Presidio remodel, controversial conversations top Superintendent’s priorities

The interior of Presidio Alternative High School is undergoing renovation, as pictured Monday. This is one of several renovation projects Superintendent Robin Gilbert highlighted in her monthly board report, which was read in her absence as she was away at a national school conference in Louisiana.

PAYETTE — Even when she’s not in her seat at the Payette School District Board of Trustees meetings, Superintendent Robin Gilbert continues to keep tabs on topics affecting what is taught in Payette’s classrooms as well as the classroom spaces themselves. As Gilbert was absent from the regular board meeting on Monday, Board Chairman Andy Kirkendall delivered her monthly board report for July 2021 in her absence.

Following are samples of work Gilbert focused on in her report.

Public relations conference

This week, Gilbert, along with Payette High assistant principal Marci Holcomb, attended the National Schools Public Relations Association conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Details about topics discussed were unavailable as of press time.

“This is a valuable resource and event as we address the goals of improved communication in and out of the district,” wrote Gilbert in her report.

Leadership positions

In addressing the payout of Leadership Premiums under Idaho Code 33-1004J (1), Gilbert noted that An additional district-level public relations position is to be discussed with school administrators and Payette Education Association representatives. 

Approval for the position is awaiting stakeholder input, according to the report.

Facilities update

According to the report, district facilities director Alvin Hall is managing several renovation projects this summer, including classroom remodeling at Presidio Alternative High School to accommodate 8th grade programming courses, new carpeting at Payette Primary School, as well as Westside Elementary School and warranty-backed repairs to the Payette Primary tennis court. At McCain Middle School, the parking lot has been repaved.

In addition to seeking bids for Payette High School’s cafeteria remodel, the boys’ locker room floor there is newly refinished with Gilbert saying it “looks amazing.” Other planned projects include installing restroom doors for said locker room and urinal dividers in the boys’ bathroom there.

“We are waiting on a quote for a sound system for the dome,” Gilbert noted.

In addition, Beniton and Hutchison Smith Architects recommended material testing on current facilities before going to bid on two projects this week. A bidder walkthrough is scheduled for Tuesday with bids opening on Aug. 5.

Required plans

To keep up with changes to requirements for district plans as made during the 2021 Idaho Legislative Session, Gilbert attended an online webinar to review these changes to prepare for timely completion.

On Gilbert’s to-do list of district plans is the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan, which is due Aug. 2.

“This is a condition of receiving [American Rescue Plan - Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief] funds,” wrote Gilbert. “I should be able to write this into the template based on our plans and work from last summer and through the past year.”

Speaking of emergency relief funds, the district’s Use of Funds Plan for said funds is due Oct. 1.

“This plan will be written with meaningful consultation with stakeholders, giving [the] public an opportunity to provide input in the development of the plan.”

Strategic planning

According to Gilbert, the strategic planning committee hosted three community meetings with “very low turnout” by the public, “but quality feedback.”

Gilbert wrote that she had received a letter from one patron with additional feedback and has reached out to them to follow up. She also notes that those who did attend gave the committee the input it needed to move forward.

“Strategic planning is behind schedule due to lack of participation, but voice is critical,” she wrote. “Next step is to cluster survey results and feedback from community meetings into goal strands, then draft the strategic plan and publish it and survey for final inout and stakeholder opinion.” 

Controversial

conversations

As noted by Gilbert, the state task force on school indoctrination accepted testimony in its second meeting in late June. 

“The controversial debate calls out schools and teachers for curriculum and practices with little opportunity to debunk,” wrote Gilbert. “I have visited with an Idaho Education Association representative several times about the issues. Statements from the National Education Association may fuel the fires for Idaho schools, but [the Idaho association] is working to support local decision making.”

Gilbert said she and the unnamed representative have met with several Payette teachers to create an action plan ahead of a school year where she anticipates teachers and schools coming under scrutiny. 

“Boise School District is welcoming one of our teachers into a training they are providing Aug. 11 on how to talk about controversial topics in the classroom. Administrator instructional guidance and policy adherence should assist our teachers in feeling safe to teach the approved curriculum with confidence.”

The next Board of Trustees regular meeting is Monday, Aug. 9 in the Galleon Room at Presidio, 20 N. 12th St.

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