HAPPY BIRTHDAY… Nona Anderson, a resident of White Oaks Assisted Living, Lawton, turned 100 years old on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. She was born in Minnesota, and operated a dime store in downtown Hartford from 1966 to 1985. She has four children, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Hartford School Board seeks city and township to join Community Marketing Campaign
By Jon Bisnett At the February 8 Hartford School Board Work Study trustees invited officials from both the City of Hartford and Hartford Township to start discussion of the possibility of a joint promotional marketing campaign for the community. Several Board members attended a presentation by Collen King at a recent Michigan Association of School Boards event. King Media is a marketing firm with offices in Lansing and St. Joseph with a client list including several Michigan school districts that enlisted the firm for “rebranding” and promotional work. A committee was formed of trustees Mike Banic, Lisa Johnson and Rick Vawter who subsequently came up with an initial finding that any proper marketing effort needs to encompass the community not just the school for success; prompting the invitations extended to the adjacent municipal leaders. Vice President Mike Banic commented “We already know that radio is just about completely unaffordable… we need to find a cheaper way to get our message out… we’re looking for families who will buy homes and factories to bring jobs here…” Banic further referred to the need to dispel outdated negative perceptions of the community as a whole. Johnson added her frustration with viral social-media that spreads negatives like wildfire. She commented, “We have a lot of great things going on here that just never gets out to the public…” Vawter simply added the next course of action would be for the committee to meet with city and township officials to develop a list of goals and expectations from which King Media can create a formal proposal and cost for services. City Manager Yemi Akinwale spoke briefly to the subject of available development property and his work with a new program through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – “Redevelopment Ready Communities.” Akinwale is already personally certified for the program and will soon have the city qualified to apply for program benefits. Mayor Rick Hall complimented recent improvements to the School District newsletter and looks forward along with his counterpart Township Supervisor Ron Sefcik to advance the conversation at a joint committee meeting. Curriculum Board Secretary Jason Meachum questioned progress regarding implementation of Advanced Placement classes at the high school. Not to be confused with more Honors Courses, which are simply more advanced versions of standard high school courseware. AP is specific national curriculum from a program of 38 exams and courses dating back to the 1950s run by non-profit College Board, the makers of the SAT (Standard Aptitude Test), that allows students to take advanced college-level courses in high school that may earn college credit. AP classes are generally accepted to improve admission to Ivy League and similar highly sought-after more discriminating institutions. High schools offer the optional classes to typically augment their course catalog with respect to Honors classes, Dual Enrollment at local community colleges and the general needs of the college-bound members of the student body. Superintendent Andy Hubbard outlined the current status of AP with senior AP Calculus available since 2016-2017. Future plans include expansion to offer both AP Calculus and AP Language & Composition in the coming year. The planning stages include a third potential offering in the form of AP Literature & Composition – tentatively scheduled, but dependent on the success of APs in 2018-2019. Having no further business President Chambers adjourned the meeting. The board meets next for its monthly Business Session on February 22.
Watervliet school board approves non-homestead millage increase request for May vote
By Kristy Noack The Watervliet Board of Education approved a measure Monday, February 12, 2018 that will put a request in front of voters to restore the mills levied on non-homestead properties within the school district to 18 mills. According to Superintendent Kevin Schooley, the district’s finance committee met on January 25 to discuss the request. Schooley explained that schools receive funding from two primary sources: state and local governments. The state assumes local government will levy 18 mills on non-homestead property. Non-homestead property is defined as second homes, commercial properties, industrial buildings, and the like. When property tax values increase faster than the cost of living index, the number of mills being levied can fall below 18. School districts can only levy 18 mills; they cannot go higher. Currently, the Watervliet school district is collecting 17.9498 mills. The board, following the finance committee’s recommendation, approved a resolution and ballot language requesting a 1 mill restoration on the May 8, 2018 ballot. The last time the district placed this issue in front of voters was in 2011. While the request for 1 mill will put the total mills at 18.9498, the district can only collect 18 mills. The balance, according to Schooley, “will guard against future Headlee rollbacks.” Schooley advised he would hold meetings with anyone who would like additional information. Both he and school board president Bill Spaulding were quick to point out the one mill request was not a new tax, it was simply restoring the mills levied back to 18, its previous amount.
