From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 51 - December 20, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

New school consultant defended

by Jennie Oemig

At its regular meeting last Thursday, the Sublette County School District (SCSD) #1 Board of Trustees were questioned about the decision to put the new school construction process on hold in order to hire a specialist to help determine which type of facility to build.

At the beginning of the meeting, Superintendent Doris Woodbury explained the district’s decision to bring someone in to research the best available options before making a decision.

“We will be going through this project holding hands with the SFC (School Facilities Commission),” she said. “ … They have advised us that we should go ahead and hire a consultant.” At Monday’s Long-Range Facilities Planning Commission meeting, Woodbury mentioned an interest-based process that would allow everyone, including community members, key stakeholders and school staff and faculty members, to share their thoughts and opinions on the decision. That process has been scheduled for Feb. 5 and 6. And Woodbury assured everyone present that this delay in making the decision will not affect the district’s qualifications for funding.

“One of the fears I had is that we would kind of lose our place [if we didn’t go ahead with the construction of an elementary school],” she said. “But it will not kick us out of funding.”

Frank Locker, who is the vice-president of research for DeJONG, Inc., an educational planning firm, is the consultant the district is looking at to help with this process and Woodbury informed the board of her findings.

“[Business and Finance Director] Vern [McAdams] and I have checked all his references from Wyoming,” she explained. “All of the reports have been positive … He’s fair, he involves the community and has done a good job for them.”

Board member Jamison Ziegler questioned whether Locker would be contracted by the district or, if the SFC were to help with the cost, by the commission. “I think it would be in our best interest to be the contract holder,” he stated. “So he’s working for us.”

With that said, the board moved on to other business before unanimously voting to rescind the June 14 motion to construct a new elementary school.

Comments from the audience were then heard, as concerned resident Dick Vickrey demanded some straightforward answers from the board on “rumors and innuendos” he had been hearing.

Vickrey started out by requesting to know whether or not the board was looking at the BloomField subdivision as a possible location for a new school facility.

“It’s an easy question,” he said. “I just want a yes or no answer … that needs to be put to rest one way or another.”

The district’s legal consultant, Doug Mason, then explained to Vickrey the confidential nature of land acquisition.

“We can’t comment on that,” he said, adding that those types of issues are only discussed and handled in executive session.

Board treasurer Jim Malkowski then explained that the state would be in charge of purchasing the land upon which the new school will be built and, if it is determined that the BloomField will be beneficial to the district and the community, then that location would be considered. “I think you’re making a lot of assumptions on parameters,” he said to Vickrey. “Until we get to the end of our problem, we can’t say yes or no.”

Moving on, Vickrey then voiced his disappointment with the board in its decision to pay for a consultant to help out with the school construction process.

“I don’t know if I should say this, but I feel I have to because no one else is … by God, we don’t need a high-priced person coming here and pointing out to you where to put it … ask the community,” he said, adding that the members on the board were appointed to make these kinds of decisions for the community, not hire someone else to do it for them. “I think it’s a travesty of what’s going on right now.”

Board member Chris Sullivan expressed his disagreement with Vickrey. “I know I’m gonna feel a whole lot better making a $15 to $20 million decision with some help,” he said.

Though he was still not sold on the idea, Woodbury assured Vickrey that community members would be allowed to share their opinions and concerns during the interestbased process.

“Every voice will be heard and listened to and, as a community, we will make a decision,” she said.

Though everyone may not see the need for a consultant to come in to evaluate the district’s needs, resident Dari Quirk agrees with the decision.

“I think it is a very positive move by the district to seek out a consultant to assist with future facilities planning,” she said, adding that she has looked over Locker’s resume and thinks he would do a good job. “Mr. Locker's expertise … should be very valuable as, from what I understand, his consultation would include a district-wide evaluation resulting in a recommendation as to what direction to take in terms of construction to meet the future needs of the district.” In other SCSD #1 Board of Trustees news:

• Elections for board members took place, with Woodbury opening up the floor for nominations. Bret Kingsbury was re-elected as chairman and Ward Wise was chosen to serve another term as vice-chairman. ML Baxley will remain the board’s clerk and Malkowski was re-elected to the treasurer position.

• Dates and times for the board’s regular meetings for 2008 were approved, with one alteration. Due to a scheduling conflict, Malkowski asked that the April 10 meeting be moved to April 9.

• The rest of the consent agenda was unanimously approved, including an out-of state travel request submitted by middle school principal Kevan Kennington to allow the seventh and eighth graders to go to Lagoon in Farmington, Utah.

• The annual independent audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, was presented by James Dodson and Alexandra Wilkinson of Porter, Muirhead, Cornia & Howard and unanimously approved by the board.

• With the addition of the fifth grade to the middle school, the Student Council has been divided into two groups, one representing the seventh and eighth grades and the other representing the fifth and sixth grades. With that change, staff sponsorship responsibilities have also been split. The board voted to approve Mitch Irrgang as the sponsor for the seventh and eighth grades, while Amanda Gross will advise the fifth and sixth grades.

• The board approved the assignments of Scott Saylor as the seventh grade girls’ basketball coach and Jennifer McKinney as the eighth grade girls’ basketball coach for the 2007-08 season.

• With the district’s consolidated grant receiving approval from the Wyoming Department of Education, the board voted to approve the grant.

• A request from elementary school math instructional facilitator Melissa Bernard to update and replace all of the current math textbooks and workbooks for grades 2-6 with Everyday Math books was approved by the board. The cost of this upgrade shall not exceed $13,000.

• The board approved the final Groathouse Construction change order for the Pinedale Middle School addition for additional kitchen equipment. The change order will reduce the contingency balance by $16,303 and reduces the guaranteed maximum price by $512,495.

• The board unanimously accepted Wise’s resignation from the Sublette Board Of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and the appointment of Sullivan to take his place.

• Enrollment in the district now stands at 945, up from 941 at this time last month, with four students enrolled at Bondurant Elementary School, 375 enrolled in Pinedale Elementary School, 314 enrolled in the middle school and 252 enrolled at the high school level. At this time last year, there were 849 students enrolled in SCSD #1. Elementary school principal Greg Legerski pointed out that if the fifth grade had not been moved to the middle school, he would have 97 more students in his school. “If the calculator on my cell phone is correct, that’s a 20.7 percent increase from last year,” he said.

With a motion and approval to change the location of the next meeting of the Board of Trustees, the Jan. 10 meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Bondurant Elementary School.

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