School officials fighting for project position

Last summer, Big Horn County School District Two completed a $1.1 million project to remodel a portion of Lovell High School. The district sat at number 70 on a long list of construction projects across the state to complete the three-phase LHS remodel project. Through verbal agreements with the School Facilities Commission, Supt. Dan Coe said he expected the project to keep the same spot on the list, but the SFC said otherwise.

“What we didn’t want to have happen and they told us they wouldn’t, they did anyway,” he said. The SFC bumped District Two from 70 to 100 on the list, a potential delay of several years if the decision sticks.

“If you want districts to remodel, you can’t penalize them as they go through the remodel phases, which is what they’re currently doing,” Coe said.

He said he has contacted the chairman of the legislative select committee on school facilities to stress that the district had a verbal agreement with the SFC to remain at the same number on the list throughout the three-phase remodel project. Maintenance Director Ron Massine and Rep. Elaine Harvey have also been speaking with the chairman and legislators about amending the action.

Coe said the SFC acknowledges the verbal agreement but may be bound by law to bump the project on the list. Coe said he is confident the district can get the issue resolved by this fall, “but we’re going to have to work at it,” he said.

Supt. Dan Coe gave a report about happenings in the district in the past year. The AdvancedEd visit was a major event, Coe said, and the district will continue to work to meet the seven standards of AdvancedEd. Coe said the district did well overall, with a few suggestions for areas to work on. Coe said the focus next year will be to increase reading skills by aligning the district curriculum from kindergarten to graduation.

Another district event was the adoption of Chapter 29, which requires districts to adopt a teacher evaluation system. The district adopted a system by McRel.

The board read the code of ethics aloud, which outlines practices board members are expected to adhere to when dealing with members of the community, the press, district employees and executive sessions. Board members agreed the code was very informative and it is good to read it periodically.

The board approved a bid of $329,850 including installation from PCC of Billings for installation of a new computer systems at all three buildings in the district.

The board approved a bid of $56,053 from Gtec for a camera security system that would encompass all three schools. The cameras will be inside and outside of the schools and will record continuously for later review. Coe said the district reviewed plans with SRO Randy Davis and Chief of Police Nick Lewis before bringing the item to the board. Through requested major maintenance funds, the SFC is paying for the security camera system.

The district advertised for bids in the Lovell Chronicle and Billings Gazette for bids on a new computer system for the district.

The board approved the preliminary budget, with plans to approve the final budget at the July board meeting.

The board voted to create a reserve fund account that will allow them to deposit funds amounting to not more than 10 percent of the annual operating budget. The board can deposit up to 10 percent of the budget each year and the funds will not be counted as a local resource for the district.

By Brad Devereaux

 

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