RANCHESTER — The Sheridan County School District 1 Board of Trustees unanimously approved participation in a joint powers board to be formed between the towns of Dayton and Ranchester and SCSD 1 at their regular board meeting last night. Trustee Karen Walters was voted as the district’s representative.
A primary motivation for forming the board is to advocate for and, if successful, manage a natural gas line into the Tongue River Valley, which the district feels would provide a significant amount of savings on heating costs in coming years. District schools currently heat with propane or coal.
The board heard from Jeremy Smith, SCSD 1 business manager, who informed the board that he and Superintendent Marty Kobza will be in Cheyenne later this month testifying before the Joint Education Committee, noting the need for a cost of living adjustment for staff. A cost of living adjustment has not been provided to school district employees statewide for the past four years.
“It has impacted our district pretty significantly,” Smith said. “We’re going to try to talk to them about the need and what programming can be affected if this lasts much longer.”
Smith did note that all district employees but five will receive a one-time, 1 percent retention bonus payment for having met certain criteria including length of employment. The maximum bonus payment is $1,200.
Kobza also updated the board on current enrollment numbers, which have risen recently.
“Our enrollment continues to increase,” Kobza said. “We are close to 970 students as of today and we anticipate that by the end of next week we’ll be close to 975. The challenge we face is we have larger class sizes than we are used to, though they are still small by most standards. Big Horn High School is the largest it has ever been (155 students). It is great to be on that side of the trend. In the short term it causes some growing pains, but in the long term it is very helpful.”
The board also received an update on recent student PAWS scores from Tongue River and Big Horn principals, noting strengths that the tests pointed out, as well as how they are working towards improvements on the tests for next year.