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November 14, 2022 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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . November 14, 2022

Presented for Approval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  January 9, 2023


DATE: November 14, 2022


TIME: 4:30 p.m. 


PLACE: Pioneer School, Main Building, Room 106


MEMBERS Joshua Cantrell, Chairperson

PRESENT: Colleen Unruh, Trustee  

Wynn Powell, Trustee




CLERK: Marilyn Michael


ADMIN: Melissa Schnitzmeier


STAFF: Taylor Eissinger, Alisa Rau and Jami Burns arrived at 4:30 pm.


VISITORS: Wynn Powell arrived at 4:35.

GUESTS:  Alex Ator, Roberts School Superintendent joined via Zoom, left at 5:25.





Trustee, Joshua Cantrell 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, November 14, 2022 at 4:32 pm.  Trustee, Joshua Cantrell welcomed all those attending.  Trustee, Joshua Cantrell read the Montana Law about public meetings.  


  1. Public Comment – None
    1. Weekly Agendas for October 17 through November 18, 2022
    2. November newsletter
    3. Fire Inspection Report
  1. Superintendent Report for August

Enrollment: 72


Annual dyslexia screening complete. 

We are actively working on our Special Education Push-In services. This idea is new to our campus and allows for our special education students to be serviced in their regular education classrooms. As with anything “new” there are kinks to be worked through but we are tackling these as a team one conversation at a time.  

T1 ended this past Friday, November 11th. Report cards will be distributed this Friday at Parent Teacher Conferences. 

Staffing & Climate

We continue to celebrate Spirit Fridays with our staff and students. Classes are racing trimesterly documenting the percentage of students/staff wearing their Panther Gear. Our winning class for Trimester 1 was our 6th-8th grade class! The percentage of students wearing Panther Gear or House Shirts on Fridays was consistently 50% or higher! We will host a Root Beer Float party this Thursday, November 17th! In second place was 2/3!!

We’re working hard to recognize our students who are going above and beyond on campus with a PAWSitive Office Referral. This past month, four students visited my office to receive a congratulations and a prize from the Principal’s Prize Box. 

The Panther student and staff are gearing up for our annual Stone Soup luncheon on Tuesday, November 22nd. Each year we gather with our families to read the story of Stone Soup while dining on scrumptious soup and bread. Each class is responsible for some part of the luncheon whether it be decorating place mats, making centerpieces, rolling silverware or preparing the soup!  It’s a community favorite and we’re very excited to host this again this year. 

The Panther Admin Team is gearing up to launch our annual Reindeer Games that will begin Monday, December 5th! During the month of December our staff race to take on weekly challenges including taking the goofiest “elfie”, a daily elf scavenger hunt, and door decorating and ugly sweater contests. Prizes are awarded to the winner making this a favorite of our team traditions! 

Outdoor Education and Dover Park

11/1 – K-1 Shapes

11/15 – 6-8 Climate & Erosion

11/21 – Whole School – Service Project – Remediation 

Students will work on existing school grounds – some combination of identification, planning, and starting to work on building spaces for “outdoor classrooms”. On Monday, each student K-8 will paint 8×10 wooden slats themed with nature. Students will then work to hang their slats on the back fence temporarily updating the old fencing with something more eye-appealing. In addition that morning, grades 2/3 will head out with Carolyn to begin measuring spaces around campus and will begin creating an “Outdoor Learning Space Assessment” that will guide our school community in updating existing structures and creating a workable outdoor learning space! That afternoon, grades 4-8 will get a quick lesson on invasive tree species. From there, they will head out into the park to mark Russian Olive trees with tags which will be used to navigate a clearing of the invasive species when weather permits it. I will head to Home Depot or Lowes this week to gather materials for our service project Monday. 


TEAMS Accredidation Report – Submitted




  1. MINUTE APPROVALRegular minutes of October 10, 2022
  2. October Warrants #22068 – #22081 Claims total $18,849.60; Warrants #9151 – #9152 Payroll including ACH & Direct Deposit total $54,224.76
  3. Expenditure Reports – October 2022
  4. Approval of bills for November 2022


Joshua Cantrell made a motion to approve the Consent Agenda. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried




