MILTON-FREEWATER - A citizens group got the go-ahead from the Milton-Freewater School Board Tuesday to continue developing a plan for a new facility.

Sam Hubbard, a member of the group, presented the high points to the Board Tuesday from a preliminary meeting held Nov. 4. The group is considering proposing a bond measure for November 2004, which would provide time to build a plan and community trust, he said.

The group is considering whether new facilities should be one new building, remodeling projects or a combination.

The current thinking emphasized a functional and quality building over unique designs, Hubbard said.

"I think the community will support that, functional quality," he said.

Board member Mardi Hagerman, who was part of the preliminary community meeting, pointed out after Tuesday's board meeting that "we don't want a monument to an architect, and we want to be fiscally responsible."

Having the School Board sanction the group was essential before it went any farther, Hubbard added. The board voiced its support for the group, but no vote was necessary.

"The more community based involvement we have, the better chance of success we have in the end," said Duane Geyer, the Board's vice chairman.

Board Chairman George Gillette encouraged the community group to move forward and keep the board apprised of developments.

The group plans to hold its next meeting in December, but nothing has been scheduled, Hubbard said.

The board also discussed several grants. Superintendent Marilyn McBride praised district staff for their work on applying for grants. The work was in addition to their other duties and brought helpful programs to the schools.

Milton-Freewater was one of 22 districts in the state that qualified for a Reading First grant and was looking into applying for it, said Special Program Director Steve Haugen.

"There is the possibility of at least two of our schools getting $286,000," he said.

He also told the board that the district received good marks on its recent Special Education Audit by the state.

"The things we needed to improve on last time we improved on," he added.

Steve Carnes, Central Middle School principal, reported the school had started using the Supportive Math and Reading Tutorial program with the main goal of getting students up to standards on reading and math. There are about 40 students in the program, which uses additional class time to bolster the skills of failing students.

In other business, the board:

•Accepted a $5,000 grant from the Wildhorse Foundation for the Science and Technology Educational Land Lab and Research (STELLAR) program.

•Accepted a grant of 30 I-Mac computers and six printers from the Oracle Help Us Help You program for Grove Elementary, with an estimated value of about $45,000.

•Approved Principal Ralph Brown to apply for a $10,000 dropout prevention grant called Project for Success from the University of Oregon.

•Accepted a donation of 23 Accelerated Reader Books from Ingel Chapel Women's Auxiliary, valued at $151.

•Approved the Transportation Department's request to sell a 1983 16-passenger mini-bus.

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