District approves contracts and hires for 2017-18 school year

RHS

BY BARBARA ANNE GREENE

Big Horn County School District Four has two new Athletic Directors. The board held a special meeting on May 31,  to discuss if the district should have one or two AD’s since the middle school and high school will be in one building this year. After discussion the board voted to hire RHS principal Tony Anson as the high school A.D. and Calvin Brown as the middle school A.D. Also approved for hire during this meeting was Ashley Spatz. She will replace Jared Boardman as the FFA Advisor.

During the regular school board meeting on June 13, the board voted to hire Sarah McKim as the RHS Head Volleyball Coach and Virgie Mattis as RHS Assistant Girls basketball coach. McKim’s hiring is contingent on her getting a coaching certificate before the season starts. The vote to hire McKim had one no vote from board member Chris Kampbell. He stated it was only because she was not certified. Board member Brenton Paxton voted no on Mattis because he felt the job was not opened up to others. It was not a reflection on her.

The board also approved the hiring of LIE Principal Tracy Pare. The hiring committee interviewed seven candidates. Pare will start July 26. The hiring did not go without discussion mainly led by Kampbell.

“I don’t know that a district our size needs to have four administrators. Having said that I think Ms. Pare is going to do a good job for us. We are a district of 280 kids and we are paying four administrators,” said Kampbell.

He continued by saying that one of the reasons he supported the closing of Cloud Peak Middle School was that the board had already chosen not to rehire the principal at Cloud Peak and wasn’t going to replace that position.

“So when this position came about it shocked me actually. I’m not going to vote to not approve Ms. Pare. I just don’t know if we need four administrators in this district. Moving forward I would like to see a path where we cut four administrators down to three or three and half,” Kampbell said.

He discussed how for years the principal and special education director were a split position at LIE. With the district getting away from this he is concerned the district is getting top heavy on administration instead of staffing the classroom, other activities or programs for students

Chairperson Audra Crouse asked if any of the other board members would like to address Kampbell’s concerns. Board member Greg Gloy said he would agree with Kampbell if the district were not in the building process. He cited the additional duties that have been added to Anson including AD and WHSAA Representative as well as more students in the building with Cloud Peak students coming to Riverside High School in Basin.

“Right now I think it is a good move,” said Gloy. “Had Dave (superintendent Kerby) been in the district five years and everything was running completely great. Where we didn’t have a building and stuff like that coming up, I would maybe agree with you.” said Gloy.

He went on to say that this district has one of the highest special education rates in the state.

Kampbell agreed that the new buildings project is putting additional strain on Kerby, which is why he won’t be voting against the hire of Pare.

Board member Brenton Paxton said he had more specific reasons for how he feels about the hiring of an elementary school principal but since he wouldn’t name names he would rather the discussion be in executive session. However, he does agree that the district needs to get down to three administrators.

“There is a way to do that. I have a plan but I can’t reveal that out here because it would be throwing people under the bus. But as of right now this is the best decision we could have made as a board.” said Paxton.

He also stated that  each year the count of special need students rises which is why the current special education director job is full time and no longer split with the elementary principal position.

Additional contracts that were reviewed and approved were Gottsche and psychologist for related services with students with disabilities and additional services contract request from WEMBER.

The WEMBER contract was $21,000 for RHS and around $15,000 for LIE for design. Kerby explained that the reason for the additional money was because WEMBER had gone behind the initial contract timeline, attended additional meetings and more. MOA also was approved recently for an additional $17,000 for the same reason and more designs than had been anticipated. Kampbell and Paxton asked for clarification on what exactly was being paid for, what part of the budget is the money coming from.

WEMBER representative Tom Farrens and district business manager Andy DeGraw explained the contract more fully to the board. 

FIFTH GRADE

PARTICIPATION

During the regular board meeting Calvin Brown and the board discussed fifth grade sports participation with the upper classman. When the fifth grade students were at Cloud Peak with the sixth through eighth graders they were allowed to participate in practices and games with the sixth grade teams.

Brown said he enjoyed having the fifth graders participate this past year. He said it was good experience and competition for them.

“If we didn’t have fifth graders we would have played two basketball games. We had low sixth grade numbers; we had low seventh grade numbers. With the fifth graders we were able to get in three games.” said Brown.

Some of the pros and cons that were brought up before the board made the decision (on if the fifth graders should continue to play and practice with the sixth graders) were: different bell schedule between LIE and RHS;  no other districts allow the fifth graders to participate unless the students are in the same building; it has been good for the relationships between fifth graders and upper classman; and it will help with the transition from elementary to middle school, 

Brown added that as long as there is the Basin Recreation program for the fifth graders they wouldn’t be missing out on anything except for team bus trips. Crouse brought up there isn’t a third gym for Basin Rec to use. Brown and Paxton suggested working with the Greybull and Worland Rec Departments.

