THS names new administrator

Jess Oaks
Posted 4/12/24

TORRINGTON – The Goshen County School Board meeting was off to a rocky start on Tuesday, April 9 as the board meeting battled some technology issues. The meeting was called to order around 7:20 …

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THS names new administrator


TORRINGTON – The Goshen County School Board meeting was off to a rocky start on Tuesday, April 9 as the board meeting battled some technology issues. The meeting was called to order around 7:20 p.m. and the Pledge of Allegiance shortly followed. 

In attendance were, board chairman, Michael Sussex, vice chair, Sarah Chaires, clerk, Chris Alexander, treasurer, Carols Saucedo, and board members Lena Moeller, Matthew Cushman, Dylan Hager, Justin Hurely, and Wade Phipps. Also in attendance was Kevin Derby, director of curriculum, instruction, and data management, and Ryan Kramer, superintendent.

Kramer made a few minor adjustments to the agenda and the board agreed to adopt the new agenda with addenda. 

During the information and proposal portion of the agenda, no action was taken, and the council heard the 2024 Goshen County Recreation Board allocations. The following grants were requested and approved City of Torrington Pool request an amount of $5,518, which was granted. The city of Torrington Parks Department requested $7,000 and received the total amount. Bent Barrels Crooked Arrows 4-H club requested the amount of $7,400 and received that amount. Torrington Wrestling Club requested the amount of $50,512.21 and received that amount. Goshen County High School Shooting team was awarded the amount requested of $5,220. Fort Laramie Place to Play requested $14,204.89 of which they received. Goshen County Library had two applications requesting the total amount of $25,545; they also received that amount. The City of Torrington golf course requested the amount of $22,950 and received that amount as well. Goshen County Grizzlies baseball team requested and was awarded $18,604.23. The Torrington Little League baseball requested $9,388.37 which was the amount granted. Football 101-Sled requested and received $7,666. Legion baseball requested and received $18,825. The Torrington Girls Softball Association requested and was rewarded $21,000. GoWyo Soccer requested and was granted $1,930. The Torrington Junior Rodeo requested and received $5,000. The Torrington Rotary Walking Path requested and received $50,000. The total amount of grant money to be allocated totaled $270,763.70.

The next item on the agenda was reported by student representatives to the board. Kramer announced due to several student representatives being absent, no assignment for the board was given.

Next on the agenda was a school presentation and artwork in the boardroom by Trail Elementary.

During the public forum, Sussex reminded speakers there was a five-minute time limit. 

Tony Goulart spoke on his concern about the Franklin Covey curriculum urging the board to find a different type of program. 

Another member of the community spoke up against the Franklin Covey curriculum and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and the 2024-2025 school calendar. 

“I have served in the district for 13 years as a teacher and a coach. In this capacity I have seen the need for students from elementary to high school to be taught life habits and skills that will carry over into their lives not just as students by as productive members and leaders within their families, communities, and society,” Monica Anderson, Southeast High School teacher said. “Like many people in our community, I am concerned with what our children are being taught and being exposed to. As a teacher of Leader-in-Me and a cofacilitator of the Southeast Elementary Lighthouse Team, I am confident that there is nothing within the curriculum that would expose students to anything other than strong habits of mind.” 

Anderson continued to address the concern brought up by the previous speakers, DEI, challenging the board to see exactly what companies have DEI. Anderson noted the increased popularity of the DEI movement.

Moving on to the consent agenda, the board approved the March 12, 2024, regular meeting minutes as read. 

In old business, letter a, the board considered the approval of the proposed policy revision on the second and final reading for the tobacco and smoking policy which was approved after a motion was made. 

The board then moved on to consider the approval of the proposed policy revision on the second and final reading for policy 3643 unpaid student meal debt which was also approved. 

In letter c, the board considered the approval of the proposed policy revision on the second and final reading for policy 5113-5 students withdraw 2024 and policy 5113-5 students withdraw EX 2024. A motion was made, seconded and the revision was approved on the second and final reading. 

It was recommended to consider the approval of the proposed policy and revision on the 2nd and final reading for policy 3420 purchasing rev 2024 which also carried.

The board moved on to new business with the considered approval of the 2024-2025 school year calendar. After a brief discussion, the board voted to approve the calendar. 

“I just want to thank the committee members of that,” Kramer said. “We met for an hour and a half. I believe there ended up being ten meetings total to create this calendar.” 

In the next item on the agenda, the board accepted the resignation of three school faculty members and approved the recommendation offering teaching contracts, including renewal of initial contract teachers, and annual employment agreements for the 2024-2025 school year.

The board approved offering certified teaching contracts for the 2024-2025 school year and approved offering administrator contracts for the 2024-2025 school year.

Alan Van Tilburg was offered the administrator contact for Torrington High School.

“I would just like to say, I sat in the committee for hiring and it was a very, very impressive committee,” Moeller said. “A very, very impressive process. I am excited for him to come. I think he is going to be a huge asset to this community and to the high school. I fully realize there is some PTSD because we’ve had some turnover, but I think he’s going to be a huge asset so I’m excited for him to come,” she continued.  

