USA School Staff Update

Welcome back from spring vacation!

STAFF NEWS

  • Congratulations to Aaron and Katelyn Aikens on the delivery of their baby boy Carson.
  • Congratulations to Isaiah and Sarah Gainforth on the arrival of daughter Teagen.
  • Welcome, and thank you, to Angie Noah for substituting one day each week to continue providing an art experience for our Elementary students.
  • Dave Good has reason to be proud of his son, Daniel, who received the MHSAA Scholar Athlete Award and was recognized at MSU's Breslin Center, during the boy's basketball state finals.
  • We received news Saturday that Sally Adams is at U of M Medical Center after suffering an aneurysm. Although she remains is critical condition, the latest update sounds more positive.
(Please let Kristen or Lisa in central office know when we miss something so we can share news with all staff.)

Technology Bond and Sinking Fund Proposals May 3rd

On May 3rd polls will be open at USA Middle School for residents to vote on two separate proposals:
  • A technology bond proposal that will allow the district to update technology across the district. This will include adding the number of devices available for teachers to use with students, replacing teacher workstations and increasing security components such as cameras and door lock systems.
  • A sinking fund proposal will allow for improvements of facilities to make the buildings and grounds as energy efficient and safe as possible for staff and students.
  • THE INITIATIVES WILL NOT INCREASE EXISTING SCHOOL MILLAGE RATES.

Snow Days - when is our last day of school?

Despite a mild start to the winter, school has been cancelled 11 days. Schools are allowed to cancel up to six days. As of April 4th, we must add five days of instruction resulting in the last day of school for students being Tuesday, June 14th (half-day only).

There is a process through which schools may appeal for additional forgiven days. Some schools in our area have submitted an appeal but I do not know of any who have received additional forgiven days through that process.

Middle School Building Changes

Next year, the middle school and high school office staff will work from the high school office area. Renovations are planned over the summer to accommodate the combined staff. The consolidation of administrative services in one location will improve efficiency and support for all staff and students in grades 6-12. After much consideration, we also believe that middle school students and teachers would be best served by having classrooms closer to the office area, but separated as much as possible from the high school students. We will meet to review this plan with staff and listen to input and suggestions. The meeting will be held in the High School Library at 4:00 pm on Thursday, April 7th.

March Board Briefing


USA Board of Education

BOARD BRIEF

March 15, 2016 Regular Meeting


Consent Agenda

  1. Minutes - February 8, 2016

  2. Payables - General Fund- $360,314.01; Food Service - $7,026.61; Capital Projects - $130.00

  3. Approve Hiring - Travis Vella, Bus Driver - Travis has been driving for the district as a contracted employee through METS for the last year and a half. He has maintained a perfect safety record and maintains positive relationships with students and the parents of students on his bus. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to add Travis to our staff.


Board Presentations

  1. Junior High Soccer Program Proposal - Kevin Kuhl, USA Varsity Soccer Coach, presented a proposal to form a soccer team for students in grades 6-8. Several other schools, including Harbor Beach, Bad Axe, Lakers and Marlette are interested in forming teams to compete during the High School soccer season. He would like to start a Jr. High girls team as early as this spring. The Athletics Council will consider the proposal and make a recommendation to the Board.

  2. Digital Citizenship Program - The safe and appropriate use of content on the internet is an important safety issue for our students and families. Fred Sharpsteen and Craig Pfenninger presented an overview of the digital citizenship curriculum for students at the elementary school. The USA Elementary School is working toward a Certificate of Digital Citizenship offered by Common Sense Education (www.commonsensemedia.org/eductors)

  3. Summer Construction Update - Provided an update on plans for the renovation of the High School Office this summer to add a more secure entrance and accommodate additional staff from the Middle School Office, which will be closing. Bid documents will be made available to contractors on March 24th and bids will be due on April 14th.


Old Business

  1. Second Reading and Adoption - Continuing Disclosure Policy - Adopt this policy related to requirements for reporting changes in financial conditions which could impact the ability of the district to meet financial obligations for debt payments.



New Business

  1. Friend of Youth - Approved the nomination of Libby Trieber to represent the district as the USA Friend of Youth at the Thumb Meet of Champions in Caro on Tuesday, May 26.

  2. Grievance 4 of 2015-16 - A grievance filed by the USEA regarding the implementation this year of a new teacher evaluation system. The Board denied the original grievance at the regular board meeting held on December 14th. The grievance was amended and resubmitted. The USEA argued that the implementation of the 5D+ Teacher Evaluation Process is in violation. The system was one of four that were approved by the Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness and is the only one endorsed by the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals. District legal counsel advised the board to deny the grievance. The grievance was denied.

