Kelso Sch. Dist.
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News Releases
Kelso School District Seeks Feedback on Potential Bond - 10/05/17

The Kelso School District Board accepted project recommendations by the Facilities Improvement Team for long-term improvements, and now the district would like feedback from the community on the projects. The projects will touch every school in the district, and fall into six categories: safety and security, additional capacity, traffic and parking, building maintenance, functional learning spaces, and athletic facilities.

Community and staff members can share feedback about the proposed projects beginning October 9th using Thoughtexchange. People can register now to be included in the process by going to:

In October, there will be two steps for community feedback. In the first step, people are invited to share their thoughts on the projects from October 9 through October 18. That feedback will be processed and used to refine projects. Then in the second step, the community is encouraged to review and prioritize the ideas in Thoughtexchange from October 23 through November 1. Results will be shared with the public in November.

The district is holding two Community Forums for people to learn about the process the Facilities Improvement Team went through and the needs they revealed. The forums are open to the public and will be held in the Kelso High School library on October 11th and 17th at 7:00 pm. There will be a Q&A following each presentation.

The public is also welcome to email for more information or questions relating to the process.

Kelso School District Board to Hold Special Meeting About Facilities Improvements - 10/04/17

The Kelso School District Board will hold a special meeting on Thursday, October 5th at 2:00 p.m. in the District Administration Office at 601 Crawford Street. The board will potentially hear updated recommendations from the district's Facility Improvement Team for consideration.

The team has been meeting and gathering input for the last ten months regarding possible long-term facilities projects for the district to undertake. This is an informational meeting only.

Kelso School District Board Seeks Temporary Replacement for Larry Hembree - 10/03/17

Larry Hembree's resignation from the Kelso School District Board of Directors was accepted by the board at their regular meeting on October 2, creating a vacancy on the five-member board. A Kelso native and long-time public servant, Hembree was elected to the school board in November 2013.

Hembree announced in May that he would not seek reelection to his seat, citing employment options making it difficult to best serve the district. Kelso School District parent Leah Moore filed to run in the November election to fill the position.

Applications to temporarily fill the vacant board position are available in the Superintendent's Office and are due by noon on Monday, October 9th. The board plans to complete applicant interviews and be able to swear in the temporary board member at the October 16th meeting. That member would serve until the elections are certified sometime in December. The duties of a Kelso School District Board Member are stated in Policy 1220, and the key functions of the Board are stated in Policy 1005. These policies are available on the school district website at

For more information or questions relating to the process, please call Beth Grambo, Assistant to the Superintendent, at 360-501-1927.

Kelso School District Board Member Larry Hembree Resigns - 09/29/17

Kelso School District School Board member Larry Hembree submitted his letter of resignation, effective October 2, 2017. Hembree announced in May that he would not seek reelection to his seat on the November ballot, citing employment opportunities making it difficult to best serve the district. Hembree is resigning before his term is up because his career requires him to be out of town for an indefinite amount of time.

"We have been fortunate that Larry has been deeply involved on our School Board," said Superintendent Glen Gelbrich. "He has been a caring and committed member of our community for many years. We wish him every success in his new career."

Hembree was elected to the board in November 2013, and served on various committees, including the Facilities Improvement Team, Technology, Career and Technical Education and was the board WIAA representative. A product of the Kelso School District, Hembree graduated from Kelso High in 1976, his wife and children are KHS graduates, and he has grandchildren in the Kelso district. A long-time public servant, having retired from Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue after 32 years, Hembree is the embodiment of the mantra "We Are Kelso."

"Larry has been an outstanding board member, always keeping what is best for Kelso students at the forefront of all decisions," said Board President Bob Lucas. "He will definitely be missed."

In his resignation letter, Hembree thanked current and past board members, the Kelso community, district staff, his family, and "most of all, the Kelso students for the opportunity to serve the Kelso School District. It has indeed been my honor and pleasure."

