PINEDALE – The Sublette County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees approved a five-day calendar with early release on Fridays for the 2021-2022 academic year at its Feb. 11 meeting.
The calendar committee, chaired by trustee Marie McGuire and Pinedale Elementary School Principal Greg Legerski, presented a four- and five-day calendar to the board on Dec. 10. The committee also included public comments sent via email and the results of a survey sent to stakeholders in the December board packet.
More than 700 parents, guardians, staff, community members and students responded to the district survey. A significant proportion of respondents were parents, guardians and staff. Their responses were split roughly in half between the four-day and five-day, early release calendars.
The board held a special meeting on Dec. 17 to hear additional public comment on the calendars.
At the Feb. 11 meeting, McGuire told the board that the five-day, early release calendar reflected public concerns and provided a start date and end date to the academic year that were not too early.
The five-day calendar lined up with Christmas, Easter and other federal holidays, McGuire added, allowing parents working at federal and state agencies to have the day off with their children.
In a unanimous vote, the trustees selected a bid submitted by McPherson and Jacobson LLC to provide professional assistance in the search process for a new superintendent. McPherson and Jacobson specialize in executive leadership talent searches across the nation and are based in Omaha, according to its proposal.
Two other entities responded to the district's request for qualifications – a private company, Ray and Associates, and the Wyoming Association of School Boards.
McGuire asked the board to consider keeping the search local in order to save money as budget cuts loom. She stated that there are qualified candidates living in the community and Pinedale can be a difficult place to relocate to.
Trustee Charles Prior voiced the concern that if a local search did not produce a good candidate, then the board would be further behind in the search process and may have to hire a professional down the road. The monies intended to pay the search firms were part of the budget and would be recaptured if not used, Prior added.
Despite the budget crunch, trustee Rachel Weksler said that the district lacked the expertise to carry out a complete, quality search on its own.
Board chair Jamison Ziegler explained that he understood the desire to keep the search local and save money, but in his experience, professional search firms were invaluable. Professional firms cast their nets wide and acted as a neutral facilitator to narrow the initial search down to several strong candidates for the district and public interview process.
Trustee Chris Nelson stated that outgoing Superintendent Jay Harnack had set the district on a route to become one of the top ranked in the state. He believed the only way to continue this trajectory was to hire professionals to find the top candidates nationwide.
Other board news
The second policy concerned public concerns and complains related to Title IX and the third included the use of anonymous information in staff grievances.