School board update
Staffing, athletics on August agenda
With just a few weeks of summer left before classes commence, Big Sky School District Superintendent Dustin Shipman was pleased to tell the BSSD Board of Directors on Aug. 3 that all the hiring had been completed and the district was fully staffed.
“At least on paper,” Shipman joked. “We’ll see on the first day when people are supposed to be here, who’s here and who’s not. But we feel really good.”
As he had discussed with the board in the past, Shipman said this was a tough year for hiring, especially for an elementary generalist position.
“Universities are churning these degrees out, but we received the fewest applications for that job than I’ve received ever probably in my lifetime working in Montana,” Shipman said, noting that the people the district did hire are at the top of their game. “And it wasn’t just us, other superintendents I talked to said the same thing, that they felt like the applicants for those elementary jobs, the people who can teach multiple subjects, was really down.”
Board Member Whitney Littman wondered about where the candidates were coming from.
“We’re seeing more out-of-state candidates,” Shipman said. “The big surprise for me was the MSU people not applying. The recent graduates. That was a significant dip. They may be going out-of-state potentially, maybe working at the independent school section, and maybe fewer people going into education or graduating with a degree.”
There will be two student teachers from Montana State this fall, one in art and one in third grade. “So we’re really excited about that, because it could be another potential pipeline for us,” said Shipman.
Following the superintendent’s report, sports was on the docket. For his first time as athletic director for the district, John Hannahs addressed the board with an activities report, thanking the board and administration for their support in placing him in the position.
“I’m excited to take this on,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of great ideas, and I’m excited to see what happens next with our athletic programs.”
Hannahs was pleased to confirm that Dave Brekke, who coaches track in the spring, signed on to be cross country coach in the school’s new program.
“We’re going to try to get as much interest generated in that,” he said. A coach also may be lined up for the tennis program, and that plans are in the works for an event out on the tennis courts to get kids interested in the sport.
Football season starts with a “Punt, Pass, Kick” event and BBQ tailgate Friday, Aug. 24, envisioned by the booster club. Community members have stepped forward to help out as well.
“I’m really looking forward to that,” said Hannahs. “To my knowledge, it’s the first time we’ve done anything like that, so I hope it generates some interest and fills the bleachers. That’s my goal, to find some innovate ways to up attendance at all our sporting events.”
Shipman shared in that excitement.
“We would really like this to be a big kick off to the Big Horn football season,” he said. “And, we’re playing Box Elder for the first time, which is the first time we’ve played a team from that district up here, a Native American school. It’s going to be exciting.”
Check out the Aug. 23 issue of the Lookout for more information on the district’s new hires.