Special Olympics program highlights District 1 meeting

Bob Rodriguez

Although a number of routine items were handled during an evening meeting of the Board of Trustees of Big Horn County School District One on Tuesday, Jan. 16, a presentation on an expanded Special Olympics program was a highlight.
Chairman Joseph Bassett presided in the district office in Cowley with fellow trustees David Banks, Jared Boardman, Holly Michaels, Don Hatch, Hiedi Christensen and Jessie Hamilton attending with Superintendent Matt Davidson.
The gathering began with a 30-minute executive session (closed to the public). The board, said Davidson, reviewed his evaluation for renewal of his contract. It was approved for renewal for a one-year period beginning at the end of June this year. It will be Davidson’s third year as superintendent.
In open meeting, the superintendent stated that “Dana Romriell and Chandra Grohman gave a great presentation on how Big Horn School District #1, as well as Big Horn School District #2, have become Unified Schools with Special Olympics.
“It was not only a great presentation,” he noted, “but a good cause.”
The presentation, said Romriell, who works with Grohman at Burlington Elementary School, “was regarding our newly formed Big Horn 1 Special Olympics Committee. The communities of Big Horn School District #1 have had Special Olympics teams in the past, but the organizational efforts have fallen on the shoulders of only one or two individuals. These tasks include registration for athletes and coaches, athlete rosters, fundraising, etc.
“This year, with the Wyoming High School Activities Association partnering with the Special Olympics in an effort to grow the Unified Sports Program, we decided to form a committee to help grow our local program. We will operate under the title Big Horn 1 and welcome athletes, families and support from all neighboring communities.”
Romriell said the organization is looking to the future.
“We are drafting a five-year plan that includes outreach to communities with a floundering or non-existent program, the establishment and maintenance of partnerships with local first responders as volunteers, rigorous fundraising and huge growth and stability of our program through these initiatives,” Romriell said.
“We also want to work with various high school clubs as partner Athletes/Participants with our Special Olympics athletes/participants to build our Unified Program in areas such as cheer, dance, drama, etc., which have not been previously offered in this area. It is our sincere hope these partner athletes and participants develop the same love and passion for the program and will carry on in our stead for years to come.”
Following the executive session and presentation, the board conducted a regular session. Included was a Recreation District budget hearing. Numbers will be available beginning in July. The Rec Board agreed to retain current officers: Bassett as chairman, Hatch as vice chairman, Christensen as secretary-treasurer and Michaels and Boardman as members.
Davidson noted that an important item followed with early retirement requests approved for:
Berta Newton, art teacher at Rocky Mountain Middle/High School; Kirk Hopkin, special education teacher at RMMHS; Julie Michaels, elementary teacher at Burlington; and Ilene Henley, Title 1 staffer at RMMS.
Also recognized were Employees of the Month: Miranda Snyder at RMES, McKay Baxendale at RMMHS and Stephanie Smith at Burlington.
Student recognitions were for Dusti Schatz, of Burlington, who advanced to Trustees Scholars Award; and two academic teams, coached by Ryan Olson, of Burlington, in connection with the Big Horn Basin Knowledge Bowl. Team 1 students are Brikton Wardell, Jordan Michaels, Colt Haslam, Hannah Bullinger and Faith Davidson, who won second place; and Team 2 members Paul McNiven, Kitzen Schatz, Jordan Broederlow, Taft Winters and Rebecca Bullinger, who captured fourth place.
Trustees also approved a Casper-based Engineering Associates proposal as presented for an HVAC upgrade at RMES. The organization will work with Plan One Architects of Cody. A cost bid is rapidly forthcoming, said Davidson, with an unofficial price tag of an estimated $1 million. It is hoped, he said, that, once approved, the work will be completed by the end of May.
A final item at the end of the board’s business, which lasted some two hours, “about average for our meetings,” said the superintendent, was a work session set for Wednesday, Jan. 31, at the Lovell High School Commons.
“The meeting will be with our legal counsel (Copenhaver, Kitchen & Kolpitcke LLC of Powell) and begin at 6 p.m. Although it will be a public meeting,” it is not normally attended by district patrons, as it is “purely informational and no action can nor will be taken,” said Davidson. Trustees from all Big Horn County school districts 1 through 4 are to attend to be instructed on legal issues and laws affecting district boards.
Davidson added that Tracy Copenhaver will be present, as well as Kevin Mitchell, executive director of the Wyoming Association of School Administrators. Updates on various issues will be reviewed.