The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Andrew Christiansen
Reporter 

Lyle school back in black

 

Andrew Christiansen

DR. GLENYS HILL: Part-time superintendent, Glenys Hill moves on to the next trouble spot. Hill helped the school board accomplish Hill's primary mission, to make the district solvent again.

Dr. Glenys Hill was hired to replace Martin Huffman as superintendent of schools at Lyle in August 2012. The change in administration was the first move to rectify a broken system following two failed attempts to pass an operating levy. Huffman left for another job and ESD 112 took actions that placed the school under binding conditions since the school was unable to pay its bills.

On June 30, Hill will officially step down from her superintendent job with Lyle school in much better financial condition and no longer under binding conditions. Brian Carter was hired to replace Dr. Hill as superintendent and principal of the middle school. Hill will stay on through the summer with a part-time contract to assist the new superintendent through transition.

Hill says that while she had other goals, her main goal was to get Lyle financially solvent. By the end of the 2012-13 school year the school was already in the black. They will have about $70,000 in surplus at the end of this school year, according to Hill, and they expect to add another $50,000 at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

"That's still not enough," says Hill. "We like to have five to eight percent," says Hill, in their emergency fund, which would be up to about $290,000 given their $3.7 million budget.

During Hill's tenure, the ESD has overseen spending at Lyle School. Hill came in on a one-year contract and it was extended the second year. She was hired for just 60 days each year.

The cuts that were made in the Lyle budget included the superintendent salary, a counselor, multiple teaching positions at both locations (Dallesport and Lyle) mainly through attrition, coaches salaries were eliminated, stipends for co-curricular assignments, Para pros, grounds and custodial, and some elective courses for students were cut.

Several items have been or are going to be added back this year. The coaches were paid this year and elective courses in art, shop and yearbook have been added. A split in math sections has been returned to normal.

Hill says the school has also upgraded its technology, funded primarily from rent of a cell tower on school property in Lyle. "By the end of the summer, new computer labs will be operational at both schools," says Hill.

This coming year will be the first full levy year for the school and Hill anticipates replacement of the counselor, another added elective and smaller class sizes at Dallesport. They are also hiring an interventionist to improve outreach to families. That is an outcome of the recent grant the school received. (See May 14, 2014 issue of The Sentinel).

It isn't the budget that makes Hill proudest, however. "Goal setting day with the community and staff," is her proudest accomplishment. Hill says it was focused on doing what is best for the students and that the group agreed on what they wanted their school system to look like.

"There were so many offenses people were hanging onto," says Hill. "I think that has changed. My message was that we really need to move on and focus on the kids." She says she saw hope and a "rekindled vision and commitment to Lyle kids to get the best education we can give and put school and community in a positive image."

It might have seemed a daunting task, given the situation at the end of the 2011-12 school year. Community meetings on the levy turned into personal attacks and the administration had a checkered history with the teachers' union.

"We were very fortunate to have Glenys for the past two years," says school board president, Penny McAnally. "She is a strong woman. No nonsense. She can be hard-nosed when she needs to be," says McAnally.

McAnally credits Hill's hard work for gaining the public trust and helping get the levy passed last year. She also gives Hill credit for the $641,960 grant the school received to meet the needs of primary and middle school kids who were behind the curve with grades.

Hill says she had an excellent relationship with the unions and that they were very collaborative and worked through two new contracts.

Union president, Joe Bales, says Hill's "strength lies in her ability to recognize the strength of an individual and then give them the ability to build on that strength." Bales thinks there has been more impact at the primary school, but he likes what is being done in transition at the high school, too. He says the school has not regained the students they lost during the turmoil. "What needs to happen in the next couple of years is that we need to build our class choices back up so students won't have to leave to get advanced foreign language classes, metal shop, FASCE, business, etcetera."

McAnally echoes that sentiment. But she says the school has been losing students for many years. "I would like to see kids come back, but it is their choice," says McAnally,

For Hill, she will move on to the next intervention. Hill works for the ESD as a coach for administrators and with the risk management co-op conducting investigations and hearings. She works for the Washington School Leadership Academy training districts in principal evaluation. To fill out a busy schedule, Hill also teaches for WSU at the Vancouver campus.

Hill's job at Lyle is almost done and the school is almost back on its feet. But, McAnally sounds cautiously optimistic about the future. "Hopefully, for the future of the school the new superintendent gets us over the hump." McAnally points to the community's involvement in the hiring of the new superintendent as a positive step toward rebuilding positive community involvement in the school.

Hill echoes the sentiment. "I was pretty proud of Lyle for the involvement of the community in the hiring process."

 

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