New principals approved for School District 4

By JESSICA ROBINSON

Two candidates were approved on April 9 to take the helm as principals of Riverside Middle/High School and Laura Irwin Elementary.

Matt Jensen and Jeff Fuller’s nominations were brought before the school board for approval. Jensen will become the principal for RMHS, replacing Tony Anson who will be retiring. Fuller will replace LIE principal Tracy Pare. 

Jensen is from Meeteetse and has worked as a social science teacher for Park County School District No. 16 since 2013. He is also the athletic director. He has a bachelor’s in history and master’s in administration.

Fuller is coming from Fremont County District No. 38 in Arapaho, where he is the current elementary school principal. He has been there since 2015 and lives in Riverton. He also spent 10 years as a third grade elementary teacher in Minnesota. Supt. Dave Kerby said that he has his elementary certificate and principal certificate.

Kerby said they had 19 applicants. They had a candidate forum at the school. There was also an interviewing committee that went through the applications.

“We are looking forward to getting them,” Kerby said of the candidates during the meeting.

Kerby said both candidates have been here since. They have had time to discuss educational philosophy and various issues. Kerby added that they were taken on a tour. 

“They are excited to be here,”
he said.

Jensen was approved. Board member Brenton Paxton voted against Jensen.

Board member Chris Kampbell expressed some concerns in regards to hiring Fuller.  He voted against the hiring, as did Paxton, but it was ultimately approved.

Neither candidate was present at the meeting.

Building Update

Owner’s Representative Tom Farrens’ report started with that they are on schedule with construction. At the last contractor’s pay application, LIE was at 62 percent and RMHS was at 73 percent complete. Farrens noted that the pay application is two weeks old.

He reported that dirt work was started up again. Curb and gutter work was scheduled, weather permitting. 

Farrens reported that at RMHS, millwork was being done in the classrooms. Painting was being done in the gym. 

“It looks really good in there,” he said.

The colors inside the gym are red, white and black. 

Farrens added that the first basketball hoop was put up. He reported that they are trying to get everything up for when they come in to do the floor.

His report included that the Manderson bleachers were torn down. 

Farrens focused back onto the high school and reported that most of the wallboarding is done except for some areas. All of the floor polishing has been completed except in the commons area. They are still doing some work in that area.

At LIE, Farrens reported that they have everything from painting in the classrooms to doing wallboard in the kitchen and the media center. He said the administration center has wallboard. They have a few windows they are installing in the media center. He added that they were setting the exterior storefront main entry doors that day.

Farrens reminded the board that the state only pays for bleachers that will fit the student body. He said that a couple of years ago it was decided to bring the Manderson bleachers up. They would be paid for even though they were bigger than the student body. However, when they were taking down the bleachers, a number of seats that were attached were broken. He said 44 percent of them were broken. 

He reported that the contractor replacing the seats would replace all of them at cost. There will be no labor cost.

Farrens posed the question on whether they wanted to replace all the seats on the bleachers at one time. This would mean that they would start over on a brand new warranty that lasts five years.

The total cost to replace the bleachers was $7,000. They are talking to the state about the cost. 

“Worst case scenario, they say we have to replace them all for the $7,000,” he said “or they could say they’ll pay for the broken ones, but if we are going to replace the non-broken ones we would have to pay the cost.”

The best-case scenario that they are pushing is to get the state to pay for those out of contingency, he added. 

He reported on two items that were on the agenda for the night. The first item involved security at the high school. Farrens said there is an emergency alarm at the administration area that they can press that locks all the doors and a message alarm goes off. However, there are two doors at the ag shop that will stay open even though they press that button. 

“That kind of defeats the purpose of locking it down,” he said.

The cost to have the garage doors go down when the button is pushed is $2,511.

The other item on the agenda was the motorized shades for the upper windows in the schools. Farrens said that when they were having budget issues they thought they could move them (the motorized shades) to the FF&E budget and pay for those out of that budget.

The state told them they were not allowed to have those as FF&E items. Farrens said they have to be paid out of construction. He continued that since they already approved the budget and construction and had pulled them out, the state is making them (the district) pay for the shades.

He reported to the board that it is not finalized with the state, but he is less hopeful of that. The total cost for the shades is $31,000.

Farrens said that Kerby would be going to the School Facilities Commission in a few weeks. They have to go to the commission in regards to disposing property. They will be presenting the agreement with the town council to the commission. Farrens hopes they can bring up items such as the shades to them during that time.

On the last note of his report, Farrens reported that FF&E was going out to bid.

The board later approved the replacement of the bleacher seats at cost. 

The board made a motion to approve motorized blinds on the upper windows and the panic button at the AG shop doors. After discussion the board approved with Kampbell voting no.

Business Report

Business manager Trevor Whitaker reported on budget meetings that have taken place. He said he has met with everybody that he needed to meet with and gone over their budgets. They had a meet and confer scheduled for April 10. He is hoping to have the preliminary budget done by the next board meeting.

