Fort Mackenzie High School Receives Bad News

District 2 Assistant Superintendent Tom Sachse
District 2 Assistant Superintendent Tom Sachse

Newly elected Marva Craft and Erica O'Dell attended their first Sheridan County School District 2 board meeting Monday night. Per the By-Laws, the board nominated and elected new officers for the year. New chairman is Scott Hininger; Vice Chair is Molly Steel; Treasurer is Wayne Schatz; and Clerk is Ann Perkins.

Superintendent Craig Dougherty reported that demolition of Meadowlark on DeSmet is still underway. Some materials testing that contractors hadn't anticipated has caused the demolition to go beyond the original timeline, but Dougherty said documents for the new Meadowlark Elementary are close to completion, with site and finish details being finalized. He added that construction documents will be available for bid on February 1st, and they hope to award the bid at the March 7th Board meeting.

The board approved on first and second reading several policies; they heard School Improvement reports from secondary education principals Laurien Rahimi, Dirleen Wheeler and Mitch Craft; they approved selling the District's 2001 24-passenger Chevrolet Midbus to High Plains IC Bus Sales in the amount of $2,600, and they approved a request to advertise for contractor qualification statements and to bid for construction of Meadowlark Elementary School.

The biggest news from the meeting, however, came at the very end, when Assistant Superintendent Tom Sachse regretfully told the Board that for the first time, Fort Mackenzie High School did not reach AYP for the year, because of the number of drop-outs they've had. He explains.

Sachse echoed the thoughts of many administrators regarding the demands on high school populations when it comes to graduation timeline requirements.

Sachse said it literally would take an act of Congress to get those requirements changed, and in fact, Superintendent Dougherty and others intend to voice their concern to Senator Mike Enzi.

Junior High Principal Mitch Craft perhaps summed it up best during his presentation by saying that teaching and learning can no longer fit within a 'one-size-fits-all' boundary.

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In response to the previous post that SHS encourages students to drop out or get a GED....that is completely absurd. That same post said that all SHS is concerned about are their numbers. Well....then why would they push gets to drop out or get their GED. SHS students who get their GED count as a dropout according to Annual Yearly Progress, so the logic in that post was nowhere to be found. As for the principal, she works extremely hard, is caring, and demonstrates this on a daily basis. To me, the previous post sounded like a grouch parent who enabled their kids to make poor choices...and instead of pointing the finger at themselves, they chose to point the finger at SHS. Nice try and wise up.


I feel kind of bad for Fort MacKenzie. Sheridan High School encourages young people to drop out, get a GED, or move to the Fort. The Fort does a really good job with these kids, unfortunately they don't always start with a fair deck. If Sheridan High would do a better job of actually working with the "challenging kids" maybe the Fort wouldn't be in the position to try after some damage has been done. And yes, I am sure I will get the whole "we aren't responsible for holding their hands" responses; however the reality is, kids do need hand holding and more effort by schools whether we like it or not. Sheridan High School's principal is out of touch. She seems more concerned about numbers and statistics than actually helping kids...especially any that struggle. I am saying this because it is a constant battle between this principal and programs in and around Sheridan. So, if your child is an athlete, that gets good grades, count your blessings. If your child struggles with drugs, alcohol, poverty, learning, well then go the vice principal or an alternative school. Thank God for Fort MacKenzie. Most of those kids were given up on by Sheridan High. At least they get one more chance. So, as they work to improve, I say Good Luck and you have many community members' support!

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