Board Approves Projects Ahead Of School Year

The Wolf Point School board held a special meeting Monday, July 30, ahead of the start of school. At the meeting, the board approved some big projects including repairs to Southside Elementary School and replacing a section of bleachers at Wolf Point High School.

Superintendent Rob Osborne brought to the board a request for a resolution to move forward with a plan to fix the north bleachers in the high school gym. Osborne reported that school employees have been having a hard time getting the bleachers in and out of the wall. Shane Reed, head of maintenance, confirmed that this was due to the failure of the aging motors on a set of bleachers.

Reed explained that the bleachers in question run on a friction system powered by several motors which were replaced a dozen or more years ago. He said that recently the motors have been failing more often and haven’t been able to retract the bleachers back into the wall of the gymnasium. Reed said that one temporary solution was to replace the motor’s seven-watt fuses with 20-watt fuses. However, he stated he doesn’t want to leave that this way because it could be a fire hazard.

Osborne presented the board with two options that basically boil down to repair or replace. Replacing the bleachers will cost over $80,000 and repairing would cost just under $80,000.
Reed said that repairing the bleachers would be a very timely endeavor because the bleachers are so old that systems like this friction system are no longer manufactured. It was suggested that many parts to repair the bleachers may have to be machined.

Osborne stated that he believes repair, what he called the Band-Aid solution, would ultimately be throwing good money away.

Replacing the bleachers would be more costly but comes with more benefits. First would be that a new set of bleachers would no longer use a friction system. This would save the gymnasium’s new floors from unnecessary damage the large roller of the friction-based system causes. Reed explained that any piece of candy, rock or any other small object is easily pressed into the gym floor when the roller goes over it.

A second benefit would be that any new set of bleachers would have handicap accessibility. One downgrade a new set of bleachers would cause would be approximately 120 fewer seats in the gymnasium.

Ultimately, trustee Corey Reum moved to create a resolution to call for bids to fully replace the north bleachers at WPHS. The motion was approved unanimously.
Osborne said the school will call for bids in August. Funding for the new bleachers will come from Impact Aid funds.

The board also approved phase two of repairs to the Southside Elementary School roof. The cost of these repairs will be approximately $40,100. This was phase two of a plan which started last year to fix the poor condition of Southside’s roof. Prior to this project’s start, Southside had some of the poorest building conditions of any school in the district. For many years, the district patched the roof and hoped for the best. This project fully rehabilitates the roof.

Osborne brought to the board an update from the June 2017 resolution to repair and improve the WPHS track. Osborne stated that Triton Construction, the company awarded the contract, seems to have disappeared. Osborne said they haven’t returned any phone calls and never showed up to make the repairs in their contract.

Osborne said that he had been in contact with BP Construction of Poplar and Beynon Surfaces to take up the job of fixing and repairing the track. The cost for these two companies to make the repairs will be about $15,000 less than the amount Triton was originally approved for.

The board approved resending the approval of Trition Construction and going with the two new companies to repair. The rescinding was in order to nullify the contract with Triton in case they ever showed up and attempted to try and fulfill their contractual obligations.

The board approved a $21,472.51 expenditure for new security camera at each of the three schools in the district. Systems Northwest will install and maintain the camera system for the district. According to the purchase order, Southside and Northside schools will each receive four new cameras while WPHS will get three new cameras.

This approval is an effort to tighten security at each of the schools in the district, a reaction to the rise in violent crime at schools across the nation.

Each school will have cameras mounted in major high-traffic hallways and gymnasiums. Each camera location will be approved by that school’s respective principal.

At the meeting, the board noted a letter received from the Montana Office of Public Instruction praising board chair Mark Kurokawa and Osborne for their efforts in working with OPI. The letter was written by Patty Muir, OPI accreditation program director.

In the letter, Muir states, during her five years with OPI, “it is a rare occasion when a superintendent reaches out and initiates support and advice from me.” Muir said, “This illustrates a passionate desire to improve school achievement and use the accreditation process as a means of continuous school improvement.”

Muir praised Kurokawa and Osborne for embracing the 2016 OPI accreditation site visit as an opportunity to embrace the issues and seek out remedies to improve the aspects lacking in their school district. 

Muir stated, “From improving graduation rates and promoting an alternative pathway for credit recovery to ensuring that all teachers and administrators are properly licensed and endorsed, accreditation issue are lessening while student performance is improving.”

Muir expressed sincere thanks for allowing her to be a part of the Wolf Point Public Schools’ continuing school improvement process.

Other items of note from this meeting:

•The board approved the 2018-19 high school and activities handbook, which included numerous changes, including that a failing report card grade and/or a grade of incomplete will result in an automatic three-week suspension from activities.

•Approval was granted to pay and renew contracts for Jim Staab Consulting and Kay Faust. These contractors have been working with the district for over a year now to improve accreditation and core curriculum standards. Osborne expects them to work with the district for one or two more years.

•The board approved, per policy 7332, advertising of Nemont on the new marquee sign outside of the school. Nemont donated $5,000 towards the marquee upon the agreement that their name be displayed as part of the deal. Osborne stated that the reason advertising requires board approval is to prevent alcohol or tobacco companies from advertising on school grounds.

•Resignations of the following employees were accepted at this meeting: Karen Ley, Northside SPED teacher; Lindsey Ellison, junior high/high school secretary; Thomas Iron Shield, junior high/high school assistant custodian; and David Allen, lunch van driver.

•The following hires were approved at this meeting: Brittany Bartlett, assistant high school volleyball coach; Dustin Darby, substitute junior high/high school custodian; Katie Noser, Northside teacher; Ellen Sievers, Southside BLC; Maverick Smith, substitute junior high/high school custodian; Maxine Strader, Northside part-time SPED teacher; Hannah Struttmann, Southside teacher; ArielleAnne Umphreys, preschool paraprofessional; Sasha Fourstar, junior high cross country; and Rilee Walquist, junior high girls basketball coach and junior high cross country. Jamie Reum will transfer to the junior high/high school secretary position.

•Richard Ryan was approved for the position of Northside SPED teacher. Trustee Mark Zilkoski abstained due to his familial relationship.

•The next meeting of the Wolf Point School board is set for Aug. 13.