  1. Interview of Applicants for Vacant Trustee Position – Joshua and Colleen interview Wynn Powell for the vacant trustee position.
  2. Consideration of Appointments to fill Vacant Trustee position – After discussion, Colleen made a motion to appoint Wynn Powell to the Pioneer School Board. Joshua seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. Wynn’s term will end May of 2023. 
  3. Swearing in of New Board Member if approved – Marilyn administered the Oath of Office to Wynn Powell. Marilyn will send the document to Sherry Long, County Superintendent of Schools.
  4. Building Maintenance – Melissa reported that Kevin informed her that he feels the blacktop should be resealed. He also feels the brick on the new building should be sealed. Colleen made a motion to allow Melissa to get bids for these 2 projects. Joshua seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 
  5. Safety Enhancements – Jami attended a conference and it was suggested that if our door locks could be replaced with locks that had a push button on the inside instead of the side of the door, it would be much safer. It was discussed whether this could be done with the type of door knobs and doors that we currently have. Colleen made a motion to allow Melissa to attempt to get bids for replacing the locks on the doors or determine what would be necessary to update the doors and locks. Wynn seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 
  6. Bond Effort – Melissa reported that we will continue to promote the bond effort. Joshua stated that he has some public forums that he could address the bond effort on. 
  7. MOA to certified teaching contract salary schedule – Melissa met with the union and the union representative, Jeff Greenfield, to create an MOA to recognize 4 years of past experience instead of 2 as it is in the current contract. All parties agreed to the wording of a new MOA to update this portion of the contract. Colleen made a motion to adopt the MOA to recognize 4 years of past experience. Joshua seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. The new level of all staff members was also presented.
  8. Policy Updates – Policy 2335 was presented for the second reading. After discussion, Colleen made a motion to adopt Policy 2335. Joshua seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.
  9. Cafeteria Plan/IRS 125 Updates – Melissa received the Cafeteria Plan from HealthEquity. After review, Joshua made a motion to adopt the cafeteria plan documents. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.
  10. MTSBA – Voting on FY24 Dues Revenue Estimate – MTSBA requests a representative of each school district complete their survey on FY24 dues and revenues estimate. After discussion, Colleen made a motion to have Marilyn submit Pioneer School board’s response as a yes vote. Wynn seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 
  11. District #58 Student Attendance Agreement – Marilyn presented a student attendance agreement for District #58. Two students from Pioneer are attending the Yellowstone Academy. Colleen made a motion to approve the student attendance agreement. Joshua seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 
  12. District #37 Student Attendance Agreement – Marilyn presented a student attendance agreement from District 37. The list contains 52 students from Pioneer School District attending Shepherd Schools. Colleen made a motion to acknowledge receipt of the Shepherd Student Attendance agreement. Wynn seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.
  13. District Strategic Discussion & Planning – The district strategic discussion and planning, 4-day week and charter school discussions were discussed at the same time.
  14. 4 Day Week Discussion – Alex Ator joined via Zoom. He is the Superintendent of Roberts School which has a 4-day week and he has also help implement this in other districts. He gave his insights into how this could work for Pioneer School and stated some pros and cons on 4-Day school weeks. He explained that there are approximately 50 school districts in Montana with 4-day weeks at this time. A lot of people think that this is a cost savings to the district, however he explained that there may be some savings in transportation and food, but not a lot in other areas.  He also spoke of ideas for teacher meetings, paraprofessional’s hours, the length of the school day and possible resistance discussion points for families and recruitment and retention of staff. The board thanked Mr. Ator for joining and giving his insight. Any changes would also have to be approved by the teachers’ union. After discussion, this was tabled to the January meeting. Melissa will put out information for a community meeting. Melissa also presented a potential 4-day week calendar, stating that it was only a sample of what we could do and changes could easily be made to make sure we have our required hours in.
  15. Charter School Discussion – Melissa has done some research into charter schools in Montana. She has found that there is not a lot of difference except that we still have to meet all accreditation standards. She explained there is new legislation possible with the next session and felt it best to wait to see how that turns out. This item was also tabled to January.
  16. Gift Cards for Christmas Dinner – Melissa explained that in the past, the school has given each staff member a gift card to the restaurant hosting our Christmas Dinner. Marilyn recently saw a post on MASBO regarding gift cards. It stated that the gift cards given to staff members are considered taxable income. Marilyn has sent an email to our auditor for his advice on this. After discussion, Colleen made a motion to purchase gift cards in the amount of $35 each for staff members if the auditor approves of this purchase. Joshua seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 
  17. Administration salary review and possible update – Melissa requested that a review of her salary as she also has a loss due to cash in lieu of benefits not being allowed now. She presented a possible new salary scheduled. After discussion, Colleen made a motion to adopt the new salary schedule for Melissa effective retroactive to July 2022. Wynn seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 



A motion was made by Colleen Unruh to adjourn the meeting. Joshua Cantrell seconded the motion.  The vote was unanimous; motion carried.  The meeting ended at 6:40 pm.  The next scheduled regular meeting is Monday, January 9, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 106 of the main building and via Zoom. 


Attest: __________________________     SIGNED: ____________________________

          Joshua Cantrell, Board Chairperson

DATE: _________________________