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April 12, 2021 Meeting Minutes

Pioneer Elementary School

1937 Dover Road

Billings, MT 59105 Telephone (406)-373-5357

Mission Statement: Our mission is to serve the community and the school by creating a safe environment that fosters Respect, Trust, Accountability, and Responsibility while promoting life-long learning for all.

Regular Meeting Minutes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . April 12, 2021

Presented for Approval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 10, 2021

DATE: April 12, 2021

TIME: 4:30 p.m.

PLACE: Pioneer School, Main Building, Room 106

MEMBERS Kari Jones, Chairperson via Zoom

PRESENT: Luke Rome, Trustee via Zoom

Colleen Unruh, Trustee



CLERK: Marilyn Michael

ADMIN: Melissa Schnitzmeier via Zoom

STAFF: Jami Burns arrived at 4:30 pm via Zoom, left at 5:45 pm





Trustee, Kari Jones called the meeting of the trustees of Pioneer Elementary School District #41 to order in Room 106 of the main building and via Zoom, Monday, April 12, 2021 at 4:30 pm. Trustee, Kari Jones welcomed all those attending. Trustee, Kari Jones read the Montana Law about public meetings.

2. MINUTE APPROVAL: Luke Rome made a motion to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of March 8, 2021 and the Special Meeting minutes of April 1, 2021. Kari Jones seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.



Enrollment – Our enrollment this month is up 1 student for a total of 65 students

Staffing –

Certified Evaluations – Complete

Classified Evaluations – In Progress

Campus News

Smarter Balanced Assessments (Gr 3 – 8) & MT Science Assessments (Gr 5 & 8) are scheduled for 4/19/21 – 4/23/21

Upcoming PD

Melissa – MT EPAS (Educator Performance Appraisal System) 3/22 – 3/29, 4/5, 4/12, 4/19

Melissa – MTSBA Employment Conference 4/6, 4/13, 4/20

Melissa – AGATE Conference


COVID cases in Yellowstone County have continued to decrease over the past month. I have attached the most recent Schools Weekly Report from the Yellowstone County Health Command. The Yellowstone County Health Command share the attached letter with districts to encourage our continued use of face coverings in our school.

CDC – Distancing – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated recommendations on school operations including clarifications on physical distancing and ventilation systems. This update states that schools should continue to use cohorts but may maintain three feet of distance between elementary students when other health protocols, such as masks are honored. Six feet of distance is still advised for older students when in areas of high transmission and for all adults.

Cleaning – The CDC released updated guidance regarding cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in facilities such as schools as part of COVID-19 prevention protocols. Citing findings suggesting the risk of COVID-19 infection via surface transmission is generally less than 1 in 10,000, the CDC has relaxed the guidance in some situations.


We have been getting some initial information on the funding we can expect from the latest round of federal monies to address COVID costs. This funding is commonly referred to as ESSER III funding. I have included estimated funding amounts for Montana schools, an overview from MT-PEC on the three different ESSER funding authorizations. Possible issues: HB632 passed. This bill provides the appropriations authority for ESSER III. The Section E subcommittee amendment recommendations which reflect the joint proposal for distribution of ESSER III funds from OPI and the partners of the Montana Public Education Center remain intact. There does remain language that reduces grant funding for local governments by “20% if that local government or any of its authorized agents have issued health regulations related to COVID-19 that are more strict than those imposed by the state.” Currently, the definition of local government in the bill includes school districts and the bill references ESSER III funds going out via “grants”. An amendment that would have taken out this section failed to pass by a margin of 34 -66. MTSBA is working to remove school districts from the wording of this definition.

Melissa reported at the meeting that HB632 passed with school out of the local government definition.

Grants/Funding Opportunities

Melissa has submitted a Walmart Community Grant for $4000 which could help us to purchase 3 ADA Accessible metal Playground Picnic Tables

Melissa has submitted the Intent to Apply for the GT Grant


Building Maintenance We have a toilet that was found to be running which made us run out

of water. Kevin has looked at the toilet and thinks he has it fixed. At this time, an out of order sign is still in place but will be removed soon so it can be used. A shingle came off of the old building bell tower in the wind. Kevin cannot access the area to try to replace it as it is too high. He feels it would be best to call a roofing company. Melissa will call Bradford Roofing.

