Board sets calendar for 2014-15 year

by nathan oster

School will extend further into the spring, and several days past Memorial Day, under the new school calendar for 2014-15 that was approved last week by the Big Horn County School District No. 3 board of trustees.

Supt. Barry Bryant said school employees in Greybull as well as those in Big Horn County School District No. 4 in Basin were given the opportunity to vote on two different calendar proposals for 2014-15.

The one that was not chosen — and in Greybull, the margin was close — called for school to dismiss six days earlier in the spring, on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend instead of the Thursday after Memorial Day, as called for by Option A.

Bryant said the vote was close in Greybull, with 55 employees supporting Option A — the “after Memorial Day” version — and 43 supporting Option B — the “before Memorial Day” version.  Fifteen school district employees didn’t vote.

Bryant said the district took the results of its voting into a meeting with Basin school officials, where an attempt was made to get as many days as possible to match up on the two districts’ calendars.

They were unable to bridge all their differences, but came “within four or five days” of having identical calendars, Bryant said.  The timing of professional development days was one area in particular where there were differences of opinion.

Here are some highlights of the calendar, known as Option A, that was ultimately approved by the board:

• The first day of school will be Aug. 19, which is one day earlier than it started last fall.  It will again be on a Tuesday, however, which is by design, said Bryant, noting that teachers like a four-day week to start. New teachers start Aug. 11, returning teachers on Aug. 13.

• Two days — Friday, Oct. 17 and Monday, Oct. 20 — are set aside for hunting vacation.

• Christmas vacation will begin Dec. 19.  Teacher return Jan. 5, students on Jan. 7.

• Spring break will be a full week, April 6-10.

• Graduation is Sunday, May 17 or 24.


Other news

In other Feb. 11 business:

• After emerging from an executive session, the board voted to offer one-year contracts for the 2014-15 school year to GHS Principal Ty Flock, GMS Principal Scott McBride, Director of Special Services Lee Clucas and Curriculum and Grants Coordinator Sara Schlattmann.

In a separate motion, the board agreed to offer a two-year contract to Supt. Barry Bryant for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.  According to the language, the board will have the option of renewing the contract at the end of the first year.

• The board approved on second reading policies dealing with food service procurement, administration of medications to students, and alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

• The board approved an out-of-district request that allows a sophomore girl, who has been attending Riverside High School, to attend GHS for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year.

• In the reports section, Bryant said the new modular classrooms at the elementary school are expected to cost an additional $8,000 a year in utilities; it doesn’t appear the district is going to be able to afford to hire an ag teacher next year; the grab-and-go breakfast program is going well, serving approximately 30 secondary students; and that the new middle school design is behind by approximately two to there weeks.

GES Principal Brenda Jinks reported attendance stood at 215, flu and bronchitis ripped through the school causing significant absences in January, and students are showing growth in reading and math.

GMS Principal Scott McBride set building enrollment at 125 and said professional development has focused on reading and math.  With respect to reading, “We have focused on literacy in the content area,” he said. “We have implemented text frames and close reading in every classroom.  Vocabulary has been another focus we’ve been working on.” As for math, he wrote in his report: “We continue to develop the RTI program and monitor student performance.  We have purchased math manipulatives through SIG to provide multiple avenues for students to develop understanding.”  He added that tardies have been a problem, with 103 in January. Thus far, 614 tardies have been recorded at the middle school.

Ditto the high school, where as of the night of meeting there had been 497 tardies.  Nearly a third of them, 157, occurred in January alone.  Principal Ty Flock updated the board on several other initiatives.  He said GHS has been approved to offer an AP calculus class for the remainder of the school year and to administer the examination. He called it “a big step for the high school,” noting that it’ll look good for students who take the class and want to apply for scholarships. “Hopefully we can look at more AP classes down the road,” he said.

Flock also reported that the school is about a month into its transition to a “workshop model,” which represents a philosophy shift. It’s not being implemented in every class, as some don’t work well with the model, he said. The idea behind it, however, is to give students additional help during class, which in turn will cut down on their homework and hopefully reduce the number of students who need to attend Buff Time.