By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Writers, future business leaders and academic phenoms recognized


While Winter Storm Walda blazed a trail of wintery weather outside, board chairperson Esther Davison welcomed some of the young author winners from Laramie County School District No. 2 Monday evening at the school board meeting in Burns.

Brittany Mitchell, Future Business Leaders of America advisor for Burns, shared with the board 11 of the students that competed at the state convention placed high enough to compete at the national convention.

“Ms. Mitchell also sent us an email about the Burns Broncs attending the Chadron State Scholastic Contest,” Davison said. “Many of them placed first or second in their competitions. It wasn’t placing first in a competition of two either. Quite impressive and kudos to Mr. Becking and Ms. Mitchell for getting Burns involved in this.”

Business manager Rob Bryant shared the financial report with the trustees. “We are in a little slide with enrollment, down 14 from the start of the school year and the first of the year,” Bryant said. “As of today, we are at 914, down another two from the first of the month.”

In other business, the board approved the alignment of their mission, vision and expectations.

The school wellness policy was proposed and the board held a public hearing for comments on the policy. Board member Tom Morgan said, “It may not pertain to this but it sure would have been nice to serve the Pine Bluffs students a peanut butter sandwich last week.” Morgan was referencing the school day the water was shut off in Pine Bluffs and water was limited. The ongoing disdain for the new regulations in the federal mandates of the lunch program has not eased with many parents and administration.

“It’s noted that we’re not all thrilled with the school lunch program,” Davison sighed.

The board moved the meeting along quickly due to the weather affecting travel in the district, and approved all the continuing contract teachers, the names of the teachers to advance to continuing status, the initial contract staff, and accepted the names of the certified support staff for the coming school year.

In other staffing decisions, Davison informed the board of the retirements of Ron and Carmen Ladd.

“They have taught for 34 years and have been very involved with Pine Bluffs high and we appreciate all they have done,” Davison said. “Ron Ladd helped me with what needed to be done when I was a new counselor, and I appreciate his work.”

The board also approved the hiring of an additional Burns high track coach due to participation levels, and a Burns junior high assistant track coach as well as special educational personnel for Albin, Burns and Pine Bluffs.

Davison commended Burns for putting on a “very fine production of a drama” this past weekend. She noted there was no stipend for Carissa Wills and Justin Earnshaw to cover the drama department and asked the board to approve a split stipend between them. Board member Julianne Randell asked how many productions a drama director was expected to do if they were hired at the start of the school year. Superintendent Jack Cozort said the contract required one two-act play. Davison said Wills and Earnshaw did a “great job” and the production involved 30 in the cast.

Davison reminded the board the insurance would pay for the new lights at the Pine Bluffs football field, but the district would need to find new poles. She encouraged the board to allow Bryant to find the best bid and inform the board of his decision since there was a small window of time between track and football to complete the work.

Before adjourning to executive session for personnel reasons, Davison reviewed the progress made with the school facilities board about the Pine Bluffs Elementary School.

“They were little help to us, and I think Pine Bluffs has distinguishable qualities from other schools in need of facilities when we were placed No. 1 on the list in 2007 and now have dropped to No. 60,” explained Davison. “I know many schools feel they are in need. But after the water shut off last week, one toilet is completely broke, with six to eight others showing issues. These kinds of issues can’t be fixed with new equipment.”

Davison talked about the ground work and plans the district did for Pine Bluffs elementary in 2007, and raised $600,000 for the new facility. She added the board invited Senator Wayne Johnson and House Representative John Eklund to tour the school and see the issues. Davison felt the legislators left the tour with a solid understanding of the issues. She added putting $1 million into the school to fix the cosmetic issues would be “like putting lipstick on a pig.” Davison said she was unsure of the board’s next steps with the school facility board.

Before adjourning, Davison reminded everyone Carpenter will receive their Emeritus Award April 16, at 8:30 a.m. and encouraged all to attend that were able.

“It is a big deal for a school to receive this honor,” Davison said.


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