Philomath Middle School and Philomath High School
Philomath Middle School and Philomath High School students will transition into hybrid learning on April 6, according to plans announced by Superintendent Susan Halliday. (Photos by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

In a matter that has been ongoing for several weeks, the Philomath School Board on Monday night approved a memorandum of understanding with the local teachers’ union that outlines details of a hybrid learning instructional model.

“Every element of the MOU has been agreed to by PEA (Philomath Education Association) leadership and has been agreed to by the district,” Philomath Superintendent Susan Halliday said. “The board chooses to approve and once we get back from spring vacation, PEA leadership will work with their membership on ratifying this document as well.”

The MOU provides details in several areas related to in-person teaching, including workplace safety, workload and leave time, and would expire June 30.

“We don’t meet again until mid-April — if we look to approve it tonight, then that puts us ahead of the curve without having to wait for PEA to be able to move forward,” Halliday said.

School Board Chair Shelley Niemann felt it would be a good idea to approve ahead of time and the vote was unanimous.

The board had discussed and approved a previous version of the MOU at its February meeting with two revisions that were to be made — one involving cleaning in between classes and another related to preparation time requirements.

Halliday said the district’s facilities director, Joey Digiovannangelo, is working with each school to help with training for required cleaning protocols. He has also reached out, Halliday said, to instructors in nontraditional classrooms, such as manufacturing technology or wood shop, with specific information.

The PEA had previously asked for more information on what would be involved with classroom cleaning, Halliday said, a bullet item under the workplace safety category.

Halliday also explained the preparation time issues and indicated those were an easy fix.

“In order to provide greater flexibility for school schedules, Monday preparation time will be allowable for meeting limited preparation time requirements,” she said.

The district and PEA have not yet set dates for collective bargaining negotiations, Halliday said.

In other news out of the March 15 meeting:

• Halliday expressed condolences to the Rath family on the recent tragedy and showed appreciation to staff members for their support in talking to students.

• Pool Director Daniel Mikula shared information about the reopening of Clemens Community Pool.

• Athletic Director Tony Matta provided details on the high school’s current situations in soccer, football, volleyball and cross-country. Board members showed a particular interest in decisions surrounding the attendance of spectators.

• Halliday shared information on students’ pluses and minuses that have been determined through distance learning.

• The superintendent’s report included several personnel changes in the district. Among those was the resignation/retirement of music teacher Yvonne McMillan effective at the end of the school year.

• The board issued a proclamation in observance of Classified Employee Appreciation Week.

• Director Jamon Ellingson shared highlights of Kings Valley Charter School’s 2019-20 annual report, which features data in a wide range of areas.

• The board listened to a detailed technology report from Mark Neville, network/systems administrator, and Jennifer Kessel, instructional technology specialist.

• The board and superintendent discussed options with the 2021-22 school calendar. Halliday plans to collect feedback on the calendar and make a recommendation to the board next month.

• Mancuso shared a revision made to a policy involving facility rental fees with the addition of the new tennis courts.

• The board approved Philomath High School, Philomath Academy and Philomath Middle School operational blueprints, PHS and PMS exposure risk assessments and a communicable disease management plan. The district plans to return those students to classroom learning using a hybrid model beginning April 6.

Following is a list of votes taken by the Philomath School Board at its March 15 meeting:
• To approve the COVID plans as presented for Philomath High School, Philomath Academy and Philomath Middle School, exposure risk assessments for PHS and PMS, and the communicable disease management plan. Motion: Kildea. Seconded: Grube. Vote: Passes 5-0 (Yes—Gerding, Grube, Kildea, Niemann, Skinkis).
• To adopt a memorandum of understanding between the Philomath Education Association and the Philomath School District as presented. Motion: Kildea. Seconded: Gerding. Vote: Passes 5-0 (Yes—Gerding, Grube, Kildea, Niemann, Skinkis).
• To approve a consent agenda that included the Feb. 16 School Board minutes and the February list of bills. Motion: Grube. Seconded: Skinkis. Vote: Gerding, Grube, Kildea, Niemann, Skinkis).