Brown’s and Anson’s recommendation was to not allow the fifth graders to participate. The board voted to go with that recommendation.

LIE CLASS BREAKDOWN

Kerby shared with the board the breakdown of the LIE teachers/grades for the upcoming year. Kindergarten will remain one class with teacher Brenda Wood and aide Vicki Collingwood. They were given the option to split the class but both chose to leave it as is. First grade will be co-taught by Leanna Morton and Isaac Mayes. There are 19 students in this grade.

The second grade teacher will be Cynthia Triplett, third grade-Nicole Jares, fourth grade-Colter Comstock and fifth grade will be taught by Brandi Dearcorn.

ADDITIONAL BUSINESS

•Carolyn Conner/NW BOCES gave an annual report.

•Paxton gave an update on Save the Gym and Basin Recreation.

•There was an executive session for personnel issues.

•A budget amendment hearing was held at 7:30 p.m.

•New certified tutor recommendations were approved. Nicolette Alexander will fill the position.

•There are still a number of coaching positions to be filled. Those are:

Middle School Head Girls Basketball Coach

Middle School Assistant Girls Basketball Coach 

Middle School Assistant Boys Basketball Coach 

 Middle School Head Volleyball Coach 

Middle School Assistant Volleyball Coach 

High School Assistant Volleyball Coach 

High School Assistant Boys Basketball Coach

•The Business Manager report included budget discussion 

•Farren gave a building report. Opening bids for the project should be the third week of September. The actual construction should start this fall. The buildings have been reduced by 4000 sq. ft.

•Audience member Carlene Brown inquired if there has been a committee meeting regarding the fate of the Manderson trophies, memorabilia, etc.

•Kerby gave his superintendent’s report. Highlights included the eighth grade graduation ceremony, the LIE trip to Yellowstone, the resignation of Boardman, the front door safety systems, and the moving of items from Cloud Peak to RHS and LIE.

Editors note: Comments about special education numbers for the district could not be confirmed as the special education director is off for the summer.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Goats provide happiness to many

Goats 1

By Steva Dooley

When Dale and Maxine Ruppert of Basin decided to fully retire a few years ago they knew they were not cut out for traveling or spending their time sitting and watching TV. They started looking around for a project that would keep them active and out with people socially.

When they first started tossing ideas around, goats weren’t really part of the equation, but they noticed how much Maxine’s dad, who is an elder care center in Thermopolis, enjoyed talking about the farm and the animals there and one day Maxine started looking at goats.

“We were looking for something that was smaller, something that we could easily handle and something that people would enjoy,” Maxine said. “We wanted something that would be easy to transport to elder care facilities around the area so the residents could enjoy them.” Goats seemed to fit that bill for what she wanted. When she discussed it with Dale, he agreed.

And so the research began. Maxine and Dale were both raised on farms in Minnesota, but neither one had ever had anything to do with goats. Maxine started researching goat breeds, goat care, what they can eat, what they can’t eat, what kind of housing they would need and anything else they needed to know about goats. The research took nearly a year, but soon they had a house set up, an area fenced for the goats and a few “toys” for them to play on. It was time to find some goats.

A visit with a friend led them to a group on Facebook and to a breeder of Nigerian dwarf goats in Billings, Montana. She agreed to sell them 6 young wethers (a neutered male goat).

“Some of the boys had been bottle raised, in fact three of them were still on the bottle when we picked them up,” said Maxine. “The other three had been raised on mom and were wild as March hares.”

Dale, Maxine, and a friend made the trip to Billings to get the goats and bring them to their new home. When they arrived home the goats were transferred from the back of the pickup to their new pen and the spoiling began.

“The bottle babies were pretty tame,” Dale said. “But the ones we call the “brothers” a set of triplets that were raised on their mom? They were horrible, wild little things. It took us several months and lots of crackers and other treats to tame them and make them gentle.”

Now it is a year later. The boys have been broke to lead with collars, they are getting used to traveling in a horse trailer that the Rupperts bought to make transport easy, and they are beginning to make their debut as the visiting goats. They travel to Thermopolis to the facility that Maxine’s father resides in, to the Wyoming Retirement Center, and this week to the Big Horn County Library to Story Time.

And Dale and Maxine are having the best time of their lives.

“We are so happy with our goats, and we love sharing them.” They both agree.

“The time we take them out and see how other people love them is so special,” Maxine said. Dale just nods in agreement. “We love them, but we love how other people love them, too.”

At home the “boys” have a pen full of toys and towers, slides and tubs to play in.

