable for making its report, but will be asked to meet at least twice a month until its members decide on recommendations.

The teachers, administrators and high school students on the committee will be chosen by other teachers, administrators and high school students. There are five spots for people with kids in school and five for district patrons who don’t have kids in school. If there are more than five people applying in either of those categories, the committee members will be chosen by drawing. Announcing the committee members and the drawing, if needed, tentatively is scheduled for the Sept. 13 board meeting.

Board member Ken Johnson said he was asked about people who own property in the district, and therefore pay taxes, but don’t live in the district. After some discussion board members decided people in that situation could apply.

District superintendent Chris Hurst said the district has received 12 applications total as of Monday night, including teachers.

The committee was formed after the release of an analysis on the cost of converting the district’s existing elementary schools and McFarland Middle School into a kindergarten through eighth grade format. The cost was estimated at about $32.6 million, which included the cost of other changes district officials plan to make. The elementary schools will be kindergarten through sixth grade for the 2018-19 school year, and at the Aug. 13 meeting Hurst said further planning toward the K-8 transition will be put on hold until the committee makes its recommendations.

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