The 2014-2015 operating budget for the Longview School District is now in place, adopted at last night’s meeting of the Longview School Board. Board President Jennifer Leach says that it’s a solid budget, that also looks into the future. The general fund budget comes in at $73.7 million, slightly larger than last year’s budget of $69.4 million. Part of the increase comes from an unexpected rise in student enrollment, which is expected to go up by about 300 full-time-equivalents. That will also lead to an increase in allocations from the state. After several years of cuts and staff reductions, the district is also increasing the number of teachers and classified staff in the next school year. The teaching staff will be increased by more than 32 FTE, while classified staff is being increased by just less than 29 FTE.
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In other action last night, the Longview School Board announced the names of the individuals that will be interviewed for the open School Board position that was opened up by the resignation of Skip Urling, and also set the timeline for the Superintendent search. The School Board says that six people applied for Urling’s seat, and three were selected for interviews. That includes Roberta Alba-Estrada, who has four kids in school and serves as a classroom and parent organization volunteer; Carl Degner, whil has served on the Strategic Plan Review Committee, the Superintendent Search Committees and on the board of the Longview Schools Foundation; and James Mossman, who recently ran for School Board, and has served on several district committees. All three candidates will be interviewed in a special School Board meeting set for 5 pm on Monday, September 8th, just prior to the regular school board meeting.
The timeline for selection of a permanent Superintendent was also settled on at last night’s meeting, starting next month when the School Board will meet with the consultants who will conduct the search. That meeting is tentatively planned for Monday, September 22nd. The position will be advertised from October through mid-December, with plans to “share the applicants and publish the short list” in mid-January. Interviews would be conducted in late January, and it’s planned that the job would be offered to the preferred candidate in late January or early February.
It was also announced that Aaron Whitright is being appointed as the new Principal at CVG Elementary School in Longview. Whitright has been with the Longview School District since 1993, when he was hired on as a math teacher at Cascade Middle School. He worked there until 2012, when he was named Dean of Students at Mount Solo. In 2013, he was appointed to be the Instructional Coach at Mt. Solo. This year, Whitright will be the Principal at CVG, starting on the first rung of the Management Team Salary Schedule.
A special ceremony is planned for 1 pm today at 2nd and West Main in Kelso, where the city plans to officially open the West Main Street Realignment. City Manager Steve Taylor says that this ten million-dollar project is “regionally significant,” helping to enhance safety and relieve congestion through West Kelso, while also setting up opportunities for redevelopment of West Main as a pedestrian-friendly retail corridor. Today’s ceremony will be held at Red Leaf Coffee, located at 209 West Main, and all are invited to come and take part.
Memorial arrangements are now being made for a 22 year-old Vancouver man who drowned Saturday in Yale Lake at the Beaver Bay Campground. Cowlitz County Chief Criminal Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig says that this incident got started at about 11:40 Saturday morning, when Steven A. Rilea, 22, was swimming in the lake near the campground. Witnesses say that he went under the water about 50 feet from shore, and didn’t re-surface. A Clark County Sheriff’s Office boat responded to the scene, along with the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office and Cowlitz County Dive Rescue. Two separate dives on Saturday were unsuccessful in finding Rilea. Yesterday morning, Skamania County sent six divers, Cowlitz Dive Rescue sent two divers, and Clark County sent up a support boat. They found Rilea’s body at about 1:30 pm, and were then able to complete the recovery.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office is checking into an incident reported early this morning, where a man showed up at St. John Medical Center with a gunshot wound to his leg. Hospital staff contacted local law enforcement at about 12:45 this morning, reporting that they had a 22 year-old man in one of their treatment rooms, being treated for what he says was an accidental incident. The man reportedly told authorities that he had been “down by the river,” handling a firearm of unknown type and caliber, and accidentally shot himself in the leg. The man says that he dropped the gun, and then made his way to the hospital. It was eventually determined that the incident happened near Castle Rock, so the case was turned over to the Sheriff’s Office. The victim was treated and released from the hospital. So far, no charges are being reported.
Two men are in custody after an incident reported yesterday evening in Kelso, where it’s claimed that the suspects pulled a knife and threatened two other people. Kelso Police say that this got started at 6:25 pm, when a man called 911, claiming that Chad Jacob Kenemore, 21, and Joseph Lee Xhepaj, 21, had threatened him, with Kenemore brandishing a knife. The caller says that the suspects were upset over him dating one of their ex-girlfriends, an incident that took place in the 300 block of Northwest 5th. KPD stopped the car with Kenemore and Xhepaj over on Willow Street, taking both men into custody at about 7:20 pm. Kenemore is being held without bail on a charge of attempted second-degree assault; Xhepaj is being charged with reckless driving and harassment, with bail set at $2,000.
You’re invited to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church this afternoon for a special “Fount of Mercy Healing Service,” which will begin at 5:30 pm. There will be music, a mass, a time for adoration, reconciliation and benediction, along with healing prayers from the Anawim Prayer Group. This special service is being offered on the fourth Monday of each Month through November. All are invited to participate; call 232-8299 for more information.
Celebrating the birthday of the National Park Service, which was created on this day in 1916, today is a “Free Day” at Washington State Parks. These “free days” are in keeping with the legislation that created the Discover Pass in Washington, the daily or annual permits that are now required to use lands managed by State Parks, the Department of Natural Resources and Washington Fish and Wildlife. State Parks is allowed to designate up to 12 “free days” in the system, when the Discover Pass is not required. The “free day” only applies to state parks; the Discover Pass is still needed today on lands managed by DNR and WDFW. The “free day” also covers day use only, not overnight stays or rented facilities. Two more “free days” are planned for later this year; on September 27th for National Public Lands Day, and on November 11th, in honor of Veterans Day. Full details are available on the Washington State Parks website.
The Longview Public Library is continuing is Culture Club program, with tickets available for upcoming performances from Stageworks Northwest, the Southwest Washington Symphony and the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available for the current Stageworks production of Neil Simon’s “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,” with shows on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from September 12th to the 28th. Two adult and two children’s tickets are available for the October 12th concert by the Southwest Washington Symphony. The Library also has tickets for the concert connected to the September 20th “Blues and BBQ” season kickoff event, and for “Femme Fatale: Movies, Music and Mayhem,” a special multi-media event coming up on October 18th. Culture Club tickets are available free of charge, offered as a way to expose more people to the local performing arts scene. Longview Library card holders are eligible to “check out” one set of Culture Club tickets each year. Call 442-5300 or go to the Longview Library website for additional information.