THE LOCAL NEWS OF THE MADISON VALLEY, RUBY VALLEY AND SURROUNDING AREAS

SCHOOL BOARD ROUNDUP

Twin Bridges School Board meets for September

Sidewalks and water drainage discussed​

Twin Bridges School Board met on Tuesday to discuss grants, new hires, increased Driver’s Education rates, a 2021 trip to Belize and business operations.

The first grant discussed regarded the installation of new solar panels in partnership with Bozeman Green Build, an endeavor still under consideration. This would result in an 80/20 split, with the grant covering 80% of the cost and the district taking care of the remaining 20%. More discussion will ensue in the future.

The Town of Twin Bridges and the School District are working together to move storm water away from the school system and run it into the town’s storm water project . “The town does have a storm water project going on, and so they’re going to start that project in the spring and then it’s going to be followed up with sidewalks,” Superintendent Thad Kaiser explained.

Superintendent Kaiser described the school as a big rectangle, with the main gymnasium located across the street. Two sides of the rectangle have sidewalks and upon installing a drainage system, sidewalks would be added to the remaining two sides. This project has already been approved and granted.

“That storm water is going to start at the school and run out to Main Street where it’s going to be picked up in the storm water drainage system that runs out of town,” Superintendent Kaiser explained. The goal is to alleviate the amount of walking through muddy and snowy areas by students and others through the implementation of the drainage system and sidewalks.

Related to the storm water system, a Delivering Local Assistance (DLA) grant was discussed. The main gymnasium, across the street from the school, has experienced drainage issues. No footers are in place under the walls, and the money would be used to install these footers, update the roof and upgrade the boilers. The school could qualify for up to $750,000 of state money, awarded to recipients of the DLA grant who represent areas affected by decreasing oil, gas or lumber industries.

In terms of hiring, two part-time paraprofessionals, a cheerleading advisor, a Driver’s Education instructor and an assistant boys’ basketball coach were added to the Twin Bridges’ staff.

After looking at rates offered by other school districts and reevaluating their own Driver’s Education cost, the board approved that beginning in July when the next session is offered, both in and out of District students will be charged $200 flat for the program. 

Each time an out-of-state field trip or tour is brought up, it must be approved by the Board prior to take off. Every two years the Spanish curriculum hosts a tour to a Spanish-speaking country for students. In 2019, students who completed two years of a foreign language, generally juniors and seniors, travel to Spain. In 2021, those eligible will have the opportunity to visit Belize. This was brought up to the board in order to get a jump start on communication and fundraising.

The business committee looked over the budget for the year and for years to come. “We have some planning to do as we go into the future as far as our budgeting and our business operations,” Superintendent Kaiser said. The board directed the committee to provide an evaluation of the District’s budget and proposals for financial options.

 

Alder School Board meets for September

E-rate, Rural Fridays and budget discussed​

Alder School Board met on Thursday to discuss E-rates, Rural Fridays and the school’s budget. Kathleen Wuelfing, clerk, described it as, “a very low-key meeting with little on the agenda.”

Wuelfing gave a presentation about E-rate, or the government’s funding regarding the internet. “That federal money goes towards your internet,” Wuelfing said, explaining how funds were more phone-focused before. “Now it’s leaning more towards internet use through 3 Rivers.” She went on to note 3 Rivers’ commitment in 2017 to establish fiber optics in every rural school through the use of E-rate money, which was not sustained. 

“Of course it would be ideal if the Alder School could get fiber optics just because it would so benefit us on our internet,” Wuelfing said. However, she harkened back to when the only connection was dial-up and recognized the progress made. E-rate benefits internet capabilities in schools, but would be more applicable for the District if students were older.

The Running Start Program is thriving. “Everything’s going great to my knowledge. I think it’s a very successful program!” Wuelfing said. As a clarification from last month’s meeting summary, the Running Start Program is based on kindergarten standards, not a pre-school curriculum. 

Transportation for Rural Fridays was discussed as well. The District was unable to use a Sheridan School bus to transport students to Dillon for the day, and parent help was needed. “I wouldn’t say it’s a huge problem, but it is a concern,” Pam Birkeland, School Superintendent, said.

Lessons taught during Rural Fridays are instructed by students at the University of Montana Western who are working on teaching degrees. Student-teachers present lessons that are common core focused and age-appropriate, with language arts taught in the morning and science in the afternoon.

“I was just teaching them the same topic this week,” Teresa Murdoch, Alder School teacher, said. She had been going over suffixes, prefixes and word bases with her students and they were able to have the same concept explained in a new way, which is incredibly beneficial. Swimming lessons at the YMCA in Dillon are also a part of Rural Fridays, and will be replaced with ski trips starting in January as part of the physical education program.

Claims and warrants were presented during the budget portion of the meeting, and Wuelfing was praised for her clear presentation. She broke the budget into the amount anticipated for receiving, the budget authority and provided how much was left to spend in cash funds. “(It was) interesting and helpful for all of us to understand it,” Murdoch said.

 

Ennis School’s technological needs and a new staff member

The Ennis School Board approved computer updates and purchases for students and staff, as well as a new custodian during their monthly meeting Oct. 9. 

The council approved for the school’s computers to be updated from Windows 7 to Window 10. The update is necessary for the computers to be compatible with newer programs and will cost about $100 a piece. 

Seventeen staff laptops were approved to be replaced, which will provide the junior high students with a cart of two-year old laptops to do use. The funding of the updates and replacements are well within the school’s technology budget. 

Pending a background check, Starla Voll was hired as Ennis Schools’ new custodian.

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