School Board meeting



October 11, 2016 6:00 PM

SGHS Library


1. Call the meeting to order

2. Public Forum

3. Student Council/ Student Rep report


5. Department report - Ag

6. Principal Report

7. Superintendent Report – Student count

8. Committee reports

      a. School Improvement – goals report, planning

9. Board members’ reports

10. Old Business

11. New Business

      a. Cancel Outstanding Warrants

      b. Attendance Agreement

      c. Personnel –

           i. Speech/Drama coaches recommendation

12. Approve the claims

13. Approve the minutes

14. Correspondence

15. Adjournment

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Website Outage


Our website host, Prime Inc., recently underwent a server crash and our website was down.  It is up and running, but many of our updates for the month of September were lost.  We are working on getting everything up to date again. We are sorry about this inconvenience.  

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SGHS Activities are underway

Please come out and support the Herders during homecoming week, the volleyball game will be Thursday night starting at 4:00 and the football kicks off at 7:00.

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SGCHS Prepares for Accreditation Visit


All public high schools in the state of Montana are required to be accredited by the Office of Public instruction (OPI) to ensure that curriculum, staff, policies, processes and school improvement efforts are in place to maximize student learning. SGCHS has continued to meet those expectations. As has been explained previously, in addition SGCHS is accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission, a division of AdvancED (AE). This additional accreditation is voluntary and includes the OPI expectations with additional requirements. In particular, the AE process requires that every five years the district undergo an extensive self-review followed by a visitation by an External Review team to maintain accreditation. The OPI process does require annual reporting but does not include the visitation by a team of peers from other Montana schools and universities. In the past the visitation process has proved to be extremely beneficial in helping determine priorities for the SGCHS school improvement plan. AdvancED expects schools to adhere to standards related to Purpose and Direction (mission and improvement plan), Governance and Leadership (board and administration), Teaching and Assessing for Learning (instruction and assessment), Resources and Support Systems (finance, facility, technology, student assistance) and Using Results for Continuous Improvement (use of data), Student Achievement (test results), and Stakeholder Perceptions (results of surveys and community input.) The visitation team will be assessing SGCHS efforts in each of these areas to see what is being done well and what could be improved. In fact the visitation teams are required to prioritize suggestions for improvements the district must report on and address over the next five year period.

Plans are being made for the External Review visitation to occur on April 19, 20, and 21. SGCHS will be hosting six team members who will be reviewing the self-study completed by staff related to the standards, examining evidence, observing classrooms, and interviewing students, staff, and community. The visit will conclude with a brief exit report. A formal final report will be available within a month of the visit.

It is convenient that the cycle of accreditation occurs now as the Board of Trustee is planning to review the district’s 5 Year Strategic Plan in the coming year. The information from this process will be helpful in that work as well.

OPI has also recognized the value of the AdvancED process as two years ago SGCHS was granted a variance regarding the reporting on a continuous school improvement process. That variation request was based on the AE accreditation expectations. SGCHS is in the process of applying to renew that two-year variance this spring. The variance does away with the duplication of reporting by allowing the SGHCS school improvement process for OPI to be aligned with the AdvancED process.

If there are any questions regarding this process, feel free to contact the SGCHS administration

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Sporting Events


Home sporting events will be broadcast this year.  Go to and type in "Sweet Grass County High School". There is a fee for watching the sporting events.

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MSU College graduation rates for SGCHS students


Montana State University has released data showing the number of students that graduate from college or are continuing in college from a specific year's enrollment.  That data indicates that SGCHS has had from 4 to 13 students enroll each year at MSU since 2005.  The following chart compares the graduation rate or the continuing rate for SGCHS students compared to the entire MSU enrollment.  In general, SGCHS students tend to complete or continue college at about the same rate or slightly higher rate as other students. 

Statistics for SGCHS students attending MSU based on year of graduation from high school and enrollment in college

Year of enrollment             Number of SGCHS students enrolling that fall                               % of SGCHS students that graduating from that enrollment                               % of MSU students graduating from total enrollment that year

2005                                                                    13                                                                                            61.5                                                                                                                                        56.5

2006                                                                     3                                                                                             33.3                                                                                                                                        54

2007                                                                     10                                                                                           80                                                                                                                                          53.2

2008                                                                     6                                                                                             50                                                                                                                                          52.8

2009                                                                     4                                                                                             50                                                                                                                                          52.4

2010                                                                      9                                                                                            77.8                                                                                                                                      46.5


year                                Number of SGCHS students enrolling that fall                              % SGCHS students continuing at MSU from that year's enrollment                   % of MSU students continuing from that year's enrollment

2011                                                                 8                                                                                               62.5                                                                                                                                      57.1

2012                                                                 6                                                                                               66.7                                                                                                                                      62.4

2013                                                               10                                                                                               40                                                                                                                                         67.5

2014                                                                7                                                                                                71.4                                                                                                                                      76.8

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Gusts would like all seniors to bring a senior picture in to be displayed in the window.

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SGCHS Receives Gifts From Holman and Curtain


SGCHS Receives Gifts From Holman and Curtain

Sweet Grass County High School District has been the recipient of several donations in the last few weeks. SGCHS and BTGS were gifted with a check of $5000 from the estate of Ralph M. Holman. The districts determined the best use of the funds was to place them in the operation and maintenance fund for the Civic Center. As explained to the representatives for the Ralph M. Holman estate, that facility is shared by both districts and the community for a wide variety of activities.

In addition, SGCHS received a $1200 donation from Paula Curtain. The gift was specifically given for the operation of the Civic Center. Paula has continued to give the donation annually for quite some time now. Donations of this type allow the district to plan the continued upgrading and maintenance of the facility.

