Big Sky School District November board meeting
10th graders visit DC, Veteran’s Day assembly, and COVID-19 testing ends
The Big Sky School District (BSSD) hosted their monthly board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 9, which provides an update for the community on Ophir Elementary and Middle School (OEM), and Lone Peak High School (LPHS).
HIGH SCHOOL NEWS
• LPHS will most likely become a Class B school in the fall of 2022 due to growing student numbers according to BSSD superintendent Dustin Shipman.
• A group of 10th graders in the American Government class, led by Tony Coppola, currently is traveling around the Washington D.C. area for the annual class trip to visit iconic political destinations.
• On Thursday of this week the high school will host a collective assembly to celebrate Veteran’s Day at 1 p.m. in the Bough-Dolan Athletic complex.
OPHIR ELEMENTARY & MIDDLE SCHOOL
• The elementary school will have parent teacher conferences back in person for the first-time next week. Virtual meetings will still be available, and an interpreter will be attending Spanish speaking parents.
Budget Manager, Corky Miller, revealed the district spent more than it anticipated in 2021, exceeding its debt fund expenditure limit. This was a direct result of refinancing bonds from 2013 that were put in place to build the elementary school, explained Miller. However, the district emphasized that spending $42,000 now saved taxpayers up to $600,000 over the coming years.
Construction projects are wrapping up for the season with the track and field pretty much complete according to Cristie Tate. “The painting is done, the new scoreboard is up... the only thing that is really outstanding is the fence around the track. The fencing contractor backed out of their contract at the last minute... We will rebid it out in the next phase of work. It will go up pretty quick in the spring,” explained Tate.
The BSSD is incorporating a variety of mental health related resources for their high school students, like Youth Awareness of Mental Health and Mental Health First Aid, due to the growing demand for mental health support after a challenging last two years. In addition, a federal food program, which provides free lunches to students in the wake of COVID-19, will continue through the end of the year according to the Food Service Director Lindsie Hurlbut.
COVID-19 IN SCHOOL
The BSSD recently announced it would stop its weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing program within the schools due to the sizeable costs and more students opting out. They offered the tests for the first eight weeks of school and administered a total of 956 tests. 15 tests came back positive—a positivity rate of 0.01%. A mask policy will remain in place as a mitigation strategy to stop the spread of the virus.
In other news, “Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 years. [The] CDC now recommends that children ages 5 through 11 get a COVID-19 vaccine. There are approximately 28 million children in this age group in the United States, with nearly 2 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. While fewer COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been reported in children compared with adults, children can be hospitalized or die from the virus,” (CDC).
The pediatric Pfizer vaccine— which has undergone rigorous safety testing—is different from the vaccine administered to teens and adults. It is one-third the normal dose and injected by a smaller needle. Statistically, it’s shown to be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 in children from 5-11 years old.
The Big Sky Medical Center is currently offering booster shots, primary vaccine series, and pediatric vaccines. According to Lauren Brendel, a Bozeman Health representative, the Big Sky Medical Center is offering vaccines:
• Every Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pfizer vaccines (1st, 2nd, and 3rd dose) are available for adults and kids age 12+
• Every Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Moderna vaccines (3rd dose and boosters only) are available
• Every Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. pediatric Pfizer vaccines (ages five to 11 only) are available
• If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment for a vaccine, give BSMC a call at 406- 995-6995