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New Arlee Schools Superintendent focusing on kids, COVID-19 plans

Mike Perry
Posted at 7:40 AM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 09:54:32-04

ARLEE — Several Western Montana schools -- including Polson and Florence -- are bringing in new superintendents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arlee Schools will also see some new leadership with Superintendent Mike Perry saying that -- pandemic or no pandemic -- the focus is always on the kids.

"I want to know the kids, I want to know every single one of them I want to know my name. And I want to make sure that when they come to school, they know that they're cared for," said Perry.

He's eager to begin his new role at a school district larger than what he was used to at Hot Springs -- and he’s ready to tackle COVID head-on. Perry has been pulling ideas from other schools in the area to give his kids the best chance at a fall semester.

"So I can tell you in a pile that I have on my desk right now I have the St. Ignatius plan. I have the Ronan plan I have the Missoula County school plan so that we can kind of base the plans together so that not one school district is kind of pitted against someone else and having parents say well why aren't you doing it like them."

Perry told MTN News that he does foresee issues that perhaps other, larger school districts may not be facing.

"I think we have to do things differently and I'm a little bit jealous because when I look at Missoula County's plan, I like it, but they have the ability to handle transportation a little bit different than we do," Perry said. "I know that they're talking about bringing in elementary for a shorter day and then going to pick up the older kids. And in a smaller district, we just can't do that."

What they can do is have shorter school days for every student, focus on the core curriculum, rework how extracurricular classes are taught, and more.

"And so one of the proposals that I gave to the board is that, at least for probably seven to 12 kids. We would just have them come for two classes a day," Perry explained. "So, they would come for like two-and-a-half hours have one class have lunch, and have two-and-a-half hours of class and do that for nine weeks."

That’s merely one of Perry’s many ideas as they near his goal start date, "right now we are honestly planning on August 24 we have every kid, every staff member, and we're good to go."

Perry says they’re still working with Lake County Public Health on how they’ll handle a student or staff member developing COVID-19 and he hopes to have a finalized plan for their return to school sent out no later than August 12.