District One updates

An annual evaluation of the superintendent’s performance, and allusions to two abandoned schools and their new owners were among items broached during a meeting of Big Horn County School District One trustees at the district office in Cowley on Tuesday night, Nov. 8.

Although not necessarily brought to light during the open meeting, trustees and the public have been provided information about the former schools in Cowley and Deaver via minutes of meetings and the district website. A review of at least one of the facilities apparently was part of a closed meeting held prior to the open meeting Nov. 8. Additionally, the board, which met in its closed gathering from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m., reviewed Superintendent Shon Hocker’s evaluation with him during that assembly.

Regarding the former Rocky Mountain High School in Byron, it was reported by Mike Simmons, Director of Facilities & Maintenance, that the site “has been officially deeded over” to the Town of Byron. Residents were split somewhat on whether to take on ownership of the facility, but the majority ruled after several town meetings. The structure and its possible uses to help boost the economy of the town and surrounding area likely will be discussed during a meeting at town hall on Friday, Dec. 2.

As for the former school in Deaver, Simmons reported that, “We have received our 90-day lease back, signed by Dennis Danzik and Ridgeline Energy Services.” The company, working with the Town of Deaver, is examining whether it wants to utilize the structure, which could result in new employment and a lift to the area economy. During the open meeting, the board voted 7-0 to not extend the 90-day lease with Ridgeline past the Dec. 31 deadline.

Hocker’s evaluation was “very good; we are pleased with the job he is doing for us,” board Chairman Dave Monk said after the meeting. Hocker is in his fifth year as district chief. The board voted 7-0 Nov. 8 to approve his contract for the 2013-2014 school year. His possible new salary and benefits will be negotiated at a later date, Monk said.

Although not directly related to Hocker’s review, a report from Burlington schools noted that the superintendent recently “was a great sport during a sponge throw fund-raiser. He dodged most of the 75 sponges that came his way. The students enjoyed his willingness to be involved.”

Trustees heard a presentation from the senior class presidency at Burlington School in connection with the senior trip to Washington, D.C. in March. Students will raise their own money to pay for air transportation, accommodations and personal items, but asked the board for bus rides to and from Billings Logan International Airport. The board OK’d that request 7-0 plus spending up to $4,000 for two advisers to accompany the class. The money would pay for their flights and accommodations, and a fund is available.

The board also accepted donations totaling $450 for new uniforms for the RMHS cheerleaders. Donors: Wells Fargo Bank $200, Bank of Lovell $50, Bank of Powell $50, Pryor Mountain Engineering $50, and Groathouse Construction Inc. $100.

Trustees received a report from Patrice Riley, Director of Curriculum and Federal Programs, stating that, “Our Consolidated Grant application was rejected” and returned for corrections. She added, “Also, we were informed by the WDE that the grant award amounts were being reduced, and we would need to adjust our grants accordingly. (We) have completed that, and the grant is back in the WDE’s court.

“Our Consolidated Grant award,” Riley continued, “is $681,169, and we had an overall reduction of just under $4,000. This grant funds everything from school-wide Title I to Special Programs, to Special Education to Perkins for our vocational programs.” The funding “helps the district extend resources for students with disabilities that would otherwise not be available,” noted Wes Townsend, Director of Special Education.

Also during the open meeting, which lasted until 9:50 p.m., Hocker recognized the Burlington volleyball team for taking third at state and the boys cross country squad for taking second at regionals and fourth at state. And the board noted that Sadie Neves from Burlington was cited for good sportsmanship by the WHSAA.

In other matters the board:

•Accepted the resignations of Mike Higgins as RMMS assistant football coach and Evelyn Carter as RMES head cook.

•Approved the employment of Isaac Mayes as assistant wrestling coach at RMMS.

By Bob Rodriguez