School board approves expenditures and COVID protocol

TORRINGTON – The Goshen County School Board held its first meeting since Christmas break on Tuesday. 

The board met in executive session before the regular meeting for personnel reasons. 

Chairman Zach Miller and Trustee Matt Cushman were not present. 

Trustee Taylor Schmick was also absent from the meeting as Superintendent Ryan Kramer announced he received his resignation on Tuesday. Kramer said the board will vote to accept Schmick’s resignation at the upcoming work session and will begin the next steps to fill the vacant board position afterwards. 

Coming off the break, the board had 12 consent agenda items, four old business items, and 10 new business items. 

During old business, the board continued to look at the close contact quarantine protocol as the committee tasked with creating the plan offered revisions which follow updated CDC guidelines. 

Most of the changes involve moving quarantine limits for close contacts with no symptoms from 14 days to 10 days and testing from eight days to five days. The committee also removed option four from the protocol as it now reads the same as option three as a result of the changes in accordance with the recommendations from the CDC. 

The board approved the changes to the close contact protocol. 

The board also approved second and final readings for district policies 4115 (certified staff assignments and voluntary transfers), 3409 (time distribution records for federal programs), and 6145 (District Activities Advisory Council). 

After approving Kramer’s contract for the 2022-2023 and 2023-24 school years, the board also approved the appointment of Trustee Kerry Bullington, Trustee Dylan Hager, Saucedo, Steve Feagler and Tim Pieper to the Board of Recreation for 2022. 

In other new business, the purchases of K-5 music instruction materials from West Music, new computers for building library checkout systems, document cameras and sound systems, a work trailer for Lingle-Fort Laramie High School, EdOptions Academy licenses from Edmentum, contracting with the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE), and an amendment to contract Brooke Carlson LLC for additional autism consultation services were all approved. 

The board also discussed offering a hiring incentive for the Torrington High School (THS) principal position. According to Kramer, there was a potential pool of candidates for the position after the application process closed on Jan. 1, but said they hope the incentive will increase the number of qualified candidates. 

“I would be much more comfortable if we had a larger pool of applicants and have them participate in those interviews,” Kramer said. 

The interviews were scheduled to take place next week with parents that have been invited to take part in the process, the leadership committee from THS and a committee of administrators and board members. 

The proposed incentive was $15,000 payable over three years. Kramer said it can also go under ARP ESSER III funds since it is for hiring staff. 

The incentive was approved, and the application was reposted for new candidates until Jan. 26. Along with the approval of last meeting’s minutes and monthly bills, the approved consent agenda included district monthly fiscal statement and fund balance comparison, isolation mileage payment at the current IRS rate for the 2021-2022 school year for an unaccompanied youth, driving 66.0 adjusted miles per school day, the purchase of music instruments from WoodWind BrassWind for $5,916, the purchase of custodial supplies for LFL for $6,345, Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) Suicide Prevention Grant for Torrington Middle School for $22,135, the purchase of a competition set of volleyball standards and related equipment from MF Athletics for $7,171.65 for Southeast High School, annual renewal with Revise for website support for $5,800 and the purchase of custodial supplies for Lincoln Elementary for $2,680.02 and THS for $4,949.90 from Bluffs Facility Solutions. 

During information and proposals, Amanda Fogle and Andrea Eisenbarth addressed the board about social-emotional learning programs at Southeast schools. Fogle presented numbers on how teachers assessed their students on social-emotional standards as well as letting the students assess themselves. Fogle said the data shows students were harder on themselves in the assessments. 

Fogle and Eisenbarth also walked through a lesson plan which the students go through each week on a certain social-emotional learning topic. Eisenbarth said some of the topics are quite “gritty” and they are working with the students to be able to share their thoughts with their classmates. 

During public comment, Bob Peterson asked the board why there was a $3,000,000 increase to the instruction line and $500,000 increase to the instruction support line under expenditures in the budget in relation to the previous years and if it was related to COVID funds. 

Rod Wagner spoke on implementing Christian values back into the school system and told the board the country was founded on the Bible which is why the school district should do the same. Wagner also related school shootings, depression and student suicides to the lack of God in the government. 

Joshua Kruger addressed the board about standards-based grading system and referenced a slide during last month’s presentation by school district administrators about the system. Kruger said there was a major drop in students receiving As from 2017 to 2020 and noted it was more likely because of the grading system than because of COVID. 

“I know that last year we were dealing with COVID, and we still are, but in 2020-2021 school year we had in-person classes, so even though COVID may be responsible for some of the drop, I believe that most of this drop was caused more by the new grading system which was started in the school year 2020-2021,” Kruger said.   

During the superintendent’s report, Kramer presented the monthly attendance numbers which saw an increase in almost all schools and grades from November to December. 

Kramer also presented data on WY-TOPP scores for seventh and eighth graders from last spring. Most of the categories showed the students performed better than the state average despite underperforming in comparison to the districts scores in previous years. 

The board will convene on Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. for a work session on leadership governance. 

The next regular meeting is Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.


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