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.


Nearby School Rankings

I’ve worked in a system where school rankings were always in the background – in my world, MIT and Cal Tech were always at the top, then the Ivys, moving down to a sub-Ivy League bunch that rated above my land grants, and then lower tiered schools ending at community and junior colleges. 

Spending a bit of time on the school board has me watching the next level – high schools.  I’m patiently waiting to see how the ACT scores place our local schools – but until that data is released, other scores exist.

US News rates high schools – I was familiar with their college rankings (there is something humbling about working with a couple that are recognized above the place that employs you).  So I checked their website to see where Lincoln County High School ranked.

“Lincoln County High School is ranked 63-85th within Montana. The total minority enrollment is 14%, and 54% of students are economically disadvantaged.”

US News

Whitefish was #2.  Glacier was #12.  Flathead #16.  Libby #33.  Columbia Falls #37.  Thompson Falls #48.  LCHS tied with Troy – between 63 and 85, at the bottom of the ranked high schools.

Niche also ranks LCHS.  The numbers require a bit of thinking – how can the state champions score 90th in the state in the category “best high school for athletes in Montana”?  (I think I’ve figured it out, but my hypothesis needs more data – while boys athletic participation is rated average, girls participation is rated at very low)  One of the upbeat rankings was the faculty – number 34 in the state, with an A- rating on the school’s report card.  On the other hand, academics are rated at C+ . . . a bit hard to reconcile with a teaching staff that is rated at A-.  Administration was rated at B, and food at B+ (hard for me to understand, but back when I went to school Mrs. Grace Cuffe ran the kitchen).

They did point out that “In Eureka there are a lot of bars.”  I suspect the reviewers didn’t understand the cultural aspects that accompany the nickname “Tijuana del norte.”  Ah, well, one day soon we can expect to see the ratings based on ACT results.

I’ll be glad when we can see ratings for Trego – 3 years ago, when I got on the board, we were down to 4 or 5 students.  Now we’re right around 30 students in 8 grades, and getting close to a spot where there are enough students in a class that scores can stay confidential. 


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:

Community, Demography

Trego and the American Community Survey

Montana’s American Community Survey is composed from the final interviews conducted with 10,138 households in the state.  Since Montana has 519,935 households, the chance of any household being in the final interview is 10,138 out of 519,935 = 0.0195, right around 2% of the population is included in the survey.  Since Tregp shows 295 households, we can guess that our community data is assembled from somewhere around 6 completed interviews.

This table about sample sizes is from

As you will note, a population of 250 calls for 152 samples, and that the break is in the lower right corner – while a sample of 382 covers a population of 75,000, 384 is good for a million.  I’m not going into details about sampling – this is a blog, not a stats class. If enough people ask for the stats instruction, I’ll do another article.  Suffice to say, we can expect the numbers on the ACS to be pretty vague in small communities. So let’s look at the ACS data:

The top of the page shows:

Total Population                                           515

Median Household Income                          $36,458

Bachelor’s Degree or Higher                       26.1%

Employment Rate                                        40.2%

Total Housing Units                                      283

Without Health Care Coverage                   9.0%

Total Households                                         249

As we go further down the page, we start to encounter the variance – the range the number represents.  That 515 population is taken from the decennial census not the ACS. 

Median Age:    60.5 +/- 3.2 years 

16.8% of Trego folks speak a language other than English at home – plus or minus 15.4% so that’s somewhere between 6 and 166.  Probably not a particularly useful piece of information.

That Median Household Income turns out to be plus or minus $8,980: the number can be as much as 24.6% off either way.  It can be as low as $27,478 or as high as $45,438.  As we move into the full chart on that number, we see that the number of households lists the margin of error as plus or minus 67.  Could be as low as 182 or as high as 316. 

That 26.1% of Trego residents with a bachelor’s degree or more has a 12% margin of error – it could be as low as 14.1% or as high as 38.1%,  It shows 8.1% of our residents holding graduate or professional degrees, but doesn’t give a margin of error there.

The school board will be pleased to know that 97.8% (plus or minus 6.6%) of our kids are enrolled in Kindergarten to 12th grade.  Might even surprise the County Superintendent.  Pretty sure some kids out there are home-schooled.

That 40.2% employment rate (+/- 12.9%) looks low – but I guess it fits right in with a median age over 60 and 31.1% (+/-9.4%) disability. 

And finally, there are 48 women 15 to 50 years old – but the margin of error is 38, so it translates to somewhere between 10 and 86.

The ACS data is good – but the sample for Trego was small, and not checking the limitations lets us make blunders.


