Choteau Public Schools will convene for the new school year on Wednesday, Aug. 28 with an estimated enrollment of 175 in K-6, 55 in junior high, and 120 in high school for a total of 350 students.
Superintendent/Elementary Principal Chuck Gameon says he expects enrollment to be very close to last year’s numbers with possibly a slight increase because of an anticipated 31-member kindergarten class.
Last year’s official fall enrollment counts, taken in October, were 178 students in K-6, 50 in junior high and 123 in high school for a total of 351 students.
Gameon and grades 7-12 Principal Wendi Hammond are working with teachers and school staff to be ready for the new school year.
Teachers will return to their classrooms on Aug. 26 and 27 for two days of pupil-related instruction.
Parents who will have a child starting kindergarten this year are asked to stop by the elementary office before the first day of school to register their child. CES administrative assistant Julie Shepherd will help parents register children. Parents should bring their child’s birth certificate and immunization records with them for registration. Shepherd can be reached at 466-5364.
Families with new junior high or high school students should contact high school administrative assistant Michaela Zwerneman at 466-5303, to schedule an appointment to register their children for classes on Aug. 21.
Choteau Public Schools will hold its “Back to School Night” on Monday, Aug. 26. Parents/guardians may visit their child’s classroom between 5 and 6 p.m. or between 7 and 8 p.m. Teachers will have any information for parents in a printed format so they can give it to them during their visit to the classroom. Students will be able to put all of their supplies in their lockers and can even get a copy of their class schedules. The school will serve a barbecue dinner for all families from 6 to 7 p.m. right outside the high school front doors.
School will start at 8:20 a.m. for grades K-6 and will start at 8:30 a.m. for grades 7-12. School will adjourn for the day at 3:32 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 2:30 p.m. on Fridays and the last day of any shortened week. There will also be several Wednesday early-outs this year to accommodate professional development programs for the teaching staff. School will dismiss at 2:30 p.m. on the first day.
Choteau Public Schools employs 32 teaching staff members along with Gameon and Hammond, and another 32 non-teaching workers, including bus drivers, custodial and cafeteria staff, tutors and paraprofessionals.
New to the staff this year are:
•Cathy Campbell, the new head cook. She and her husband, Joe, operate a farm and ranch. She has been involved in the Teton County Food Pantry and helped to start the Farm to School meat program in Choteau
•Cheryl Gertje, the new assistant cook, who previously cooked at the Choteau Senior Citizens Center.
•Jaqui Hadlock, the new district administrative assistant, previously worked for Dr. Brian McCollom and joined the staff in December of 2018.
•Tori (Fladstol) Pletan, the new CES Title I tutor, is a graduate of CHS and the University of Montana-Western. She and her husband Ethan live in Conrad.
•Rebecca Seroogy, the new CHS Title I tutor, was a secretary at the New Life Church, worked in Mark Major’s Horace Mann insurance agency office in Choteau and has lived in Choteau for about 10 years.
•Carla May, a new paraprofessional, has worked for the district for a number of years as a coach and a substitute teacher and joined the junior high/high school special education team last year.
•Sherrel Passmore, a new paraprofessional, worked for many years as a nurse before joining the junior high/high school special education team.
•Samantha Garner, a new paraprofessional, is originally from California and was working in Bozeman before moving to Choteau.
•Jon Stoltz and Dave Chalfon are both on the staff as activity bus drivers, having also worked previously in these part-time positions. Stoltz is a farmer in the Pendroy area and Chalfon is an officer at First Bank of Montana in Choteau.
Principal Hammond reminds parents that students who are involved in all extracurricular activities except band/pep band need to pay the participation fee before their first competition.
High school students must pay $25 per activity with a cap of $50 per family per year. Junior high students must pay $15 per activity with a cap of $30 per family per year. All activities fees must be paid before a student will be allowed to participate in an activity.
All families that qualify for free and reduced-cost lunch will not have to pay any participation fees. Scholarships will be available for students and families to apply for if the participation fees are a hardship. Students will also have the opportunity to work concessions for an event to pay for their participation fees if the scholarship money is unavailable.
The Choteau school board has raised prices for school lunch and breakfast for this school year. The new prices are:
•Breakfast — Students in K-12, $2.25; adults, $2.50.
•Lunch — Students in K-6, $2.75; students in 7-12, $3; adults, $4.
•Extra milk is $.45 per carton.
Prices for woods classes have stayed the same at: $10 for Junior High Woods, $10, $70 for Beginning Woods and $50 for Advanced Woods.
This year’s bus routes will stay mostly the same as the district again contracts with Gary Passmore of Choteau for route bus services. Any parents new to the district whose children are on bus routes should contact school business manager Patty Mellinger to make sure their addresses are added to the route buses’ itineraries.
Gameon says the school’s custodial staff has been busy all summer making routine repairs, watering the school’s lawns and playgrounds, cleaning and brightening all the classrooms.
Other improvements include finishing replacing the wooden-shingle fascia on northwest side of high school with composite material; the building of a covered walk-in at main high school entry; and installation of new sidewalk along the front high school parking lot.
In the elementary school, teachers and staff are starting a new social/emotional learning program called “Caring Classroom Community” to facilitate a well-rounded education, Gameon said. Teachers will also start using the PAX Good Behavior Game this year as a classroom management tool.
Choteau Public Schools is part of a county-wide grant opportunity for training and using this program, which has data-driven results dating back to 1999. “I am excited to be part of the project because of the positive outcomes for kids,” Gameon said.
The PAX game uses instructional and behavioral health strategies to improve classroom behavior and academics and help children improve their own self-regulation and co-regulation with their peers.
The PAX game builds self-regulation in students by creating shared relational frames with adults and peers. By reinforcing desirable behaviors and inhibiting unwanted behaviors, children develop agency and command to delay gratification and reduce impulsivity. This increase in pro-social behavior and self-regulation paves the way for better academic, behavioral and lifetime outcomes, according to a fact sheet from Gameon.