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Updating school board's
summer sessions

By Beth Hutchinson
For the Pathfinder
October 8, 1998

Staffing, facility and the board's mission, goals and objectives absorbed the bulk of the Seeley Lake Elementary School Board's attention over the summer.

An assortment of resignations as well as a decision to add and additional seventh grade section meant that hiring procedures had to be implemented for a total of six new employees. Shirley Johnson, an educator from Missoula with twenty years experience, was selected from among six other candidates to serve as parttime principal for the year.

Two teachers, Daryl Davis at seventh grade and Mary Johnson at eighth grade, were added. Davis, who has two years of teaching experience, moved to Seeley Lake from the Yak, while Johnson, with three years of experience came from Fairfield.

At the opening of school, enrollments were expected as follows: Kindergarten- 23, 1st Grade- 18, 2nd Grade- 18, 3rd Grade- 27, Multi-Graded (1st, 2nd and 3rd)- 9/4/5, 4th Grade- 17, 5th Grade- 24, 6th Grade- 27, Multi-Graded (4th, 5th and 6th)- 10/5/4, 7th Grade (gold)- 14, 7th Grade (black)- 17 and 8th Grade 25.

John Devins was hired as a full time maintenance supervisor. In addition to attending to the general well being of the school plant and equipment, he will oversee the services provided by the contracted custodial service Puritan Company from Missoula. Devins has worked for nearly two decades in the Seeley Lake construction field.

Other hirees include Susie Teafoe as the new school secretary and Joy Clemens as a parttime kitchen assistant. Both Teafoe and Clemens are long term Seeley Lake residents. Teafoe has worked as an elementary classroom aide for several years, while Clemens owns a sign painting business.

The board continued to work towards closure with Talcott Construction on the building project which stretched out a year longer than anticipated. The most recent concerns related to the replacement of some carpeting and the repair of a bathroom divider and some reflectors.

Members of the playground committee, chair Cheryl Evans and parent and professional landscape designer Jill Thornton, presented a comprehensive plan for the development of the area behind the school. Substantial asphalting work, creating pathways and extending the basketball surface, was carried out using funds from the building project and the state One-Time-Only monies. Many activity areas and rejuvinated pieces of equipment are in place. A sturdy log cabin was donated by Cahoon Custom Log Homes. An on-going project, work on the playground will continue in stages as resources become available and weather allows.

Work on the board's own mission statement, goals and objectives moved into high gear over the summer with several special meetings being scheduled to deal with those challenging matters. Consensus was reached regarding a draft, and the board has sent it to teachers for review.

Attention was also directed towards clarifying and strengthening the district's discipline policy and procedures, specifically in the area of progressive discipline. Conventionally, "pink slips" have been issued to students who engage in repetitious bad behavior or in an instance of significantly unacceptable behavior. Pink slips are intended to be both learning devices and records of misbehavior. The board chose to use them in a way that would stress increasing accountability and responsibility as students got older.

A newly added section in the Student Discipline Policy establishes that with the exception of expulsion, no pink slips will carry over from one year to the next for students in grades K-6. However, students moving into seventh and eighth grade will carry all but one pink slip on to the next grade. With a quarter of good behavior, a seventh grader may be forgiven one additional pink slip. No pink slips earned during the eighth grade year will be forgiven.

Grantwriter George Humphries' work to organize applications for playground, technology and library funding continued over the summer.

Substance abuse topics garnered attention in two ways. The board expressed interest in using money left in the fund for the canine dog program to continue that effort, and Superintendent John Hebnes said that the school had been contacted by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to take part in a federally funded survey regarding substance abuse, violence and delinquency.

Eighth, tenth and twelfth graders are asked to voluntarily participate in answering an approximately 45 minute questionaire early in the fall. Students in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, Utah, Arkansas and well as Montana..have been targeted for participation. The information gathered will be used to develop prevention services, and assistance will be provided to help participating communities and schools to develop strategic prevention planning based on local needs. Seeley Lake students will have the opportunity to participate.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be on October 13th. Important topics for the session will include the fall enrollment report, grantwriting progress, Student Council news and a discussion on administrative staffing levels and needs in anticipation of the board's November deadline for making a decision about the number of administrators for next year. Monthly Pathfinder coverage of school board meetings will resume in October.

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