by nathan oster
The Big Horn County School District No. 3 board of trustees on April 8 agreed to offer new contracts to all of its classified staff members and to approve the recommended changes to the compensations packages of all school employees.
The board announced its decisions after emerging from an executive session.
The decision to keep all of the classified staff mirrored a decision made in March to keep all the district’s certified staff members in place. Next month the board will consider extracurricular assignments as it continues to work toward putting its staff in place for 2014-15.
The district currently has openings for a speech pathologist and a GHS English teacher.
Several coaching positions remain unfilled, including ones for GHS and GMS assistant volleyball coaches, the GHS assistant girls basketball coach, and the GMS head and assistant boys basketball, head wrestling and assistant football coaching positions.
Regarding salaries and benefits, the board approved the recommendations of the committee:
• For certified staff, that means movement on steps and lanes. The district will continue to pay 100 percent of retirement. Its direct contribution to medical insurance will also remain the same, although staff members have been told to expect to see a 6-percent increase in their premiums.
Supt. Barry Bryant said the state legislature is pushing to have school districts start paying less than 100 percent of their employees’ retirement contributions, but that for next year, the district will keep it at 100 percent.
In one other negotiated point, the new package freezes movement on the BA 45 and BA 60 lanes. Bryant said all certified staff renewed as of March 11, 2014 are grandfathered as long as they are continuously employed by the district. Doing so, Bryant said, is at least in part an incentive for employees to go ahead and get their master’s degrees.
• For classified staff, the new package includes a 30 cent addition to the hourly rate. The district will continue to pay 100 percent of retirement contribution. Direct contributions to medical insurance remain the same, as do all other benefits.
Para-educators will get an additional hour per week to conduct team meetings with the teacher/special ed staff. They will also get two paid professional development day of training approved by the building principal and special education director.
In other business discussed April 8:
• GES Principal Brenda Jinks reported that enrollment stood at 212 on March 5, 2014, and that 65 of those students are receiving reading interventions and 30 students are receiving math interventions.
• GMS Principal Scott McBride said the school is closing in on its goal of getting all of its students out of RTI. As of the night of the meeting, the percentage of the student body stood at 82 percent. McBride also highlighted some student achievements, including Kendall Wright and Makyela Sorensen who made it to State History Day, as well as all of the science students who attended the state science Olympiad and science fairs.
• It’s a busy time at GHS, according to Principal Ty Flock. Interviews for the GHS language arts position being vacated at year’s end by Ted Menke got underway last week. Flock also highlighted some changes that will be made in the language arts curriculum, and said that with both Menke and Spanish teacher Jared Collingwood moving on, a number of extracurricular vacancies have been created.
With school winding down, students are busy getting ready for a number of events, including junior interviews on Thursday, April 24, the district music festival which GHS is set to host Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 27, and the awards ceremony, spring play and state skills competition in early May.
Finally, Flock said there have been some discussions about changing the format of Buff Time, but that nothing came of those talks. One plan that was considered, but ultimately not approved, would have created a “study hall” period during the day for all students. To do so, however, would have required an extension in the school day, which turned out to be the big sticking point.
• Lee Clucas, the director of special services, said the district was 100 percent compliant on Transitions for the 2012-13 school year.
• Sara Schlattmann, the curriculum and grants facilitator, announced that the annual Consolidated Grant luncheon meeting had been set for April 30 at Big Horn Federal. Another event on the horizon, she said, is the ELL open house on Thursday, April 24 from 6 to 8 p.m.
• In his monthly report, Supt. Bryant reported that Cindy Hinckley, who has provided occupational therapy services in the district for more than a decade, has announced that she does not plan to return next year. The district has been in contact with Gottsche to see if it could provide some of the services that Hinckley has been providing. “It’s a position that is hard to fill,” Bryant said.
Bryant said he and two building secretaries attended a training session on what to do in the event of an “active shooter” incident. The idea, he said, is to evaluate the district’s lockdown procedures and finds areas in need of improvement.
Lastly, there have been some snags in the design of the new Greybull Middle School that could potentially delay the opening of the new facility. The plan has been for the building to open in the fall of 2015.
But Bryant said three issues popped up. For one, the district is going to have to replace a sewer pipe coming out of the GMS Gym, at a cost of approximately $15,000. Secondly, soil tests have found that more compaction is going to be needed in order to support the building. And thirdly, the new GMS building will need three-phase power.
A new one surfaced this week when the district learned that a wall it had hoped would suffice as a fire wall would not. The choices for the district are to either build another wall — or to put in a sprinkler system.
All of these wrinkles have combined to push the anticipated cost of the building higher. They will need to be resolved in order for the district to put the project out to bid, something it had originally hoped to do by the end of this month.