SANDERS COUNTY - Hiring and retaining teachers isn’t a problem for public school districts like Plains and Thompson Falls.
Both of the Sanders County school districts are instead focused on making a positive impact on their students in the new school year.
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Over the summer, a major change occurred in the leadership of the Plains School District after Thom Chisolm retired as superintendent.
“The previous superintendent had been here for 13 years, so that's really new, you know, that's very new," said K-6 Principal Kevin Meredith. There's a lot of folks here that have never experienced working at Plains School other than for the previous superintendent."
Kathleen Walsh moved to Western Montana because her husband Denis originally grew up in the area and she had promised they’d return if given the chance. She brings over 30 years of experience as an administrator at public and private schools in New York to Plains.
“I didn't come here to make it a New York, I came to learn and live in Montana. I'm here for the children, I'm here for their betterment, and that's what I’m going to work on, and I want the students to look at this as a hub of opportunities for themselves,” Walsh said.
In Thompson Falls, the district is focused on building a new 7,000-square-foot building that will include shop space for teaching welding, woodworking, and small engine repair classes on one half of the building. The other half will include space for a new commons that will replace the lunch area outside the high school gym.
Superintendent Bud Scully says that moving the shop classes into the new building will allow the district to expand the pre-existing weight located underneath the gym.
“We got a lot of kids who are interested in staying healthy and doing weights and fitness, and a lot of our coaches have their athletes in there all summer long, and we’ve kinda outgrown that space,” Scully said.
The project is expected to be done before students depart for Christmas break on December 22, 2023.