The Bear Lake County School Board held their regular monthly meeting on September 10 at 7 PM, which began with approving the bills to be paid for August in the amount of $498,911.39. All trustees expressed how pleased they are on the final look of the newly renovated football field. No one spoke during Public to be Heard. Superintendent Gary Brogan stated that windows for A.J. Winters and Georgetown Elementary have been ordered, which were needed to address safety concerns. Trustee Bill Pettis inquired how much the windows cost. Brogan was unsure, but stated he thought just under $30,000.
BMS Principal Dr. Steve Heeder gave a presentation on 2018-2019 assessment results for the district, for which there are three categories of testing: young students take the reading IRI, 3rd through 10th graders take the ISAT, and all 11th graders take the SAT. For the IRI composite score, BLSD overall exceeded Idaho state average scores. On the ISAT, our 5th and 8th graders exceeded state, but others were lower, especially in language arts. These scores were particularly low for 6th grade. Heeder speculated that when the test added a reading component, the scores went down, which is an area he said they need to improve on.
Heeder expressed satisfaction in a “greatly improved” math proficiency on the ISAT. Our students are also above state average scores in science. On the SAT, BLSD 11th graders are just below state average scores in critical reading and math, which Heeder stated is typical for small rural schools, and expressed that he is “fairly satisfied” with that. Other nationally standardized tests for high school students include the ACT, which BLSD comes in at about 20.5 compared to a national average of 21, and the ASVAB (military entrance exam), which compares at 43.1 for BLSD versus 50 for the national average.
Brogan reported on his investigations into contracting custodial services. A preliminary estimated quote came in at $304,000, which would not include a certain number of hours (primarily sport activities). Pettis pointed out it this came to over 30 hours or more not covered for these activities, which he said at $22 per hour would use up funds quickly. Brogan discussed pros, such as the hands-on management an outside company could provide, versus cons, primarily that the district-hired custodians routinely perform minor maintenance tasks, which would not be covered in such a contract.
Chairman Kolby Romrell stated the district is invested in the custodial employees, and that he believes progress had been made with previous issues. Trustee Paul Alleman disagreed, stating he has witnessed a continually unsatisfactory state, particularly at the high school. Brogan suggested the district hire a half-time custodial supervisor, which he estimated would cost approximately $20,000 per year. Pettis asked if this position would cover all five schools, which was answered yes, and Pettis stated that it “seems like an exercise in futility” due to the travel distance involved. It was also pointed out that other public entities use BLSD school facilities without paying for or providing janitorial services.
Further discussion on custodial issues was put on hold to listen to and review the audit report, given by Kurt Folke via phone conference. Folke reported that student accounts look good, with a few high school accounts in the negative, primarily baseball and other athletics. He recommended working to get those back to a positive position this year. The general district fund netted a surplus of $58,729 to carry over, however, Folke warned that expenditures did outpace the rate of incoming funds, putting the spending reserve at 2.4 months of operating costs, which he said is an “okay position” to be in. Folke concluded that all funds were “behaving as they should.”
Romrell returned the discussion to the custodial services issue, suggesting they take it to the retreat for a deep discussion. Alleman stated multiple people have mentioned the lack of cleanliness. Principal Luke Kelsey stated that deep cleaning is the issue at the HS, primarily because there is always an emergency, such as leaks, which interfere. He also affirmed that before sporting events, the locker room and restrooms are “spotless”, then the crowd uses the facilities without flushing toilets and getting trash to where it belongs. Without a custodian on staff during and after the events, “you can’t keep up,” Kelsey stated.
BLHS Student Council representative David Lusk provided an update on plans for Homecoming, which will include a parade at noon on September 27. Romrell asked Lusk to take the issue of keeping the school cleaner back to the student council to brainstorm ideas. Paris Elementary Principal Janet Lindsey presented a slideshow of recent activities at her school. Brogan relayed information on the new district website.
The board vacancy for Zone three was discussed, with Kendell Roberts present to volunteer and be interviewed. Roberts stated he believes in community and the importance of education, and gave a brief autobiography. Pettis advised him to be prepared to be confronted on certain topics when in public. Roberts expressed some concern about the time commitment necessary, as he has a young family and a business. Romrell replied that the monthly meetings constituted the majority of it, and Alleman added it usually takes a couple of hours to read the material to prepare before a meeting.
Roberts also inquired why the position is open and when the election occurs. Brogan responded that he will need to run in November, and that though the deadline for regular filing has passed, he will be able to file as a write-in candidate. Roberts also asked if anyone else had filed to run, and was told no, which he surmised was disappointing that there is not more interest. The board then voted Roberts in as trustee for Zone 3.
The High School Overnight Trip schedule was discussed at length, with Pettis concerned about boys basketball and baseball accounts being “in the hole.” His opinion was that a message needs to be sent on the importance of fundraising and earning the privilege of attending these events. Kelsey stated he needs to check on the basketball account, as they are usually okay, but that baseball has been a challenge since he has been here. Kelsey agreed with the concept of no overnight trips until fundraising gets better. Alleman added he would like this to include all student activity accounts “in the red.” After more discussion, the board approved this year’s trip schedule, with the addition that there would be none approved for next year for any team or club with a negative account balance, without showing at least a one-third improvement by July 1, 2020.
The board approved the audit reviewed earlier, as well as the Combined District Plan, which Brogan identified as “frustrating”. He relayed that the combined state template would likely not be repeated, that separating it into 3 plans is better. Romrell asked if we use state benchmarks or our own, to which Brogan replied our own. Heeder added that we look for a 5 percent increase. The meeting adjourned at 8:57 PM. For more information, please visit the BLSD 33 District website at www.blsd.net or call 208-945-2891.