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Ronan Schools to transfer investment funds to bank

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RONAN — In a five-two vote, the Ronan School Board authorized the school district to transfer their investment funds into an investment account with First Interstate Bank. 

Wendy Thingelstad and Bob Cornwell voted against the motion after a lengthy discussion debating the advantages of transferring funds from the county treasurer to the bank.

“What’s the advantage to the district?” Lake County Superintendent of Schools Gale Decker inquired. “Is the advantage big enough to make it worthwhile?” 

Cornwell spoke with the Great Falls district administration. The Great Falls District also invests with First Interstate Bank, and Cornwell discovered they hired a business manager who is a certified CPA to work directly with the investment accounts. 

First Interstate Bank Branch Manager Jeremy Morgret and Wealth Adviser Drew Shealey explained that benefits include trustees’ control of investment funds and having unlimited viewing access to the investment account online.

Cornwell raised the question if there were problems to be addressed and remedied internally prior to switching from one financial institution to the another.

“The only concern is what’s been alluded to — the ability of the district to balance their books with the county treasurer,” Decker said. 

After being questioned by trustee Mark Clary, Decker admitted that the Polson School District also has problems balancing with the county treasurer, but the problem is more severe in Ronan.

“I would think the first step before you move your money, you must get your books balanced with the county,” Decker said. 

After they approved the authorization, the school board  discussed the 5th grade relocation from K. William Harvey Elementary School to the Ronan Middle School.

Teachers present expressed their concern about sufficient space for the 5th grade special education facilities and adequate music, art and physical education class time. 

The board also discussed the reintroduction of family consumer science classes into the curriculum as well as 5th graders’ access to an industrial arts class.

“(Family and consumer sciences) are important things for our communities,” Trustee Tom Anderson said. “You are not seeing this (taught) in the family. Some people are going to go into the work field right out of high school.”

Ronan High School Principal Tom Stack and Ronan Activities Director Lucky Larson gave the board a presentation on the upcoming school reclassification.

As it stands currently, Ronan High School will classify as a class B instead of a class A school. 

“There are good points and bad points to going up and going down,” Trustee Mark Clary said. “I think it’s great to get the community’s input because it’s a hot topic around town.”

He explained that if the school moves from a class A to class B, the teams will play at inferior facilities, but Ronan High School may be more competitive in the class B division. 

The board agreed that they would request input from community members and students before approving the reclassification. 

The next regular scheduled school board meeting is Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Ronan High School Library.

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