Searching for the hole – the best way to play the ball – was a constant struggle as the Glendive school board members tackled big challenges this week – Football and Finances.
A worried and stressed Red Devil football team appeared at the Glendive Unified School Board meeting Monday night. At issue was whether the team would retain third year head football coach Paul Miller. More than a dozen players turned out for the board meeting and all testified in favor of holding onto Miller despite their low win record. 1996 was the school’s last winning season.
Players noted that teams in their division were tough and each of the last three years Miller has been the Glendive coach, a team from the division has made the championship game. Student athletes talked about the weight training program and the camaraderie and supportive family atmosphere he has fostered. One player said “Losing Coach Miller would be like experiencing parents getting divorced.” No one testified against keeping Miller. Following the public comment period, at Miller’s request the meeting was closed to the public. The board met with Miller for over an hour. The players waited patiently and nervously in hall while the board deliberated.
When the meeting was re-opened, board member Penny Denning made a motion to “Rehire Coach Paul Miller with an improvement plan set in place by administration and a chance for him to re-review his job description and sign it.” The motion passed with one dissenting vote from Jeannie Seifert. The players exhaled a sigh of relief.
Budget issues continue to be a major concern in the Glendive Schools. Two buses were scheduled for replacement this year and those will be delayed. There was some discussion from board members regarding the wisdom of delaying bus purchases because of increasing maintenance costs and ability to access parts for older buses. However, it was determined that for now the existing buses are safe and usable.
The board is focused on pressing issues such as a leak in the roof at Lincoln School near the kitchen. Principal Steve Linn said that at the urging of board member David Hill at least one additional quote is being sought to find the most cost effective repair. The additional quote will be for a rubberized coating as opposed to a traditional roofing patch.
Teacher re-hiring was approved for the 2012 school year although impacted by a budget crunch. Board member Kent Shepherd reported on the Salary and Benefits Committee commenting “It’s pretty clear..everybody would just like a raise.” Negotiations are still in process.
In looking at new hirings for next year, the uncertain numbers from the legislature were still in play. Superintendent Jim Germann noted that two teachers in the high school will retire this year and they will not be replaced. In all, the district is down five teaching positions in five years. Next year vice principal Wade Murphy will pick up some of the slack by teaching some English classes. That will mean the district will also be down some administration hours. All high school English teachers will be asked to include writing in their curriculum as they will not have a separate writing instructor. Additionally, the high school Spanish teacher will add two sections of Spanish to the Middle school and German will be eliminated from the middle school. German is not offered at the high school level. Few new faculty faces are expected for next year. One second grade position will not come to the board for a vote until the legislature clarifies what funds the district will receive next year.
The board, like most district boards in the Mondak region, is left in limbo until the completion of the legislature and the response from voters in upcoming levy elections. Those decisions in the coming weeks will determine the 2011-2012 fiscal playbook for the Glendive Public Schools.