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March 8, 2021 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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March 8, 2021

Presented for Approval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . April 12, 2021

DATE: March 8, 2021

TIME: 4:30 p.m.

PLACE: Pioneer School, Main Building, Room 106

MEMBERS Kari Jones, Chairperson

PRESENT: Luke Rome, Trustee

Colleen Unruh, Trustee



CLERK: Marilyn Michael

ADMIN: Melissa Schnitzmeier


VISITORS: Erin Keith arrived at 4:30 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, Monday, March 8, 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 February 8, 2021. Colleen Unruh seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.



Staffing –

Currently accepting applications for two full-time certified teaching positions for the 21-22 school year. First interview will run the end of March with second interviews before the Board at the April meeting.

Campus News –

District transitioned to Plan C 2/10/21 – 2/22/21 due to staffing constraints after a positive COVID case. School resumed on campus 2/23/21. COVID protocols have been adjust as necessary.

Maintenance Appreciate Day – 3/5or 3/11?

Winter MAPS Testing is almost complete. Data thus far attached.

20-21 Parent Survey Results attached.

Upcoming PD

MTSS – Melissa & Alisa ¾

MASS – Melissa 3/23

Budget Symposium – Melissa 3/9, 3/16, 3/23

Grant Writing Conference – Melissa – 3/29, 3/30


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 Unified Health Command.

Masking – Governor Gianforte has announced that the statewide mask mandate will no longer be in effect as of February 12, 2021. In response to this announcement, the MT-PEC partners have prepared an update to Model Emergency Policy 1905 to provide an option for districts to adopt a district policy regarding face coverings while removing language requiring masks or face coverings in certain counties that was required due to then-Governor Bullock’s directive. Specifically, the language in Policy 1905 has been replace with two options regarding face coverings:

Option 1 is a mask requirement adopted by the board of trustees that will apply to staff, students, and visitors present in school buildings or events along with accepted exceptions to the mask requirement.

Option 2 is language stating those present in the school may choose to wear a mask in a school building, but it is not required.

Board of Trustees may select Option 1 or 2 when revising Policy 1905. Policy to be visited on the agenda at today’s meeting.

Testing: District is currently on 14 day quarantine for staff and students. Beginning in March, the district will move to the new CDC guidelines with ability to test out for staff only.

Employees of Montana’s public schools have become immediately eligible for vaccines in Montana through the federal pharmacy program as of Thursday, March 3rd.

An explanation of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program can be found here on the CDC website. Participating Montana pharmacies include:

Albertson Companies, Inc

LeaderNET and Medicine Shoppe, Cardinal Health’s PSAOs

Topco Associates, LLC


Walmart, Inc

Here is the link to sign up for an appointment: https//

You can read the President’s full remarks here. The explanation of this new program occurs at 51:20 in this recording of the press briefing.


The Department of Education has determined that testing state standardized testing must take place. OPI is working on two options for testing.

1) A shorter, alternative test.

2) Ability to test in the fall.


Building Maintenance Marilyn requested that a fencing company come to adjust the bus barn gate and the old building walk through gate. The bus barn gate is getting very difficult to open and close as it is dragging on the blacktop. The walk through gate does not stay closed. The board approved having these gates adjusted. Kari suggested Weeding Fence. Marilyn will contact them.

Safety Enhancements – nothing at this time

ADA Compliance/Architect Proposal Updates – Melissa met with Bill Haynes and Bridget Ekstrom of DA Davidson to discuss our bonding capacity. She explained that at this time, our bonding capacity is about $2.6 million. The current plan costs are at about $3.5 to $4 million. Melissa explained that we would need to write grants or fundraise to get up to this amount in addition to getting a bond passed. She asked Bill to see what he could do to trim some of the project down. At this time, we need to decide if and when we would like to try to run a bond. Several questions came up about getting donations for work being done on the project and if you still have to go through a bidding process if you get donations of materials or labor. Melissa will check into these questions. Colleen made a motion to move forward with a fall date to run a bond. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

