Town Pump, new tech, new hires, and armed teachers discussed at Troy School Board meeting

By Stacy Walenter

The Troy School Board met at the Troy High School library on Monday, March 12. Superintendent Francom reported that the school had received a literacy grant, the school’s Gear Up grant was losing 40% of its funds, and that the school was working on technology grants and smaller special education grants.
Roy Richardson, technology teacher at the high school, gave the board a tech update. The school now has a Dremel 3D printer in the high school computer lab. Classes can produce models, parts, and prototypes from plans sketched in Mrs. Palmer’s art class. Richardson shared prototype dog houses that students had created.
Richardson said Chromebooks have reduced the demand on school computer labs. The school is considering alternative uses for the rooms but will still maintain computers that are necessary for software that can’t be used on Chromebooks.
Kajeet Smart Spots are now available to check out from school librarian Kay Randall. If students don’t have internet at home, they can check out the device, which acts as a wireless hotspot and works anywhere there is cell service. Kajeet filters out non-educational sites and high bandwidth app traffic (such as Spotify and Pandora), adult sites, instant messaging, and social media. The daily limit has proven adequate for student writing and research purposes.
Morrison Elementary principal Diane Rewerts reported on the success of F.A.C.T.(Family Academic Collaborative Teams) nights at the elementary school. F.A.C.T. is a program that helps parents engage in their students education. The Montana O.P.I. (Office of Public Instruction) would not fund the original F.A.C.T. program for the school, so Morrison paraprofessional Wendy Tunison crafted a similar program on her own.
F.A.C.T. nights are akin to parent/teacher conferences. Parents come to classrooms to see what their children are learning and take home free tools to work at home with their children. Teachers create game packs of foundational skills so families do not have to purchase anything.
Parents learn how their children are progressing in the particular skill and then set achievable goals to help their children improve.
The board introduced the Classified Staff Educational Reimbursement Memorandum of Understanding, which sets aside $5,000 per year to help interested employees acquire teaching certificates or take classes pre-approved through the administration. Employees are eligible after six months of employment and priority is given to those seeking teaching certificates.
The board also introduced three new classes at the high school: college-level yoga, college-level art, and vocational mathematics. Board member Janis Fontaine expressed concern about whether the yoga class would be purely physical or contain spiritual aspects that, she said, should be a separate religion class. Francom said that the class was purely physical.
Troy City Council requested the school’s input about the Town Pump expansion. The board created a list of pros and cons about the plan. The pros were that the new building would improve the town’s appearance, it would be quieter and safer than the current location, there would be red dye for the school’s tractor, gas fumes would not drift over to the school as much, increased student safety, and a good place for visiting sports teams to use bathrooms and get food.
The cons were more traffic by the student parking lot, tobacco, wine, and beer signs facing the school, the school would not be getting anything in return, and the promotion of unhealthy eating habits.
The school also provided a list of requests that included a yearly Town Pump scholarship, athletic sponsorship, a yellow blinking light for crossing safety, repaving of the student lot, sponsorship in some form to benefit kids, and a new track.
At the meeting, it was not known whether a deal would be reached between TCO Lube and Feed and Town Pump. Therefore, board member Mark Roesler-Begalke felt the board could not make an informed decision about whether they were for or against the expansion. The board wanted to see which plan would be selected because expansion to the north would affect the student lot, whereas a southern expansion would provide less impact. The decision was tabled.
Citizen Larry Cripe said that whatever the board decides, he hopes they won’t rush to judgement. He believed April 11 is far too short a deadline to understand the impact of traffic patterns on kids walking and school buses. Cripe closed by saying, “Save Second Street!”
The 2018-2019 district calendar was approved and will resemble this year’s calendar with slightly different days off because of the literacy grant.
Following that approval was a second reading of a policy change concerning cell phones and other electronic equipment. There was the small addition of “smart watches” to the rule.
The board then addressed a resolution of intent to impose an increase in levies. The board is required to make spending projections in the area of adult education, bus depreciation, transportation, tuition (for special needs students), and a building reserve for major projects. Board chairman Craig Pierce said, considering the increase in special education students in Troy, he wondered if the projection would be adequate.
The board approved a list of new hires as well as tenured teachers. The board also approved the Outdoor Club so it could be added to United Clubs.
During the public comment section, Troy parent Jennifer Meyer presented a petition with 200 names of people in support of concealed carry for staff and teachers. Meyer said that as a child, she was shot in the abdomen by a “deranged” 14-year-old and believes that Troy should defend its kids. She said that cost didn’t seem to be a concern but, if it were, she would gladly fundraise. She doesn’t think its wise to ignore the threat to schools. Meyer believes she can acquire 500 signatures, if needed.
Troy Police Sergeant Henry Roy, who also has a child in Troy schools, agreed with Meyer’s argument for teachers that want to be armed.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Roy said, “but we should have a certain number of strategically placed firearms.”
“Good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns.”
Board member Hy Boltz suggested exploring the issue at the next safety meeting.
Citizen Gary Chandler said he “agreed 1000%” with Meyer and Roy.
School librarian Kay Randall said that, while she would fight for her right to own a gun, she does not wish to carry a gun. Randall said that staff had undergone active shooter training and perhaps the same training could be extended to the students.
“I would rather have active shooter training than guns on school grounds,” Randall said.
Roy agreed that children should be trained.
Chairman Pierce read a prepared statement recognizing the value of public comment but said that the board could not respond because the item was not on the agenda. The meeting was adjourned.
The gun issue will be discussed at the Board Safety Meeting on Wednesday, March 21 at 4 p.m. at the Troy High School library. As news of the pro-gun petition spread through Troy, an opposing anti-gun petition has also been started. It is expected both sides will attend the safety meeting to have their voices heard.