Wishing you and yours a blessed holiday.
We received good news when the technicians from Smilie discovered the the circulation pumps for the boilers had been switched to manual over-ride mode when we lost power earlier this fall. The pumps are indeed installed properly and now programmed properly so that they will work if the building loses power and our generators start up to supply emergency power.
Scott Hoeft from IDI engineering firm visited the buildings again last week to look more closely at the existing design of the high school office space and discuss remodeling plans to combine middle school and high school offices. There were two options discussed on his first visit:
The current central office area will be converted to a combined middle school and high school office space. This option also requires an extension of the middle school hallway to create a continuous hallway and entrance into the central office space. Scott is concerned that the State Fire Marshall may reject such a design because it creates a barrier to exiting the courtyard area between the middle school and high school buildings.
The other option is to modify the existing high school office to create a space for staff necessary to support students and staff in grades 6-12. Mr. Hahn shared a tentative design with the high school secretaries who provided input for consideration by Scott and his team.
A study team, including teachers from each building, administrators and support staff, were scheduled to visit Reese Schools on Monday for a tour and question/answer session with staff about the new alignment this year at Reese High School but I was contacted by Keith Wetters over the weekend with a request to reschedule the visit for a later date.
Bids for the pavement reconstruction project are due January 7th at 3:30 pm.
Digital signage bids will be presented for board approval at the meeting on January 11th.
We were informed this week of several grants that will be awarded:
A grant of $1,800 was awarded to the Middle School FTC (Robotics) team and another grant in the amount of $6,500 was awarded to the High School FRC Robotics Team. There are requirements for matching the grants with donations from businesses and in-kind matching contributions by the district.
We also received $1400 through an MDE grant to reimburse for costs of training principals on an approved teacher evaluation model.
We also received notice that the district will receive $5,805 in Vocational Education funding from the state to support the Agriculture Science/FFA program. This money must be used for training of teachers, travel, curriculum development, supplies, etc. It cannot be used for compensation of existing vocational education program staff.
The district contracts with METS for staffing of substitute bus drivers and any drivers who are new to the district. METS informed us this week that they have a driver, Mark Snay, whom is approved to be placed in the district. I spoke with Mark several times over the last couple of weeks. He started at Caro Schools this fall but he was a substitute and did not work regularly. He will be able to get into a regular route at USA. He will start on the afternoon of Monday, January 4th in either the Lion route or the Butterfly route. This will restore us to 7 bus routes as we have had for several years.
Next week we will post for a temporary, part-time, Dean of Students and Athletic Director. The position will provide much needed support at both buildings for 3.5 to 4 hours/day. We have been unable to find a candidate interested in the opening for Athletic Director at the rate of $3,000 for the remainder of this school year. The Dean of Student’s position would be compensated $10,000 for the remainder of the school year for a combined cost of $13,000 for the position. The similar position held full time by Mr. Bitzer last year, would have cost the district $28,000 in compensation for the remainder of the year. The position is temporary for this year and will be re-evaluated at the end of the school year.
Following the Board meeting last week, I created a “Board Brief” document that provided an explanation of events from the meeting. The Board Brief was shared with all staff and sent to the Tuscola Advertiser, Huron County Tribune and the Newsweekly. I received positive feedback from Mary Drier at the Advertiser and John Bonke from the News Weekly. John then followed up with a request for an article on our ACT Reading scores last year and I sent a press release to him this week for that story. The News Weekly also ran a terrific story about our holiday fundraiser at the Middle School and High School. Hopefully we are opening doors to the media outlets in our area.
As I just mentioned, our ACT scores from last spring have been released and our juniors achieved scores higher than the average of their peers from both counties and the state for most subtests. I am proud of their achievement and the hard work of our teachers in helping them. I will have more information for you later on this subject.
Thank you for anyone who contacted Governor Snyder regarding the campaign finance legislation that would place a gag order on schools and municipalities 60 days from a bond or millage proposal. The current law already defines communication as being limited to only the sharing of factual information related to elections. There has been significant concern from local public bodies across the state on this issue but there has been no communication from the Governor’s office on his intent.
Finally, I have some great news from this morning. Fred Sharpsteen informed me that a federal building in Saginaw is replacing all of their computers and need remove their old ones. The computers are available for free and are of quality that they can be used to replace some our desktop units at teacher workstations in classrooms. The devices are available on Friday, January 8th and we must pick them up and transport to the district at that time.