Board OKs longer school days

by nathan oster

Some pretty significant changes will greet Big Horn County School District No. 3 students when they return to their respective buildings after the summer vacation.

The school board on May 10 approved scheduling changes that will add 20 minutes to the school day at the elementary school and 22 minutes to the school days at the middle and high schools.

While the first bell times will remain the same — 7:55 a.m. at GMS, 7:56 a.m. at GHS and 8 a.m. at GES — the extra minutes will be added to the end of the school day on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. GES will dismiss at 3:20 p.m., rather than 3 p.m., while GMS and GHS will both see their final bells pushed back from 3:18 to 3:40 p.m.

Supt. Barry Bryant cited a number of benefits in his recommendation to the board.

Buff Time, now an after-school offering for those needing it, will be incorporated into the regular school day starting in the fall. Those not in need of Buff Time will be offered enrichment activities.

Financial reasons also factored into the decision, as the school district will be able to eliminate the Buff Time bus and better align lunch periods.


Lunch changes

School lunches are also in a state of transition. After years of facing deficits of over $100,000, Supt. Barry Bryant proposed the elimination of two part-time employees and the consolidation of kitchens, which would require food to be shipped from a primary kitchen to a satellite kitchen.

Bryant’s original recommendation was to headquarter food services in the elementary school cafeteria, citing the fact that more meals are served there than at the secondary cafeteria located in Buff Gym, which would have become the satellite kitchen.

That plan has since changed as a result of input received from a food services consultant who toured the facilities. The Buff Gym cafeteria, because it has more room for storage and food preparation, is going to become the preparation kitchen.

Meals will be transported from there to the elementary school kitchen. Supt. Barry Bryant, in an interview earlier this week, said the insulated containers required to transport the food have already been purchased.

The consultant’s report, which is available for download on the district’s website, suggested a number of other changes to both improve the appeal of school food and make the program more financially sustainable.

The recommendations are as follows:

  • Cutting food costs through proper menu planning and costing;
  • Implementing offer vs. serve at the elementary to implement fruit and vegetable as part of the reimbursable meal;
  • Visiting a school district that successfully satellites food (Bryant has identified Buffalo as one that school officials intend to tour);
  • Participate in a summer food program;
  • Encouraging Jep Miller, the head cook, to participate in the Wyoming School Nutrition Association;
  • Purchase of salad bar for the secondary site;

The consultant also pushed for the district to move away from “convenience” cooking and toward more “scratch cooking,” which in her eyes would be “more cost effective, utilize the scheduled labor effectively and healthier for students.”

Other suggestions included replacing iceberg lettuce with romaine lettuce and make it easier for kids to have water with their meals.

The price of each school meal is also going up next year, as the board approved moving breakfast to $2, lunches by 25 cents to $2.75 at the elementary cafeteria and $3 at the secondary cafeteria. A-la-cart offerings will go up by 25 cents as well.

For adults, the cost of breakfast will move from $2.50 to $3.

Reduced meals would rise to 50 cents.


Other business

In other May 10 school board news:

  • Changes to the extracurricular pay scale were approved by the board. The changes are cost-cutting measures that will result in $10,575 in savings for 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Also approved, after the board emerged from an executive session at the end of the meeting, were extracurricular assignments for the 2016-17 school year. Among them was Nolan Tracy, hired earlier in the evening to be the head boys basketball coach. The assistant coaching job he vacated is the only one currently open at the high school.

There are currently three openings on the middle school coaching staff: two for assistant football coaches, the other for an assistant girls basketball coach.

  • A $31,669 bid from Stagecraft Industries, Inc., for the replacement of the curtains in the GHS auditorium was accepted.
  • Art teacher Teresa Boyer opened the meeting with a presentation on the State Art Symposium, where GHS students claimed 17 ribbons. She said Zac Pullen, the illustrator who recently spoke in Greybull, invited the group to a tour of his studio while they were in Casper.
  • Brianna Jolley was invited to the meeting to discuss her FFA activities. She was recently elected state FFA reporter, in the process becoming the first member of the Paintrock FFA chapter to be elected to a statewide post in at least the last 10 years.