Most people took a break over the Thanksgiving week, but not the Hays-Lodge Pole School’s Board of Trustees.
Tuesday evening, the remaining board members — George Horse Capture Jr., Wes Main and Brenda Essert — held an emergency meeting in the Hays-Lodge Pole High School parking lot to fill board leadership vacancies.
Horse Capture was chosen as the acting chair. An acting vice chair was not appointed without a second to any nominating motions.
The board also heard back from the air quality testers who were checking the building for asbestos contamination. The school building was closed for testing all last week, which is why the meeting was held in the parking lot.
Monday morning, John Doney, the board chair who the Blaine County Commission suspended last week, was summoned before District Court Judge John McKeon, regarding the seven misconduct charges that Blaine County Attorney Don Ranstrom filed against him earlier this month.
Doney pleaded not guilty. An omnibus hearing was scheduled for Feb. 12.
Tonight, the board will meet at 6 p. m., this time inside the building’s library, to try and fill the leadership vacuum that has recently thrown the district into chaos.
The meeting’s agenda includes appointments of a district superintendent, school principal, athletics coaches and kitchen staff.
A possible board vacancy could also begin to be filled. Trustee Daryl Brockie may have resigned. Horse Capture said he recalls having seen a letter of resignation, though it would need to be tracked down. It might not, though, since Brockie has missed many consecutive board meetings. If more than three consecutive absences are unexcused, then the trustee is automatically taken off the board. The process of replacing Brockie could begin at the meeting.
Horse Capture said the board will also look at holding a sit-down between the board and staff to just get everyone on the same page.
“Some people might need to vent, ” Horse Capture said. “This might be an opportunity to do that, to restart a relationship that is so important to getting the school back on track. ”
There’s so much work for the board to do, Horse Capture said it might take a series of special meetings.
“We’ll probably have to call other special meetings to keep pecking away at these things so we don’t make the same mistakes as boards in the past, ” Horse Capture said.
Even though the issues are pressing, especially payroll issues with the holidays and winter energy bills around the corner, Horse Capture wants to avoid “emergency mode. ”
“The more you work in emergency mode, the more mistakes will be made, ” Horse Capture said. “So we’re trying to avoid operating in emergency mode, even though it’s an emergency. ”