School board offers
firefighter support

by Karen Lyncoln

For the Pathfinder
August 24, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

"Let's show the firefighters that we support and appreciate them," said Bart Peterson, Chair of the Board of Education of the Seeley Lake Elementary School at its August 14th meeting as board members discussed the possibility of locating a fire camp on school property. School principal Tom Larson had been approached about relocating the fire camp at Monture Creek to the Seeley Lake area. Board members were very supportive of the idea and decided to tell the Department of Natural Resources that the school grounds could support up to 70 firefighters with room for tents on the ball field and the use of showers, the gym, and the cafeteria during non-school hours. The school will be available if the need arises.

"When school starts next week, we'll need to work to make sure the students are safe," said Loren Rose, Board Vice Chair. The "Safe Schools Program" requires visitors inside the school building to sign in and wear badges during school hours. The Board will have to ensure that firefighters do not carry weapons on school grounds. And the Board and staff will have to work quickly to develop an evacuation plan for the school if Seeley Lake is evacuated during school hours. School administrative staff have contacted the Red Cross to determine if the elementary school is listed as an evacuation center. An information packet will go home with each student during the first week of school if the area is still under the Level V alert.

Board members approved the budget for the 2000-2001 year. The general fund, which pays salaries and benefits of the personnel and costs for operations and maintenance costs of the school, is capped at $940,584. Money is separately budgeted for transportation, retirement, and paying the construction debt.

Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg are reviewing the school's application for using their grant money. Sally Johnson reported that the school is asking for grant money to help fund the preschool program and to complete buying educational materials for the fifth and sixth grade looping program. The grant money will also buy library books.

Bart Peterson asked for and received permission to use the school to hold a Hunter Safety Class this fall. He explained that the class doesn't violate the school's Weapon's Policy because the instructor brings an unloaded gun to class only to teach the parts of gun; he will not bring any ammunition.

The board also reviewed presentations of the status of the free and reduced cost lunch program. Decisions about the cost of meals to students and adults were tabled until next month's meeting when the school will know its actual enrollment numbers. Board members also discussed Policy 4004, attempting to clarify its language about charging out-of-district students tuition. Out-of-district means students who live outside the school district's boundaries or are living inside the district boundaries with someone other than a legal guardian. There are currently 7 out-of-district students at the elementary school.

Members attending the August 14th meeting include Bart Peterson, Chair; Loren Rose; Pam Pitman; and Mark Williams. The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for September 12th at 6:00 p.m. at the elementary school.

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