Off Again, On Again

Trego School went to distance learning last week- and resumed in person classes this week. More or less the same as last time; a shift to distance learning following the Health and Safety Plan (which is considerably longer and less readable than the first version of it that came out over a year ago), with in-person classes resuming at the earliest possible opportunity.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is on Wednesday, the 8th of December, at 4 PM. But folks interested in attending board meetings should watch the calendar– and for notices placed in the post office.


Trego School Went to Distance Learning Last Week- Back in Person

Last week, Trego School went to distance-learning in response to a covid exposure in the school, in accordance with the school’s Health and Safety plan. School resumed in-person this week.

A bit before this time last year, Trego School was also doing distance learning. That August (2020), the school had installed shields around the desks, HEPA filters, as well as filters in the school’s heaters. Since we hadn’t had all that much in the way of local cases, the filters proved of far more utility for filtering the smoke out of the air that September.

Filters come to Trego School

Trego School’s Health and Safety Plan includes HEPA filters installed in air purifiers and in the heaters. While the filters for the heaters have not yet arrived (and are not expected to be needed soon, given current temperatures), the others are here. HEPA filters specialize in filtering out the really small, things measured in microns… Continue reading Filters come to Trego School


Why is the Sign Gone?

As you may have noticed, the Reader Board for Trego School, situated between the community hall and the post office, is no longer present. So what happened?

Some History: In June of 2016, Trego School entered into a lease agreement with Leroy Mee, allowing the school to place the Reader Board on Mr. Mee’s property. The term of the lease was ten years, at a rate of $100 per year. The school paid the full $1000 in 2016.

Earlier this year, the Montana Department of Labor Safety and Health received an anonymous complaint about the way the letters on the Reader Board were changed (the concern was that the use of vehicle and ladder presented a safety risk to school employees). The Department did not issue a violation. It’s nice to see such a concern for public safety and the health and well being of Trego School.

Recently, the estate of the late Leroy Mee provided Trego School with a check for $500 dollars in order to end the lease. Later, at their request, the school refunded twenty-five dollars and two cents to the estate for the part of this year that the Reader Board was in use.

The School is currently looking into a new placement for the Reader Board.


School Started on the First

It’s that time of the year again. Classes at Trego School started on Wednesday, September 1st. The Back to School BBQ will be held on Friday, September 10th.

School enrollment at the start of the school year is nearing 30 students. With a fourth classroom teacher hired, class size averages about 7 students per class (7.25 to be more precise).

The district was able to use part of the district’s ESSR (covid relief funds) to fund the hiring of that fourth teacher, a decision made to help keep class sizes small. While classrooms are still multi-grade, most classrooms hold only two grades.

The official count for this year’s enrollment isn’t actually in- for funding purposes, the count happens only twice a year. The first is in October. If enrollment reaches thirty, the amount of funding the school receives will increase.

Looking at the broader trend, we last discussed Trego School enrollment back in January.

Data as of January 2021

This year’s start of 29 is a bit lower than January’s 31. Not a steep decline, but the trend merits watching.

Community, Recipes

Back to School Bread

This versatile classic frequently receives compliments. It can be made into rolls and bread-sticks. With a little cornmeal it becomes pizza dough.

It also serves as the foundation of Lunch in a Bun, a popular menu item at Trego School. For lunch in a bun, each bun has a filling. Sometimes, it is taco meat and cheese. At other times, they are filled with pepperoni, ham and cheese, then served with marinara sauce.

These numbers in this recipe are reduced to result in a smaller amount of bread than is produced in the school kitchen.

Single Rise Dough

2 Tbsp. Active Dry Yeast
3 Tbsp. Sugar
3 tsp. Salt
1 cup Water
1 cup Warm Milk
1/3 cup Oil
2 Eggs
6-6 & 1/2 cups Flour or Bread Flour

  1. Decide on which mixing method you would like to use
    • If dissolving yeast in warm water, use a water temperature of 110 degrees
    • If mixing the yeast right in with the dry ingredients, use a water temperature of 115-120 degrees
  2. Mix as much flour as possible in using a mixer. Work the remaining flour in by hand and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic
  3. After mixing and kneading process is complete, let dough rest for 10 minutes
  4. Scale into proper size units (bread loaves, sandwich buns, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, etc.
  5. Mold your dough into the shapes you will be making. Pan into the proper sized pans.
  6. Proof the dough units until almost double in bulk. When touched gently, a unit that is fully proofed will full out the dent slowly.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes for loaves and approximately 15-20 minutes for dinner rolls and smaller units.