TF schools planning for future
Ideas gathered at public meeting
February 9, 2023
The Thompson Falls School Board met with community members recently to brainstorm ideas for the future of the school district. Nearly 30 people gathered in the high school library and wrote down ideas for school improvements, covering everything from facilities and curriculum to teachers and safety issues.
Superintendent Bud Scully said at the meeting that he will compile all of the ideas into a survey that will be available to the public to help rank the projects and gather additional comments and ideas. The group at the initial strategic planning meeting included parents, teachers and community members. “No idea is a bad idea,” Scully stated, “it just might not be able to be done right away or we might not be able to afford it.”
Two community members spoke up that they were concerned about critical race theory coming into the curriculum. Another said she pulled her daughter from a drama class because she was concerned about the use of TikTok in the classroom.
Ideas presented at the meetings included upgrades to the weight room, ventilation and other facilities needs, staffing issues, bringing back a school resource officer, resurfacing the high school track and adding art programs in the elementary school. Other suggestions were boosting parent involvement, teaching the constitution and increasing communication with community members.
“We are taxpayers and care about the community,” said former teacher Peggy Baters, who attended the meeting. She said one of her main concerns was making sure the constitution was being taught in school.
One suggestion at the meeting was to consider a four-day school week, something the board is already discussing. Scully said a survey was sent to parents and staff to get feedback on moving to a four-day week. Scully shared at the board meeting this Monday that more than 70% of parents and teachers, as well as just under 70% of students who took the survey, were in favor of a four-day week. Principal Len Dorscher shared at the Monday meeting that at a recent principal conference he attended, he estimated that nearly three-quarters of the administrators he talked to from other districts were either already in a four-day week or were considering it. Scully said that the board will continue to discuss the possibility and will need to negotiate with both unions if they choose to move forward.
Regarding the strategic plan, Scully said those who rank the ideas gathered will also have an opportunity to provide additional comments.
Parent Kandace Butler addressed the school board on Monday regarding a survey to be distributed to students in grades 7 through 12. Butler read some of the questions on the survey provided to her by one of the school's counselors. The questions included information about sexual activity and drug an alcohol use. "These questions are extremely inapproriate and personal. We shouldn't be asking these questions," Butler said. Administrators told the board the sturey is administered every other year and that it has been given to students for about 32 years. Upon discussion, it was determined that Butler was provided an incorrect copy of the survey and not the Montana survey, so the board stated they would provide her with a copy of the correct survey.