October 16, 2023 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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . October 16, 2023

Presented for Approval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  November 13, 2023


DATE: October 16, 2023


TIME: 4:30 p.m. 


PLACE: Pioneer School, Main Building, Room 106


MEMBERS Joshua Cantrell, Chairperson, joined via Zoom, but lost connection at 4:50 pm

PRESENT: Colleen Unruh, Trustee  

Wynn Powell, Trustee




CLERK: Marilyn Michael


ADMIN: Melissa Schnitzmeier


STAFF: Alisa Rau arrived at 4:30 pm.



GUESTS:  Jesse Garcia with Apptegy joined via Zoom





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, October 16, 2023 at 4:30 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
    2. Newsletter for October

Current Enrollment: 83

I met Dan Carter from PAR Montana last week to discuss the potential for a partnership between PAR Montana and Pioneer School. I am pleased to announce that they are very excited to work with us in several different capacities including potential grant opportunities, STEM education programs, educational resources and/or volunteers, and community outreach. In addition, I will be looping Dan into the communication surrounding our vision/plan for a new handicap accessible school building as they would like to be a part of that in some fashion. As our partnership unfolds, I will keep you updated.

I am set to attend the Felt Martin Law Conference on October 18, 2023. 

There is no school Thursday, October 19th or Friday, October 20th as our staff attends the annual MEA Conference/Reading Conference.  

At the latest Montana Association of School Superintendent’s meeting (MASS) several updates were given including the most recent Legislative briefing on Policies, Procedures, & Practices located here. The new accreditation process under Chapter 55 checklist can be found here. There will be many opportunities for conferences and training in the upcoming months as we make our way through the new accreditation process. The new charter school bill, HB 549, was reviewed. Applications for the establishment of a charter are due by November 1, 2023. I’ve attached the application here, and the House Bill here

I contacted Adam with Milligan School Data to request an additional report be generated. The additional report measures the percentage of resident vs non-resident student enrollment over the past five years. You can visit the current enrollment scorecard here. You can view our September scorecards here

Alex Ator of Roberts Schools has graciously invited Pioneer School to attend professional development in the area of Restorative Practices at our Team Days in March and April. This is a unique opportunity as RP professional development opportunities are not typically available locally. The idea of restorative practices and restorative justice stems from the idea of restoring. School wide Restorative Practices are evidence based to create a system to support, thus lowering behavioral incidence, improving school culture and in turn, increasing student achievement.  

I’ve registered Pioneer for the MAST Form B Pilot which is a “sneak peak” of the MAST Through-Year Assessment. This assessment will be delivered in a summative format during the April 15th-May 10th testing window and will replace the Smarter Balanced Assessment requirement this year. This opportunity will allow us to get a sense of the test items and how the new KITE platform works, as well as giving us the opportunity to place the new testing platform on student devices to ensure an easier transition to the new statewide assessment series next year. 

The air purification units that we ordered in January of last year have finally arrived! We are in the process of getting them up and running. 

Outdoor Learning/Field Trips/Experiences: 

I have submitted a proposal to work with Dr. Elaine Westbrook at Montana State University – Billings on a STEM grant initiative she is working on (grades 3-8). If funded, we will join several schools for a STEM program facilitated by undergraduate teacher candidates surrounding rural science knowledge. The program will be structured to have four sessions, a field trip, and conclude with a community sharing event. I’ve attached the one page summary draft Elaine sent in for the grant proposal here

K, 1, & ⅘ headed to the Pumpkin Patch for a day of outdoor learning. Lessons focused on crosscutting concepts, science and engineering practices, while investigating the characteristics, structures, and functions of living things; and how living organisms interact with each other and their environments.

K-8 traveled to the Shepherd Volunteer Fire Department last week to learn about the importance of fire safety during Fire Safety Week. Crucial lessons during this trip included understanding the importance of home safety, knowing ways to safely get out of the home in case of fire, and creating escape plans. Students learned what to expect during a fire and were shown the fireman/woman in his/her fire suits so they would know not to be afraid if encountered by a fireman/woman. 