Safety Enhancements – None

ADA Compliance/Architect Proposal Updates – Bill Haynes with Collaborative Designs sent an email regarding YVEC installing a community solar array on the proposed new building. They would pay for the panels and connection to the power grid. These would provide power to the school with the excess being available for Co-op members as an investment as a green power source. They would want to have some educational information about the system. YVEC is currently installing their 3rd system. They have been looking to do a 4th community solar installation next summer and have been looking to partner with a school. Brandon Whitman with YVEC would be available to speak to the board about the proposal system at a future board meeting. Bill is working on a design image of the school and will revise this to show panels.

COVID Updates – see Administrator report


Non-Resident Student Renewal Tim and Traci Doll have submitted a letter requesting their son Donovan Doll continue his education at Pioneer School for 2021-2022.

Cancellation of Trustee Election AcclamationMarilyn explained that there is only one applicant for the 3 year school board position. This is Colleen Unruh. We have received notice from the County Election Office that Colleen Unruh has been elected by acclamation and that portion of the election will be cancelled.

MSSA Agreement 21-22 – Melissa explained that we need to renew our membership to MSSA. We will need to have a variance in Library and Counseling this year. The membership price is $1284 plus $600 for the two variances for a total of $1864.

ACE Membership 21-22 – Melissa explained that the Alliance for Curriculum Enhancement has been a great addition for professional development. We also purchase our MAPS testing through ACE and Melissa would like to add a few more tests to help with dyslexia testing and reading fluency testing. The estimate for the ACE membership and MAPS testing with the new testing added in is approximately $7000. Colleen made a motion to renew MSSA and ACE memberships for 2021-2022. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

Special Education Needs – We have students with special needs coming to the school this fall. Melissa has been in conversations with Christina Olstad regarding the needs of these students. Melissa asked Shepherd if they would take the students and this was rejected. Some ideas that have been discussed are making the teacher’s lounge into the special education room. This could also be used as a changing room for the students, a sink is nearby for cleanup. We would have to have a ramp for them to enter the building. We will need to get bids on this. This class would have to eat in their room as the students could not access the lunchroom. If the teacher’s lounge is made into the special education room, we will have to have somewhere for the staff to store & cook their food, which may mean purchasing small refrigerators & microwaves for each classroom. Luke made a motion to start getting bids on ramps for the old building. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. This will need to be an ongoing discussion as we learn more about the needs of the students.

Kindergarten Roundup – Melissa asked the board their opinion on holding a Kindergarten Round up. Last year, it was held virtually. Melissa would prefer to hold this in person but because of the COVID protocols that are in place, we are not allowing visitors on campus, so

how could we hold a kindergarten roundup? After discussion, Colleen made a motion to hold the Kindergarten Roundup in person in the fall before school starts. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

County Track Meet – Melissa explained that the 6th – 8th graders normally attend a track meet held for the county schools. The date of the track meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 7th. It was originally supposed to be held at Daylis Stadium, but a new location is being sought out. With our COVID protocols, students have not been able to go on field trips, so can we allow the students to attend the track meet? After discussion, Luke made a motion to allow the 6th – 8th graders to attend the track meet with their parents transporting them to the meet, staying with them and transporting them afterwards. Additionally, if the parents choose not to have their student attend the track meet, the student would be expected to be in attendance at school that day. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

HB143 – beginning teacher salary – HB143 is a bill to help increase beginning teacher salaries. To qualify, school must offer teachers in their first 3 years of teaching at least 10 times the amount paid to schools in the Quality Educator payments. At this time, our 1st tier of the pay scale does not meet this criteria. To raise the salaries, the union and the board would have to agree to re-open the contract to discuss how this would be implemented. Luke made a motion to table this to allow Jami time to speak to the union representatives and members. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

ESSER Funds – Melissa explained that we will be receiving approximately $114,000 and approximately $270,000 for the ESSER III payments. We need to work to find how best to use this money for the benefit of our students in accordance with the guidelines in place. The money must be spent by September 2023. Several ideas were discussed including helping with salaries, hiring a school counselor, possible playground upgrades. Melissa will do some checking into what a hiring a counselor would entail. This will be an ongoing discussion.

