PINEDALE – After nearly two months of discussion, the Sublette County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the original map of trustee resident areas at its regular meeting last week. This was the map drawn up by Superintendent Jay Harnack and geographical information systems expert Rich Greenwood with the help of County Clerk Mary Lankford in mid-March.
The process of redrawing the resident area boundaries has been contentious with a number of public and community meetings complete with the occasional finger pointing, false assumption and insult from the peanut gallery.
In spite of the issue’s history, Chairman Mark Pape laid down the ground rules for discussion early on and held to them. Board members and community members had a brief time to comment on the five proposed maps, then the board voted.
The whole thing was over in five minutes.
Board members were afforded the opportunity to vote on each map. The maps devised with the help of Greenwood at a May 3 meeting received three votes each. Those proposed by parent Dari Quirk – they condensed the four resident areas into two while maintaining four resident area trustees – received one vote each. The original map was supported by all seven board members.
The meeting kicked off last Thursday with a brief executive session in which the board members received and reviewed a letter of opinion from both the district’s counsel Doug Mason and Wyoming School Board Association attorney Tracy Copenhaver. Both letters confirmed what Mason had expressed at an earlier meeting. The attorneys agreed, while the board could approve the maps that changed the number of resident areas, such an approval wouldn’t go into effect until the 2014 election.
“Any action taken now by the school board to change the number of trustee resident areas would not have any effect in the upcoming 2012 election,” Mason wrote in his letter. “According to the statutes, such a change needs to be done prior to Jan. 1 of a general election year.”
Quirk disagreed, saying the statute pertains to the changing the make-up of the board – how many at-large or resident area trustees there are – not the specific number of resident areas. She argued for her point and the maps she said would make the elections more competitive, ensuring “the best candidates serve on the board.”
“This will certainly impact the election this November – the board can make a choice to backdate something, say it’s effective Jan. 1,” Quirk said. “There are many problems with the four trustee resident areas. With four there is less competition, which is vitally important to a vibrant board.”
The new resident area boundaries will be used this fall to determine who can run for which open seats in November. There will be one at-large seat and two resident area seats up for a vote.
Also at the meeting:
• Harnack announced the receipt of a career and technical education grant from the Wyoming Department of Education to go toward funding the district’s participation in Fremont County BOCES (Board of Cooperative Education Services), which the district officially joined last month and will play a substantial role in getting the alternative setting high school off the ground.
• The school principals presented changes to their school’s handbooks. The changes ranged from the simple rewording and clarification of dress codes to giving the principal, in consultation with the school nurse, the prerogative to send a sick child home from school.
Pinedale High School Principal Fletcher Turcato announced the abolishment of the D grade for the 2013-14 school year, a change that falls in line with the middle school and the credits students need for college.
“Students should have to get a 70 to get credit,” Turcato said. “Too many kids graduate with Ds or play sports with Ds. I don’t think there is any value to a D.”
He also said students will be required to purchase and display parking permits to park in the school parking lot. The number of the permit and name of the driver will be registered with the school resource officer who will be authorized to issue tickets for improper parking.
“I want to control parking because we don’t have very much and it’s a problem,” Turcato said.
• The next meeting is June 14 at 8 p.m. For the complete article see the 05-18-2012 issue.
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