Cut Bank Schools Superintendent Wade Johnson presented the Cut Bank School District’s “report card” from 2017-18’s testing under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which is the latest “accountability system” which was signed into federal law in 2015. According to the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) website, ESSA replaced the “No Child Left Behind Act.” 

According to Johnson, the results presented at the June 11 meeting are from the first year of testing in 2018. “We didn’t do as well as we want, but we are working at getting better and we have a plan to improve.” 

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 “We have poverty in our district,” Johnson pointed out, and that poverty is a “huge indicator” in the scores posted by students in the district, he told the board.

According to OPI, the Montana ESSA plan allows districts “more flexibility” and “more local control” in working to meet the federal education guidelines.

Johnson told the board, “We have some programs and practices in place which will help us do better in reaching out to the poverty-stricken families in our district.” 

In other news from last week’s meeting, the board:

•Accepted the resignation of Brittany Whitley, Kindergarten teacher and CBMS boys basketball coach; Ryan Sullivan, CBHS assistant boys basketball coach; Morgan Hughson, eighth grade boys basketball coach; Alana Burtness, concessions manager.

•Approved the hiring of Jared Berkram, CBHS assistant cross country coach; Stephanie McGrail, second grade teacher; Ron Beringer, CBMS Special Education teacher; Scott Laird, CBMS Activities Director. Johnson pointed out he approached Beringer, who planned on retiring, to come back due to the special education position being a difficult one to fill. “He’s helping out the district and we are very appreciative of Ron understanding our position and being willing to come back,” said Johnson.

•Approved the purchase of the Cengage Learning math program textbooks for grades 6-12. The district has not purchased new math textbooks for 15 years. The cost for the CBMS textbooks is $20,520 and the CBHS textbooks will cost $25,650. The district will use Impact Aid funds to purchase the textbooks, said District Clerk Scott Laird. Math teachers Tia Murphy and Jared Berkram explained the process used to select the textbook series and described the resource center included for students and staff as “impressive.”

•Approved the re-hiring of the Spring sports coaches for the 2019-20 school year, with the exception of the tennis program. With the retirement of Jim Gregg, the district is in the process of hiring a new head coach, who will then be involved in the selection of the assistant coaches.

•Approved the re-hiring of non-athletic advisors for the 2019-20 school year.

•Adopted the policy changes recommended by the Policy Committee, based on required and recommended proposals presented by the Montana School Boards Association. The changes are needed due to recent legislative or statewide school policy changes. 

•Approved requests by District Clerk Scott Laird to void outdated warrants and pay all of the district’s year-end bills. The district’s fiscal year ends June 30.

•Heard year-end updates from Principals Venus Dodson and Gail Hofstad. According to Dodson, this year’s Kindergarten class will have 20 students retained, adding many of the students in this year’s class were very young, with birthdays close to the September birthday cut-off date for entering Kindergarten. Hofstad said this year’s CBMS and CBHS’s year-end combined enrollment was 344 compared to last’s year’s figure of 327. Enrollment at the Hutterite Colony schools ended at 43, which is up from last year’s figure of 37.

•Heard from Cut Bank Police Chief Mike Schultz informational forums on the School Resource Officer mill levy were planned for school staff members June 19 and the community on June 25.

Johnson said the SRO position is “critical” to the students and staff of the district. “The Cut Bank Police Department is always very responsive and we appreciate their support,” he added.

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