Dist. 1 valedictorians, salutatorians announced

Students who have worked to achieve the honor to serve as valedictorians and salutatorians for the classes of 2012 at Burlington High School and Rocky Mountain High School were accepted by trustees of Big Horn County School District One during their meeting on Tuesday night, April 10, at the administration center in Cowley with Trustee Brett Crosby absent.

Additionally, the board voted 6-0 to approve the 2012-13 health insurance program for employees in the face of a 14.5 percent increase in the medical portion. Trustees also were informed by Supt. Shon Hocker that the district attained a graduation rate of 92 percent for the 2010-11 school year, the second highest among all Wyoming school districts. Lovell High School took the top spot with 92.68 percent.

Hocker and board chairman Dave Monk said that the outstanding accomplishment is due to staff efforts.

“We appreciate all their hard work,” said Hocker, with Monk adding, “Great job, staff!” Prior to the announcement of the superior graduation realization, Hocker presented Monk a plaque from the Wyoming School Boards Association “for his commitment to school district education goals.”

Valedictorians at Burlington, where the commencement ceremony is set for May 21, are Janet Davidson, Julie Davidson, Sadie Neves and Lance Schatz. The salutatorian is Bryla Jones. RMHS will have Ethan Strom as valedictorian and Ashley Bridges as salutatorian on May 22. Earning the honor to address their classes upon graduating is based on a 4.0 grade-point average for valedictorians, with the next highest GPA earners following as salutatorians.

Regarding health insurance, Business Manager Richard Parker informed the board that “part of the reason” the medical portion will rise “is due to a couple of claims” amounting to $286,000. That equates to a 39 percent loss ratio, he said, for the carrier, the Wyoming Employee Benefit Trust. Parker told trustees that the dental portion of the plan will increase by 6 percent, but that the premium for the vision part will not rise “and is good for three more years.”

After the meeting, regarding the premium payments, Hocker replied, “This is a complicated question. The district pays a minimum of $515.10 for a single employee, and a maximum of $1,400.93 for a family plan. Depending on the plan they select, this covers between 67 to 90 percent of the expenses; thus, employees pay between 10 percent and 33 percent of the premiums.”

After the one-hour regular meeting in open session the board adjourned to a 90-minute executive session closed to the news media and public. As a result of the confidential gathering, it subsequently was announced that the board approved the following resignations and early retirements: Nancy Preis, a preschool teacher; Shauna Migneault, a bus driver/custodian; Dorothy Allen, a custodian; Bonnie Krause, art/journalism teacher; and Judy Blymyer, Title I teacher, all at Burlington. Also approved were Carol McMillin, P.E./health teacher, and Spencer Clark, music teacher, both at Rocky Mtn. Middle/High School; plus Dennis Woodward, district transportation director.

Byron school update

Jeff Noall told the board that he has been hired as on-site representative for the former Byron school by the new owner, Alex John Campos of Duluth, Ga. The district deeded the facility and property to the Town of Byron last year and although initially there were plans for the town to utilize the site for business tenants as an economic boost, the town council sold the place to Campos for $70,000 as of March 12 this year. Noall stated that he will be moving to Byron from Salt Lake City and use an office in the former school as his base.

“He (Campos) is in the auto insurance business” with a call center connection, said Noall. He added that although it first was thought that as many as 500 persons could be employed in a call center that Campos had indicated was forthcoming at the Byron site, the number likely will be around 100 persons.

“The manpower just isn’t there,” said Noall, and he continued that prevailing wages in the Big Horn County area are more than had been anticipated compared to other locations operated by Campos.

“Alex is real excited and moving forward” with regard to Byron, said the representative. “There is a potential for jobs and he’s not going to let the building sit and deteriorate. He’s pursuing other areas” that could lead to building utilization and employment. Noall also said that Campos is requesting the release of the first right-of-refusal on the Home Economics Cottage at the site and use of a district-owned water cannon in exchange for care around the district’s shop in Bryon. Additionally, he expressed Campos’ interest in future ownership of the shop. Hocker thanked him for his presentation.

The board learned that Judy Jessup, who teaches family and consumer science (formerly home ec) at Burlington, took 23 middle school and high school students to recent competition under auspices of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America organization. They were quite successful as many students earned top honors. The group members were rewarded for their hard work and dedication by receiving the Outstanding Chapter Award. The board shortly thereafter, following a presentation by Jessup, voted 6-0 to approve her request for funding for four students, her and a parent adviser to attend the FCCLA National Conference from July 6 to 13 in Orlando, Fla. The funding involves up to 50 percent of costs for the students and an adviser, as well as all of Jessup’s costs not to exceed $4,158 in total.

Trustees also OK’d a request from the RMHS Future Business Leaders of America Chapter for $5,492 in financial help to attend the national conference in San Antonio, Texas, from June 27 to July 3 this year. During recent high-level FBLA competition, Brianna Hocker, Racheal Allred and Kallee Wilson placed first in the American Enterprise Project category; Cannon Simmons was fifth in Introduction to Technology Concepts, Michael Bernhisel was sixth in Sport Management, and Matt Parker placed seventh in Impromptu Speaking. The presentation for the trip was made by teacher and adviser Skye Mader.

In a similar matter, RMHS social studies teachers Geranne Rasmussen and Josh Collins requested permission from the board and possible financial help for a trip to Washington, D.C. next spring to the national FLBA conference. Funding up to $2,000 overall would be for interested 10th, 11th and 12th graders and advisers, substitute teachers and a bus to and from Billings Logan International Airport. The students are beginning to raise their own funds for the trip, it was noted, and for every 10 students who attend, one teacher can attend cost-free except for meals, which they will pay for themselves. The request was approved 6-0.

Parker stated that funds are available in the budget for such educational/cultural learning trips. Hocker said that such might not always be the case, but that as district students do so well in regional competition, thus qualifying them for national gatherings, it is good to aid district chapters of organizations such as FBLA and FCCLA when possible. Students learn much and broaden their education through such events, he indicated.

In a related matter Burlington Senior Capstone Project representatives Anson George, Julie Davidson and Janet Davidson with teacher Gerald George showed a seven-minute DVD from their D.C. trip from March 8 to 16. They were among a large group of Burlington students who took the trip and visited a large number of historic and cultural locations. It was noted that during the first three days in the capital, they walked 35 miles while sightseeing.

Trustees also learned from Parker that the district budget is in good shape. Last school year at this time 61.09 percent of the budget had been used and the figure now is 61.07 percent. “It’s pretty good overall,” observed Parker.

By Bob Rodriguez