Spring Newsletter 2019
Hello shareholders of Ennis Schools! The end of the 2018-2019 school year always comes so fast, and I’d like to share a few happenings at Ennis Schools as we close out the year.
First of all, thank you for your continued support of Ennis Schools and students; your generosity and commitment to our school is incredible. Without a doubt, your support for our staff and students helps us stand above the rest of the schools around the state. I am pleased with the school’s progress this school year, we continue to do great things at our school and and continue to assess where we need improvement.
School Staffing, Housing
We have some staff changes for next school year in Middle School Science, K-12 Art, and 3-12 Music. Teacher shortages continue to be an issue statewide and we are beginning to experience fewer applications each year, but so far, we seem to be more successful than other schools. This is largely because of our location and the potential for new staff to live in school housing at an affordable price. Offering school housing to new teachers has been a great recruitment tool, currently all 5 housing units are full of new staff. With housing opportunities being a challenge for teachers, we invite you to contact the school if you or you know of someone interested in renting to a teacher.
Mental Health Services
One major challenge we continue to face is the increase in mental health needs of our students and the lack of counselors. Statistics show that mental health needs of students are increasing while there is an extreme shortage in mental health counselors nationwide. According to the Department of Labor, there will be a shortage of 10,000 mental health counselors by the year 2025. Ennis Schools does have a CSCT (Comprehensive School and Community Treatment ) program in the school called AltaCare. AltaCare is not a school funded program, but we allow the space for AltaCare and their team to meet with kids. We are trying to be optimistic that we will have adequate mental health services, but in reality we are short. Our staff does an incredible job with the needs of our kids, but school staff are not certified mental health counselors.We will continue to work hard in doing all we can to provide adequate counseling services to kids.
At the May school board meeting, a discussion was started regarding how a school foundation could look within our community. There are many communities in Montana that have successful school foundations that contribute to the educational experience of students. We are in the process of reaching out to the various communities to see how it is structured and how it works for them. If you have any thoughts or ideas on how this could work in our community, we would love to hear from you.
Sign Advertising on Football and Softball Fields
We would like to invite businesses to advertise on the football and softball fields. Businesses are responsible for an approved sign design and construction, and an annual fee per field. Proceeds from signs will be used to help offset costs of our extracurricular programs. If you’d like your business advertised on the softball and football fields, please contact us at the school and we would love to get the process started!
Thanks to a partnership with Madison Valley Medical Center, the 2018-2019 school year was the first year for Ennis Schools to have a part time school nurse. This has proved to be an outstanding service to the school, students, and families. Not only does the school nurse assist and care for students with an injury, sickness, etc., she provides education and resources to our staff and students. We are excited to continue this partnership with the MVMC.
In 2016, voters approved a 7 year technology levy in which we are finishing up year 3. This levy has provided incredible opportunities for staff and students. For example, our students utilize computer labs within the school for assignments, research and state assessments, and our juniors are able to take online ACT prep courses. High School students are assigned a laptop to be utilized for educational purposes at school and home. The levy has also afforded our staff to take advantage of professional development and technology training to pass on to students; for example our teaching staff have embraced the GOOGLE classroom platform, where they assign projects that students can access anywhere.
Making sure we are making responsible fiscal decisions regarding technology, the levy is something we take seriously. We constantly weigh the outcome of technology purchases by considering whether the purchase on a want vs need basis, whether the purchase will improve current conditions, and will it advance student opportunity?
The school has a safety committee comprised of staff and representatives from our local law enforcement agencies. We are in a state of continuous evaluation and improvement. We have recently completed assessments of school building and grounds safety, drop off/pick up zones, surveillance of parking lots, safety features such as cameras, and locked doors, and will make adjustments as necessary. We have a great working relationship with local law enforcement and will continue to make sure we do our best to ensure the safety of our students.
Continuing Education (adult ed) was a great success this year and we are thrilled with the opportunity to offer a wide variety of courses to our shareholders. Courses range from beekeeping and avalanche safety to fly fishing entomology and chainsaw safety. Ennis Schools Continuing Education program compared to other schools is hands down one of the best continuing education programs in the state. A friendly reminder that the fall session will start in September 2019. If you want to learn more about what Continuing Education has to offer our community, please visit the school website at www.ennisschools.org and click on Continuing Education or visit the Continuing Education website ennis-ece.org. We appreciate the community support and involvement in Continuing Education.
Custodial Shortage and Bus Driver Shortage
The district is still experiencing a shortage in our custodial department as well as a shortage in bus drivers. We have made efforts to recruit custodians, but still fall short in this area. If you are looking for a good job that is rewarding with great benefits, we encourage you to apply. We will also consider part time help.
With the shortage of route driver’s last year, we made the decision not to run a Jack Creek Route. The transition was fairly smooth and the families on that route understood the situation. Next year, we are in good shape for route drivers, but we will be short on activity drivers. With the amount of activities our school offers students, the demand for drivers is significant. If you are looking for a side job and want to earn some extra money, please contact the school if you are interested in driving bus. We will give you all the information you need to get certified.
There is no shortage of academic or athletic activities for our kids to participate in and we want them to involved as much as possible! With athletics this year, the coaches and students found great success with their teams and learned many life lessons along the way--we are proud of the commitment of the coaches, athletes, and parents. I would like to mention this was the first year for High School softball. With any new sport to the school, it takes quite the effort to get it up and running; the amount of time volunteered was outstanding. Overall, the season was a success and look forward to next year’s season. We would like to thank all of those involved that helped make softball’s first year a success.
A lot goes on when school is not is session. Cleaning, summer projects, maintenance, closing out the school year end, and athletic camps all take time. The school is a busy place even in the summer. Please check the website for details of summer activities.
On behalf of everyone at Ennis Schools we wish everyone a great summer. We cannot stress enough our gratitude towards this great community. This school cannot be what it is without your support. We want to continue moving in a positive direction to where our students are afforded every opportunity to succeed. We encourage you to contact the school if there are ever any suggestions, concerns, or questions. Thank you!