Venus Dodson, left, and Lisa Sheble, right, announced their retirement after 22 and 25 years respectively with Cut Bank Schools.

Cut Bank Schools is advertising for a new elementary school principal for the 2021-22 school year. After 22 years, Venus Dodson is retiring from her position as principal. Cut Bank Superintendent Wade Johnson said the district is currently advertising for the position. The school board formally accepted her resignation at their meeting on Feb. 9 and expressed their appreciation for her years of service.

Also retiring at the end of this school year will be elementary teachers Lisa Sheble and Sandy Drollman. Sheble has taught in the district for the last 25 years and Drollman the past eight. Those positions are currently being advertised as well.

Johnson reported the annual Title 1 and Impact Aid Parent Meetings were held earlier that evening and provided a recap of the meetings as well as the sign-in sheet of attendees.

 Johnson presented the board with the preliminary budgets for both programs and outlined how the district proposed using the federal funds for the 2021-22 school year. 

According to Johnson, the district plans to use the Title 1 funds to continue to provide reduced class sizes, pay for salaries for needed instructional paraprofessionals and professional development for staff as provided by the Golden Triangle Curriculum Cooperative.

Cut Bank Schools received $446,529 in Title 1 funds this year and Johnson anticipates the amount will be higher next year due to increased enrollment.

Johnson stated Impact Aid funds will be utilized by the district for the purchase of textbooks, Bridge Project activities, technology purchases, alternative education opportunities (Edgenuity and Montana Digital Academy) and facility improvements.

The Cut Bank School District received $181,481 in Impact Aid this year and Johnson said he anticipates a “level budget” for 2021-22.

The school board voted 4-1 to accept both the Impact Aid and Title 1 budgets as presented. Trustee Suzi Michael was the lone dissenting vote on both motions. Michael did not offer any explanation for her “no” votes. According to the sign-up sheets, she not attend either of the parent meetings  earlier that night. Both meetings were publicly advertised.

In other news from the Feb. 9 meeting, the board:

•Approved rehiring the high school football coaches (Dylan Johnston, Nick Luoma, Jordan Hunt and Brandon Black), high school cross country coaches (Brian Suttle, Shayle Ehlers, and Jared Berkram), high school volleyball coaches (Chelsey Schwindt and Megan Spinler), middle school football coaches (Brandon Furr and Josh Larson), middle school girls basketball coaches (Neil Christiaens and Brandon Kavanagh),  and middle school tennis club coach (Gail Hofstad).

Once again, Michael cast the only “no” vote, but did not express any reasons for voting against the rehiring of the coaches.

•Approved closing out-of-district enrollment for the remainder of the school year due to crowding issues on two bus routes which travel west of town and a route driver shortage. 

According to Johnson, “All the students who have been accepted at this time will remain in place and approved, but we do not have bus space remaining for additional students.” The board approved out-of-district transportation and attendance for five students during the meeting.

As of Feb. 15, Johnson said 67 new students have transferred in from the Browning School District this school year. Several more have attendance agreements in place from prior school years, he added.

•Approved disposing of the oldest backup route bus, declaring and advertising it as surplus property and then putting it up for bid. 

•Approved the purchase of a new bus route, at a cost of approximately $120,000.

•Approved the resignations of Kate Morrisett (paraprofessional) and high school track coach Shayle Elhers.

•Approved calling for the annual Trustee election on May 4 and hold the election by mail in ballot. As of press time, trustee Mike Hedges has filed for re-election and vice-chair Darcy Hibbs said she will not seek another term. Robert Winkowitsch has filed for a seat on the board. Deadline to file is March 25.

•Approved the Permissive Levy resolution, which is an estimate of the revenues and mills needed for the Transportation, Bus Depreciation, Tuition, Adult Education and Building Reserve Funds, as required by Senate Bill 307. District Clerk Linsey Milender emphasized to the board these figures are only estimates and the actual numbers won’t be available until August. 

•Heard an update on the status of post-season tournaments for wrestling and basketball from Johnson and CBHS Principal and Athletic Director Tres Genger. Cut Bank will host the Western Divisional Wrestling Tournament and the Northern  B Divisional Basketball Tournament. Details on the rules and regulations from the Montana High School Association were still being determined at press time.

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