Trego School Adopted New Salary Schedule

The Trego School board adopted a new salary schedule during the meeting on Wednesday, January twelfth. The new salary schedule will be applicable starting in the fall of the upcoming school year.

The schedule is split into three sections, by number of teaching endorsements.

Single Endorsement
Experience yrs$33,920$34,598$35,290$35,996$36,716
Dual Endorsement
Experience yrs$37,450$38,387$39,346$40,330$41,338
Third Endorsement
Experience yrs$42,372$43,643$44,734$45,852$46,999

Trego’s Salary Schedule is unusual in a few ways. While most salary schedules increase with the number of years of teaching experience, few consider the number of teaching endorsements. Though some offer fixed bonuses for coaching.

A teaching endorsement is granted by Montana’s Office of Public Instruction. These can include K-8 endorsements, which allow the teacher to teach any subject to students from kindergarten to 8th grade, as well as music and art. High school teachers are typically licensed for their specific subject areas -in my case, a Broadfield Science license allows me to teach science for grades 5-12. Special Education, Counseling, and Administrative Endorsements can also be found in public schools.

For comparison, Eureka’s Salary Schedule can be found on their website.

In comparison, this salary schedule has far more years of teaching experience included, and considers twenty further credits beyond a master’s degree.

The base salary for a teacher fresh out of school, without any credits past a bachelors degree would be slightly lower in Eureka, except that the district starts new teachers at step three on the schedule. Trego’s schedule is similar, but adding endorsements (this varies in difficulty, but typically involves some coursework and passing a praxis test) provides teachers with the more significant pay increase than additional coursework does alone.


Red Cross Blood Shortage

The Red Cross has declared a blood shortage– the number of people donating has dropped 10% since covid began. The majority of blood drives are college campus associated, so covid has led to a decrease there as well, especially with recent cancellations due to an increase in the omicron variant. This combines with a typical seasonal decline as travel becomes more difficult during the winter months.

The Red Cross is responsible for 40% of the blood supply, and with the shortage, hasn’t been able to meet the needs of hospitals requesting blood.

Blood, like the majority of human tissues, can’t be fabricated in the laboratory. The only source of blood for people that need transfusions is blood from donors. While researchers are looking into ways to grow organs, and artificial skin has been approved by the FDA, the vast majority of human tissue comes from donors. Either organ donors, or grafts from elsewhere in the patient’s body.

The Red Cross is requesting both donations (blood and platelets) and volunteers to help with organizing and operating blood drives. They are currently automatically entering anyone who donates into a drawing for $500 gift card.

All blood types are needed, especially types O- and O+. People are still eligible to donate if they have had the covid vaccine, though they’ll need to know which vaccine they received. More about eligibility requirements can be found here.


So, How Bad Are the Roads, Anyway?

With snow and ice season well and truly upon us, it seems like the first thought to mind when considering travel is the state of the roads. Good? Bad? Clear? Icy?

An inquiring mind has a few options.

  • Facebook: There are Facebook groups dedicated solely to road reports, and if the timing is right, one can find a post by someone who just traveled the same path.
  • The Travel Info Map: has nice, color coded details for the entire state. Covers major highways.
  • Web Cameras: These are useful for a look outdoors without actually having to look out doors. I often check the Dickey Lake Camera from the Travel Info Map, although Eureka has its own and there are several down in the Flathead.

There isn’t a really good source, other than people who’ve been out and about, for roads like Ant Flat and Fortine Creek Road. They just aren’t big enough to make it onto the Travel Info Map. Some good internet research (and some luck) can tell you all about the roads in Eureka, the trip down towards Whitefish, and the condition of the roads within Whitefish and Kalispell. The usual sources aren’t as much good for the (very) local roads.

That said, it’s often my experience that the first few miles after leaving home are the worst for driving.

Community, Meteorology

Ice Pillars

It’s that time of the year again, or rather the temperature is that low again. Strange pillars of light in the sky? Ice pillars, or light pillars, form under conditions of very cold temperatures.

Edmonton, Canada -not my photo, I wasn’t about to stay out in the cold long enough to take one!

