GCSD revises truancy policy; passes $631,100 for new ag shop

District will hold 3 board round table meetings this week

GOSHEN COUNTY – The Goshen County School District (GCSD) held a special meeting Tuesday, August 2 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss contracting of the demolition of the Southeast agriculture shop, contracting for the purchase of a replacement metal building package, action on staffing and consideration of final approval of revisions to the student attendance policy and truancy policy.

GCSD Board Vice Chair Michael Sussex was not at the meeting and was excused due to ongoing fire suppression efforts at this time, as noted by Board Chairman Zachary Miller. However, board member Matthew Cushman was also absent, the reason for Cushman’s absence was not noted; board member Katherine Patrick arrived roughly 12 minutes after the meeting began and did not vote on any agenda items due to arriving late, the meeting lasted just about 16 minutes. All present board members: Board Clerk Kerry Bullington, Board Treasurer Carlos Sacedo, Dylan Hager, Justin Hurley and Sarah Chaires voted “aye” on all agenda items, except agenda item labeled ‘F’. In the agenda item labeled ‘F’, board member Bullington chose to abstain from voting in the consideration approving Matt Bullington as the official representative to WHSAA (Wyoming High School Activities Association) for Southeast Schools and the renewal of the WHSAA district membership for the 2022-2023 school year, due to a conflict of interest.

All present members of the school board voted to accept the resignation of Whit Peterson who is now the rodeo coach at Eastern Wyoming College; the Telegram will have a story with Peterson at a later date.

All board members present also voted to approve an administrator contract for one-quarter time administrator duties for current LaGrange Elementary teacher, now also part-time LaGrange Elementary Principal, Matt Daily for the 2022-2023 school year. Daily will continue in his capacity as teacher at LaGrange Elementary but will also function as the in-person and on-campus principal for one-quarter of the time during the school year.

As noted by several board members in attendance and GCSD Superintendent Ryan Kramer during the discussion phase prior to voting in favor of accepting the part-time administrator contract for Daily, “We are very excited to have Mr. Daily joining us (as an administrator).”

“I think with his understanding in LaGrange (Elementary) School as a teacher – his experience there as a teacher and I think that the fact we will be housing an administrator there full-time as opposed to being shared between buildings between Southeast and LaGrange – I think that will be advantageous to the entire system over there,” Kramer told board members. “He has some great ideas to include community over there – and that will be very important for further development.”

Kramer also told members of the board there is a pending part-time teacher posting for LaGrange Elementary to cover the 20% of the time Daily would be handling administrative duties as principal and to expect future board considerations for that position at a later time.

Lincoln Elementary School in Torrington also got a new teacher contract approved at the special board meeting via unanimous vote of board members in attendence.

After an amendment to breakdown the total price of $631,100, into two seperate chunks, one for the demolition of the badly damaged Southeast Agriculture building and one for the purchase of a pre-engineered metal building package; board members Miller, Bullington, Saucedo, Hager, Hurley and Chaires voted to approve both appropriations of funding.

The Southeast ag shop and auto/welding building had caught on fire in the early morning hours on March 30, 2022. It was later determined to be spontaneous and due to an old, faulty electrical outlet. The fire itself did not disrupt the school day or school business, however did shift some classes for some students for the remainder of the year.

Board members approved $144,000 for the demolition of the Southeast Ag Building, contingent upon insurance acceptance; board members approved $478,100 for the purchase of a pre-engineered metal building package, also congingent upon insurance acceptance, for a total of $631,100.

The recomendation for clarification regarding how much money would go toward demolition and how much would go toward buying the pre-fabricated building structure was asked by board member Saucedo.

After some discussion, GCSD Business Manager Marcy Cates explained to board members there would be future agenda items for the board to consider as it relates to cost in the reconstruction of the Southeast Schools Ag building, however, another special school board meeting specifically for the new Ag building is expected to take place in September. Cates also said it is possible that the district may not recieve materials until as late as February 2023.

Board members also approved the editorial editions from its first reading during its July 12 school board meeting concerning what Kramer called a routine revision of the districts elementary, middle and high school attendence and truancy policies to ensure each aligned with new state legislations.

