From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 20 - May 15, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Board hears bullying concern

by Jennie Oemig

At its May 8 meeting, the Sublette County School District (SCSD) #1 Board of Trustees heard from a parent about his concerns about bullying within the school system.

During the audience comments portion of the evening, Bob Rule brought to the board’s attention some of the concerns he had about the goings-on in the middle school with regard to bullies.

“I wish to call to your attention an issue that happened in the middle school,” Rule said, explaining an altercation between two students he had heard about and conceived as bullying. “ … A lot of these instances are going unreported.”

After informing the board of the incident, Rule then went on to ask the board if they would consider bringing Marvin Nash’s “Bullying Hurts” program to the district to help with the problem.

Superintendent Doris Woodbury said the school already has plans to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, though she would not discourage parents and other concerned community members from bringing any other type of program to the area.

“We already agreed to work with Robena Downey and the alcohol and drug program, so we already have a program,” she said. “I basically told [those at the “Bullying Hurts” meeting] there’s no reason – if there’s something they want to do – that we couldn’t accommodate that.”

As for the altercation Rule was informed of, middle school principal Kevan Kennington said things might have been blown out of proportion.

“That was not a bullying situation,” he said. “That was two kids having an argument and we handled it.”

But Kennington admitted that, while it’s not prevalent, the middle school is experiencing problems with bullies.

“It does happen here,” he said, adding that he tries to be proactive and get the issue resolved as quickly as possible. “ … We try to get the parents involved because usually if we do, we can stop it.”

And Kennington said that any program with the premise of teaching kids the effects of bullying is a good idea.

“I think that any program … just trying to educate the kids will help,” he said.

By instituting a homeroom session in the morning beginning this fall, Kennington said the middle school will be doing what it can to get to the bottom of the problem.

“That 15-minute homeroom will be utilized to do social skills, character education …,” he said. “Every kid will know what [bullying] is.”

Though every school has its own issues with bullying, Kennington said he is certain that it’s not that big of an issue in Pinedale. “I think we got a good school and, for the most part, we have great, great kids,” he said.

Elementary school principal Greg Legerski agreed that bullying is taking place, though he does not think it’s too prevalent in his facility.

“I don’t think you ever get away from it no matter where you go,” he said. “ … Kids are kids. They’re going to be mean to each other as they work through their emotions.” As for punishment, Legerski said the elementary school tries to be as proactive as possible.

“We take a pretty strong approach to kids who have repeat offenses,” he said. Legerski also said any program that is put into practice is likely to be beneficial to children and the district as a whole.

“If you go through it and faithfully implement it, you’ll see positive results,” he said. But overall, Legerski said that he believes bullying really isn’t as big an issue as some might think.

“I don’t think it’s a huge problem based on reports,” he said. “The teachers don’t see it … We have very nice, polite kids.”

In other SCSD #1 news:

• The board approved the certified resignations of high school principal Richard Kennedy, high school counselor Mike Cothern, middle school art teacher Audrey Nelson and high school computer literacy teacher Darlene Hartman-Hallam, effective at the completion of the 2008-09 academic year. Also approved were the resignations of first grade teacher Rebecca Lehr, elementary counselor Peg Carney and Bondurant Elementary teacher Candice Walker.

• The high school math program changes for the 2008-09 school year were approved by the board.

• Changes in the high school social studies curriculum were approved by the board. World History/Geography and Government/ Economics will be two new required courses beginning in the 2008-09 academic year.

• Approval for Porter, Muirhead, Cornia & Howard to serve as the audit firm to perform the Annual Audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, at a cost of $37,500 plus travel expenses was granted by the board.

• The agreement with Nelson Engineering to assist with the drainage and paving of the center of the campus for an amount not to exceed $42,300 was approved by the board.

• A Memorandum of Agreement with Sublette County, North Sky, LLC, and Haymaker Land Holding Company, LLC, not to exceed $50,000 was approved by the board. Each entity has agreed to share the cost of widening U.S. 191 west of the Barber Creek Bridge to the New Fork Bridge.

• The board approved CEM Aquatics’ offer to give the Pinedale Aquatic Center (PAC) a 15-year warranty and provide $4,000 worth of chemicals for the spa pool. CEM was contracted to install a tile spa, but instead put in a plaster spa pool. In lieu of tearing it out and installing a tile spa, construction manager Dennis Seipp, business manager Vern McAdams and PAC director JJ Huntley determined that it would be more efficient to warranty the existing spa and have CEM provide some sort of compensation for the mistake.

“That warranty is only through CEM,” board member Ward Wise pointed out. “So if CEM goes out of business, that warranty is void.”

• The board approved the purchase of 64 laptops from Dell Marketing at a cost of $66,160 and the purchase of 26 desktops from Gateway MPC at a cost of $26,000 to fulfill the district’s five-year replacement rotation of computers.

• Legerski reported that 69 students were registered during the most recent kindergarten roundup. With a couple more sessions still to come, Legerski said the new kindergarten class should be quite large.

“We’re expecting 85-90 in this incoming kindergarten class,” he said.

The next meeting of the SCSD #1 Board of Trustees will be on June 12 at 8 p.m. in the boardroom of the administration building.

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