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School board thanks teachers, honors outgoing board members

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | May 19, 2021 1:00 AM

The Whitefish School Board of Trustees at its May 11 meeting considered several discussion and action items. Topics included:

Teacher appreciation

Nationwide it was Teacher Appreciation Week May 3-7 and the Whitefish School District showed appreciation to educators across the district.

“As a board of course we want to thank all of our educators, by that we mean teachers, staff, administrators, anybody who works in our district and helps further our students progress and support our students,” Board chair Katie Clarke said. “It’s been an incredibly hard year.”

WEA teachers union president Lisa Bloom also referenced the difficult year and showed appreciation for her colleagues.

“I would just like to give a shout out to all of my colleagues in the Whitefish School District, this was a tremendously difficult and challenging year for teachers,” she said. “Our technology learning curve was steep, our ability to change our schedule and change the way we do things at a moment’s notice was quick, and I feel that in the end we had a pretty successful year.”

During the teacher appreciation week, Clarke explained that many people contributed with prizes and luncheons for educators, building principals each did something special and unique in their buildings and the district office sent out messages of appreciation. The high school student council even made a video featuring students expressing their thanks to educators.

Outgoing trustees

Whitefish School Board Chair Katie Clarke honored outgoing trustees Betsy Kohnstamm and Ruth Harrison for their service. Each received a plaque.

Kohnstamm served for three years after retiring from a long career in education.

“I think that you have made a much stronger, better board,” Clarke said of Kohnstamm. “Your passion for public education, for literacy, for advocating for people who don’t have a voice otherwise, it’s been inspiring. I think you’ve been a part of huge movements that have changed this district for the better.

Ruth Harrison has served on the Whitefish School Board for 15 years.

“That’s a lot of meetings and a lot of time... We have just so benefited from your positive approach, collaborative approach, supportive above all else, you have mentored I think every single one of us in one capacity or another… We are going to miss you a lot,” Clarke said.

COVID-19 report

Superintendent Dave Means said the district had two positive COVID-19 cases in the first week of May, but went the last two weeks in April without any confirmed cases.

The elementary and secondary schools emergency relief fund is also still available for the district to use for Covid related purposes. Means said summer school could be a good use of the supplemental funding.

“With the Covid funds we’re receiving we could possibly do a couple years of summer school to meet the needs of students who need some academic intervention and support, but also some opportunities for experiential learning and accelerated learning as well,” he told the board.

Registration for summer school opportunities is available on the school district website and more information will be available to families soon, according to Means.

Also, the district is looking into hosting vaccine clinics on site in some of the school buildings. COVID-19 vaccines are now available to people 12 years and older.

“North Valley Hospital and Flathead City-County health department reached out to see if they could use the space on site,” Means said. “That could also go on throughout the summer as well.”