By Marcy Stamper
While students have been enjoying their usual summer recess, the school district has been busy hiring new staff, moving around existing employees, and allotting half a million dollars in new state funding.
The Methow Valley School District announced this week that it has filled two more positions, adding Brooke Lucy as the Methow Valley Elementary School counselor and hiring Bud Hover for the district’s newly created position of director of operations and capital projects.
Both Lucy and Hover will be familiar to many in the Methow Valley. Lucy has helped run Bluebird Grain Farms with her husband, Sam, for the past decade. As counselor, she will provide social, emotional and academic support to students and families. She joins mental health providers, the school nurse and special-education professionals on the district’s student and family support services team.
Hover, who served two terms as Okanogan County Commissioner from 2005 to the end of 2012, served as director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture for the past two years. He played football at the college and professional levels and was the Liberty Bell High School football coach for eight years.
As director of operations and capital projects, Hover will oversee school buses and other transportation needs, the district’s custodial and maintenance departments, and its food services. He will also manage facilities upgrades funded by voter-approved levies.
Long-time elementary school secretary Chris Eckstrom has moved to a new position as secretary to the district office, where she will assist Patty Barker, the executive secretary to the superintendent.
The district is still looking to fill two secretarial positions — one at the elementary school, and one to assist the director of operations and the activities director.
The district is still recruiting for a teacher for its STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programs at Liberty Bell and to provide math enrichment for the upper grades at the elementary school. The Liberty Bell program will include instruction in computer programming and robotics.
The district announced this week that it has received a grant to hire a half-time early-childhood education coordinator. That individual will build on an assessment conducted this past year about early-childhood education and childcare. He or she will identify needs and create programs and find ways to fund the programs, according to Methow Valley Superintendent Tom Venable.
The grant, from a private local donor, will support the position for three years.
The coordinator will also serve as a liaison between the district and early-learning programs and agencies throughout the community. They may also expand after-school enrichment for elementary-school students, said Venable.
While many of the jobs are replacements for current staff or restructuring of existing responsibilities, the district is adding half a dozen new jobs. The district is receiving about $580,000 in additional state funding for the coming school year, a 12-percent increase over last year, said Venable.
The district has acheived its goal of eliminating school-supply fees by doing away with fees for junior and senior high school classes.
The district had already eliminated course fees from kindergarten through 12th grade. There is still a cost for driver’s education.
There will still be fees for special exams such as advanced placement and SATs, for field trips, and for athletic and other extracurricular activities (so-called pay-to-play fees).
While fees will still be charged for these activities, there are funds available to help anyone who cannot pay. The InvestED grant fund — part of a statewide program — at Liberty Bell helps with sports fees and ASB cards, class trips, and AP and SAT exams. The program is funded by local individuals and businesses. People can donate through the high school or the district’s website at methow.org under the “parents/students” tab.
The district is working on raising funds to be able to phase out these fees, said Venable.