BCHS slashes budget

School Board saves taxpayers over $250K



On a night when the Beaverhead County High School Board of Trustees reluctantly accepted the resignations of a 25-year-member of the group and two staff members, Superintendent Fred Chouinard presented the board with a 2014-15 budget that reduces Beaverhead County taxpayer contributions to the school by $258,130.33 for the fiscal year. Chouinard delivered the fiscally conservative message during Monday night’s monthly meeting of the board.

“Basically, we’re knocking property taxes down by about one-quarter million dollars,” said Chouinard. “I’m really happy about this budget because it is the lowest mills since I’ve been here and we’re financially healthy. When you don’t need it, why tax people?”

Chouinard and his staff built the budget on 14.74 fewer mills than a year ago. The largest savings came in the bus depreciation account which reduced the taxpayer liability by over $200,000. The account balance held over $750,000 coming into this fiscal year, despite the expense of two new school buses ($95,373.10 and $95,500.00).

In addition to the financial news, Chouinard announced that the school’s education standing remains in elite company. The school has been notified that it not only received accreditation through the Office of Public Instruction, but it also earned accreditation through the far more stringent AdvanceEd requirements of the Northwest Accreditation Commission.

Jon Konen, a 25-year member of the board, submitted his resignation on July 14, and the board accepted the news with acknowledgement of Konen’s longtime service to public education. The board declared the position vacant and will begin accepting applications for the now open seat. The board is required to fill the position within 60 days. The eventual appointee will serve the remainder of Konen’s term and then be up for election in May. The appointee must come from the same district Konen serves. For more information call BCHS (683-2361).

The board also accepted the resignations of Bill and Sara Wagner. The couple have decided to move to the family ranch near Drummond. Bill has been the industrial arts instructor at BCHS and Sara has coached girls’ basketball.

Later in the meeting, the board approved the hire of Jason Truman to instruct industrial arts and coach freshman girls basketball.

In other action, the board approved the secon and final reading of numerous policy updates; approved a contract between the school and Barrett Hospital for athletic training services; approved an agreement with the YMCA in which the school gets free access to the YMCA facility and the YMCA gets 3,000 miles of school bus use.

The board heard an update on the dual credit partnership between the University of Montana Western and BCHS. Students can take approved classes (chemistry, art, English and applied molecular technology) and earn both high school and college credit. UMW School of Outreach Interim Director Laura Straus, and Dual Credit and Big Sky Pathway Coordinator Ryann Gibson gave the informational presentation.