It has been way too long since we have had a “normal” newsletter. This one may not be totally normal either, but it will be a long way from the “new normal” of nothing but Covid updates.
First, a huge thank you to the entire community of Gardiner, Cooke City, and beyond. The high school levy passed and will allow us to keep our budget, not add to it. This was a big first step in being able to continue our operations as close to what they have been and not need to make some significant changes at this point.
Next a Covid update (sorry). Grades 7-12 students that are deemed proficient by their teachers and not seeking enhancement opportunities can begin to turn in school supplies including Chromebooks starting May 26th and going through the 28th from 8:00-4:00. There will be limited entry into the school for collection purposes, so please be patient if others are turning in their supplies too. Grades 4-6 please look for information from classroom teachers, and grades K-3 have already received their directions for turn in. Students needing their supplies after May 21st for remediation or enhancement can turn in their supplies between 8:00-4:00 upon their completion of work, or no later than June 5th.
Lastly and more to the point of what I have been using these newsletters for, is participation. “The world is run by those who show up,” a quote I have seen attributed to several different people, but not being intrigued enough to delve too deeply, I won’t attribute it to anyone in particular. With a projected high school enrollment of 49 students ( a 44% decline since 2013), and an average class size of 10 students in the elementary, if Gardiner is to maintain all of its programs, we need to show up. And this isn’t only so in the high school, it's most timely and imperative in high school because if a program is lost, it is hard to get them back. But, it is equally important in the elementary, so the future of these programs can be assured and their loss doesn’t lead to more students leaving for those opportunities.
While there are some who may not see the loss of extra curriculars of being of any particular importance to the academics of a school, first off, there are many contradictory studies showing quite the opposite. Second, Gardiner has entered a stage where with the way schools are funded, each additional loss of students will have a deeper impact than what would be noticed in Bozeman or Livingston. And these losses with their nonproportional influence on school budget, can only be made up for in one way, and that is by cutting staff. As we consider combining 5th and 6th grade for next year, and possible combinations for the future, rumors of families sending their students elsewhere are already circulating. Cutting a sports program doesn’t make up for the loss of a couple of students, but cutting a sports program will drive other students away therefore compounding our issues. And the fix for any of this is adjusting our classrooms, which in and of itself serves to threaten our enrollment if parents decide combined classrooms aren’t good enough for their children ( a decision I disagree with, but their decision to make).
So, when I see a basketball (yes basketball, in Gardiner, only needing 5 people) program in the elementary that may not be able to field a team in two years, I have concerns. It’s not because we don’t have the numbers, it's because we aren’t showing up. Of course, we can’t make someone love or even like basketball or football or speech and drama, but it's all of those things that will suffer if we don’t start showing up for those activities that sustain our school.