Sandy Hook follow-up: Homeland Security to analyze FCSD#1 safety procedures; All K-3 students at GPE for 2013-14

FCSD1-logo1By Mike Bowman, Superintendent, FCSD #1 for

(Lander, Wyo.) – Kirk Schmidt, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services, has provided Homeland Security personnel with copies of Fremont County School District #1’s Crisis Plan as well as the crisis plan for each school in the district to review. In addition to reviewing the plans and making suggestions for improvement, Homeland Security has agreed to come to Lander to examine each school and worksite to determine how security can be enhanced. Schmidt informed the Board of Trustees during its meeting last Tuesday evening that he is going to request that personnel from Homeland Security also provide a workshop for school district employees on school safety and security and how to react in crisis situations.

Using the new Gannett Peak Elementary School as designed in the 2013-14 school year and educating all Lander K-3 students in that school was the decision made by the Trustees during the Tuesday night meeting. Several options for accommodating all of the students had been previously presented to the Board, including use of modular trailers, having one of the grade-levels be placed in either North Elementary School or the old Starrett Junior High building, or using special education rooms for regular classrooms. The decision on how to structure the school had to be made in light of the statutory requirement of an average of 16 students per teacher juxtaposed with the school being designed and built at 19 students per classroom per Wyoming School Facility Commission requirements. Superintendent of Schools Mike Bowman told the Board that having Jeffrey City’s teaching ratio factored into the formula along with two general-fund-paid interventionists will place the ratio somewhere around 16:5-to-1 next year. In the event the ratio exceeds 16:5:1, it appears that there is a high likelihood of a waiver from the required ratio being granted by the Wyoming Department of Education. Trustees made it clear that this is only a temporary solution since enrollment projections show that the number of students will continue to grow. Trustee Dave Clark said, “We have to find additional funding for additional classrooms. This is only a temporary solution.” Trustee Bruce Palmer echoed the sentiment, “It is disconcerting that we do not have enough classrooms. We need to determine what we can do in the future to get the additional classrooms that the school needs.” Trustee Joe Palladino added, “This buys us a year to plan.”

Other items from Tuesday night’s Board meeting included:

• Began the meeting with a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

• Heard a report from Gannett Peak Elementary School regarding the “walk-to- read” (Cougar Read) program that has been in place this semester. Through this program, students are grouped by specific needs in reading and work in small groups for thirty minutes on reading each day above and beyond the regular reading time. Almost all adults in the school have a reading group during this time. Regrouping occurs periodically after diagnostic testing indicates changes in needs and skill-levels. Yvette Majerus, North principal, briefly spoke about the North walk-to-read program (WIND) which mirrors
the Gannett Peak program. Barbara Henderson, instructional facilitator at Baldwin Creek, briefly described the walk-to-math program used at that

• Approved several policy changes that allow compliance with federal requirements in Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

• Endorsed the concept of slowing down the process of implementing the requirements of the Educational Accountability legislation in order to ensure that the requirements are all manageable and that school personnel are not inundated with all of the changes required by the legislation in the same year. School boards in northwest Wyoming are endorsing a letter containing this information which will be sent to legislators.

• Cancelled the January 4 Board meeting and scheduled a retreat for 7:00 a.m. on the 4th.

• Approved a stipend of $500 for certified staff members who submit their resignations prior to February 15. Staff members who apply for the stipend
are required to work through the end of the school year in order to receive it.