“When I am not busy with yard work or something else,” Dale says, “I am thinking up new toys for the goats. Ramps and blocks and tires are some of their
favorite things to play on.”

“Our favorite time of day is afternoon feeding time,” Maxine says. “We feed and give treats and then just go in the pen and let them play around us. Soon there will be goats laying down all around us relaxing and chewing their cuds. It is very relaxing to us, too. They are just what we needed to keep us busy and active since we have retired.”

Dale and Maxing love sharing their goats especially with the elderly. They welcome requests from facilities and other groups to either come to their place and enjoy them or to bring the goats to the facility for a visit.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Cloud Peak Middle School closes doors

Cloud Peak 1

Former students and educators share memories of Manderson

BY KYNLI SMITH

For 60 years, the school in Manderson has been opening its doors to students and helping them learn and grow.

At the end of the school year, Cloud Peak Middle School closed its doors. At the eighth-grade graduation May 23 former students, teachers and administrators shared their memories of the school at a reception.

“The school is not the building,” said former student and teacher Lin Doyle in his speech. ”It is the people who make the school. Throughout the years the schools have had a history of excellent teachers and staff. That isn’t to say there weren’t some weird ones along the way, but overall they have been exemplary.”

Manderson and Hyattville high schools were consolidated in 1954. Students attended school in the old Manderson school building, which was located by the park in town.

“Our class started as freshmen in this building in 1957,” said Doyle. “Along with the upper grades, we were the first to utilize the building. At the end of the year the annual shows 79 students in the four grades. Our class has the distinction of being the first to attend all four grades and graduate from the new building.”

Eleven years after Doyle graduated, he returned to teach in that same building. He said at the time more than 40 students in the four grades made up the Manderson-Hyattville High School.

The school continued as a high school until about 1976, according to Doyle, and then the seventh and eighth grades from Manderson and Hyattville were brought to the school to form a junior high.

Doyle added, in the early 1980s the Manderson Elementry School was determined to be unsafe so a bond was presented to add onto the high school to accommodate the Manderson Elementary students. After the bond issue was passed, the administration and board presented a plan to consolidate the high schools into Basin and form a middle school in Manderson. The plan failed with a tie vote from the school board.

Doyle also reflected on the building’s quirks like the 22 steps on the front stairs and 21 on the back, a ladder above the stage and a pit on the south side.

The school continued on as a high school/junior high school with the elementary school arrangement until 1987 when the high schools in Manderson and Basin were consolidated and Cloud Peak Middle School for grades 6-8 was formed in Manderson.

That year marked the last graduating class for Manderson-Hyattville High School. In 1988 the newly formed Riverside High School had its first graduating class.

In the early 1990s fifth grade was also moved out to be a part of the middle school in Manderson.

Doyle added that the schools in the Manderson school building have produced many successful students.

“I recall one chemistry class whose students went on to be a surgeon, two teachers, one of whom is a state legislator, an executive vice president for a state agriculture organization and a lawyer who became a judge,” said Doyle. “Each of you has the potential to become one of these success stories. I learned long ago not to underestimate or judge the potential of students. No matter what you have accomplished here the future is open to you.”

Former principal Becky Allred also spoke during the ceremony about her time at the school. Allred and her husband, Sherman, began teaching in Manderson in 1969.

“We were the two teachers on the second floor, with him teaching math and science and me teaching English, history and geography,” said Allred.

Allred became principal in 2001 until she retired in 2007.

“For six years this was my home year round, for many hours,” said Allred. “Working with great kids, parents and the whole staff. Keen minds, energetic thoughts and bodies, support from parents, family, staff and community, plus all the state, helped this school to succeed, which will leave young minds forever mirrored with life experiences, life challenges, a strong unity never to be forgotten as the doors of this building close and educating moves to Basin. But whenever you pass through this unique and community-blended town, an important niche of your life will burn strong in your thoughts and beat proudly in your hearts.”

What’s Next?

According to Superintendent Dave Kerby most of the teachers have boxed up and moved out a lot of their classrooms.

There will be some minor changes to Riverside High School in Basin before the some 100 Cloud Peak students move in.

“We would like to sell the Manderson building,” said Kerby. “It is in the budget to be demolished, but we would love to have someone come in and have a serious look at it.”

The district has hit a few bumps in the road to building the new schools. According to Kerby, they are waiting for approval to get 95 to 100 percent of the design completed. The district hopes to break down in late August and could possibly have students in the buildings a year from December. But mostly it will be two years before students are able to use the buildings.

“We intend to use the Manderson building for sports like basketball and volleyball this next year for practices and games,” said Kerby. “Until the new facility is built there are no plans to tear it down.”

Posted in News | Leave a comment