Board approves legal action and budget cuts

PINEDALE – Following a reduction in education funds from the state of Wyoming earlier this year, the Sublette County School District No. 1 (SCSD#1) board was forced to make decisions last Thursday at its regular monthly meeting to reduce spending.

The board first approved a 2017-’18 budget reduction plan.

The board then moved into an agenda item that called for reduced work days for the high school counselor and activity secretary. In addition, the site supervisor job description was initially approved at 185 days but only requires 180 days of work, so the board approved the changes to reflect this adjustment. The revised job descriptions were unanimously approved.

The next item up for discussion and action was for a reduction in force. The plan that was previously approved called for a reduction of the district’s workforce for both certified and support staff. The board unanimously approved to let go of certified positions, including a instructional facilitator and elementary teacher, along with support positions that include a technology specialist, a paraprofessional for the high school library, an ELL paraprofessional, nutrition services site supervisor and a custodian position.

“These are difficult choices to make,” trustee Chris Nelson said. “We didn’t want to impact the classroom. They were difficult decisions. Nobody likes to make those decisions, but it is the best direction we could go. It’s always hard.”

State suit

The board approved a resolution authorizing legal action against the state of Wyoming. According to board chair Jamison Ziegler, the legal action is in response to the way the Legislature has treated Wyoming schools throughout the past seven years with their funding system.

Ziegler said the “external cost adjustment” that Wyoming uses for inflationary adjustments to things such as certified wages, non-certified wages, materials and other necessities has not been applied for years. The lack of adjustment has negatively impacted districts around the state that should be getting more funds.

He went on to add that Campbell County School District was the first to pass a resolution a few weeks earlier, and that additional school districts from around the state will join in a cooperative effort in moving forward with litigation. At this point in time, no word has been released as to the number of districts involved or when the suit will be filed.

In other news from the meeting:

• The board welcomed students from Skyline Academy, who were in attendance for requests regarding graduation. What the students and Skyline Academy principal Eric Makelky requested from the board was to have all Skyline students sit together and walk together as a cohesive group at graduation, along with being able to establish a “Senior of the Year” that will speak at graduation.

With graduation looming, the board agreed they would go ahead approve the requests and later implement policy that would reflect the graduation changes for Skyline Academy.

Board treasurer Chris Nelson said it would be a good way for the community to recognize Skyline Academy students.

“These kids have done everything they need to do,” he said. “I don’t have an issue if they sit together and take pride as Skyline Academy Hawks.”

• The Pinedale Aquatic Center requested rent forgiveness of $200,000 from its annual $600,000 rent payment for the second consecutive year.

“We want to make the PAC efficient through the good and bad times,” Nelson said.

Board vice chair Robin Schamber clarified, following decisions made regarding budget cuts, that rent money from the PAC goes into a different pool of money that is used for maintenance of the PAC.

With two consecutive years of rent forgiveness coming to a two-year total of $400,000 that the PAC is missing out on, the board agreed that they have to be mindful to not let the decrease in maintenance funds come back to hurt them down the road.

Following the brief discussion, the board voted to approve the rent forgiveness.

• The board then went into a closed-door session to discuss personnel and legal matters, along with a matter dealing with receiving student information classified as confidential by law.

• The board later opened the meeting back up to the public, where they approved certified staff for the 2017-’18 school year for Pinedale Elementary School, Pinedale Middle School, Pinedale High School, Skyline Academy, central office and special services as presented.

The next regular SCSD#1 school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 11, at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of the Administration Building.


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