The board next moved on to consider approval of rehiring a retiree for the 2024-2025 school year, Randy Epler as a half-time NPS coordinator, carried. 

The board moved on to consider the approval of contracting with FranklinCovey for district professional development services. After a brief discussion, Alexander expressed his disapproval of the contract, citing concerns with the DEI mission statements and philosophy. 

“I would just like to say, I respect the concerns over DEI, but above that, I trust the staff in our district,” Chaires said. “I trust them enough I give them my babies every day to teach. They are our neighbors and our friends. I believe they hold the same values, and they are not pushing things on our children that this community does not support.”

“I would like to speak to it as well,” Moeller explained. “We were challenged with spending the time educating ourselves and looking into this and I’ve done exactly that. I went to Southeast, and I picked up the curriculum and materials that are actually being shared with the staff that are teaching my children. My kids are in Southeast. I have pulled up the exact website Mr. Alexander that you asked us to read that literally talks about kindness and compassion and the hurt associated with Mr. Floyd’s death. I saw absolutely no negativity there whatsoever in my personal opinion a school board is not a battleground for political initiatives. It’s not. We have to learn as a community and this school board to set those things aside and focus on what’s important to our kids,” she continued.

Moeller expressed, students need more and more instruction on life skills, and she urged fellow board member, Alexander, to look at the material being taught to the children. 

Saucedo offered his comments, stating the teachings of the healthy habits offers students a choice on the things they do in life. 

“I am very confident I will be making the choice to do the best that we possibly can for our kids,” Saucedo said. “I am hoping that I am assisting in building good leaders for our future.”

Item d, to approve the contract with Franklin Covey after the board vote. 

The board then moved on to consider approval of contracting with Wyoming Educators Benefit Trust (WEBT) for district health insurance coverage for the 2024-2025 school year which was approved. 

The board approved contracting for asbestos abatement management and oversight and approved contracting services for the demolition of the Torrington High School Tech Ed building and a little house.

Next, the board approved contracting for district concrete projects and approved of purchase exceeding $5,000.00 for water softener replacement.

A purchase exceeding $5,000 for replacement carpet was approved by the board and a purchase exceeding $5,000.00 for Kajeet SmartBus internet data renewal was also approved by the board. 

The board approved of building fire panel upgrades and the purchase exceeding $5,000.00 for replacement music riser stands.

The purchase exceeding $5,000.00 for THS Family Consumer Science kitchen equipment was approved by the board and the purchase exceeding $5,000.00 for the purchase of Orton-Gillingham supplies was approved. 

Lastly, the board approved of purchase exceeding $5,000.00 for Trail library books.

During the topics for discussion, Sussex read a letter addressed to the Carbon County School Board regarding an email from the board. 

“On March 4, 2024, trustees for Goshen County School District received an email with a variety of allegations regarding the misconduct of our superintendent, Ryan Kramer. While in attendance at the 3A regional basketball tournament that was hosted in Rawlins, following this email, an informal investigation was conducted which included the review of video surveillance from the event as well as first-hand accounts of the incidents in question,’” Sussex read. “Trustees reviewed all evidence presented and unanimously found our superintendent acted within the parameters of his position and with reason regarding the situation. We stand with Mr. Kramer and support his actions as a reflection of his desire to safeguard the wellbeing of our student-athletes during a state-sanctioned sporting event.’”

“To be very honest with you I’ve really, really, struggled with this and whether or not even say anything to this board but I’m very disturbed by something that has occurred and was brought to my attention by a community member,” Moeller explained. “I understand that an e-mail pertaining to this very sensitive subject was printed and circulated amongst the community. In fact, it was sent by a board member to a former board member who then took it to a bank and printed it off, and planted it down for the community to read. There are specifically laws to protect someone from branding another human being with baseless accusations and allegations. The purpose of internal investigations of personnel matters is that they are very sensitive and it’s not fair to release that information to those that are not sitting on the board when we are discussing it and considering it,” Moeller continued. “That information was released in my opinion for no other purpose other than to drag Mr. Kramer’s name through the mud this particular action has destroyed my trust in you, Mr. Alexander, for releasing this e-mail. It’s disheartening, it’s appalling. We work very hard as this board. We spend a lot of time trying to do what’s best for this district so when something like that happens it’s very, very, discouraging and disappointing and I think it’s important for this board to know that that has occurred. I don’t know if this is the first time, I’m hopeful it’s the last,” Moeller said. 

The board then entered executive session during the regular board meeting. 

After an executive session, the board announced future meetings. 

A work session for salary relations information will be held on April 18 and the salary relations committee will meet on April 22 at 8 a.m.

District graduation dates and times were announced during the meeting and Platte River School graduation will be May 15 at 5 p.m. The remaining Goshen County ceremonies will be held on Sunday, May 19. Southeast graduation will be held at 1 p.m.; Torrington High School graduation will be at 2:30 p.m. and Lingle-Ft. Laramie High School ceremonies begin at 4 p.m. 

The meeting was adjourned to reconvene for a regular session on Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m.