Excess funds to support cost-of-living adjustments for district staff
By Gabrielle Gasser ASSOCIATE EDITOR
BIG SKY – In an ‘80s themed evening filled with polyester, vivid neon, crazy hair and plenty of laughs, the Big Sky Parent Teacher Organization raked in more than $100,000 at the 42nd Annual Pie Auction.
Held at Montage Big Sky on April 2, more than 225 people attended the philanthropic event. By the time the event started, the PTO had already raised its goal of $100,000 for its operating budget, according to PTO president Jennie Bibbins. Everything raised during the event will support district efforts to provide cost-of-living adjustments for staff.
“Our teachers and school staff are what makes our school district so special,” Bibbins said after the event. “As the cost of living rapidly increases in Big Sky, we need to find a way to make those costs achievable for our teachers. This COLA will help.”
Big Sky School District School Board Trustee Kara Edgar spoke at the event to emphasize the importance of the cost-of-living adjustments for the district.
“The biggest surprise to me was that the state of Montana views everyone the same way,” she said. “So Big Sky gets the same dollars as Big Timber as Livingston as Laurel and we don’t view our community in the same way so there’s no consideration for cost-of-living adjustment.”
As of EBS press time, funds exceeding the $100,000 in sponsorships had not yet been tallied.
In its 42nd year, the time-honored pie auction is the PTO’s largest fundraiser which supports many school programs such as the fourth-grade trip to Yellowstone National Park, school ski days and the eighth grade Washington D.C. trip among other things. Fundraising is done through a combination of donations as well as a live auction, where bidders can take home everything from spa packages and vacations to the items that started it all—pies.
“It is apparent that this is a need the whole community recognizes and obviously is eager to support,” Bibbins said adding that attendees really got into the “giving spirit.”
As the live auction progressed, attendees ran up to the auctioneer and spontaneously offered items for bidding including a weeklong stay at a home in Hawaii, a bison burger party by Rancho Picante and Matt Dodd’s legal services, which helped rake in even more cash.
The biggest ticket item for the evening was the Hawaii trip which sold for $16,000, followed by a ski signed by football star Tom Brady which went for $10,000.
Another popular item with bidders was a ride to school with the Big Sky Fire Department on a fire truck.
Dressed as cherry and pumpkin pies, Michelle and Joe Borden, masters of ceremony for the evening and BSSD parents, set a jovial tone by cracking jokes throughout the raffle and live auction.
Ahead of the live auction, 6-12 Technology Teacher Jeremy Harder, or “JJ,” who has been with the district for 22 years, took the mic to thank the PTO for its support of the teachers and donation of funds to COLAs.
“There is one thing I know of all those 62 people that I’ve worked with or I still work with,” he said at the event, “one thing that I truly do know that hasn’t changed and that is the fact that everyone I’ve worked with would do anything for any of our students.”
This statement was met with an outpouring of cheers and applause from everyone gathered.
The evening ended on a high note with attendees flooding the dance floor brandishing glow sticks to tunes spun by DJs “Jenn N Juice” and “Take a Chance.”
“I think it went really smoothly and it was a great to see the turnout,” Bibbins said after the event. “… It was just a great outpouring of support from the entire community, not just the school community.”