The Bear Lake School District Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting on November 12 starting at 7:15 PM, with Kolby Romrell, Paul Alleman, and Angie Grunig attending. Bills to be paid since October 8 were approved in the amount of $308,157.81. The Superintendent’s report began with the BLHS Student Council representative’s update. The council attended a regional meeting, where they were awarded 1st place for most school spirit. They also raised over $2,000 for Thanksgiving dinners for area families in need, and will be participating in Toys for Tots.
Superintendent Gary Brogan shared possible guidelines on how to allow for sick leave donations from and for district employees. Ideas presented included that donors must retain at least 10 sick days, the recipient must have used all sick and personal leave, and donations would be in half or full day increments. Brogan stated they were still trying to work out issues of confidentiality, as well as the value of the time based on the donor’s position. Romrell added he would like it to be open for family issues, to which Brogan replied that examples included those, and it would be available to all employees.
Transportation fuel issues were then discussed. The district’s fuel supplier was not prepared for the recent unseasonably early plummet in temperatures, which gelled the fuel in 5 or 6 school buses. Possible solutions for next year included the supplier bringing a tank with the correct mix, or the district looking for a used tank with an approximate capacity of 1,000 gallons. Romrell inquired what it cost to un-gel the buses this time. It took about 10 hours of work, $163 in filters, and 36 bottles of anti-gel (the last of which was provided by the fuel supplier). All students made it to school during this time.
Under the heading of student health issues, BLHS Principal Luke Kelsey shared what he and his staff have been doing to curtail vaping. Speaker presentations were made in small student groups, and students did their own presentations in health class. The high school also does nicotine testing for sports participants. Out of 167 tested, 100 percent tested clean, with 18 students admitting to vaping and completing the program before testing. Kelsey stated they are just trying to help kids make good decisions, and that he would like to pursue programs that encourage positive peer influence.
The student council representative stated he thinks vaping is less of an issue currently than it was last Spring, and another student present agreed. When asked how easy it is to acquire vaping materials, they also agreed that it was “too easy”. School Resource Officer Deputy Rob Pelto stated the legal penalty for underage nicotine use is only $74.50, even for subsequent offenses, and that parents almost always pay the fine.
Brogan then discussed building use, stating it was his understanding that the board had requested a one night per week shutdown, to give families that evening to all be together with no school activities to attend. Alleman confirmed that he remembered the trustees asking for there to be no school activities scheduled on Monday evenings. Brogan asked if this means that the buildings could be open to other public use. Romrell answered that yes, the district should keep the no Monday policy, but allow public use, providing it did not require any work hours from district employees.
Brogan also updated the board on discussions from the Vision Committee, who after generating a long list of items they would like to see accomplished, they then chose their top 3. These prioritized projects are a new ceiling and ventilation system for the middle school, new windows for the MS, and a kitchen and adult restrooms for Georgetown Elementary. The preliminary approximate costs for these are $33, 536, $500,000, and $94,000, respectively. The committee, according to Brogan, felt completion of these projects would “restore some public faith” in the district.
Brogan added that some of these projects are not currently part of the plans outlined by the plant facility levy, and stated he was open for suggestions. He also asserted that they should bring in an expert, which would cost approximately $20,000 to $30,000, to evaluate the cost of bringing BLMS up to code, or to declare it simply not feasible. Romrell stated he thinks this is a wise idea, but that the district does not have the funds to do so this year. Alleman asserted his opinion that since the district’s buildings have been neglected since the last bond was paid off in 1999, that he cannot understand any justification for continuing to ignore the problem. He added that the longer they wait, the more it will cost, and that he was unsure how to get the public to understand the importance. Brogan suggested they discuss the issue more in-depth at the retreat in early 2020. Romrell added that the board will have two new members with new perspectives.
Georgetown and A.J. Winters Elementary Principal Laurel Jensen did a presentation on teachers’ number 1 concern, inappropriate behavior and its ability to “hijack” a classroom. Jensen investigated the PBIS program, Positive Behavior Intervention and Support, which concentrates more on encouraging good behavior. Idaho received the second largest of the rural schools grants to pilot and test this program. Signs are up at the schools, reminding students to “be respectful, be responsible, and be ready to learn”.
In tracking misbehaviour, they noticed a significant increase right at 10 AM, when many students are traveling the hallways, so they increased adult supervision in these areas at that time to help remind the students what is expected. Jensen asserted that the concept needs to be taught and retaught, as many times as necessary to reach mastery, just like anything academic. A culture of personal investment is encouraged by naming it in each school. Georgetown students are reminded of their “Dragon Pride”, while Paris students feel “Mustang Pride”, and A.J. Winters kids remind each other to do things “The A.J. Way”.
Brogan announced that the district has officially hired a grant writer. Romrell expressed appreciation for all of the student Veterans Day appreciation presentations. Alleman relayed he received positive responses from some of the 15 parents who attended the “sending parents back to school” orientation at BLHS. Brogan listed many athletic achievements district students have earned.
Bids were considered to purchase a new school bus, with the bid going to Rush for an International Bus at a cost of $94,430. Specifications for a travel bus were also discussed, and approved with minor changes in charging port capabilities. The next 9 action items were second and final readings of new and revised policies previously discussed. All were approved without further comment. Lastly, the board approved the purchase of copiers and printers for BLHS. Business Manager Joey Probst asserted it was best to end the lease arrangements for these machines, and that the purchase was a planned expense out of plant facilities.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:36 PM. For more information, please visit www.blsd.net, or call the district 33 offices at (208) 945-2891.