They are caused by light being reflected by crystals in the atmosphere, and careful observation of them can actually provide some insights about the weather. The source of the reflected light can be anything from the sun to streetlights. Color will vary depending on the light source.

Since these require very dense, cold air, with many ice crystals, they are common in polar regions.


Homeless Students

Spending time on the school board provides a lot of information.  Some goes into the brain and must be forgotten unless a later incident brings it up.  Some are opinions that seem irrelevant, but are important to the person sharing them.  Recently, I’ve learned that a student can have a home but still be homeless.

Part of it is a social thing.  People like to own their own piece of the west – and raw land, particularly when it is less accessible and remote from the electric grid, is more affordable.  Here is the publication that defines homeless for Montana’s Office of Public Instruction:

OPI Guidance for Substandard Housing Determination (Unsheltered) for Students Identified as Homeless 

Homeless Liaisons should consider multiple factors when determining if a family’s or unaccompanied  youth’s situation meets the criteria of homelessness due to substandard housing.

  • Home must have a solid foundation and a roof that does not leak
  • Security locks must be on all exterior entrance doors
  • Home must be free from insect or rodent infestation
  • Home should have no more than five unrelated persons living in a single-family dwelling, or no more than two family members for each bedroom in the home
  • Each room must have a window or duct to provide ventilation, and interior air must be free of harmful pollutants such as mold
  • Home must have electric service and at least one electric outlet in each room
  • Home must have adequate heating facilities, and hot and cold running water
  • Home must have a separate kitchen and bathroom, each with an operational sink
  • Kitchen must have space for storage, preparation, and serving of food, including a refrigerator and stove or range with oven
  • At least one bathroom must have a bathtub or shower, flush toilet, sink, and offer privacy
  • Every sleeping room must have a window or door providing access to the outside

Additional factors that should be considered:

  • The family’s financial situation and ability to obtain suitable housing
  • The overall care of the children, including personal hygiene, cleanliness of clothing, nutrition, and healthcare

*Adapted from guidelines from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

It seems a bit unreal to live in a community where a family can pay over $1000 per year in property taxes, and find that their child is homeless.  Still, if you can own your home, free and clear, and still be homeless, it does say something about equality.


A New Ice Age is Coming

Some of the stuff a guy reads is contrarian.  That’s OK – science moves ahead by questioning the existing explanations.  Science World has an article describing the potential for a new “mini-ice age” hitting us around 2030.  It isn’t my field, but I did teach Indians of North America – and my timeline started as the glaciers retreated 10 or 12 thousand years back.  The article is here.

The article describes

The plummeting temperature will then lead to something called the “Maunder minimum”, which is referred to a previous mini ice age that occurred between 1646 and 1715, turning London’s Thames into a frozen river, scientists claimed. The latest research, led by maths professor Valentina Zharkova at Northumbria University, is built on a previous research that predicts the movements of two magnetic waves produced by the Sun. It also foretells rapidly decreasing magnetic waves for three solar cycles that will begin in 2021, and last for as many as 33 years.

According to the model, the two magnetic waves will become increasingly offset during Cycle 25, which peaks in 2022. During Cycle 26 between 2030 and 2040, the waves will become out of sync, causing reduction in solar activity by as much as 60 percent.”

The article looks as if English is a second language, but I tend to look at graphs and charts first.  Personally, I’d prefer a little warming for my elder years.  Still, professor Valenkhova has some items that are worth looking at – this chart shows weather (or climate) from the Maunder minimum to roughly now:

A Science for Everyone, Community, Demography

Our Communities by ACS Numbers

I listened to a comment about the median household income in Trego – and defaulted to my professional statement before retirement – “That’s American Community Survey data, and it’s not very good for small communities.”  When I checked it, the $36,458 median household income for Trego translates as “somewhere between $27,478 and $45,438.  ACS data has its uses, but it has to be used with a lot of caution.

