Written by John Plestina
The 2015 edition of negotiations between representatives of the Wolf Point School board negotiations committee and the Wolf Point Education Association were held Thursday, Jan. 8.
Procedural calisthenics dominated the first meeting. The numbers of some subsections in the contract were changed.
Some issues that will be negotiated during the coming weeks include salaries, benefits, longevity of employees and sick leave.
Superintendent Joe Paine said leave [vacation days] should not be allowed on certain dates.
“Don’t plan on a family vacation on professional development days,” he said.
School board chairman Martin DeWitt said he wants to clarify some issues with full-time and part-time staff.
Some questions remain about how some provisions of the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] could change language in the labor contract concerning employee insurance.
“There is no use talking about insurance until we know what we are talking about,” union representative Patricia Toavs said.
DeWitt suggested using a composite insurance rate among employees. He said he wants it to be fair for 100 percent of the employees.
Employees are not required to take health insurance, but the WPSD must offer it.
Toavs said two plans should be offered because some employees are eligible for Indian Health Services and some are not.
A separate round of negotiations with the Wolf Point Educational Support Staff will follow the current negotiations with the WPEA, which represents teachers.
The next round of negotiations is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 22, at 5:15 p.m. in the Wolf Point High School library.
Written by John Plestina
Frontier Elementary School will host counselors, principals and teachers from throughout eastern Montana for a workshop Monday, Jan. 19, on Rachel’s Challenge, a national non-profit organization dedicated to creating safe, connected school environments and helping children make better choices.
The Frontier School board voted to participate in the Rachel’s Challenge program Monday, Dec. 8.
The program is named in memory of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School [Colorado] shooting in 1999, and is in part based on her writings. She was shot outside the school before other Columbine victims were shot.
Superintendent Christine Eggar said staff from several schools — from as far east as
Bainville to as far west as Glasgow and Ashland, more than 280 miles south of Wolf Point — will attend the program at Frontier School.
Kansas educator Joe Coles will be the presenter of the anti-bullying workshop that targets students in fifth-grade through high school.
The workshop will present basic information to identify and recognize bullying behaviors and strategies needed to redirect it.
The philosophy is that children who bully others could turn into antisocial adults and are more likely than others to commit crimes, batter spouses, abuse their children and produce another generation of children who bully.
The workshop will teach educators and counselors intervention methods and strategies to empower children to avoid becoming targets of bullying and redirect and change bullying behaviors.
Expected outcomes include learning effective ways to respond to bullying behaviors, strategies to defeat a bullying culture, understanding why it is important to make school physically and emotionally safe for all children, exploring motivations behind bullying behavior and learning to identify a variety of ways to respond to bullying behavior.
“It’s a pay it forward deal. Hopefully, it will be a reaction that will lead to an action,” Eggar said. “It’s a philosophy to do the right thing.”
Frontier and several other area schools will host student presentations for the Rachel’s Challenge program Tuesday, Jan. 20.
Written by John Plestina
Several people from Culbertson and Bainville expressed concern about snow plowing on rural county roads to the Roose-velt County Commissioners Tuesday, Jan. 13.
At issue are open roadways for school buses and safety issues, that include motorists and access for medical emergencies.
Newly elected commissioner Allen Bowker of Culbertson requested a discussion about snow removal, particularly on Roosevelt County Road 2051, north of Brockton and Culbertson and west of Froid.
“I got a call from a bus driver in Froid concerning the snow removal,” Bowker said.
“It’s the scheduling, not the road conditions,” he said. “We don’t want to point fingers or make anybody the bad guy.”
Bowker said he has spoken to the school superintendents in Bainville, Culbertson and Froid about the situation.
One issue that was repeated several times is that Roosevelt County is a large county that lacks enough manpower in the road department, and it sometimes takes three days to clean up after a heavy snowfall.
School bus routes are given a priority.
Culbertson School su-
perintendent Larry Crow-der suggested that county road department supervisor Ken Norgaard evaluate each road for priority needs for repairs.
Bowker said he liked the suggestion. He added that he would like to talk to county plow drivers for help coming up with priorities. Bowker said sometimes just a small section of a road needs to be rebuilt.
