Meckley to be interim schools superintendent

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

The Lebanon Community School District on Thursday, Jan. 12, accepted the resignation of Supt. Bo Yates and appointed Asst. Supt. Jennifer Meckley interim superintendent during its monthly meeting.
Yates announced his resignation in December, citing health conditions as the reason why he needed to retire early.
Board Chair Tom Oliver said Yates will continue to work remotely for the remainder of the school year to provide assistance during the transition. The board approved a contract to reflect this change.
Meckley grew up in Lebanon and graduated from the high school in 1988. She studied psychology at then-George Fox College, then received her teaching license in California before returning to Oregon in 1997.
Her first teaching job was at Waterloo School, followed by a full-time teaching position at Cascades Elementary. After eight years at Cascades, Meckley moved into the district office as a teacher on special assignment (meaning she was on a teacher’s contract but acted as an instructional coach for teachers). She was principal at Lacomb for three years and principal at Seven Oak Middle School for five. Meckley was the director of human resources when Yates assigned her as his assistant superintendent in 2019.
“This transition is not a bumpy transition for us,” Oliver said.
“It is business as usual, and that is thanks to a great team. But also, if there is anything that illustrates the epitome of being a good leader, it is having your team ready when you walk out that door, and that’s clearly what we’re seeing here.”
During public comment, Lindsay Pehrson made a request for the school district to adopt a stricter clothing policy for students.
“We have children wearing Spanx underwear at school with a baggy sweatshirt over it, or bralettes (like a halter top, a bra) and high-waisted pants,” she said. “I can only imagine how uncomfortable that is for our teachers, our male teachers, when addressing female students. I would like us to have our school district at a higher standard. We’re not going to be the same as the charter school or the private schools because this is a public school, but we can hold our children to a higher standard to elevate our school district as a whole that this is a safe place not just for the students but also for the teachers and staff.”
Board member Tammy Schilling brought Pehrson’s point to the table during board communications, saying she’d like to put the discussion on a future agenda to look into whether the policy needs to be updated or question if it needs to be enforced better.
Meckley said the district doesn’t have a dress code policy, but it is addressed in a handbook given to parents and students.
The district policy simply states that the responsibility for dress and grooming standards falls on the students and parents to ensure the students’ appearance does not disrupt or interfere with the learning environment and is not a threat of safety or health to others. The student handbook spells out those standards, including examples such as that clothes with obscene images or clothing that does not sufficiently cover the body are not allowed.
Enforcing a dress code is challenging, similar to cell phones, Meckley said. There are a lot of other factors to take into consideration, such as equity and parents’ input.
“It’s more complicated than just saying, ‘We need you to follow the dress code,” she said.
She agreed the district could consider what it can do to help the school leaders better enforce the dress code.
Oliver said he’d like to understand what their boundaries are as a public school, as East Linn Christian and Sand Ridge Charter have a bit more leeway to enforce certain standards.

In other business:
♦ Jason Hay, assistant superintendent of the Linn Benton Lincoln Education Service District, introduced himself to the board and gave a brief synopsis of the services LBL ESD provides;
♦ Meckley updated the board on the district’s work to apply for its annual grant funding sources through the state, which will be presented to the board at March’s meeting for its approval;
♦ The board awarded a contract to GBC Construction as CM|GC Contractor for the Seven Oak expansion project;
♦ Business Director William Lewis III updated the board on finance matters.
Primary revenue comes through property taxes and enrollment, and the district is currently short about 175 students, based on pre-COVID numbers, he said. The general fund is up in revenue about $18,000 over last year, which is a drop in the bucket.
Board member Mike Martin asked about the new Oregon Paid Leave tax that started this year which, as Lewis explained, is essentially an insurance plan funded by taxpayers.
Lewis said the district opted to go with a private vendor for the insurance plan and tax collection method rather than use the state’s plan. Doing so will save the district money it will not have to pay into the fund until September;
♦ Meckley reported that three teachers have received the first round of Apple Awards, a community-driven effort to recognize and honor classified and certified staff spearheaded by the Gillott Home Team in partnership with LCSD.
The first to win the award through nomination were kindergarten teacher Tammy Brown at Green Acres, social studies teacher David Meek at Seven Oak Middle School, and band teacher Aaron Smith at Lebanon High School.

Nominate an educator for Apple Award

Lebanon residents are invited to nominate school district teachers, coaches, staff, counselors, instructional assistants, specialists or principals for an Educators Apple Award.
The Educators Apple program is an ongoing opportunity to acknowledge those who work with students in Lebanon Community Schools. It is presented by the Gillott Home Team, Keller Williams Realty Mid-Willamette, in partnership with the Lebanon Community School District. A committee of the above chooses winners.
Nominations can be submitted via paper forms available at the Gillott Home Team office (266 E. Grant St.) or any school office, or online at bit.ly/appleaward or.
Those selected will be honored at their schools and given certificates, keepsakes for their desks and gift cards toward a celebratory meal.