Community Cafés bring public input to PCOE, school district

Helpful ideas and comments were in abundance Nov. 13 when the Plumas Unified School District and Plumas County Office of Education invited the public to participate in the latest interactive Community Café.

Held at the Quincy High School library, the meeting followed three other PUSD-PCOE-sponsored cafés previously hosted in Chester, Greenville and Portola to gather input on a range of topics.

About 15 parents and community members attended, plus two trustees from the PUSD school board, Dwight Pierson and Leslie Edlund.

The event was set up to move participants through the room in round-robin fashion from table to table discussing before-and after-school activities; PCOE programs; Measure B projects; options to rebrand the school district and PCOE with a new logo, artwork and unifying slogan; and financial considerations with the Local Control Accountability Plan.

Activities

The before- and after-school activities table engendered some lively exchanges.

Staff advised that PUSD offers a breakfast program at Quincy Elementary School and Quincy High, but that the district does not have an organized or grant-funded before- or after-school program. However, they were very interested in hearing from attendees about the issue.

Participants recommended considering earlier or later start times for school days, offering tutoring and opening the school libraries for extended hours. Ideas about creating a community-center environment at the schools with partners coming in to hold classes, etc. were also covered.

Suggestions included partnering with the Central Plumas Recreation and Park District, the county library, Feather River College and other agencies to provide enrichment programming for students.

Attendees also contributed to a wish list of offerings that could include art lessons, book clubs, chess teams, music, robotics, yoga, cooking, martial arts, gymnastics and STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, support.

Concerns were also discussed about how to solve access for students who are bussed home or otherwise could not come early or stay late for enrichment programs.

Measure B

At the Measure B table, participants asked how the improvement and repair projects have been prioritized in terms of different needs between the school sites. The group learned that projects were initially prioritized in order of the highest needs, and that while there are many needs throughout the district, some — like roofing, heating, etc. — are critical.

PUSD Superintendent Terry Oestreich and School Board President Edlund told the group the district is looking at cost estimates project-by-project and for some projects, is still making decisions about how to proceed.

Edlund said, “We’re still at the stage of assessing all of this. We want to see the big-picture view, to get our architects’ proposals and we’re getting very close.”

One attendee asked if any of the Measure B projects could be broken into smaller or separate projects and Oestreich said the district’s architects might be able to break the larger projects into smaller ones.

Spending priorities

“Oh, this is really hard!” said a few attendees at the PCOE table covering spending priorities. Handing out a tally sheet for participants to list their personal picks for some of the most important programs to fund, staff reviewed over $515,000 in countywide programs and services that are supported by the county office of education, with spending at the discretion of the superintendent.

Currently, the programs are being funded partially or in whole from PCOE reserves due to reduced forest reserve funds — federal monies that have not been received last year or this, according to the county staff.

The list included things like honor band, artists in schools, the curriculum office, some technology services, the FREd Outdoor Education camp and many others.

Participants were advised the county is solidly committed to funding these services and programs through the current school year to enhance the educational programs of all Plumas County schools. Input from the community will help the county “think about support for these programs and things like the Taylorsville outdoor education.”

Branding

The branding and logo table featured an array of attractive designs and color schemes being considered in an effort to present a unified image for the school district and the PCOE. One potential slogan offered was “Plumas Unified School District and Plumas County Office of Education: Where Learning Thrives.”

As the evening wound to a close, district staff explained that PCOE and the school district are actively looking for community input and said they welcome everyone to take the district’s online survey.

The survey will be available online at pcoe.k12.ca.us and details will be provided in all school newsletters after Thanksgiving.

Oestreich told the audience, “It’s been exciting to see all the input. Thank you everyone for taking the time to come out and comment. This input is valuable to our district and trustees.”