BIG PINEY – The Sublette County School District #9 (SCSD#9) school board picked up on Tuesday, June 27, where it left off from its regular meeting on June 21, which was recessed due to a lack of quorum.
Board chair John Fear reconvened the meeting with Bill Tanner, Glade Jones, Bobby Hammer and Darby Hoffman all present – plus about 40 people seated and standing in the Big Piney Fine Arts boardroom.
New business included unanimous approval to purchase a new activities bus, approve food and milk bids, sell two teacherages and name head coaches for the upcoming 2016-’17 school year.
But first, Fear opened with “community comments.” Many students there had letters in hand.
“Looks like we have a packed house tonight,” Fear said. Considering the crowd size, he asked those planning to speak to keep their comments to less than two minutes. “And if gets redundant, then I’m going to shut it down and move on.”
Jenna Banks announced coming senior Grace Tanner is Wyoming’s Trig-Star winner and will go to nationals, which brought applause.
Then teacher and football coach Aaron Makelky stood up and addressed the board.
“Two weeks ago, I walked into the rec center not intending to be a jerk but I was, especially in front of the kids,” he said, referring to a verbal altercation and making his apologies “to Mr. (Nate) Strong, to the kids…”
He said he hoped the board would accept his apology.
Angie Fisher stood and said she appreciated Makelky’s apology. “As a parent, I don’t know what’s on the line. … As a coach, the boys need him.”
Makelky “goes above and beyond” to make sure his student-athletes do well, she said, and with her 10 children, “I never had a coach (like Makelky) step up to the plate to teach our kids how to be men.”
Colin Barney also spoke. “Gentlemen, people make mistakes and this board has found compassion before.”
A year ago, teacher and boys basketball coach Nate Strong was rehired to both positions after pleading guilty to poaching a trophy mule deer out of season, a controversial board decision at that time with former school board members – and now county commissioners – Mack Rawhouser and Dr. David Burnett voting against the other three.
Fear said Tuesday, “I don’t think it’s coming down to who’s losing a job and who’s not losing a job. I’d like to see the head coaches work together … and do the best you can.”
Tanner agreed: “I don’t think anyone’s job is on the line unless I hear something different in the next hour.”
Later the board went into executive session with activities director Mindi Loyd presenting her head-coach recommendations. After about 45 minutes, members reconvened and approved Makelky as head football coach, Kim Tanner as volleyball coach, Kursty Day as girls’ swim coach, Darren Davison as boys swim coach, Sam Slagowski as cheer sponsor, Loyd as girls’ basketball coach, Strong as boys’ basketball coach, Cole Clifford as wrestling coach and Bill Lehr as track coach.
The board also heard from Big Piney Town Council member Aimee Davison and town recreation manager Darren Davison, who reported on the Big Piney Rec Center’s budget, member and use data and needed repairs to the property owned by SCSD#9.
Overall member and student use increased in spite of the continuing economic slump, the councilmember explained, giving the board a detailed report breaking down visits, programs, users, expenses and revenues.
“Overall the rec center runs 70 programs for different ages plus hosting Jr. Jazz and others,” she said, pointing out it had 26,000 users last year compared to 22,500 the year before – “even though I anticipated it would go down.”
She said the facility needs at least $25,000 to repair a door, an awning and the parking lot. She thanked the board for providing 35 percent of the rec center’s previous budget, with the town pitching in 51 percent and the rest from fees and memberships.
“Please consider us this year,” she said in closing.
“This helps me a lot,” said Jones, flipping through the data. “It gives us a place we can start from and ask questions. This is a good starting point.”
The rest of the board agreed and Tanner commended them for bringing use numbers up “with the economic downturn.”
Fear asked of the repairs, “How are you going to make up that difference?”
SCSD#9 business manager Amy Anschutz noted the district is “only half a million from being a recapture district” and proposed “partnerships” with Big Piney for pavement repairs. She, Loyd and the board mentioned the district should bear some responsibility because of frequent schoolbus use.
Darren Davison said the town already “phased $100,000 off this coming year’s budget … (and) is digging into savings to make up the difference.” He commented perhaps pavement repairs could be done when the bike path is replaced this summer.
Anschutz said she had good news for them – she “anticipates writing a $78,000 check in July” because recreation mill revenues were that much higher than projected. Also, Jones said SCSD#9 and the Rec Center could benefit from cooperating “to reduce redundant costs.”
“Let’s sit down and talk and make it a win-win,” he said.
Supervisor Loyd next began his report saying,” You can smell the roofing is under way.”
He related going with Wyoming Rep. Albert Sommers to a schools facilities committee meeting to see if money could be released for the Big Piney Middle School project. With new construction extremely unlikely, the district wants to build ADA-complaint bathrooms. The committee was voting last week on what projects it could fund.
“We had to ask to repurpose money to make a new space,” Loyd said. “I am hopeful we will have access to that money before June 2018 or we’ll have to wait.”
“The bus barn – I know it is going to be a shock to everyone but the bus barn is not safe,” Loyd said of the insurance company’s report. The bus barn collapsed at the start of winter and over the season, buses were parked at the Sublette County fairgrounds.
“We’re waiting to see what number we’re getting (from insurance) to see what we need from our own funds,” Anschutz added.
Loyd also announced route and activity bus drivers are needed and “as board members you are eligible to drive for us” – but he had no takers.
Next, the board approved the Nicholas & Co. bids for Western Food Co-Op and the district’s milk bid, noting the delivery service’s quotes were lower.
In another moneysaving move, Anschutz asked the board to approve SCSD#9’s deposit of almost $1.6 million into its cash reserves. “If we don’t transfer or use it by June 30 it will be recaptured in entirety on June 30,” she said.
This and other transfers were unanimously approved.
The next action items included a proposal to sell two of SCSD#9’s 18 teacherages that are unrented, one in Marbleton and an older one on Piney Drive. They are not school property and subject to property taxes.
Anschutz said she would get straightforward market appraisals to price them, which the board approved.
Finally, Anschutz presented the purchase of a Lewis activity bus with seatbelts and cameras for $156,126. “This is the bus that is 100-percent reimbursable right now. The only way the Department of Education will approve it is with the seatbelts. I don’t know the pluses and minuses of that.”
The board approved it, moved into executive session, and after reconvening and approving head coach and extra duty assignments, adjourned.
The next SCSD#9 board meeting is on Tuesday, July 18, at 7 p.m. in the Big Piney Fine Arts Center.