The generous gifts are greatly appreciated by the students and staff of SGCHS and BTGS as the Civic Center continues to be a vital asset for our districts as well as the community.


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Weekly Notes


Click here for weekly notes .....

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Superintendents Message -Common Core


Message from the Superintendent

Re: SGHS and Montana Curriculum Standards: HISTORY, NOW, CONTROVERSY, ASK

I have been following and been involved in the discussion and concern that surrounds recent work on curriculum standards that have the label of Montana Common Core Standards.  I am appreciative of the attention this topic has drawn, as what our students are being taught is an important topic – and curriculum standards do influence that work.  When there is a change in this area, it should be reviewed and considered carefully. 

HISTORY:  I have to admit that part of me is amused by this recent stir.  Standards for curriculum have been a national topic since the 1970s when the nation became concerned that we were losing the “space race.”  Most of the work on standards during that era was done by the professional educator associations such as the National Council of Mathematics Teachers.  Those standards tended to impact only specific disciplines such as math, science, or English with little or no connection to the other disciplines.  That is not to say the work done was sub-standard (no pun intended); in fact, even in the most recent work on standards elements of those concepts are still evident.  You could say good teaching back then still has some impact on good teaching now.
The standards landscape did change somewhat during the 1990s as state education departments – in Montana that is the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) – became involved in standards review and writing.  This was again in response to concerns that the USA was slipping behind in international testing results.   OPI used a forward-thinking approach to that standard’s work.  Curriculum Content Standards were developed in areas such as math, science, social studies, world languages, health, arts, career, and vocational areas, but there were also standards that were not specific to a discipline for technology, workplace competencies, and media literacy.  OPI also “broke up” the Language Arts standards from the 70’s into specific areas such as speaking and listening, reading, and writing.  In the early 2000s, SGHS did extensive work in these areas to develop course descriptions and learner outcomes, and then used that work to determine if the standards were being addressed in our content. We took it a step farther and included the standards for technology, workplace competencies, media literacy, and Language Arts in all discipline areas as we felt those were “life skills.”  In reviewing our checklists on the standards we found we did not address every single standard in every single class.  But that work did allow us to consider what we needed to do to ensure that our students were getting the best content as well as the best teaching possible.   OPI continues to update these particular content standards on a rotating basis and has added Traffic Education and Guidance to the list.

NOW:   So now we come to the 2010s and the Montana Core Standards.  These were developed by the state education departments and representatives from governor’s offices across the nation  to give a national perspective to address our highly mobile population.   At SGHS, we have found that transfer students often had a much different experience in content than our students, and frankly most often were behind our students.   Montana has adopted the standards that impact math and English Language Arts, which is making our staff consider once more how we address the needs of our students in this day and age.  Furthermore, the new standards do reach across disciplines to impact science, social studies, arts, and vocational areas as well.  The developers of the standards recognized what we did at SGHS back in 2001; that reading, writing, speaking and listening are skills needed in every classroom and vocation.   So currently, we are thoughtfully reviewing what we teach once again to determine what would best serve our students.  I have included the Montana Core Standards at the end of this note for your review.  Check them for yourselves, and ask which of those skills you wouldn’t want your child to have when he/she graduates.

CONTRORVERSY!!!  As I mentioned earlier, I am somewhat amused (but impressed) that this last standards movement has drawn so much attention.  With all the work we have done with standards for the last twelve years, this concern of some community members is surprising; however, it should be important to all of us.  Education is a human endeavor that requires a commitment of everyone involved.  How that is approached or guided by standards is an essential concern.  What does insult me is that people from outside our community are given so much credibility about this topic.  If you have questions about what is being done, come talk to the people who invest their lives in that area in your own community.  We at SGHS do not claim to have merely one answer to the question.   We consider all aspects of our work and welcome the opportunity to discuss it.  Unfortunately, what has happened in Sweet Grass County (as in many communities across Montana), the topic of Common Core Standards is a political chip to be played.  What better way to draw our attention to a political stance than to champion something dear to all of us – the education of our children!  In my opinion, these particular opponents of the Montana Common Standards do not pay much attention to details of this matter, because these people simply want attention so their other political objectives can be introduced and claim support.  For example, the most recent statement from this group I have heard is the Common Core forces pornography into classes.  The fact of the matter is the reading lists in the Common Core appendices were not adopted by Montana and are not required; rather OPI decided that the materials used to teach the skills to our students are best selected by the local curriculum expert – the classroom teacher.   The Core reading list has many of the respected classics and any reading list will bring out personal differences, but we agree the list needs review before any items are adopted or used. 

ASK:  The learning outcomes and teaching materials at SGHS are open for review at any time.  Be aware that they are constantly being updated and revised.  Some of that present work is influenced by the latest round of standards so we can be sure our students are prepared for college and/or their future careers.  The newest standards have impacted our expectations and have caused us to reflect on what we need students to be able to do.  On the other hand the new standards have not caused us to drastically change our learner goals or any significant changes in materials/books.  Nor has it changed the fact that we want you to feel free to ask to see our curriculum work or the standards and to discuss them with myself or our staff.  We take our work seriously and have pride in our efforts and results, but we realize not everyone is going to agree at times with what we do or expect of students.  We welcome your questions and thank you for your support.
Alvin Buerkle,
Supt. SGHS

(The Standards as found at the site under the Curriculum and Assessment tab.)
English Language Arts Montana Core Standards

Reading (Grades 6-12)
Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Craft and Structure
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Writing (Grades 6-12)
Text Types and Purposes
1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Range of Writing
10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Speaking and Listening (Grades 6-12)
Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
3. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
4. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
5. Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Language (Grades 6-12)
Conventions of Standard English
1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
Knowledge of Language
3. Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
4. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
6. Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

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