School board approves budget, school resource officer

By Jeff Smith

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The Hill City School District is making progress in the strategic planning committee with a draft vision statement in place and two student representatives on board. At the next meeting the committee will work on a mission statement.

There is still a long way to go in this project as the ultimate goal is to create steps for continuous improvement. In the more present status of the school district the school board approved the budget for $4,459,737 at the Sept.10 school board meeting. School board member Angie Ross wanted to separate the budgets out instead of just approving all of the budget funds at once. However, school board member Carmen Ronish wouldn’t be able to vote on all of the budgets since her husband is a teacher at Hill City High School. Ross stated that conflict of interest issues are becoming a bigger deal because of legal matters.

Ronish didn’t think that when it is more of a global or whole budget it would be better because she is not involved in the teacher salary negotiations or fine-tuning of the line-by-line items. Ronish decided to abstain at the end of the discussion and Ross voted it down. The other three school board members approved the budget.

Superintendent Mike Hanson thought that the discussion showed great candor by the school board members and was glad it could be brought up.

Later on in the meeting there was a discussion about having evaluations for the school board members. In November the school board will have a work session/retreat.

President of the school board, Owen Wiederhold, said that the retreat is to be a separate meeting to talk about expectations and feelings about how the board is doing.

School board member Dennis Krull said that everyone in the school district has evaluations except for the school board. The meeting will be a good time to do that. The plan is to also talk about what the school board wants to accomplish in the next year to three years. The mission statement that is being formed now would be different from what the school board wants to do.

Krull said at the meeting school board members will discuss what they want to see from administrators in the next coming years.

“What we want to do is open up the communication between us, the administration and the teachers so we are all working together as a team,” Krull said.

Wiederhold said the school board will come up with a list of items that it can expect to achieve and what they would like to see.

It looks like Hill City won’t have a school resource officer in place until 2020.

Sgt. Chris Hislip with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office was present at the school board meeting to answer any questions the school board had.

“I know it’s a very large item the school board is considering tonight,” Hislip said.

The biggest challenge that Pennington County and the school district face is reconciling with the different calendars. The county works off of a calendar year, the school district has a fiscal year and then there is also the school year.

Hislip said they would be looking at 2020 for the point where the calendars would match up and meet. The person that would be hired would have to be living in or around Hill City. The training required would be pretty extensive.

The Pennington County Sheriff will have to go before the county commissioners to get the funds that they need to acquire another school resource officer. Hislip said the county would need to approve another full-time equivalent employee for the sheriff’s office.

Hanson said there would be an equipment costs and other costs would be around $40,000.

Hislip said the county will pay 50 percent of the cost during the school year. During the summer the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office pays the school resource officer fully.

Regarding the advertisements at Gins’ Gym, six local businesses have already signed a contract. Eight would be a good number to start with so there could be more contracts to approve at next month’s school board meeting.

The school board also approved the 2019 high school graduation to take place at Gins’ Gym.

Some of the feedback has been that people would like to see graduation take place outside. The football field was brought up as a possible place but high school principal Todd Satter said that there wouldn’t be enough seating there. Ross said the school could possibly set up chairs on the field itself.

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