Budget Cutting for Next Year

May 10, 2001
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

for the Pathfinder
by Karen Lyncoln


It's official ­ well, almost official. The Seeley Lake Elementary School Board of Trustees was scheduled to canvas and certify the results of the May 8th election at their meeting on May 10th. But the votes are now tallied electronically at the County Clerks' office in Missoula, and the results weren't yet available. The Board will meet on Thursday, May 17th at 6:00 pm to certify that Bart Peterson and Loren Rose were re-elected as Trustees and to elect Board officers for the year.

The Board also needs to certify the mill levy that was passed by the community, a bittersweet victory. Based on the budget trimming proposed as part of the mill levy request, the half-time principal job and a full-time teaching position must be eliminated next year. That means that Tom Larson will go back to being a music teacher shared with the high school and that Mary Johnson, a non-tenured science and math teacher, will not be rehired. Other current staff will be rehired, including the administrative/office staff and 13 certified/tenured teachers. Toni Sexton will be hired as a part-time school counselor.

"In light of budget constraints, I move to accept the contract recommendations," said Pam Pittman, Board member, after hearing Superintendent Bill Hyde's staffing proposal for the 2001-2001 school year. "I regretfully second," said Mark Williams. Johnson read a statement about losing her job, stating, "You don't have another staff member able to teach science and math in the junior high," and noted that the science and math teachers at the high school had commended her for preparing students well for more advanced subjects. Johnson described the two new math programs and the new science curriculum she developed while teaching at Seeley Lake Elementary.

Johnson said that she believed she had lost her job because of personal conflicts with the superintendent. Board members asked Hyde to prepare a policy about evaluating and rehiring non-tenured teachers.

In addition to staff cuts, the Board also approved a budget-minded janitorial contract with Puritan that decreases the hours available for cleaning while not relaxing the standards the school expects. The contract dollar amount will be cut approximately 20% next year.

In other business, the Board approved the out-of-district tuition policy by affirming the existing practice of not charging the 9 out-of-district students expected at the school next year.

Board members attending the May meeting include Bart Peterson, Vicki Jardine, Pam Pittman, and Mark Williams. The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 12th at 6:00 pm.