Trips approved for band and wrestling Two overnight trip requests were presented to the board for consideration. Brandon Mattson, the elementary music instructor and director of the choir, requested the board approve an overnight trip to Mackinac Island for his fourth- and fifth-grade children’s choir. The choir is an after school, extracurricular club. Forty-eight students and 33 chaperones will make the trip, which departs May 21 and returns May 22. While on the island, the students will stay at the Grand Hotel, receive music instruction and participate in clinics, and will perform at the Mackinac Island public school. The request by Mattson was approved. Six wrestlers from the school’s varsity wrestling program qualified for regional competition. Therefore, a request was given to the board to allow the six wrestlers and coaches Dan Isbrecht and Tom Isbrecht to stay overnight on Friday, February 16 in Greenville, Michigan. The wrestlers will participate in regional wrestling competition Saturday, February 17 in Carson City and return home that evening. The request was approved. Wrestlers headed to regionals are: Trever Pelton, Alex Isbrecht, Anthony Wade, Matt Melcher, Klayton Marshall, and Dylan Lynch.
Youngsters steal the show Students from South Elementary School showered the board members with colorful canvas handprints, bright smiles, and a special presentation as part of January’s Board Appreciation Month. Originally, the little ones were scheduled to be at January’s meeting, but school was cancelled that day due to inclement weather. The program was then moved to February and, as always, the little ones stole the show. South Elementary Young 5s program also shared their talents with the board. Members of the program showcased their fine motor skills, demonstrated self-control, and presented how to work around and with their fellow students all in an effort to increase their physical activity. Susan Toothman, director of curriculum, gave the board members coloring books courtesy of Mary Sibley’s AP Computer Science Principles class, as gifts to celebrate board appreciation month. Toothman advised the students in Sibley’s class created the coloring books by coding each drawing. The board received bound coloring books as well as the codes used to make each drawing. Linda Zuniga was on hand at the meeting to discuss the South School’s Health and Wellness Team. Zuniga, the chair of the team, shared the group received a $500 grant offered through Michigan State University and Blue Cross Blue Shield. The grant was given to “implement healthy parties and celebrations,” Zuniga stated. One of the goals, Zuniga shared, is to introduce “balance” into kids’ snacks. This week, during the school’s Valentine’s Day celebration, students were able to create their own fruit parfaits.
A.D. Dietz provided update on drug testing for athletes High School Athletic Director Ken Dietz was on hand to give the board an update regarding the school’s drug testing policy. Now currently in its second year, random drug screening continues at the school in all three sport seasons: fall, winter, and spring. Dietz explained participants in winter sports numbered 87 student-athletes this year. Each student is identified by a random number. Then, 20% of that number is drawn, also randomly. Only after the drug testing date is set and numbers are randomly drawn for testing are student names associated with the numbers. On the day of the drug screen, students are taken to the A.D. office while nurses administer the tests. Of the 87 athletes pulled for the random screen two weeks ago, only one test was positive. “This has been a very preventable thing for us,” Dietz said. “This is not a game of ‘gotchya.’”
Isbrecht nominated for Parent Advisory Committee Excellence in Education award Schooley shared exciting news that Mark Isbrecht, transportation director of Watervliet school district, has been nominated for the PAC Excellence in Education award. He is one of 11 nominees. The winner will be announced March 13. “He is really networked in and works to solve transportation issues that would inhibit getting a child to where he or she needs to be,” Schooley remarked. “He has a gift in figuring out how to get things done.”
Payments and admiration The board approved payment of January expenses in the amount of $1,019,900.17. Of that figure, $730,321.88 was related to payroll expenses. Schooley also publicly acknowledged the district’s administrative team, which includes principals Brad Coon, Dave Armstrong, Dave Kindt, Joe Allen, and Carole Fetke as well as Lisa LaValley, Susan Toothman, Ken Dietz, Molly VanDeWege, June Altom, and Mark Isbrecht. Schooley said, “They put a lot of time and effort into the school and students. I want to thank them for all their work they do for the kids in their care.”