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April 20th, 2020 Board 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 20, 2020

Presented for Approval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 11, 2020


DATE: April 20, 2020


TIME: 4:30 p.m. 


PLACE: Pioneer School, Main Building, VIA Zoom Meeting


MEMBERS Kari Jones, Chairperson

PRESENT: Luke Rome, Trustee  

Colleen Shaw, Trustee




CLERK: Marilyn Michael


ADMIN: Melissa Schnitzmeier


STAFF: Jami Burns, Leah Wright, Connie Russell, and Alisa Rau arrived at 4:30 pm, Richelle Hertel arrived at 4:55 pm. Jacob arrived at 6:15 – all via Zoom. All teachers logged off of the Zoom meeting at 6:40 pm.


VISITORS: Randy and Jordan Higgins






Trustee, Kari Jones called the meeting of the trustees of Pioneer Elementary School District #41 to order via Zoom, Monday, April 20, 2020 at 4:30 pm.  Trustee, Kari Jones welcomed all those attending.  Trustee, Kari Jones read the Montana Law about public meetings.  


  1. MINUTE APPROVAL:  Colleen Shaw made a motion to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of March 23, 2020 and the special meeting minutes of March 25, 2020.  Luke Rome seconded the motion.  The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.









  • Closure Updates
    • The Governor is releasing closure information on a two-week basis.
    • Possible Closure Extension – Student supplies will be packed up by homeroom teachers and set up to be delivered/picked up 4/24 with learning packets
    • CARES Act – We are estimated to receive $24,668
    • ZipWhip is back up and running
    • School Sanitation – Kaylyn and Cindy have completed sanitizing the school. Kaylyn continues to come in and sanitize commonly used areas.
  • 2020-2021 In Progress
    • COVID-19 Procedures
    • Preliminary Budget
    • Staff Recommendations
    • Student Schedules
    • Classroom Assignments


  1.  Building Maintenance – Safetech will be here on Monday, April 27th to remove the siding from the old building. Shaw Construction will install the new siding as soon as removal is complete. If school were to start up again, these would be rescheduled. Kevin informed Melissa that he needs to rebuild the condensate tank to the boiler. It needs to be a larger capacity which he believes will see a reduction in our boiler feed water usage and increase the boiler’s efficiency. He will also update some of the feed controls and 2 of the steam traps. Kevin is working to put together a price to do this himself. If he cannot complete the job, he will reach out for a company to do the work.
  2. Safety Enhancements – nothing new at this time
  3. Certified Staff contract negotiations – The board offered a 3 year contract with 2% increases each year, increase in insurance pay to the single person rate of $641.19, change Friday hours to 7:45 to 2:45 with the addition of “or until all students have been retrieved”. The board offered no change in discretionary days or payback of unused leave. Jami explained the payback of unused leave was taken off of their requests last meeting as it would not benefit the group.  The teachers logged off at 5:00 and returned at 5:10 with a counter offer of a 2 year contract with 2% raise each year and 13 discretionary days. They will not consider a 3 year contract. They will agree to the addition of the wording on the working hours and the increase in insurance pay. The board’s counter offer was a 3 year contract with raises of 3%, 2%/2%. Jami explained that 3 year contracts are almost unheard of and they will not consider one. At this time the board offered a 2 year contract with 3% in the first year & 2% in the second year. Discretionary days stay at 12. The teachers logged off again and rejoined the meeting at 5:45. The returned with a request of either 3% each year and remain at 12 discretionary days or 3% the first year/2 % the second year and 13 discretionary days.  After much discussion, Luke made a motion to offer a 2 year contract with a 3% increase the first year, 2% the second year, 13 discretionary days, Friday work days will be changed to 7:45 to 2:45 with the addition of “or until all students are retrieved” and increase in insurance paid by the school to $641.19.  Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 
  4. ADA Compliance/Architect Proposal Discussions – Melissa explained that if we want to move forward with planning an addition to the building to meet ADA standards, we need to let Collaborative Designs know. She explained that the estimated cost of them doing the plans would be $37,000 which we can pay monthly or however it works best for the budget. The whole plan process will take approximately 5 – 6 months and the amount needs to be paid in full by the time it is completed.  After completing their designs, they will help with the bond process along with DA Davidson. After discussing how we will pay this, Luke made a motion to move forward with having Collaborative Designs start the planning process in June. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. Melissa will contact Collaborative Designs to let them know of the board’s decision. 



