Othello facility committee to hold first meeting Sept. 17

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Othello School Board member Ken Johnson draws names for the new facility committee at Monday’s board meeting. Board president Rob Simmons holds the bowl.

OTHELLO — A committee established to study facility needs in the Othello School District will hold its first meeting at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 17 in the boardroom at the Othello School District office. Committee members were announced at the Othello School Board meeting Monday.

The committee included room for five parents and five district patrons with no ties to the school district. Each of those categories drew more than five applicants, so the people appointed were chosen by lot. Board members also chose two alternates in each category.

The committee also includes a teacher from each school chosen by the teachers at each school, a principal chosen by other principals, a district office employee chosen by other employees, and two students, one each from Othello High School and Desert Oasis High School. The committee also includes two school board members, Rob Simmons and Tony Ashton, Othello mayor Shawn Logan and district superintendent Chris Hurst.

Alternates are being encouraged to attend the meetings, although they’re not part of committee deliberations.

Committee meetings will be open to the public, although the format won’t include audience input. Whether or not its meetings will be streamed on the district’s YouTube channel will be up to the committee to decide.

The committee will be looking at the district’s needs in light of a plan to convert Othello’s four elementary schools and McFarland Middle School to kindergarten through eighth grade schools. Currently the elementary schools are K-6, the first step in the conversion program. The planning process for further changes has been halted while the committee does its work.

Committee members will be asked to come back with at least two recommendations to address both the K-8 conversion and anticipated growth in the school population. Its timeline will be up to the committee members.

The committee was established after district officials received a report estimating the cost of accommodating the shift to K-8 and other changes district officials want to make. The estimate was $32.6 million, which didn’t include any provision for student population growth.

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