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Teachers call for better communication

ARLEE – Arlee Federation of Teachers President Katea Breiling presented a request for action at the regular board meeting stating distress over the lack of notice concerning the removal of Principal Jim Taylor for one week from his regular duties, for reasons Superintendent George Linthicum was unable to comment about. 

“The staff was not notified,” she said of the removal. “We want to be informed. We need a clear plan to address parents and media. We didn’t know what to say.”

The board voted to put the issue on next month’s agenda.

Superintendent Linthicum proudly announced the first successful Yes Program graduate to complete the necessary credits to receive a diploma from the school’s alternative graduation program. 

“To see them come back, it’s joyful,” he said. “It’s what school is about: to see them experience success. For a district this size, it’s a compliment to a lot of the staff, including the student.”

The Yes Program is attracting students from around the valley. The board approved a request for an out of district student to be allowed to attend the program.

Linthicum said the high school needed to attract as many students as possible to increase the school’s budget for next year.

“At student count as of last Monday – which determines the general fund for next year – the elementary will be healthy. We can now start looking at ways to beef up instruction without worrying about staying afloat,” Linthicum said. “In the high school, we are going to fall fifteen to twenty thousand dollars short. We will have to start digging into reserves. Declining enrollment is a reality. The reality is that at the high school there are tough budgeting and staffing decisions that have to be made.”

The school is looking at other funding possibilities.

“We are looking for grant types of funding even if it’s five hundred or two-thousand. Everything helps,” Linthicum said.

The school puts in requests for grants of all kinds on a regular basis. Grants manager Deanne Smith said in a letter to the board that the school received the Safe Sidewalks grant from the MDT Transportation Alternatives Grant. The project connects the campus to two main streets – Morigeau and Houl – to make walking safer for students.

Transportation Manager Clint Rice reported receiving calls concerning morning bus routes and the snow.

“I got a lot of grief about not calling a snow day,” he said.

Before buses leave in the morning, Rice checks for an accumulation of eight or more inches of overnight snowfall, ice and emergency recommendations. He noted that the roads were worse in some places but not bad enough in his evaluation to close school.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the district office.

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