Per the new district policy 5113 which was revised and passed last Tuesday, the following are absenses will be considered excused districtwide: pre-approved by the individual school and parent/guardian; arranged in advance with permission and consent by the parent/guardian; absences where notification is given to the school by the parent/guardian prior to the start of school on the day following the absense; and absences due to unsafe road or weather conditions; absences due to health, illness, or inury of the student, or death or serious injury of illness in the student’s family.

All other absences will be considered unexcused. Additionally, going forward, any district student who has five or more unexcused absences in any school year will be considered habitually truant.

For the elementary schools, which includes K-5 in the Torrington and Lingle areas or K-6 in the Southeast/LaGrange areas, some of those revisions passed included:

Students are considered absent if they arrive one hour or more after the start of the school day, previously it had been two hours – this is broken down between the a.m (or morning) and p.m. (or afternoon) session of school day.

Elementary students are absent seven or more morning or afternoon sessions per semester will be required to participate in an attendance conference with their parent/guardian and the school. However, the school attendance officer may waive the requirement for an attendance conference based on documentation provided by parents and/or guardians.

Per the revised requirements for make-up work, it is now the parent, guardian and/or student’s responsibility to make arrangements with each teacher as to when make-up work is due upon returning to school. The new policy does allow for students to do make-up work for all absences, whether excused or not, and grants one day of make-up time for each school day missed.

In the elementary schools, going forward, any student who is considered truant, would only be required to do make-up work, the revision removed the ability for principals to assign detention and suspension as a result of being truant.

There are other minor editorial changes in the elementary school attendance and truancy policies which will take effect in the 2022-2023 school year, Kramer said the new policies would reflect on the district website as early as next week, as well as each individual elementary school in the district and would be posted and available for parents once school resumes August 23.

Similar changes were made for Goshen County secondary students, grades 6-12 in Torrington and Lingle or grades 7-12 in Southeast.

Secondary students who are absent seven or more sessions of the same class per semester will be required to attend a meeting with the school attendance officer along with their parent/guardian. An attendance officer may also waive the requirement for an attendance conference based on documentation provided by a parent and/or guardian.

Like the elementary side, going forward, any student who is considered truant, would only be required to do make-up work, the revised policy removed the ability for principals to assign detention and suspension as a result of being truant.

The requirement to to provide a student, parent/guardian and school attendance meeting after the third unexcused absense if there is no sufficient documentation to excuse an absense is the result of the Copenhaver 2022 Wyo Legislative revision to K-12 attendance and truancy policies. The policy also stipulates that the principal of each school or his/her designee will serve as the designated attendance officer for that school, who would then be required to keep the documentation as well as hold these attendance meetings per the Wyo Legislative revision which is now law, W.S. 21-4-102. If the attendance officer reasonably believes and determines the unexcused absences were due to habitual truancy or neglect as defined in W.S. 14-3-202, the attendance office is required to notify GCSD Board of Trustees and the district attorney, who could initate proceedings in the interest of the child under the Child Protect Act, W.S. 14-3-401 or the Children in Need of Supervision Act, W.S. 14-6-401 if appropriate to do so.

The revised policy was introduced July 12 and passed with a request to make an editorial distinction on its first reading; it was passed on its revised and second reading at the August 2 GCSD special meeting by board members Miller, Bullington, Saucedo, Hager, Hurley and Chaires.

GCSD also reminded attendees of its regularly scheduled meeting scheduled next Tuesday, August 9 at 7 p.m. as well as three board of trustees round table meetings scheduled for next week.

Those three work sessions are available to the members of the public, community members, staff, teachers, students and parents. Each round table will be an informal question and answer style format and board members can choose to attend one, two or all three informal work sessions to interact with community members.

Those will take place as following:

  • Monday, Aug. 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Southeast Schools Commons Area in Yoder;
  • Wednesday, Aug. 10, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Trail Elementary Commons Area in Torrington;
  • Thursday, Aug. 11, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Lingle-Ft. Laramie Schools Elementary Gym in Lingle.

There is no formal agenda for these meetings as they are open style question and answer sessions. Residents are asked to keep their questions respectful and limited so that others have a chance to ask board members about topics that are of interest to them in the interest of time due to each session being an hour and a half long.

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