Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Betty Vanderwielen

SLE Students Experience Delayed Start

New at SLE


September 21, 2017

Betty Vanderwielen, Pathfinder

Seeley Lake Elementary School Superintendent Chris Stout isn't really moonlighting as a janitor. He's just taking his turn at cleaning the hallways using the new portable vacuum the school purchased to cut back on janitorial costs. Notice the HEPA filter units in the hallway. The hallways seemed to be the most smoke-filled areas in the school but teachers could move the units into their classrooms if needed.

SEELEY LAKE – Though Seeley Lake Elementary School (SLE) got off to a slow start, having canceled the first four days of school due to fire danger, students and teachers are back and plunging into the 2017-2018 season. Superintendent Chris Stout said changes in personnel and activities are minimal this year.

The only new teacher is music instructor Kristen Cottom. Cottom will be dividing her time among SLE, Swan Valley School and Seeley-Swan High School. New staff member Heather Mincey replaced Sally Johnson as Business Manager. Stout said he is also looking into the possibility of getting an art teacher on a part-time basis.

Stout noted that the SLE Online web page has been revamped and a Facebook page added to the school's online presence. Both will be used for posting announcements.

Facility updates include an upgrade to the boiler system and resurfacing of the school parking lot. In an effort to mitigate fire-caused, unhealthy air, 42 HEPA filters were purchased (half by SLE and half by Missoula County) and have been placed in classrooms and hallways.

Stout said, "I feel like they are having an impact."

Stout explained the units have an indicator light ranging from red to green and most of them are registering green most of the time. The gym has a large filter system which is fitted with a carbon filter. All school personnel also have access to the air quality read-outs so they can determine what level of activity is appropriate for students.

Money garnered from allowing the firefighting units to use the SLE facilities as the Incident Command Post, the field as a tenting area and also providing meals for the firefighting crew will be retained as a contingency fund to cover unexpected costs the school may experience.

Cost saving measures included discontinuing the SLE Outside store lease. Stout said rental of skis, kayaks, paddle boards and other equipment, formerly handled through the store, will now be handled through the school. Other inventory will eventually be sold through online e-commerce in a way which will involve the students, though nothing definite has been worked out yet.

Another cost-saving measure involved buying a portable backpack vacuum cleaner and scaling down the janitorial services that had previously been contracted out. Staff, students and even Stout will share the vacuuming duties.

Betty Vanderwielen, Pathfinder

Machines chunking up the old pavement in preparation for resurfacing the SLE parking lot.

Extracurricular activities are already gearing up. Volleyball and football teams are practicing for upcoming games. The Glacier National Park camping trip, which traditionally ushers the seventh-grade students into the middle school experience, was postponed because of the fire but will take place Oct. 4-6. Later in the year, middle school students will be taking their biennial spring trip to Washington, D. C. The 21st Century Community Learning Center grant will again support a smorgasbord of enrichment classes throughout the year. Stout also mentioned that Backpacking 101 is being offered as an elective for fourth, fifth and sixth graders. The course will culminate in an overnight trip in the Mission Mountains.

As to the four days missing from the beginning of the school year, Stout said the students will make them up, adding them to the end of the school year.


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