Ennis school board approves 2018-19 budget
Police officer visits, new softball team on the agenda
ENNIS—The Ennis school board approved a new budget that’s slightly less than last year’s at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, August 15. They also discussed the school’s partnership with Ennis police officer John Moore and several staff and coaching changes.
The new budget is down just under two mills from the 2017-18 school year, said superintendent Casey Klasna. However, with the levy the district passed this May, the mills are also worth a bit more than they have been in the past.
“Things are going to be a little tighter this year, since we’ve added some positions and some programs,” Klasna told the board. “But I’m confident in what I’ve presented to you.”
Klasna said the budget is in line with a long-term plan that the district has been following for years in order to be as fiscally responsible as possible. This decrease has come exactly when it was expected.
The new programs Klasna referred to include the addition of a softball team to Ennis’s sports repertoire and a partnership with Madison Valley Medical Center to provide a school nurse during the upcoming school year, something Ennis has never had before.
The district had $486,000 left in its general fund at the end of the 2017-18 school year. Of that, more than $325,000 has been reserved for the 2018-19 school year, the maximum percentage that the district can reserve from one year to the next.
The remainder of that leftover money went toward the current construction project expanding the school’s weight room and storage area on the south end of the building.
School Reserve Officer program
The board heard a short presentation from Ennis police officer John Moore, who described the school reserve officer (SRO) program and outlined a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the school and Ennis police.
Moore noted that he does walk-throughs of Ennis Schools an average of twice per week during the school year. He attended a training earlier this year that outlines the SRO program and the mechanisms of that relationship, which is free service to the school.
Being an SRO essentially allows Moore to act as a staff member should he see any students acting in inappropriate ways at school. Rather than writing them a ticket or arresting them, Moore could report them to faculty for discipline instead.
“If you’re going to be in a school, you need to have an agreement with the school for what to expect,” Moore told the board. “Everybody’s in this together; this just keeps everything above board.”
The SRO designation also means that Moore could approach a staff member at the school if he was concerned about a particular student or vice versa, but protects that contact under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to protect the student’s privacy.
Moore noted that his walk-throughs of the school are primarily to make the students more comfortable with his presence and more familiar with him, and also in light of recent school shootings around the country.
By making himself seen, he hopes to increase student safety by another degree. He said that past walk-throughs have already made the students more comfortable with him and increased his positive relationships with them.
“It’s just fun for me to have those kids saying hi to me in the morning,” Moore said. “Especially those younger elementary kids, they’ll run up to me asking for stickers. It’s fun both for them and for me.”
Board members also expressed their support of and appreciation for Moore’s presence on campus.
“I’ve appreciated the contact and the ability to contact Officer Moore,” said elementary principal Brian Hilton. “A lot of bigger schools like Bozeman have that SRO, and it’s nice to have that around here.”
High school principal Mellissa Newman said that it helps the students “build a rapport with Officer Moore as well, and they’ll be comfortable going to him if they have problems.”
The board was provided copies of the MOU, which will be reviewed and approved at the next board meeting.
The board’s August agenda also included:
• Approvals of several staffing changes: The board hired Ginger Nelson and Janell Mulholland as para-professionals; Jordan Overstreet as head golf coach; and Melinda Legg as assistant cross country coach.
• The approval of an MOU with Madison Valley Medical Center, which finalizes the process of adding a school nurse for the 2018-19 school year.
• An update on the construction project on the south side of the school. Klasna said the project will be slightly delayed due to some contractor substitutions and will be completed three or four days behind schedule. It should be completed the last week in August.
• An approval to create a committee to oversee the necessary preparations for the new softball team at Ennis High School. Board members Kris Inman and Karen Ketchu volunteered to sit on the committee, which will also include Klasna and athletic director Chris Hess, and at least one community member.
• The approval of an online payment program to facilitate parent payments for things like activity fees and student lunch accounts. The service, provided by eTrition, will begin as a trial period this fall and will expand to include more services as the program gets up and running.