Schools to gain some, lose some, including Menke

by nathan oster

The Big Horn County School District No. 3 made a number of personnel moves Tuesday night as it works to set its staff for the 2014-15 school year.

Topping the list of the comings and goings were Ted Menke, the longtime English teacher at GHS, speech coach, National Honor Society sponsor and director of the fall community musical and the spring GHS play.  Menke also served the district as a football coach during his tenure.

Menke’s retirement takes effect at the end of the current school year, as do the resignations of Greybull-Cloud Peak Middle School head wrestling coach Mark Schlattmann and Dusty Hill, who has been an assistant GMS football coach.

On the hiring side of things, the board tapped Jamie Kiesel to fill a language arts teacher position at Greybull Middle School, Becky Sorensen to stay on as the head GMS volleyball coach and Kayleen Chaffee to fill the junior kindergarten vacancy at the elementary school.

The district encountered a snag in its attempt to replace Francie Weekes, who is the current speech language pathologist.  The candidate the board agreed to hire last month backed out because she could not come to contract terms with the district.

Supt. Barry Bryant’s recommendation was to reopen the position, and in the end, the board agreed to do so.  But before that, the board discussed possible options, including the idea of the Greybull and Basin school districts splitting the costs of the position, which would allow the person to make more money.

Bryant argued against that approach as well as the idea of just meeting her contract demands, saying it would create inadequacies in pay.  The district will also consider entering into a contract for services with someone to provide the speech pathology services.  The advantage to that approach, he said, is that the district wouldn’t have to pay benefits in addition to the salary.

Bryant didn’t sound optimistic about filling the position, and during discussion, it was divulged that there are open speech pathology positions across Wyoming.  “If you’re going to look for a degree…get it in speech pathology or school psychology,” Bryant said, noting that there are current more available jobs than people to fill them.

The school district is on the verge of filling a number of other positions, including assistant volleyball coach at both GHS and GMS.  Those two slots will be among the positions in line to be filled during a special meeting Monday, April 28 at 6 p.m.

In other business from the first half of Tuesday night’s meeting:

• Christine McMillan, secretary at GMS, and Laura Huber, secretary at GES, were honored as the district’s stakeholders of the month.  Supt. Barry Bryant said that in addition to their responsibilities in their respective schools, McMillan works tirelessly for the benefit of veterans, while Huber plays an integral role in Bingo for Books and Math Bingo and is a member of both the Greybull Elks Lodge and the Shell Fire Department.

• Ceirra Carlson updated the board on the Make-A-Wish campaign, which benefited from a dodgeball event last week in the GMS Gym that generated $575.  The GHS Student Council is also planning a volleyball tournament on April 24 and discussing both a 3-on-3 co-ed basketball tournament and a talent show.

• The board followed the superintendent’s recommendation to allow school district employees who would like to do so to donate leave/vacation days to a classified employee who is experiencing health problems.

• The board agreed to move up, by two to three weeks, the purchase of a new school bus.  by making the purchase prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, the district can claim the reimbursement from the state a year early.  That will amount to 20 percent of the total cost of the bus, expected to be around $159,000.

The downside is that the purchase will push the current year’s transportation budget far beyond its projected total while at the same time it will also cut into the district’s cash carryover.

• The board authorized Supt. Bryant to enter into an agreement with workforce services for the hiring of a summer employee.  The student would be authorized to work up to 400 hours.  The district would pay him — and be reimbursed for those costs by workforce services.

• While the decision will ultimately rest with the BOCES board, the school board endorsed a plan to purchase a new vehicle for the driver’s education program, with half of the costs coming from the school district budget and the other half from the BOCES budget.

The district would maintain the vehicle and provide insurance.

The vehicle would be available to driver’s ed, but also to staff members when driver’s ed classes aren’t in session.

The car now used for driver’s education is a 1998 Ford Taurus with 230,000 miles on it.

• The board authorized final payment for the pool demolition to be paid on May 26, 2014.

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