Kelso School District Bond Refinancing Saves Taxpayers Over $436,000 - 09/27/17

The Kelso School District has taken advantage of low bond interest rates to save taxpayers money. A recent refinancing authorized by the Board of Directors will result in savings of $436,873 for taxpayers over the next 4 years.
"This was a great opportunity to demonstrate good fiscal stewardship and save our taxpayers a significant amount of money" said Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich. He emphasized that the savings will go directly to taxpayers through lower future tax collections. "This is money that will now stay in our community and local economy, rather than go to pay interest on outstanding bonds. The savings will also help the District promote future tax rate stability as it considers future facilities funding needs." said Gelbrich.
In an issuance of refunding bonds on Tuesday, September 26th, the District garnered a rate of 1.31% on the new bonds, a new low for the District. This compares to 4.00% on the bonds being refinanced.
Interest rates on these types of bonds remain near historic lows according to Scott Westlund, the District's Chief Financial and Operations Officer. "This was our earliest opportunity to refinance these bonds; we are pleased to be able to provide this savings to the district taxpayers" said Westlund.

As part of the bond issuance, the District received affirmation of their bond credit rating to "Aa3" from Moody's Investors Service. In their recent rating report, Moody's noted the Districts "Sound financial management".

"This strong bond rating definitely benefits the District and taxpayers through lower borrowing costs." Westlund notes.

District Improves Home to School Communications - 09/21/17

Kelso, WA -- September 21, 2017 --To get more information in the hands of parents, Kelso School District is joining thousands of schools in implementing digital flyer distribution through Peachjar. District-approved digital flyers that would normally be printed and sent home, will now be sent directly to parents' emails in a visual format as well as posted on each school's website.

Kelso School District is committed to educational excellence and ensuring that parents stay informed about important activities and events that enhance their child's life. The district expects this new flyer delivery system to be a more efficient, effective means of delivering information to parents and families.

The digital system goes into effect on September 21, 2017.

Students welding at last year's Apprenticeship and Trades Fair
Students welding at last year's Apprenticeship and Trades Fair
750 high school students get their hands on heavy machinery at Apprenticeship and Trades Fair (Photo) - 09/19/17

On Friday, September 22nd, roughly 750 high school juniors from at least 11 schools in SW Washington will take part in the 7th annual Apprenticeship and Trades Fair at the Cowlitz County Expo Center. The Expo Center will be filled with Bobcats, backhoes and other heavy machinery and professional equipment so students not only get to learn about job opportunities, but they also get to try them on for size.

Nearly 20 organizations representing emergency response, government agencies, unions, and the trades will be present, all with the goal of planting a seed of interest in potential future employees.

"This event is a team effort between Career and Technical Education instructors and local area industry professionals. Together, we've created a space for students to get hands-on exposure to career opportunities that lead to living-wage jobs," said Melissa Boudreau, CTE Director for Kelso High School.

In addition to staff at Kelso High School, the Washington and Northern Idaho District Council of Laborers is a key partner in organizing industry attendees. Millennium Bulk donates funds each year, and JHKelly previously donated the safety equipment for the event, which includes 1,000 hard hats, vests and safety glasses.

Activity stations for the day include:
* An industrial water pipe for learning to repair water lines, shut offs and clean out
* A virtual reality heavy equipment operator simulation station by Operating Engineers Union
* Live welding stations
* Build a shed from start to finish with Laborers Union and Building in Youth
* Check out a military grade Humvee
* Try the equipment inside an emergency response vehicle
* And so much more...

"So many of our students don't realize the amazing opportunities that are out there for them," said Paul Huddleston, CTE Director at Woodland High School. "This event gives them a chance to get a hands-on look at so many different career paths all in one place on one day. The response from our kids last year was extremely positive, and I believe every student should attend this event--regardless of their chosen pathway."

The Appreticeship and Trades Fair happens on Friday, September 22nd, at the Cowlitz County Expo Center (1900 7th Ave, Longview, WA) in two sessions: one from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, and the other from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

Industry Attendees:
* City of Longview Water Department
* City of Kelso Water Department
* Beacon Hill Water District
* Lakeside Industries
* Laborer's Local 335
* Northwest Carpenters
* IBEW 48
* Kelso School District Carpentry/Diesel Mechanic
* Cowlitz County Public Works & Roads Department
* Kelso Police Department
* Cowlitz Fire 2
* Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 26
* Washington State Department of Apprenticeships
* Building in Youth
* Washington State Department of Transportation
* Lower Columbia Contractors
* NW Lineman JATC
* Lower Columbia College Welding
* Operating Engineers

High Schools Attending:
* Kelso
* Toutle Lake
* Washougal
* Ocean Beach
* LaCenter
* Kalama
* Naselle
* Woodland
* RA Long
* Mark Morris
* Castle Rock