BIG HORN — A couple Sheridan County School District 1 trustees had an eventful Monday. In the morning, board chair Gary Reynolds and vice chair Carol Garber spoke at the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce legislative forum.
Garber announced that the district had a 94 percent graduation rate last year, the third consecutive year the rate was above 90 percent. She also said Big Horn Middle School science teacher Tina Melin was selected as a finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Reynolds urged legislators to consider using rainy day funds or diverting interest earned on state investments to help fund education for the 2019-20 biennium.
Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, anticipated that the Legislature will use some of the rainy day fund to help support education. Kinskey also stated that the state has diverted more than $1 billion in savings over the past few years, so he wasn’t sure what additional diversions Reynolds wanted to see.
“Much sacrifice has been asked from all programs except education, from which the state has taken a 3.5 percent cut,” Kinskey said. “We are throwing people overboard to help keep education as whole as we can. I want you to know that. It’s important you understand that.”
“It’s important you do that as legislators in the state of Wyoming and follow your own Constitution and what is required,” he said.
“I don’t feel bad that education may not have been cut as much as some others. It’s the most important thing we do in the state of Wyoming.”
Reynolds and Garber rejoined the rest of the trustees in the evening for the monthly board meeting.
At the board meeting, Big Horn High School principal Ben Smith talked about “Ram Fam,” an effort to develop student relationships across high school grade levels that began this year. One teacher oversees a group of about 10 students from all four grade levels who sometimes have lunch together and perform a major activity each quarter. The first group effort involved a community service project and Smith said the groups will likely have a cook-off of some sort later in the school year.
Similarly, BHHS teachers identified students who could serve as peer tutors this year. The student tutors are available either daily or a few times each week during flex scheduling. Smith said the designated computer lab for tutoring is usually full.
“A lot of times that’s how they learn best,” Smith said.
BHHS science teacher Mila Stender talked about a wildlife conservation and media summit in Jackson that she attended in September. Stender is working on curriculum to teach a class next year about large-land conservation issues and mainly went to learn more about the subject. Her class will focus on connectivity in natural landscapes and animal migration patterns, i.e. how Yellowstone National Park affects animal patterns in North America. At the summit, Stender had lunch with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, experienced virtual reality and worked with National Geographic filmographers and photographers.
Science teacher Tim Maze received teacher of the month at Tongue River Middle School. Additionally, Justin Kidneigh, a social studies teacher, was named teacher of the month at Big Horn Middle School.
The Big Horn football team received acknowledgement for its recent runner-up finish at the state championship. The team also was lauded for its sportsmanship in the state semifinal game at Cokeville. Smith joked that he “would take any of these young men over the quarterback of Pine Bluffs any day.”
The Big Horn cross country team received recognition as well for participating in last month’s state meet. “We’re just getting better every year,” head coach Dan Biebel said, adding that this year’s team had no seniors.
SCSD3 superintendent Marty Kobza said the district will have about 935 students currently enrolled at the end of the month, a few more than at the end of October but about 10 less than the beginning of the school year.
Five policies were unanimously approved on second reading. The policies were about the 2018 board meeting schedule; public participation at board meetings; personnel records; bloodborne pathogens; and tobacco use and vaping on school premises by staff.
The board also reviewed five policies related to the reporting of staff complaints and grievances.
In an executive session toward the end of the meeting, the board unanimously approved the request of a high school student who asked to graduate this school year.
The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 19 at the district central office in Ranchester.
This article was corrected to reflect the proper spelling of the board’s vice chair. Her name is Carol Garber.