02-15-2018 School Board shown appreciation by Coloma students of all ages; Keeler Twp. will ask vote

School Board shown appreciation by Coloma students of all ages

By Annette Christie From pre-school to high school, students in all grades showed their appreciation to the Coloma School Board at their Monday, February 12 meeting. The adorable children from the pre-school started off the celebration with song. Three intermediate school students introduced a video starring their fellow classmates that shared what the students were thankful for and what they would do if they were a school board member. Thanks were given for books, Chromebooks, buses, maintaining the buildings, the athletic programs, and safe schools just to name a few. Of the appreciation video presentation, School Board member Doug LeClear said, “This is the best one I have ever seen.” The junior high segment featured the Robotics Club and the students involved reviewed what they loved about the program and thanked the Board of Education for their support of it. High school principal Dave Ehlers bragged about the varsity boys’ basketball team that is undefeated and, on a little more unknown subject, mentioned the school’s Academic Challenge Team which is also undefeated. The Student Council representatives spoke about their upcoming Winterfest events, the upcoming dance, and pep rally. They are starting a tutoring program with the National Honor Society members for students in junior high and high school. Their upcoming service project is “Pennies for Patients,” with a fundraising goal of $750. Three high school students, members of the band, had just recently received 1st Division ratings at Solo and Ensemble and are able to go to the state competition. They performed for the school board in appreciation of their support for the arts.

School Finance Research Collaborative findings For the business portion of the meeting, Superintendent Pete Bush informed the board about the findings of the School Finance Research Collaborative. The comprehensive statewide study was just released in January and demonstrates the need for reform of Michigan’s school funding system. The study shows that the base cost of educating a student is $9,590. The foundation allowance given to Coloma Public Schools for each student is $7,631. The key finds of the study are as follows: The base per-pupil cost to educate a regular education K-12 student in Michigan is $9,590 which does not include transportation, food service or capital costs, and only includes pension costs of 4.9% of wages; charter and traditional public schools should be funded equally; it costs $14,155 to educate a preschool student age 3 or 4; in addition to the base per-pupil cost, a percentage of the base cost should be provided for special education, English Language Learners, students living in poverty and programs to provide Career and Technical Education; transportation costs should be funded at $973 per rider until further study can be carried out; and because Michigan’s school district sizes very widely and small districts lack economies of scale, district size must be taken into account, with funding increases provided for all districts under 7,500 students. Bush said there is a little good news coming from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in that he would like to provide the largest increase in per pupil funding in a very long time, increasing the amounts per student from $120-$240 each. Bush said that would be a 3% increase per student and would be the largest percentage they have seen in 15 years if that actually is approved by legislators. In addition, Snyder wants the amounts received by cyber schools to be reduced to 75% of the standard foundation allowance for students. Other business The district will be posting a 30-day notice that it will be destroying special education records prior to 1993 this summer. They will post the official notice in the Tri-City Record in plenty of time for the required posting. In more news from the state, Bush told the board that the Michigan Department of Education is putting together a task force to look at the educator shortage that Michigan is facing. While the number of educators isn’t necessarily down, the numbers of certified teachers that are actually going into teach is. The task force will look at ways to address the shortage. Bush revealed the recently released data on “Mi School Data.” He went over the options available on the website and provided ways for the Board of Education to look at the data. The district has provided information to parents to alert them of its availability. The link to the state’s website is on the Coloma Schools website. Bush said he wishes that more parents would ask administrators if they have questions about what they are seeing in the data and to get clarification. “I think it’s a good tool, I’m just not sure how well it is used,” Bush said.

2017-18 Strategic Goals Bush provided a Strategic Goals update to the board. The strategic goals for 2017-2018 are as follows: Increase student achievement and reduce gaps through precise, individualized learning, aligned with targeted outcomes; improve communications to create higher levels of awareness, trust, and Comet Pride; create a campus community where students and families are welcomed, involved and interested; and develop a plan for capital and facility improvements/ maintenance that supports the financial health and sustainability of the district long-term and reflects Comet Pride. Bush reviewed the objectives and some of the actions being taken to reach the goals. Some discussion was held about some of the outcomes they have seen at this point. The strategic plan for the district is available on their website.

Keeler Twp. will ask voters to renew millages

By Annette Christie The Keeler Township Board discussed their millages that are set to expire at the end of 2018 and decided to ask voters to renew them. At their Monday, February 6 meeting, Supervisor Bill Kays said that the three millages for fire, police, and roads have all been rolled back due to Headlee but said if they tried to get them back to the original level, they would have to ask for new millages vs. asking for a renewal millage. When they were originally voted in fire was at 1.0 mill, police was at .75 a mill, and roads were 1.0 mill. Their exact level at this point is unknown but the board will revisit it at their March meeting where they will approve the exact language for the ballot with the exact amounts. It is scheduled for the August ballot. The board also set Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. for their budget workshop for next year’s budget. The board held a public hearing at the beginning of their meeting for the 5-year Recreation Plan as required. There were no comments made. They have some slight changes to the wording of the plan but overall, it remained the same. Once the small changes are made it will be available on their website. The last time the township updated their plan, they sent out surveys to all residents and only received about 40 back. In this go around the township provided it on their website and put the word out in and around the township. Supervisor Bill Kays said they received about 100 responses to the survey. The survey included questions about lake use, Lions Club Park use, desire for walking trails, and an overall wish list. Kays told the board that he spoke to Trident Dock and Dredge regarding some complaints about bubbler usage on Magician Lake. Kays said that one resident has some pretty heavy duty bubblers that are creating 30’ x 300’ of open water. While the township does not have an ordinance to regulate this, Kays did have success in speaking with the company that installs and monitors them. He said that after speaking to them, he went back out and checked the area to find that it was remedied. Kays said that Trident Dock and Dredge said they will work with the township to avoid the problem of large areas of open water when needed. Kays announced that information was received from the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office regarding new caution signs being put up to alert drivers of horse and buggy areas. Bangor Township and the surrounding communities, including Hartford, Lawrence, and Arlington Townships, are seeing an influx of Amish families moving into the area. The announcement stated that horse and buggy caution signs are now being placed around the rural country roads as the horse and buggy is the main transportation for the Amish. Buggies are required by state law to have a “slow moving vehicle” placard on the backs of the vehicles. Many buggies are equipped with red LED flashing lights on the back and amber lights on the front. Authorities are asking drivers to be reminded that they should not pass too close to the buggy as the horse could be spooked; to slow down when driving over a hill or a knoll such as on CR 681, CR 687 or 48th Avenue, as there could be a buggy and the driver might be unable to stop; and to pass wide and slow as many accidents have been caused by a car passing too close and catching the back wheel of the buggy.

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