  1. Non-Resident Student Application – Randy and Jordan Higgins were in attendance to request their daughter be enrolled in 5th grade for 2020-2021. After visiting with them, Colleen made a motion to accept Leia Higgins the Pioneer School for 2020-2021. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 
  2. Cancellation of Trustee Election – Acclamation – Marilyn explained that there is only one applicant for the 3 year school board position. This is Kari Jones. We received no applicants for the 1 year term. We will need to see if someone would be willing to be appointed to this term. The school board portion of the election has been canceled. 
  3. CBA – MOU – Melissa explained that MTSBA has written an MOU to be added to the CBA for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. This is due to the school closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensures staff will be paid during the closures, updates worksite, leave, PIR days, etc. Jami stated that she received the same MOU from the union, she and Melissa discussed it and are in agreement that it needs to be adopted. Luke made a motion to adopt the CBA-MOU. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.
  4. MSSA Agreement – 2020-2021 – Melissa recommended that we continue our membership in MSSA, however she would also like us to become members of the ACE Consortium. Both of these organizations benefit the school.  MSSA provides our variance for our counselor and professional development along with curriculum guidance. 
  5. ACE Membership – ACE does not offer the counselor variance. ACE offers MAPS testing at a lower rate than MSSA does, so Melissa recommends that we purchase MAPS from ACE. ACE also provides professional development opportunities, curriculum and guidance on many other things. She is recommending we have membership in both organizations and purchase our MAPS testing from ACE.   The cost of MSSA with the counselor variance will be $1564, the cost of ACE is $4500 with the MAPS testing will be an additional $1040 for a total of $7104 for both memberships, the counselor variance and MAPS testing. The benefits of these organizations, to Pioneer School and whether there is room in the budget for both was discussed.  Melissa felt there was room in the budget for both of the organizations.  Colleen made a motion to renew our membership in MSSA with the counselor variance and become members of the ACE consortium with the MAPS testing for a total of $7104.  Kari seconded the motion, the vote was unanimous; the motion carried.
  6. CARE Act – Melissa wanted the board to have a copy of the CARES Act. As of right now, there is no further information. It looks like we will received approximately $24,668.45. The amount of money from the CARES Act is tied to Title funds. Melissa is watching the Title website for further instructions. These funds have a broad range of things they can be spent on. There is also a chance that we would receive a second payment. 
  7. School Sanitation – We received a bid from Billings Carpet and Restoration on a disinfectant fog that could be used at the school. The price to do both buildings would be $1620.51. After discussion, the board is not interested in this.
  8. Policy Updates – Melissa explained that MTSBA has recommended adoption of the following policies:  1900 which covers COVID19 Emergency Policies, 1901 COVID-19 Emergency measures which allows us to use transportation money for emergency reasons due to COVID-19, and 1902 which allows parents to request a Pass/Fail grade rather than traditional grading.  Colleen made a motion to adopt Policies 1900, 1901 and 1902. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.
  9. Administrator Vacation Leave Pay Out – 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.  Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.  
  10. Disposal of Equipment – Marilyn explained that Kevin would like to throw away some of the unused items, broken desks, etc in the basement.  To do this, we must publish a statement in the Yellowstone County News explaining that we plan to dispose of these 
  11. Secretary/Clerk Evaluation (closed session) – The meeting was closed at 6:45 for the Clerk/Secretary evaluation.  The meeting reopened at 6:57.



The clerk presented claims warrants numbered 21493 through 21506 in the amount of $4,855.27, and the payroll warrants numbered 9054 through 9058 in the amount of $46,598.41.  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, Colleen Shaw moved to approve the financial reports. Kari Jones seconded the motion.  The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.




  1. Weekly Agendas for March 30th through April 17th
  2. April newsletter
  3. Copies of letters sent to Non-Resident families reminding them about the need to send requests to remain at Pioneer School for 2020-2021 by June 15th.
  4. One letter to non-resident family that their request to remain at Pioneer for 2020-2021 was approved.




A motion was made by Luke Rome to adjourn the meeting. Kari Jones seconded the motion.  The vote was unanimous; motion carried.  The meeting ended at 7:00 pm.  The next scheduled regular meeting is Monday, May 11, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 102 of the main building or via Zoom.




Attest: __________________________     SIGNED: ____________________________

          Kari Jones, Board Chairperson

DATE: _________________________