He went over the construction bank balances with the board. The costs for the items that Farrens reported on were included in that report. He said that right now, they are sitting at around $430,000 when they are done. 

Whitaker and Kerby have been keeping a list of items that they feel the state has ruled against them. He said they would talk to Dale
McComie once the project
is over. 

Superintendents Report

Supt. Dave Kerby reported on the School Facilities Commission meeting he would be attending. Kerby had met with Mayor CJ Duncan, who was wondering where they were with the state approving the Save the Gym project to the town. Kerby reported that he hadn’t been in a big hurry to get it done. However, Duncan wanted to move forward because they could potentially work on grants.

Kerby said he signed up for the main meeting. He sent a letter with a copy of the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) showing that the town has agreed to take it over.

On top of reporting on the search for the new principals, Kerby reported they did hire a third track coach for the middle school. He said they had 40 kids go out for track. The rules require that after 30 kids, they have to hire a third coach.

He reported there was a work session for March 26. At the work session, Whitaker discussed the school funding model and the superintendent evaluation process.

He said Mark Schlattmann has contacted them about the concussion program that is being offered at Midway Clinic. They are considering taking a serious look at it. Kerby reported the cost is $15 per athlete and they do a pre-assessment with the students. The test measures the athlete’s response time to a stimulus with an idea that there is a baseline.

If there is a head injury, Kerby noted that they would probably be seeing a doctor. He added that would be an additional tool to assess when they can come back into the game.

Principal Reports

RMHS Principal Tony Anson presented his report, saying that they have the same amount of students as last month. The juniors finished taking ACTs. 

Anson said prom went without a hitch. 

His report included that students will start WyTopp testing on April 30. Their window to take the test was from April 20 to May 10. He said they didn’t want to test too early, but they didn’t want to test on the last week just in case they have students who are absent that have to make up the test.

They have eighth grade graduation and senior graduation on the third weekend in May. 

LIE Principal Tracy Pare’s report included that student numbers were up to 110. She mentioned that the PTO did have a family dance on March 29 that was ‘50s theme. She was glad that the music department chipped in and showed the kids how to dance. “It was a lot of fun,” she said.

in Other business

• The board recognized Academic Challenge state champions.

• Sterling Foss and Brittni Miller were recognized for scholarships they received. Foss was awarded the Daniels Scholarship and Miller received the Horatio Alger Scholarship.

• Emmy Reid presented the Student Council report. She discussed about Rachel’s Challenge, a banner being purchased for making a mark on the new school, upcoming Spring Fling, and the Blood Drive being held on May 1. They only have seven places left for the Blood Drive. She finished with mentioning upcoming student council elections.

School Resource Officer Greg Noel was not present at the meeting. Kampbell said they did a drill with LIE on lockout procedures on the playground. He added that Noel noted that it’s hard to hear announcements on the playground.

• Special Education Director Lee Clucas did not have much to add to his report since last month. He did mention that the behavioral program has grown from nine to 11 students with the potential for one more at the end of the school year. He said that some students they think are close to transitioning out of the program. They will carry them over next year and see how they transition to the new grade level. 

• Board member Gregory Gloy presented the BOCES report. He said they are still full. He reported that they had seven students on level three and four, which allowed them to have more outings. This means that they can start transitioning home. He said it’s a good thing. Their numbers will go down as a result, he added.

• Board member Brenton Paxton gave the Recreation Board report, which included hiring lifeguards and workers. He said Amanda Otto, the new director, put together a good list of activities for the summer. “We have high hopes for her,” he said.

Paxton also reported about swimming lessons being offered this summer. 

• Board member Kristen Schlattmann gave a report on the strategic planning meeting that took place April 2. She said it was a good turnout. This session was about focusing on their mission statement and exploring what resonates with them. She said they haven’t decided on anything to bring before the board yet. The next session was scheduled for April 16.

• The board approved the resignation of Jared Collingwood and hiring of Collin McArthur as the Spanish teacher.

• The board approved re-hiring all the coaches and hire Greg Mendenhall as a third middle school track coach. Board member’s Linda Osmond and Chris Kampbell abstained from voting on rehiring the coaches.

• Shawna Anderson was approved as a life skills teacher.

• Board policies were reviewed and discussed. The board approved Review Board Policy 1.27 Policy Review and Evaluation. Review Board Policy 1.22 Policy Adoption, 5.02 Board Staff Communication did not receive unanimous votes from the board, so they will be reviewed again in May. After discussion on Review Board Policy 5.03 Classroom Teacher Appraisal Criteria, Kampbell moved to table the item and the motion was approved. A motion was made on Review Board Policy 5.04 Criminal Background Check Policy, but it failed.

• There will be a special meeting at 7 p.m. on April 23 at the BHC School District No. 4 office. A work session will follow.