SD10 trustees okay staff changes

Hirings, retirements, resignations

Dillon School District 10

Staffing issues – hirings, as well as retirements and resignations – occupied much of the discussion at School District 10’s regular monthly Board of Trustees’ meeting last week.

Other areas of discussion at the April 14 session included a reminder of the cancellation of the school election, originally scheduled for May, along with anticipated health insurance premium hikes, continued participation in a regional cooperative that provides special education support services, a report by four SD 10 teacher delegates to a Northwest Council of Computer Education (NCCE) conference and a reminder about next week’s Celebration of Excellence.

The trustees unanimously approved – as part of general acceptance of the customary “consent agenda” that also included approval of the minutes of the March meeting and payment of claims and warrants – four staff hiring recommendations by Dr. Glen Johnson, the district superintendent.

Shellie Broeder, a paraprofessional at Dillon Middle School who has also served as the alternative classroom teacher at DMS, will begin duties next fall as that school’s special education teacher. She will replace Donna Waylett, who recently announced her retirement after many years. Also resigning are Pamela Young, from the SD 10 kitchen staff, and Blakely Hay, middle school Spanish teacher, who is taking a similar job at Beaverhead County High School.

Rhonda McGinley was approved for a kitchen position. Two other persons were approved by the board for contracts, though acceptance on both candidates’ part was still pending as of press time Tuesday.

Beth Pavalis was interviewed via videoconference for a special education vacancy at Parkview Elementary. In a telephone interview Monday, Johnson said Pavalis is expected to be in Dillon for an on-site visit in hopes she will accept the district’s job offer.

Jim Huber was approved to become the district’s network administrator, succeeding Lori Richardson, who will retire as technology director at the end of the current school year. Johnson said Monday he is still waiting for Huber’s answer to the job offer.

Additionally, a half-time librarian position, currently held by Jan Mock, who is retiring, remains to be filled.

Seven non-tenured teachers recommended for rehire were also ratified by the board. Those persons are Bailey Myllymaki, fifth grade; Kelsi Nordahl, art; Dawn Jensen, third grade; Jeremy Anderson, middle school technology; Amber Gardner; Amanda Peck, kindergarten; and Timi Miles, kindergarten.

Incumbent trustees Kathy Hilton and Sharon Morehouse will begin new terms at the May 9 board meeting. Both were unopposed in their bids for re-election, and the election was cancelled since there was only a single candidate for each of the open positions. Estee Aiken, the only person to file for the position being vacated by Nicole Andersen, who chose to not run for re-election, will also take the oath of office at the May meeting.

Johnson told the trustees he does not believe the school district and its employees are going to be able to avoid an anticipated 14 percent hike in health insurance premiums.

In his written report to the board, he noted that the district group has a 115 percent claims-to-premium ratio, meaning that more was paid out to cover insurance claims than was collected from insured members.

“Other options are being explored but, given our claims history, I doubt there is a reputable company that will reduce our rates a whole lot,” He wrote.

On the other hand, the superintendent said he was pleased with the recent approval by the Montana Office of Public Instruction for both district facilities, pointing out that Parkview Elementary and Dillon Middle School have both received full OPI accreditation renewal “with no deviations.”

He congratulated the respective principals, Greg Fitzgerald and Randy Shipman, “and their excellent staffs for the work that they do.”

The report by the four teachers who attended the NCCE conference injected a bit of fun into the board meeting. Rebecca Southam, fourth grade, and Sarah Gibson, DMS social studies and reading strategies, along with Myllymaki and Peck, not only shared their experiences at the conference, but also demonstrated devices and new techniques for injecting fun into learning to help increase teaching effectiveness.

SD 10’s continued participation in the Great Divide Education Services Special Education Cooperative is somewhat tentative at this point, Johnson reported to the trustees. The co-op, of which he is vice-chair, has decided to operate for at least another year, he said; however, a $140,000 budget shortfall has made its existence more challenging.

Johnson said he told the rest of the co-op’s board that SD 10 “will not contribute any more money to the co-op over and above” its contribution for the current year. He told the school trustees they will have to decide by Oct. 1 whether to continue membership in the co-op after the 2017-18 school year.

SD 10 – the co-op’s largest financial contributor – provided $81,000 annually in grants and in-kind service contributions, he said. Great Divide provides school psychologist services two days a week. Johnson said he does not believe that that justifies the expenditure in funds and district resources.

Johnson also reminded the trustees about the district’s Celebration of Excellence event scheduled for 5-7:30 p.m. next Wednesday, April 26, at Dillon Middle School and encouraged them to attend.