  3. Grievance 5 of 2015-16 - A grievance filed by the USEA requesting compensation under the salary schedule of the new bargaining agreement for the period between the time the agreement was ratified by the USEA (September 1, 2016) and the time it was approved by the Board of Education on September 14th. Public Act 54 of 2011, states: “(2) Except as provided in subsection (3)*, the parties to a collective bargaining agreement shall not agree to, and an arbitration panel shall not order, any retroactive wage or benefit levels or amounts that are greater than those in effect on the expiration date of the collective bargaining agreement.” In compliance with PA 54, the grievance was denied. (*Subsection (3) - For a collective bargaining agreement that expired before the effective date of this section, the requirements of this section apply to limit wages and benefits to the levels and amounts in effect on the effective date of this section.)

  4. Grievance 6 of 2015-16 - The USEA requested compensation for health insurance cap amounts that were frozen, by law, when the previous contract expired on June 30, 2015. The state determines the insurance “cap”, or maximum, that public schools can contribute to employee health insurance. Implementation of the increased insurance cap amounts was delayed from the expiration date of the previous contract on June 30, 2015 until September 14, 2015 at which time a new contract was in place. In compliance with Public Act 54 of 2011, the grievance was denied.

*Subsection (3) - For a collective bargaining agreement that expired before the effective date of this section, the requirements of this section apply to limit wages and benefits to the levels and amounts in effect on the effective date of this section.


  1. Grievance 6 of 2015-16 - The USEA requested compensation for health insurance cap amounts that were frozen, by law, when the previous contract expired on June 30, 2015. The state determines the insurance “cap”, or maximum, that public schools can contribute to employee health insurance. Implementation of the increased insurance cap amounts was delayed from the expiration date of the previous contract on June 30, 2015 until September 14, 2015 at which time a new contract was in place. In compliance with Public Act 54 of 2011, the grievance was denied.


Principal’s Reports:

Mr. Pfenninger - USA Elementary School participated in a Jump Rope for Heart event under the leadership of P.E. Teacher Danielle Aeder. Teachers Tyler Bader and Nick Meldrum attended the Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning Conference in Grand Rapids. A meeting is scheduled on March 16th for parents enrolling children in kindergarten this fall.


Mr. Hahn - Middle School students participated in second trimester reward day last week. The High School is preparing to register students for their 2016-2017 classes. Several guest speakers are planned for the last trimester of the school year covering topics such as teenagers and the law, consequences of inappropriate use of smart phones and social media, how to apply for a summer job, etc.



Superintendent’s Report:

  1. Pre-School Program - There is a wait list to get into preschool programs in the area. USA Elementary School currently hosts a Head Start program for 3 and 4 year olds that is operated by NEMCSA. That program expanded to full day and reduced enrollment from 36 to 18 children. In order to serve more families, the district is currently exploring the possibility of adding a preschool classroom to serve four year olds.

  2. 2016-2017 Calendar - The MDE changed the number of required days of school from 175 to 180 starting in the 2016-17 school year. Administration and USEA representatives are working on a calendar for consideration at the April 11 board meeting.

  3. Elementary Physical Education Class - Mrs. Aeder led the elementary school students in a jump rope for heart event recently. The press release is attached. We have lacked a full time PE teacher at the elementary for several years. The addition of a teacher who has a primary focus on student’s health and wellness has made a difference this year.

  4. Bullying Prevention Program - A recent post on the US Dept of Education website highlighted effective practices in preventing bullying in schools. The blog referenced the use of Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) and the use of programs such as “Stop, Walk, Talk:” to improve behaviors and discourage bullying. We use both a PBIS system and the “Stop, Walk, Talk” strategy in our Elementary and Middle Schools.

  5. Excess snow days - The district closed due to weather on 10 days this year. The state allows schools only six days for weather before having to add a day for each day lost. This will extend the school year for students from Tuesday, June 7th to Monday, June 13th. We do not have any days other than Good Friday and Spring Break to make up the days lost so the only option is to add them to the end of the calendar. The state does offer a new application process for schools to request additional forgiven time, however that is not currently under consideration.

  6. 2016-2017 State School Aid Budget - Governor Snyder’s school aid budget proposal included a new 50/50 formula for determining state aid. The formula would combine 50% of the previous year winter count with 50% of the current year fall count to determine “blended” student enrollment for state aid purposes. The new formula would help districts where declining enrollment is significantly reducing revenue each school year. Schools would also have knowledge of 50% of the revenue for budgeting purposes as opposed to the current 10/90 formula with only 10% of state aid based on previous winter enrollment.