Eastern Special Services Cooperative – Interlocal Agreement – Melissa explained that the Eastern Yellowstone Special Services Cooperative has updated their Interlocal agreement. The updates include adding Pioneer School as a voting member of the Joint Advisory Board of the Cooperative. Colleen made a motion to accept the Interlocal Agreement of the Eastern Yellowstone Special Services Cooperative. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. Melissa will be our representative to the board and will sign the agreement and turn it in to the Cooperative.

Policy Updates – All board members received copies of the new and revised policies as written or revised by MTSBA. Melissa provided each board member with a description of each of the policies. They were discussed and no concerns were found in these policies. Melissa explained the policy 8550 regarding Cyber Incident Responses will need a framework to what will happen if we have an incident. She will be working with our insurance to come up with a plan. Colleen made a motion to adopt new Policies 1402, 4315, 4320, 4332, 5329, 5329P, 5330, 7215, 7260, 7520, 8550. Luke seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. The revised policies were discussed. Luke made a motion to adopt policies 1006FE, 1009FE, 1014FE, 1014FE-F11110, 1120, 1420, 1420F, 1441, 1512, 1700, 1905, 2150, 2161P, 3110, 3520, 3600P, 3600F2, 4410, 5120, 5223, 5232, 5430F, 8225, 5328P, and 8301. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

Administrator Vacation Leave Payout – Marilyn explained Melissa receives personal leave, which cannot carryover, vacation leave which can carryover for only 2 years and sick leave which carries over until she terminates employment. When the unused personal leave is set to expire, Melissa can request a payout of the amount that is 2 years old. Classified employees are paid their unused vacation payout every year, administrators must request the payout each year if they have a remaining balance. Melissa submitted a request to receive the payout of her unused vacation leave. Luke made a motion to allow Melissa to receive her unused vacation payout.

Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

Disposal of Equipment Advertisement – Marilyn explained that to dispose of any broken computers, and any other items that we would like to dispose of we must publish a statement in the Yellowstone County News explaining that we plan to dispose of these items. Colleen made a motion to publish a notice regarding disposal of equipment in the Yellowstone County News. Luke seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

Administrator Salary – Kari asked that this item be tabled. Luke made a motion to table the discussion about the administrator’s salary. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

Secretary/Clerk evaluation Kari determined in regard to secretary clerk evaluation, pursuant to Montana law, that the individual right to privacy clearly exceed the merit of public disclosure and announced that she was convening the board in executive session at 6:00 pm. The meeting reopened at 6:10pm.


The clerk presented claims warrants numbered 21706 through 21718 in the amount of $5,645.30, and the payroll warrants numbered 9087 through 9091 in the amount of $54,226.20. The ACH and Direct deposits were included in the amount. The clerk presented the trial balance sheets for each fund and a monthly report stating each line item YTD and budget balance remaining for the each fund. After review of the report, Luke Rome moved to approve the financial reports. Kari Jones seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.



April Newsletter

Weekly agendas for March 15 through April 16


Update to Reichenberger HOA building use request: The Reichenberger HOA plans to hold their meeting on Tuesday, May 25th at 6:00 pm. We will need to let them in and be here to lock up.


A motion was made by Luke Rome to adjourn the meeting. Colleen Unruh seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; motion carried. The meeting ended at 6:15 pm. The next scheduled regular meeting is Monday, May 10, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 106 of the main building and via Zoom if necessary.


Attest: __________________________ SIGNED: ____________________________

Kari Jones, Board Chairperson

DATE: _________________________