Powder River Examiner -

Variety of Topics Discussed at April School Board Meeting

 

April 21, 2022



On Monday night of last week, on the evening before the blizzard descended on Eastern Montana the Broadus School Board Trustees met for their regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

First on the agenda were a number of resignations, including Trustee Patrick Emmons, as well as Head Football Coach Ross Randall and Head Boys Basketball Coach Mike Richards. We reached out to all three gentlemen but did not receive comments about their resignations as of press time.

Additionally, the board accepted a request for a one year unpaid leave of absence from sixth grade teacher Caroline Johnson.

The elementary staff were rehired for the 2022-23 school year – changes from previous years following upcoming retirements include the hiring of Ashley Emmons and Monica Smith as teachers.

Certified staff in the high school were hired, with Brooke Billing now hired as a math teacher. Teachers receiving tenure this year include Libby Nisley and Dustin Lanke.

Classified staff were hired, as were the summer staff.

A group of approximately 40 community members, including members of the girls basketball team and other students were on hand for the meeting. When it came time to hire coaching staff, nine members of the audience voiced their support for re-hiring Ashley Emmons as the Head Girls Basketball Coach for the 2022-23 school year, including Jim Collins, Jacy Collins, Ann Emmons, Emma Isaacs, Kendal Stanley, Ciara McDowell, Patrick Emmons, Taylor Price, and Jami Jo Schroeder. Eventually the board re-hired Emmons.

The board made a motion to approve the hiring of Volleyball Coach Gordon Archer, with Monica Smith as assistant and volunteer Melissa Billing. Trustee Waylon Billing abstained from the vote, and the vote was in favor of their hiring.

A second motion was made for the hiring of all other coaches, except for spring sports, which is traditionally rehired after the season is over. Those positions included Ashley Emmons as Cross Country Coach, Wyatt Williams as JH Football Coach with Frankie Schoonover and Dan Krantz assisting, Raevyn Slovek as JH Volleyball Coach, Kristie Lanke as JH Girls Basketball Coach, Dustin Lanke as JH Boys Basketball Coach, Frankie Schoonover as HS Wrestling Coach, assisted by Wyatt Williams, Ashley Emmons as HS Girls Basketball Coach, assisted by Monica Smith and Lee Turnbough helping as a volunteer, Amy Minow as Cheerleading Coach and the Concessions Manager, Lisa Lynch for Instrumental and Choral positions, Clayton Scott as FFA Advisor, Libby Nisley in charge of the Annual and BPA Advisor, and Mike Richards as Activities Director.

Trustees Shasta Madsen, Lori Fortner, Dan Johnson, Waylon Billing, and Rob Jones voted for the coach hirings, with Trustees Amanda Zimmer and Raquel Mader voting against; the motion passed.

The Ashland and Powderville bus routes were discussed, and a decision was made to rebid the routes with a 177 day contract, and change in termination clause from 4 months to 180 days notice; either party can be released from the contract with written notice.

Discussion was held on the purchase of extended bus arms for rural routes. In last year’s legislative session, House Bill 267 was passed which requires school buses to be mounted with an extended arm featuring flashing lights which drops down into the opposite lane of traffic, with the purpose of warning oncoming traffic in case students are crossing in front of the bus. The bill was passed as a result of Jordana Hubble, a six year old Whitefish girl who was severely injured after being struck by a vehicle passing the stopped bus which Hubble was exiting. Hubble was reportedly thrown nearly 60 feet from the point of impact; the driver of the vehicle reportedly told investigators that she didn’t think she had to stop since the bus was in the other lane.

A second option in the law would be to arrange all school bus stops to where the bus is able to stop on the same side of the road as the students and no one is crossing over the road. In practice, that would mean some students would need to be picked up on the driver’s trip out in the morning, then ride the bus to the end of the route and back in where students with stops in the other lane could be picked up. This method may work in towns with very short routes where a few minutes might be added to the route, but is highly impractical in Powder River County, where students would be getting on the bus at 6:30 in the morning, making a run out to Powderville, and back in to school, as one example given by bus contractor John Blain.

The extended arms, which need to be installed before July in accordance with the new law, are expected to cost around $3000 for purchase and installation, but a cheaper alternative may be available, and the school will look into that before purchase. The board voted to purchase the arms for buses on the rural routes.

At this point in the meeting, with the looming storm forecast to hit late on Monday night or early in the morning, Superintendent Hansen voiced his decision that he would like to pre-emptively shut down school for Tuesday. Hansen then left the meeting and went to his office to activate the notification system to alert parents of the upcoming closure for the next day – cell phones in the meeting suddenly sprung to life as the notifications came through; the notification system apparently works as intended.

The school would go on to be closed Wednesday and Thursday due to the storm and closed roads.

The board then discussed and approved the school calendar for the 2022-23 school year. The calendar has been reduced to 177 days from the current 180 day calendar, with one built in flex day for a snow make up day. Yearly hours in the classroom will now drop to 1090 hours, or 1084 with the snow day.

A motion was made and approved to purchase a diesel generator for the high school, which will allow the high school to have the capability to house evacuees in the case of a major power outage or other incident (such as a spring storm or large fire). The elementary school is currently used as a shelter, but since all of the IT infrastructure for the schools is in the high school, a power outage would negate the use of any computers or phone systems at the elementary. In addition, the coal heating system at the high school would now be able to be circulated and keep the school warm in a power outage, whereas previous to the generator heat was not able to circulate in a power outage. The board had previously looked at the purchase of a propane generator instead of diesel, but the cost was over double, so a decision was made to go with diesel. The cost for a generator able to power the school, as well as yearly inspection will be $110,000. The school currently has a tank heater on their diesel tank which will help to keep the fuel from gelling in cold weather – if a power outage occurs the fuel should be pre-heated, at which time the generator will take over to keep the fuel warm.

The board then approved the contract from the Broadus Education Association. The new teacher contracts will be for two years, with teachers receiving a 3% raise in 2022-23, while in 2023-24 the teachers will receive a 2% raise and a $74 monthly increase in their insurance contribution.

With Trustees Amanda Zimmer and Rob Jones re-filing for their positions, and Jay Schroeder appointed to fill Waylon Billing’s position on the board, an election will not be held for those positions. The position left open by Patrick Emmons’ resignation will still need to be filled. Additionally, a mill levy will not be held this year, according to Superintendent Hansen.

 

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