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.
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.
•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.