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Superintendent announces OPI plan

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RONAN — In a Ronan-Pablo School Board meeting on Monday, superintendent Andy Holmlund announced that the Montana Office of Public Instruction plans to apply for Race to the Top funds. 

Tennessee and Delaware have both applied and were awarded with funds that would enable the districts within those states to receive money “to enact innovation and/or implement reform” as each school district sees fit in accordance with the state plan. 

Holmlund reported that if Montana is awarded with the RTTT grant, the maximum amount of funds received would be $75 million. Half of the $75 million would stay with the Montana Office of Public Instruction and half would divided among individual school districts who are participants in the program and who have completed a Memorandum of Understanding. 

Holmlund said that OPI would utilize some of the funds for distance learning and higher education. 

RTTT initiatives are based on four areas: standards and assessments, data systems to support instruction, great teachers and leaders, and turning around the lowest achieving schools. 

The completed RTTT application is due to the Department of Education on June 1 and school districts interested in receiving funds must submit the MOU in mid-May. 

Holmlund reported that if Montana becomes a RTTT fund recipient, OPI gave no indication of the percentage or amount of funding the Ronan-Pablo school district would receive. He said it depends on how many districts submit an MOU.

Gale Decker also approached the board to discuss some discrepancies with the track and questioned the school board’s discussion on purchasing more land to expand the school’s facilities.

Decker said that he approached the school board as a tax payer and a Ronan resident. 

“I have a hard time seeing why we have to purchase more land if enrollment is decreasing,” Decker said.

He noted that there was an 18 percent enrollment decline, and this year’s graduating class would be the smallest in history. The district spent $22,000 on a faulty shot put area, and the slope of the track is more than the recommended maximum slope, he reported.

“If you have one leg shorter than the other, you are going to run really well,” Decker said. 

He added that some of the track’s painting and striping has been done incorrectly.

“I don’t understand how they got approved in the first place,” Decker said. “Anyone with any track experience at all could look at it and see that it’s not right.”

Holmlund responded that the discrepancies have been discussed and the district is withholding bonds to the construction company until the issues are fixed.

“There are items that are outstanding and have not been approved by the district,” Holmlund said. 

The school board then moved on to approve the social studies curriculum for all grades. 

Holmlund reported that the budget is on course and the cut-off date for the purchase of all non-local items will be April 15. 

The board also approved an over night trip for eighth graders to Yellowstone National Park with a stop in Virginia City. 

The next Ronan-Pablo School Board meeting is on May 10 at 7 p.m. in the Ronan High School library.

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