So here’s a little ACS data on our communities – you can check for margin of error (MOE) here.   I wouldn’t recommend using any of the numbers without reviewing MOE – but just sharing the data shows the variance.  It’s safe to admit that my household was one selected for the ACS. With two retirees at home, I didn’t hurt Trego’s school enrollment rate, I raised the percentage of bachelors degree or above, kept the employment rate down, and raised the median age.

Trego CDPFortine CDPEureka CCDRexford Town
Median Age60.527.950.153.3
Median Household Income$36,458$68,036$40,827$30,481
Bachelor’s Degree or more26.10%19.20%22.40%0.00%
School Enrollment97.80%72.30%81.90%100%
Employment Rate40.20%59.50%38.30%20.60%
Housing Units2831773,71673
Occupied Housing Units2371442,79646
Children under 189.30%32.50%22.10%13%

It looks like the Fortine sample drew some younger respondents.  Eureka CCD with a larger population and larger sample is probably closer to correct, and the town of Rexford data is probably close to useless because the small sample size almost guarantees sampling bias


In Case You Missed It

This time last year, we were writing about the Health Hazards of Loneliness (many!), Irish Democracy (not exclusively Irish), trying recipes: Frybread (good) & Dried Corn Soup (we’re doubtful), and learning about the insects we see at this time of year, both indoors and outdoors (Crane Flies).

How unhealthy is loneliness?

Are isolation and loneliness actually bad for our health? Do they increase the risk of dying?

Irish Democracy

I started looking for a definition of “Irish Democracy.”  Found all sorts of descriptions of government in the Republic of Ireland – but nothing that described the unorganized ignoring of laws that lack popular support.  The term “Irish democracy” refers to uncoordinated, wide-spread civil disobedience.  An example is a sign in the window requiring face masks by order of Governor Bullock – and once you’re inside, you’re the only one masked. I started into a store, pulling my mask on.  The guy in a Stetson alongside me was humming “Desperados waiting for a train.”  I haven’t… Continue reading Irish Democracy

Fry Bread

South Dakota’s official state bread is Fry Bread – Probably the best I ever tasted was with wojapi when I visited the Lower Brule Reservation.  I was fortunate to meet, and get to know, Mike Jandreau, who was Tribal President.  His first question was, “What do you know about tribal sovereignty.”  I could answer competently because I had traveled with Joel Clarenbeau as he studied the topic.  The Lower Brule Reservation was settled under the leadership of Chief Solomon Iron Nation (1815-1894), a man who accomplished a great deal for his people.  I don’t have the… Continue reading Fry Bread

Dried Corn Soup

Once, when I visited the Lower Brule, I was served soup made from dry field corn.  There was no large explanation, just the opportunity for the wasichu to recognize how tough the times were in the first days of the reservations and the last days of the buffalo.  While it’s not five-star cuisine, the recipe probably has a place with anyone who stashes a couple bushels of dried corn in the emergency rations stash. 1 lb. lean boned beef, cut in cubes1 tbsp. bacon drippings4 c. water1 c. dried corn1/2 tsp. salt Brown meat.  Add water;… Continue reading Dried Corn Soup

Winter Crane Flies: widespread and little-known

As I was walking over to my in-law’s place one chill and sunny afternoon, I happened to spot a fly. A gangly, long-legged fly, seeming to bounce up and down in the brisk winter air. Unlike the cluster flies lining the edges of our ceilings, this one was fairly active, despite the temperature.


Annual Trego Christmas Bazaar

If the Bazaar had fewer crafters than in previous, it wasn’t obvious. Things were spread out and elegantly displayed as ever. There were old favorites, of the usual sort -a raffle quilt, baked goods, scarves, hats and mittens, baby blankets and little booties, some jewelry and a variety of elegant ornaments. Pottery -mugs, as well as pennants and magnets. Additionally there were conk paintings and wooden bowls, neither of which I recognized from previous years.

Cookies and hot beverages were available, and it was a pleasant chance to get out and see people, as well as to shop locally. Folks seemed quite pleased for the opportunity to resume holiday traditions.

The Bazaar began on Friday and ended Sunday -if you missed the chance, many of our local crafters can be contacted, and the historical village bazaar remains online.