Plans in place for committees

By Jeff Smith

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The first school board meeting after the primary election was held last Monday night. Along with a new face coming on board, the school district will soon have a new business manager.

Aimee Peyregne, business manager, informed the board her last official day was June 11. Anjar Voorhees will be taking her place soon. Peyregne was given a Jon Crane Gallery print that is usually reserved for guest speakers at graduation.

Mike Welu will be exiting the school board as Carmen Ronish was the candidate voted in through the election last week, along with Dennis Krull and Angela Ross.

Welu was given an engraved plaque for his service to the school district.

Mike Hanson, superintendent of Hill City School District, was adamant at the school board meeting that an accreditation/strategic planning committee will need to be formed soon. The committee will be responsible for forming a strategic plan for the school district.  The committee will also prepare for the Spring 2019 AdvancED Accreditation visit moving the strategic plan through a new five year cycle of continuous improvement.

Other committees that Hanson and the school board are looking to start relates to technology and the district footprint. Hanson said it might be OK to wait a month or two for the school board facilities discussion to see if it would be something that would come out of the strategic planning discussion.

He said he would like to see the accreditation and strategic planning committee go forward as it could be a groundswell for other types of committees the school board would like to see.

Along with Hanson there would need to be six school district employees, two school board members, four students and four community members be a part of the committee.

Dennis Krull, school board member, expressed concern that 17 people would be too many people for the committee.

“Just to get 17 members here at one time is going to be a chore in itself,” Krull said. “I am in favor of the committee I am just not sure if we need that many. I don’t really have a recommendation of a good number.”

He noted that often when there are more members in a committee there is more input but not a lot is getting done.

It will probably just move to two members of each group. The school board will approve the application process to take place at the July board meeting for the accreditation/strategic planning committee.

Another item discussed was what interest there was in having a school resource officer in the school district.

Hanson said they were able to reallocate some funds in the district due to resignations.

“There are some funds available that were already budgeted. It could 1) be cut out or 2) have a conversation with the county about an SRO position,” Hanson said.

Owen Wiederhold, president of the school board, said they should investigate whether there is something that happens or not.

The city pays for the deputies with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and Hanson wasn’t sure if there was some possibility there to work with them on a position. Pennington County has a program where the county and school district share the cost of a School Resource Officer.

The most recent school district to add a school resource officer was the Douglas School District.

Hanson thought that there would be $30,000-$35,000 spent on the school resource officer, that would need to come from the school district. Hanson said he would find more information on the contractual obligations.

He plans to check in with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the county to see what the parameters are.

Five members of the Hill City school district are set to be trained with ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) protocol in July. All faculty members will be trained with the online version. This is about an hour of training. Hanson said they would like to have six or seven certified trainers if there is room in the budget for one or two teachers to go.

“It’s kind of a train the trainer model,” Hanson said.

The cost right now is $2,700. One more person might be able to get to the training.

Throughout the year the school district plans to work cooperatively with Pennington County law enforcement to design mini training sessions. Hanson said it’s a year-long process that starts in July.

“We’re excited and eager to be a part of it. It will be one additional safety and security feature in the school district,” Hanson said.

The school board also approved the annual Title I flow-through to the school district.

It is specifically for the elementary school. Hanson said they like to put together the requests for funding. Then they can gear the funding toward professional development, use it for an aide position,  technology assets and parent engagement activities.

In previous years a teacher has been paid through Title I and now they are going to move to using it to pay an aide.

They did lose $20,000 in the grant and Hanson said they want to be cognizant that the federal flow-through can vary from year to year.

The high school will not be able to hold the 2019 commencement exercises at Mount Rushmore National Memorial due to the renovation project that will be happening. Todd Satter, high school principal, said that if there were any delays it could stretch into 2020.

Satter also wanted to clarify that there are two tiers of dual credit classes. There are dual credit courses sanctioned by the Board of Regents that can only qualify with the GPA and class rank. If a student has a 2.0 and is in the lower one-third of their class they can’t go to Black Hills State University or South Dakota School of Mines. Their only option is classes at Western Dakota Technical Institute.

There is a certain benchmark students have to make in order to take a dual-credit course sanctioned by the Board of Regents.

“Not any can go to teach, not anybody can go to Black Hills State,” Satter said.

The Hill City School District started the Summer Feeding Program last week so every child in the community is able to get two free meals per day.

The average for breakfast has been 50 children. About 80 children come there for lunch. 

Roxann DuBois, food service director, said she has been seeing new children that might just be in the area for the summer.

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