2013 LHS startup interesting
By Cheyenne Little
There is no doubt that 2013 was an unforgettable year for Loyalton High School and the Sierra Valley. With fires, school improvements, crowned queens, and SATs, it has been anything but dull in Loyalton.
Loyalton High School started the school year with a new superintendent of schools. Dr. Merrill Grant was sworn into office in August, replacing Stan Hardeman, who announced his retirement earlier that year.
Loyalton High changed considerably when the junior high students and staff members were brought over to the high school. Though the junior and senior students have different lunch times, they are often in the same proximity during rallies and passing periods. Perhaps somewhat reluctant to accept one another at first, students have now found a way to blend together.
This also meant that junior high teachers would start teaching high school classes, while high school teachers took on some junior high classes. There are also some electives that both junior and senior high students are a part of.
September was a blur of action as students tried to get used to the changes. Flipped weeks were introduced, which confused many students and teachers but have since become a normal thing.
In an attempt to “un-confuse” students, teachers Janet McHenry and Kim McKinney offered three Saturday SAT workshops for college-bond students planning on taking the PSAT and the SAT.
Many teachers and students, along with the Sierra Schools Foundation and the Reno Cycling Club, put together the first Sierra Valley Gran Fondo, a bike race intended to raise money for Sierra County schools. Unfortunately, that day it rained, but people stayed positive, and SSF President Megan Meschery was even quoted saying, “Next year will be better.”
October might as well be called the month of dance, with both the senior Halloween dance, which many have been quoted saying was the best dance so far, and the Homecoming dance. An exciting rally was held to test the princess and queen candidates’ abilities. Shelby Goldsmith was crowned Homecoming queen and Abby Campbell was crowned princess.
November was full of action, starting with E.J. Carrion, a motivational speaker, who came to LHS. Carrion gave out money, made the students laugh, but most importantly made them think about their time and what they plan to do with it.
On Nov. 7 the school had a precautionary lockdown due to a threatening comment made on Facebook. Students went to class as usual, but teachers locked their doors and covered the windows. It turned out
that the comment was nothing but a jest. The student was suspended for five days, and
Superintendent Grant said the lockdown prepared the school to fix issues, so the staff will be better prepared if something like this happens again.
The Loyalton FFA experienced a fire in the ag barn Nov. 22. The barn was saved thanks to local firemen, staff and some ag students. However, a couple lambs died from inhaling the smoke. One baby lamb was saved at the time but has since died. That week FFA also celebrated achievements with its fall banquet. Students received Greenhand pins and other such honors.
Another exciting event during November was the arrival of furniture for the Bear Caves. Instead of sitting in the hallway students now have comfortable chairs and tables for lunchtime.
December started out with Joanne Nunes’ leadership class starting “buddy connection activities.” In the past freshmen got a senior buddy upon entering high school, but senior class President Jorge Garcia thought it was important that all students have a buddy. The leadership students worked on the pairings, and all students spent the last part of a day getting to know their buddy and playing games.
Dec. 14 was a sad and historic day for the town of Loyalton as at 2:20 in the morning the old hotel on Main Street went up in flames. Local firefighters, as well as firefighters from across Sierra Valley, came to help put out the enormous flames. Only a charred concrete exterior remained, which was brought to the ground later that day. The heat was so extreme that it melted the plastic siding on the pharmacy and the ATM across the street; however, the Christmas tree endured and is still standing as cheerful as ever. Praise was given to the firefighters, who kept it contained and didn’t let it spread to any other building. However, there is now an empty lot in Loyalton just begging to be used.
Before students and teachers went on break for Christmas, the leadership class went to the elementary school Dec. 18 to read and play games for Christmas. Leadership also organized a Christmas rally and pizza lunch on Dec. 20. After that LHS students and staff were ready for break and a new year.
Pay raises for SPJUSD staff approved
By Vincent Gallegos
The Sierra-Plumas Joint Unified School District approved Jan. 14 an action to adjust teacher and other staff members’ salaries to more accurately meet increases in the cost of living. This adjusts salaries to more accurately meet the cost of living accumulated over many years.
It is the first salary adjustment in six years for all teachers and staff. However, administrative staff salaries were not raised. Reasons for delaying administration raises are that the current salary schedule differs between administrators. There is not a set salary schedule for the administrators, and the school board has to work out details based on the individuals, because what may fit one administrator might not fit the other.
Retroactively effective as of July 1, 2013, all staff members will be given a 4.5 percent salary increase on top of their currentsalaries. Effective July 1, 2014, staff will be given an extra 2 percent salary increase as well. This is a planned total of 6.5 percent increase over a two-year period.
The adjustments are not considered raises for they are not merit based. They are only meant to compensate for factors such as inflation and rising food costs.
Many school districts in the state of California are also seeing COLA’s due to additional funding for education. Proposition 30 added 6.1 billion dollars to the current California budget for education. This proposition was a temporary sales and income tax increase meant to bolster the budget for educational purposes, specifically teacher salaries. There had previously been a dry spell in this sector in California because educational budgets, and the state budget in whole, were cut down dramatically during the recession and preceding years. According to the L.A. Times, “Thousands of California teachers are winning pay hikes,” and “Teachers are happier on the whole.”
One local teacher said, “I think it is great that we are getting raises. It has been a long time since we have seen any kind of adjustments.”
Local teachers are apparently happy with the adjustments, as would be expected.
Superintendent Merrill Grant said, “The raises are possible because the school accrued a large amount of savings that could be partially dedicated to raises.”
He said that 85 percent of the school budget goes to staff and that the biggest sector of the state budget goes to education.