The Roundup -

School Board Doesn't Renew Activities Director's Contract

 


Despite words of support from coaches, community members and students, the Sidney School Board voted by a 4-2 margin not to rehire activities director Ross Hall.

In his comments near the end of the meeting, Hall remarked to a comment by trustees that they couldn’t share some information with the public. “They haven’t shared them with me either,” Hall noted.

Hall, who is finishing his fourth year in Sidney, said that he didn’t receive an evaluation after either his second or third years. “If there was a problem, I wasn’t aware of it,” Hall said. “We try to fix things if things are broken.”

He noted that he helped Sidney’s girls sports by having the volleyball team not have to play Billings Central and Laurel on the same days and establishing a divisional softball tournament. With the community’s assistance, Hall earned the winning bids for state golf and softball tournaments.

“The idea is to bring people here,” Hall said.

Hall said he has received threats many times. His priority is to be an advocate for students and coaches. He was hoping to be a long-time resident of Sidney.

“I don’t care what happens here tonight, I’m glad I came here,” Hall said.

After his comments, Hall received a standing ovation from the audience.

Board chair Luke Savage clarified that the move was not a termination but rather a non-contract renewal because Hall was a classified employee.

Before the vote, Sidney Superintendent of Schools Daniel Farr explained the recommendation process. Farr along with building principals Sue Andersen and Kelly Johnson reviewed Hall’s performance and moved forward with the recommendation to re-hire Hall.

Technically only Farr made the recommendation, but the decision was done in cooperation with the principals.

Trustees Kelly Dey and Dennis Lorenz voted to renew Hall’s contract. Voting against the motion were trustees Missy Sanders, Savage, Ben Thogersen and Craig Steinbeisser.

At the start of the meeting held in the Central School gym, Dey said she doesn’t believe the board has displayed any feeling in the last two or three years that trustees have lost confidence in Hall.

Dey said trustees have made suggestions, and Hall has improved in those areas. Dey said Hall has gone “above and beyond” to provide a good environment for Sidney’s students.

Sanders noted Hall is Sidney’s first full-time activities director so he had more time to become involved in the community than past activities directors. Sanders said Hall has accomplished some positive things, but the job description for the position is two pages long.

During the public comment portion, student Luke Beenken said that Hall has been an incredible asset to the school system.

Those words were supported by students John Beyer, Kasey Godfrey, Brianna Reid and Matt Dey.

Community member Lisa Gorder noted Hall’s role in trying to make the Richland Community Complex a reality. “Ross is an advocate for not only your school but your students.”

High school head athletic coaches talking in support of Hall included Guy Melby, Danny Strasheim, Ryan Troxel and Steve O’Toole.

Melby credited Hall for increasing the size of the Eagle Invitational wrestling tournament. “If I give a student a F, I’m obligated to tell him why and how to correct it. Tell him (Hall), how to fix it. That’s only fair. That’s education. That’s teaching.”

Advisors for other activities such as speech and drama, FFA and math competitions also spoke in support of Hall.

Former school board chair Todd Hermanson questioned, “Would we be here if everything was perfect? We wouldn’t be here if everybody was doing their jobs.”

 

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