The February meeting of the school board Wednesday, Feb. 22, was dominated by guests expressing concerns about the incident on the boys basketball bus in mid-January.
There were 29 guests in attendance with nearly all present with concerns about the incident and how it was handled.
The following is taken from the meeting minutes:
Michelle Sprute read a letter she had prepared. She stated that she believes crimes of sexual abuse and bullying have occurred and that the student handbooks don’t show a punishment for these situations. Annamarie Schwartz state that this abuse is completely unacceptable. She stated that sports should build character and she is concerned that is shows the behavior has been unacceptable. Where was the supervision? Doug Lustig read parts of the bylaws for the school He wanted to know why the student didn’t get 5 days suspension and he feels like the dress code isn’t followed in the weight room. Jeanne Stubbers agrees with the other who have spoken and believes that the adults are being bullied. She says she can’t trust her kids to go to Prairie.
Superintendent Rene’ Forsmann responded that they have done what was needed to handle this situation. She also stated the administrators and board members have talked about what needs to be done to get the trust back from patrons. Bus chaperoning has been increased and coaches meetings will include a coach’s handbook as well. Roy Schumacher stated he believes the administration handled this correctly and they will be going through the handbooks. Della Gehring stated that the board had no idea this was happening and that this matter was not handled lightly. She stated they had to deal with what was in front of them regarding anti-bullying and secure buses. All of this will need to be re-evaluated.
Lustig stated he believes the one boy should have been kicked off the team. Joe O’Neill stated the parents were not told about this at all. He said the coaches told the kids not to talk about the situation. Mike Kehler stated he believes the students don’t deserve to even go to Prairie.
Gus Hoene stated that the board needs to handle the situations when they happen. He further stated that if Lustig had an issue with a student that was not dressed properly that he should’ve gone to the administration and had it stopped instead of continuing to let it happen. “We are all in this together.” Hoene further stated he would like to see the patrons go to the administration when they have issues.
In other business the board approved draft option A of the 2012-2103 school calendar after Mrs. Forsmann stated that other schools seem to have similar calendars.
An alternate graduation plan was sent by high school principal Randy Brown in September and his feedback was that the state really doesn’t need to approve it, they just need a copy. The board passed a motion to approve the plan.
Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik explained to the board a proposal that he is setting up with Western Pacific Timber that would be an alternative to the Secure Rural Schools funds. Chmelik said he would like to see us self-sufficient from government funds and that is a way it could happen. He presented a copy of the proposal for the board to study.
Brown said that Tucker Stefan will be at the next board meeting to discuss a support group for students. Brown gave board members a handout explaining this group.
Cheyenne Hudson was approved for the GEAR-UP aide position at the high school for the rest of the school year.
Brown gave the board a draft handbook for coaches. This has a lot of information in it and he would like the board to look this over within the next month. He asked board members to contact him with any questions or changes.
Brown also brought up Personal Finance and Careers as being a requirement for high school students. He stated that careers has been required for a long time and was provided by Nancy Uptmor. Next year Ryan Hasselstrom will be teaching this course and would like to add personal finance to this as well. This could be taken during sophomore year. After discussion a motion was made and passed to add this course as a requirement.
In the facilities update Mrs. Forsmann said the bid from Jeff Schacher has been accepted at $504,526. However a deduction of $7,000 for the siding will come off this amount.
Pacific Cabinets and InterWest Wood Design of Grangeville have given bids on cabinets. Many of the cabinets will be moved from the rooms at the old Elementary School.
She also stated that they need to have levy information by March 16 in order to run a levy on May 15. This is before the next board meeting so a special meeting will be needed.
Roy Schumacher mentioned that he attended a meeting in Moscow earlier in the day to discuss what businesses in the region are looking for from students who are finished with high school. The idea was for businesses and schools to discuss getting students to want to live in the small communities and how to make those small communities thrive. Schumacher said he was very impressed with the information Jerry Richardson had on what is going on in the Prairie schools. He stated other employers were very impressed as well. They discussed dual credit courses and how far ahead Prairie schools are. He stated they kept referring back to what Prairie schools are doing (see article elsewhere in this week’s Chronicle).
In administrative reports Brown stated he is still not sure of the numbers for baseball so they will wait until the first practice. He reported the girls basketball team took 1st at state and also won the Sportsmanship Trophy, which also reflects on the cheerleaders and fans. The boys team won the 1-A Division 1 Academic Award.
Mrs. Forsmann stated that Alexis Shears, a sixth grader, won the school spelling bee and will continue on to the regional meet at LCSC on March 17th.
Progress reports have gone out.
There will be a trip to Dworshack Dam Feb. 28 for the 4th graders.
She also reported Colleen Sonnen has started a group for 5th and 6th graders called Kindness Rocks.
The second parent surveys went out and many have been returned. The third survey will go out in April.
Forsmann mentioned that 9 people are involved in the Idaho Leads Project from Cottonwood. This project will last several months and is through Boise State and the Albertson’s Foundation.
She said she attended a superintendents meeting in Boise the previous week and there was a lot of information on technology.
The board adjourned to an executive session at 9:03 p.m.
After the board reconvened at 9:28 p.m. Hoene moved, regretfully, to accept Randy Brown’s resignation as junior/senior high school principal.
The board also decided to have a special meeting to set a levy amount on Monday, March 5 at 7 p.m.
The board meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m. The next regular meeting will be Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m.
To our Cottonwood School District Patrons:
As your board of trustees, it is our duty to respect the rights and privacy of all personnel, children and their parents when an investigation is underway.
All information is held in confidence and discussed with those directly involved. We welcome your concerns and comments, but when issues pertain to personnel and students we are unable to respond to your comments directly but do take them under advisement.
The administration has investigated the incident of inappropriate behavior on the boy’s basketball bus. Disciplinary action was taken. We are reviewing our policies and have tightened procedures where needed. We have looked at our procedures for monitoring students in locker rooms, PE classes, classrooms, buses and in hallways. We are working on a coaches handbook and welcome feedback from students, community and parents.
To the community: As an administration and board we are partners with you in educating your children. Their safety is our priority. We need your confidence and trust in order to move forward.
Roy Schumacher, Board Chair
Della Gehring, Vice Chair
Rene Forsmann, Superintendent
Randy Brown, Principal