September’s school board meeting has a packed agenda.
The Teton County School District No. 1 board of trustees will run the gamut today from discussions of the planned reconfiguration of Jackson and Colter elementary schools to additional construction on the Verizon tower on school property and a new media policy.
The monthly meeting will take place at 6 p.m. today at the district office at 1235 Gregory Lane. There will also be a workshop meeting at 4 p.m. for an information update on the Munger Mountain Elementary School progress.
Several issues are expected to be contentious.
A new media policy is expected to draw some public comment. It may be discussed as an update from the Policy Committee, but it is not an action item for this meeting.
The policy would make the district’s public information coordinator the point of all contact and require media to clear all school visits with the information coordinator, among other things.
Students’ privacy cited
The board saw no problems with the policy when it was first introduced in August. The district says the media relations regulation and media communication protocol will protect students’ privacy and employees’ time during the school day while also “promoting two-way stakeholder engagement and public confidence.”
There has been no codified media policy in the past.
“Public schools should be just that — public,” John Moses, editor of the Jackson Hole News&Guide, wrote in a letter to Superintendent Gillian Chapman on July 22. “Any new access rules enacted by the board of trustees should err toward letting in sunlight rather than drawing the shades.”
The News&Guide has discussed the new policy with the district, and editors recently suggested changes they believe will make the policy more workable to continue to allow access to public schools for coverage that keeps taxpayers informed.
The stickiest point is the district’s proposal that all photographs be run through the information coordinator before publication.
News&Guide editors plan to partake in the public comment period at the meeting. Written comments are welcomed to email@example.com until Sept. 23.
The media policy will have a second and final reading on Oct. 12 during the trustees' regular meeting.
Members of Jackson Hole Youth Basketball are also expected to show up for a last-ditch attempt to convince the board to build a larger gym at Munger Mountain Elementary School. Gym space is in high demand in Jackson, and founders of the program say they can barely find enough hours to make teams worthwhile for the players.
“One of the solutions to that problem would be to build a new full-size gym at the elementary school,” Bill Wotkyns said. “Not to build an additional gym is very short-sighted. The problem is going to do nothing but get worse.”
The school board voted this past winter not to pursue an enhanced gym at Munger Mountain and hasn’t changed that position. A full-size gym to house a regulation-size basketball court is seen as unnecessary for an elementary school, so funds would have to come locally, not from the state.
Reconfiguration on agenda
The meeting will kick off with Superintendent Gillian Chapman’s reports on the beginning of school, homecoming and more. Tracy Poduska, assistant principal at Colter Elementary School, will spearhead reconfiguration efforts and is expected to start detailing how the community will be involved as the local elementary schools both become kindergarten through fifth grade.
The reconfiguration will help with the district’s overcrowding, as will the construction of Munger Mountain Elementary School. The district told the News&Guide that almost a quarter of students in kindergarten through fifth grade are in modular classrooms.
Verizon will make its second pitch to the board to expand its cell tower at Colter Elementary School.
“Verizon needs this cell tower as part of a long-term plan to improve the 4G capacity in the Jackson area,” Verizon representative Irene Cook told the Planning and Development Committee in a meeting Aug. 23.
Work would be done next summer so as not to interfere with classes. Chief Operating Officer Brad Barker said he saw no reason not to recommend the project move forward with “certain parameters and timing.”
Among the action items for the meeting is the approval of memorandums of understanding for middle school students at Jackson Hole Classical Academy and Teton Science Schools to participate in school district activities and the approval of new core values for the board.
This online version of the story has been edited to reflect the step of the process that the district's proposed media policy is in. — Ed.