COVID-19 Updates – Melissa explained at this time, we are requiring 14 days of isolation before an employee can return to campus. She stated that several districts have moved to the new CDC guidelines on quarantine and isolation. At this time, the CDC recommends allowing staff to return to work with a negative PCR test at Day 6, the employee can return on Day 7 or with a negative antigen test on Day 8, the employee can return on Day 9. We are able to run the antigen tests at the school. Students would remain at 14 days. She explained that this would greatly help our staffing constraints should we have a positive case. Colleen made a motion to adopt the new CDC guidelines on quarantine. Luke seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

2021-2022 Calendar Melissa presented the revised 2021-2022 calendar. Luke made a motion to approve the 2021-2022 calendar. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.


Appointment of New Board Member Colleen Unruh submitted a letter of interest in completing the term vacated by Marion Hatch. Luke made a motion to appoint Colleen Unruh to the remaining open term vacated by Marion Hatch. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

Swearing in of New Board Member – Marilyn administered the oath of office to Colleen Unruh. Kari will continue to be board chair with Luke and Marion as trustees.

Non-Resident Student Application – Erin Keith was in attendance to request that her daughter, Fiona Keith be accepted to First Grade at Pioneer School beginning March 15th. After discussion, Luke made a motion to accept Fiona Keith to the First Grade class beginning March 15, 2021. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

Building Use Request – Reichenberger Subdivision HOA – A request to use a main floor classroom on May 11, 2021 was received from the Reichenberger HOA for their homeowners meeting. After discussion, Luke made a motion to allow the HOA to use a main floor classroom if they would be willing to move the meeting to after May 19th, our last day of school and if they would not be able to move the meeting, the request is denied due to COVID protocols in place. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. Marilyn will contact the HOA to find out if they would be able to move the meeting to after May 19th.

Letter of Resignation – Teacher – Jacob Croteau has submitted his letter of resignation at the end of 2020-2021. Luke made a motion to accept Jacob Croteau’s resignation. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

Policy UpdatesMelissa presented Board Policy 1905. It has been updated to reflect Gov. Gianforte’s lifting of the mask mandate and rewritten by MTSBA to show these changes. She explained that the board must choose whether to use Option 1 or Option 2 for physical distancing and continue requiring masks with Option 1 or allow choice of mask with Option 2. Melissa recommended Option 1 on both. Colleen made a motion to adopt Policy 1905 using Option 1 on both physical distancing and requiring masks. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.

Preliminary Budget Information Melissa presented the Preliminary Budget Data Sheet from OPI. It is showing that our highest budget without a vote is $495,336.47. She explained that this is only a little below last year’s budget. This is a pre-session budget sheet, so it is subject to change.

Pioneer School Resolution under SB 307 – Melissa presented the resolution for intent to increase/decrease permissive levies. These levies include the transportation, tuition, adult education and building reserve funds. We are not adding to our bus depreciation fund as increasing this fund is not necessary at this time. She explained that our tuition fund may increase more due to the possibility of student needs. Also, several funds are set to decrease but due to our taxable valuation being higher, we will be showing an increase in mills. Luke Rome made a motion to adopt the resolution of intent to impose an increase in levies. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. Marilyn will submit this to the Yellowstone County News for publication before March 31, 2021.

Election/Mill levy amount After discussing the 2020-2021 budget, Luke made a motion to not hold a mill levy election this year. Kari seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.


The clerk presented claims warrants numbered 21693 through 21705 in the amount of $2,132.69, and the payroll warrants numbered 9084 through 9086 in the amount of $52,070.44. 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.



Weekly Agendas for February 15th through March 12th

March newsletter


Melissa would like to set up interviews for the 2 teaching positions. The board choose April 1st at 4:00 pm to conduct interviews.


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 5:45 pm. The next scheduled regular meeting is Monday, April 12, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 106 of the main building.


Attest: __________________________ SIGNED: ____________________________

Kari Jones, Board Chairperson

DATE: _________________________