GRANDVIEW - Although Monday night marked the regularly scheduled meeting of the Grandview City Council, the first official words of the meeting were uttered by Grandview Schools Superintendent John Mathis. Mathis, as well as other members of the Grandview School Board and Kevin Chase, who was recently hired to take Mathis' position when he retires this summer, were all on hand for a joint meeting of the city council and school board.
Mathis said when the meeting was first scheduled, it was done so with the idea that his replacement would have already be found. And that assumption was correct. Monday night, Mathis introduced the city council to Chase, who is currently working as the superintendent of the Mabton School District. According to Mathis, Chase was officially hired by the school board during its last meeting.
"I think Kevin is just going to do an outstanding job," Mathis said, noting that the programs that have been implemented during the last few years are sure to continue to grow and flourish under Chase's guidance.
Chase said one of the things that drew him to the Grandview position was the teamwork he saw between the school board and the city council. He added that in his opinion the Grandview School District has done some really great things, things he doesn't plan on changing when he takes over in the coming months.
City Administrator Jim Sewell noted that something else he would like to see remain the same are monthly lunches he regularly has had with Mathis.
"I want to continue that with you," Sewell said.
Mayor Mike Bren also welcomed Chase, noting that it is nice to see someone from the area, be able to stay in the area and continue to grow.
After being introduced to Chase, Sewell brought up several areas of concern the city has in order to see how both city council and the school board can work together to tackle them. The first issue Sewell brought up for discussion was trying to curb juvenile crime by offering different after-school programs. He asked Mathis what type of after-school programs the district currently has, and if they are programs with which the city's parks and recreation department are familiar.
Mathis began by talking about the school district's three 21st Century Learning centers. The centers are located in each of the district's three elementary schools and offers after-school programs to elementary-aged students. He explained that the learning centers focus on three components, education, recreation and parent involvement.
At the middle and high school levels, Mathis said the district has the Gear-Up program, which they received a grant for three years ago. He said the program is currently offered to students in sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grades. According to Mathis, Gear-Up is mostly an education program that does include a small recreation component.
Sewell said youth violence and drug use is another area of concern for the city council. He explained that at this point it is something the Grandview Police Department is working on.
"This is a real priority," Sewell said. "It might be an area where the school district could come into play."
The two entities also talked about the Cops in School program, which was ended in the district. Mathis said that although the Grandview Police Department does have a very fast reaction time to any incidents at the schools, the Cops in Schools programs offer other benefits.
Chase suggested that although the program may no longer be available in Grandview, there are other ways the schools can work with the police department. He noted that simply having the police out in the school zones before and after school and at lunch could be helpful. He also suggested that the school's administrators have a monthly meeting with local law enforcement to talk about things that are going on in the community.
Overall, Bren said one of the city council's goals is to try to make Grandview one of the best communities in the Valley to live.
"We're looking for ways we can continue to make Grandview look good," Bren said, noting that the city's entrances have already been transformed.
Sewell said the city is also looking toward growth. He noted that they are already beginning to search out businesses that would complement the new Wal-Mart distribution center, as well as tourism related businesses, such as hotels and restaurants.
"We're looking at things for increasing our sales tax revenue," Sewell said.