“All our roads need complete makeovers,” Nor-gaard said. “We’re trying, but, then again, we’ve got lots of roads and not enough manpower.”
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Cory Reum said he felt that Norgaard had come under attack by some. Reum praised Norgaard for doing a good job. He asked people to be willing to work with Norgaard.
Culbertson School principal Mike Olson called for a questionnaire to be sent to residents of rural county roads to learn where the most need is.
Bowker said he wants to find a solution. He suggested better communication between county drivers.
One man said there are culverts that need to be repaired or replaced on rural county roads in the eastern part of the county.
Written by John Plestina
The scenario frequently joked about of the snail symbolizing the United States Postal Service might have come closer to reality with the USPS slowing delivery by one day for first-class and periodicals mail.
The bad news is USPS plans to close 82 mail processing plants across the nation this year by consolidated some smaller plants into larger facilities in urban areas. The good news is Montana’s three processing plants in Billings, Great Falls and Missoula will not be affected, at least not this year, according to USPS Minneapolis-based spokesman Peter Nowacki.
“They will not be impacted by the consolidations scheduled for later this year. Wolf Point’s mail is processed in Billings,” he said. “There are no changes coming in Montana this year as far facilities go. There is a change in a service standard for first class letters effective Jan. 2.”
Nowacki did not speculate on possible Montana plant closing beyond 2015.
Because of the consolidation, USPS added an additional day to the expected service standards for much of its mail, which will affect about 14 billion pieces of the total volume of mail, which is 9 percent, and up to 16 percent of single-piece first class mail. Overnight processing and delivery will remain available.
“Local, single-piece first class mail now has a delivery standard of two days instead of overnight,” Nowacki said.
The USPS closed nearly 150 processing plants across the nation during the past three years, which has affected all portions of mail delivery.
According to the USPS, total mail volume has declined by more than 56 billion pieces [26 percent] in the past 10 years. First class volume has declined 34.5 billion pieces [35 percent] for the same period.
The new service standards will not affect deliveries of packages, medicine and standard mail, which is advertising.
The Postal Service says it must make operational changes to adapt to changing needs with fewer letters and considerably more packages. Increasing popularity of email has hurt the postal service.
In 2014, the Postal Service delivered 155.4 billion pieces of mail and packages.
Written by Chelly Harada
The Wolf Point High School speech and drama members competing at the Malta meet were (from left to right) Jeremy Birkoski, Jaki Harada, Devin Northington, Haron Eymard and Jacob Boysun. (Submitted photo)
The Wolf Point High School Speech and Drama team has competed at three recent meets.
On Saturday, Dec. 13, the Wolves competed in the Billings Central Speech and Drama Tournament. The competition was tough. Only one Wolf made finals. Devin Northington competed for the first time in Serious Oral Interpretation. He placed first, first and second in the preliminary rounds. In finals, he scored seventh, sixth and sixth, taking seventh place.
On Saturday, Dec. 20, the Wolves competed in the Baker Tournament. Jacob Boysun placed third in Humorous Oral Interpretation. Haron Eymard placed sixth and Devin Northington claimed second place in Serious Oral Interpretation. Jaki Harada took second in Pantomime. The Wolves claimed a solid third place as a team behind Forsyth taking second, and Baker claiming first place.
On Saturday, Jan. 10, the Wolves competed in the Malta Tournament. In the SOI preliminary rounds, Eymard scored third, first and fifth, for a score of 9. Northington scored first, third and first, for a score of 5. Both qualified for finals.
In the final round, Eymard scored fifth, third and seventh, for a final score of 24, taking fifth place. Northington scored second, first and second, for a final score of 10, taking second place.
In the HOI preliminary rounds, Jeremy Birkoski scored first, third and fourth, for a score of 8. Boysun scored third, third and first, for a score of 7. Both qualified for finals.
Birkoski scored second, second and fourth, for a final score of 16, taking fourth place. Boysun scored sixth, fourth and sixth, taking fifth place.
In the Pantomime preliminaries, Jaki Harada scored fifth, first and third, for a score of 9, qualifying her for finals. Harada scored third, third and fourth, for a final score of 19, taking third place.
The Wolf Pack took fourth as a team. Malta took third, Conrad second and Glasgow took first place.