4th/5th graders are set to attend the annual field day at the NILE on October 18th. There, they will learn about Montana’s main agricultural products as well as how they are used. They will learn how to determine the growth and sale of agricultural products that help Montana’s economy.

New Building Project

See the latest letter to our community here. The Department of Education anticipates releasing another round of funding for the Renew America’s Schools program in the Spring of 2024. 

Building/Grounds Maintenance

The pipe in the basement has been replaced, however another leak was found on the boiler pump. They are checking to see whether this part will be under warranty or not. 




  1. MINUTE APPROVALRegular minutes of September 11, 2022
  2. September Warrants #22275 – #22293 Claims total $28,621.12; Warrants #9184 – #9187 Payroll including ACH & Direct Deposit total $61,253.44
  3. Expenditure Reports – September 2023
  4. Approval of bills for October 2023


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




  1. Building Maintenance – 
    1. Plumbing updates – Melissa explained that Christoferson Plumbing will need to add $250 to the original bid for running hot water lines to the room 106 as the original plan will not work and they will have to drill a hole under the sink to run the line. After reviewing the bid, Colleen made a motion to approve the extra $250 to run the hot water line to room 106. Wynn seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, the motion carried. 
  2. Safety Enhancements – Melissa explained that Mountain Alarm is going to come and do a Preventative Maintenance check on the security system as we have had a couple times that the alarm was set with someone in the building and it did not go off. The charge will be $165 for the first 30 minutes and $41.25 for each 15 minutes after.
  3. Website Technician update – Apptegy – Melissa explained that GoDaddy will be forcing an update that will make it much harder for her navigate uploading information to our website. Our current website technician is sometimes difficult to contact. She invited Jesse Garcia with Apptegy to give the board a rundown on what their company could do for Pioneer School. They would connect our website with any social media sites that we use with one upload. We would have an app that updates would also be posted to. They offer discounts to smaller schools. The start-up cost would be $3500 with an annual fee of $4800 which would go up 5% each year. This offer is good until October 31st and then the cost may rise. Melissa explained that several area schools are using Apptegy and are happy with it. Colleen and Wynn both had concerns about the price and whether it would be sustainable. They asked Melissa to check into other companies that may offer the same services and feel more discussion is necessary with Joshua in attendance. They asked her to see if he would honor the price until the November board meeting and if not, there would possibly be a special meeting held before the October 31st deadline.
  4. Non-Resident Student Application – Melissa explained that we received non-resident student applications from a family with students in grades K, 1st and 3rd. She recommended and sent a letter to the parent explaining that we would be able to accept their Kindergarten and 3rd grade student, but not their 1st grade student as that room is full. She has not heard back from the parents. She will attempt to contact the parents again to see if they are interested in enrolling the 2 students. At this time, no action was taken.
  5. Stonerock Business Solutions update – Melissa explained there are no updates at this time.
  6. School District 2 Student Attendance Agreement – Marilyn presented student attendance agreements for students residing in Pioneer School District but attending District 2. Colleen made a motion to approve the student attendance agreements. Wynn seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 
  7. TR1 – (OPI Transportation form) – Marilyn presented OPI form TR1. This gives OPI details about our bus route length, bus type, bus size, etc. After review, Wynn made a motion to approve the TR1. Colleen seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried. 
  8. Policy Updates – Melissa presented the new Religious Exemption form that has been updated. She explained that as this is an update, it does not require a 2nd reading. After reviewing the form, Colleen made a motion to adopt the new religious exemption form. Wynn seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous; the motion carried.



A motion was made by Wynn Powell to adjourn the meeting. Colleen Unruh seconded the motion.  The vote was unanimous; motion carried.  The meeting ended at 5:30 pm.  The next scheduled regular meeting is Monday, November 13, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. in Room 106 of the main building and via Zoom. 




Attest: __________________________     SIGNED: ____________________________

          Joshua Cantrell, Board Chairperson

DATE: _________________________