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Sheridan, Twin football co-op rejected by MHSA

Board re-ups super, principal contracts

SHERIDAN—At its Tuesday, March 12, monthly meeting the Sheridan school board approved sending a follow-up letter to the Montana High School Association (MHSA), the state governing body for high school athletics, expressing disapproval at the lack of response they received after applying for a co-op between Twin Bridges and Sheridan football teams for the upcoming season.

Superintendent Mike Wetherbee told the board that he had received a negative verbal response from the MHSA, but had never received anything in writing that rejected the proposal. 

Enrollment numbers were cited as the reason for the denial; the two schools would come too close to the enrollment threshold that would require a Class B classification, and it is against MHSA rules for two smaller schools to combine and jump into a larger classification.

“I really feel like the MHSA is making us look like fools,” said Wetherbee. “The deadline was February 1, here we are on March 15 and I don’t have a piece of paper in my hand. That bothers me.”

Wetherbee asked for the board’s approval to send a letter to the MHSA to express his disapproval of the delay. He said there was a process to appeal the decision, but that Sheridan wouldn’t pursue that, and that the denial of the application was not the root cause of his frustration.

“I don’t care if they say no,” he told the board. “But we’re out a couple of months and still messing with this. Let’s get this process done. I’m very dissatisfied.”

Sheridan and Twin Bridges have both moved on to scheduling 6-man football seasons for the 2019 season. Chairman Bill Wood noted that even if they wanted to pursue the appeals process, it would delay the process too much to make setting an 8-man schedule possible.

At the current juncture, the two schools will remain independent for the 2019 football season.

 

Safety committee

Moving to other business, Wetherbee provided an update on Sheridan’s safety committee, which met the same evening just before the board did. Wetherbee said the committee would be refocusing to step up preparing for the school’s long-term strategic plan when it came to safety. They would be evaluating each building and making a list of the highest priority projects in order to increase and maintain campus safety. He said he would present that list to the board at its April meeting.

 

Staffing

The board continued its practice of addressing one of its goals at each meeting, evaluating themselves on how they fulfill each one.

The goal for the March meeting was providing “the staffing structure to promote a diverse and well-rounded education for all students through the employment of highly qualified individuals.” Wetherbee said just that day the school had been interviewing candidates for an art and librarian opening, all of whom could make a good addition to Sheridan’s staff.

“This is one where we’re doing really well,” he said. “We employ a highly qualified member in every position.”

Remaining on the staffing theme, the board then approved contract renewals for both Wetherbee and elementary principal Rod Stout. Wetherbee was evaluated by the board members earlier this year, and both contracts were approved unanimously. 

The board also approved three new substitute teachers who will be added to the school’s list of available teachers, as well as hiring assistant track coaches for this season for both the high school and junior high teams.

 

Preliminary budget

To wrap up the meeting, Wetherbee presented Sheridan’s preliminary budget date for the fiscal year 2020, which has not yet been firmly set because the legislative session has not finished. He asked the board for discussion on whether or not Sheridan should run a mill levy, which area taxpayers would have to vote on.

The proposed levy would be worth around $9,000, Wetherbee said. 

Board member Will Fabel noted that it was less than one percent of a budgetary difference, and the board agreed that such a small change was not worth spending the money to hold an election.

Further reducing the need to expend the cost of an election would be if the two school board posts that will soon come open have any opposing candidates or not. If the two openings have only one candidate each—which is likely, as the two trustees run for re-election—Sheridan, like most of Madison County’s schools, may not hold an election this spring.

The next regular Sheridan school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9.

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