02-23-2017 WHS Winterfest; Watervliet DDA consulted WMU students; Hartford School Board approves wei

WATERVLIET HS WINTERFEST 2017 PRINCE & PRINCESS CANDIDATES… pictured (from the left) are: Gustavo Cardoso Jr., Kylee Warren, Omar Cardoso, Emma Armstrong, Cole Pline, and Zoe Mast. A pep assembly is planned for Friday, Feb. 24 with games following the theme “Panthers are Out of the World” and the crowning of prince and princess


Watervliet DDA consulted WMU students on Little City, Big Dreams

Editor’s note: The Watervliet City Development Challenge was an experiential learning activity that was designed to help develop and test MBA students’ strategic analysis and planning skills while immersing them in an unforgettable community-based challenge. The key outcome was to provide the officials of Watervliet a thoroughly analyzed and vetted idea including financial plans and feasibility numbers as well as other outcome-based metrics.

Watervliet, Michigan—a location on M-140 and I-94 with a population of 1,843, is a small town that has the potential to become the “Biggest Little City in Michigan” according to members of its downtown development authority and MBA students in Dr. Derrick McIver’s strategic management course.

Jim Shymkus, a member of the Downtown Development Authority’s Place Committee, approached McIver, assistant professor of management, to see if consulting with the city on ways to develop unused parcels of land flanking an old mill site on the Paw Paw River would be of interest. It was, and students got to work on developing four proposals for the city: two that were designed to improve quality of life and two that were designed for revenue generation.

In the quality of life category, the students proposed two parks. First, they outlined plans for the Paper Mill District Park, with recreation options including a playground, splash pad, kayak rental, basketball courts, dog park and more. The second park, the River’s Edge Community Park, would feature nature trails, a riverwalk and an amphitheater.

In the revenue generating area, the MBA consulting team proposed a Cork and Brew Museum, which would capitalize on Watervliet’s oldest brewery as well as the strong history of beer and wine making in the state. With exhibits and beer and wine tastings, the space would be a one-of-a-kind attraction in Michigan. The second proposed project was The River’s Edge Reception Hall and Community Center, a multi-purpose event space for weddings, corporate retreats and youth activities.

“This was a unique opportunity to take on a major challenge that is common among many cities in Michigan and across the country,” says McIver. “It provided the opportunity for our students to learn how to strategically analyze and understand a problem and develop possible solutions in a project-based, experiential learning exercise.”

The experience of working on this project hit home for student Tina McNeil, “I am from a small town, so I could really relate to this project. I learned a lot about Watervliet’s issues and desires—wanting to establish the town as a destination for tourists and a community attractive to young professionals. Their challenges mirror those of so many towns in our area. Meeting with residents and city officials, I was inspired by how invested everyone was in the city’s success.”

The partnership with the city was a good one; McIver notes that city officials were collaborative and open to new ideas.

“I was very impressed by the students’ work and the depth of their analysis,” says Bob Becker, chair of Watervliet’s Downtown Development Authority board of directors. “Having MBA students with experience in a variety of industries provided a cross-functional team that delivered great ideas and data. It would have cost us thousands of dollars to hire a consulting team of this caliber.”

And the cost savings for Watervliet did not end there. The students’ proposals for park development came in at $20 million less than estimates for redevelopment of the site previously provided by the county.

“Now, it’s up to us,” says Becker. “Improvements of this type take time and happen in stages, but we have some solid concepts for ways to add value to our city and make it fresh and appealing not only to tourists but also to new residents who will help shape the town and its future.”

WATERVLIET HS WINTERFEST 2017 KING & QUEEN CANDIDATES… pictured (from the left) are: Jessica Flagel, Matthew Lambrecht, Lauren Matthews, Jake Speck, Maggie Lynch, Carlos Hernandez, Emily Fellows, Brent Simmons, and Alexis Fillmore. Not pictured is Jobe Kerr. Winterfest will be celebrated Friday, February 24 during the Panther varsity basketball games, girls at 6:00 p.m. and boys at 7:30 p.m., against the Bangor Vikings. A dance will follow the game in the high school cafeteria until 11:00 p.m.


Hartford School Board approves weighted GPA, adds 5-point grade

By Jon Bisnett

The Hartford School Board is among the first in Southwest Michigan to formally endorse a “weighted” Grade Point Average (GPA) grading system for high school students beginning with the Class of 2018. The approval came during the February 16 business session and will grade students participating in Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment College Courses on a 5-point scale, rather than the traditional 4-point, with the intention to raise the GPA reflecting a more appropriate reward in line with the difficulty level of the course work. It is the board’s understanding that several Michigan college and universities queried stated that they would use the higher “weighted” GPA score, not so much for determining admission, but would be reported for the purpose of scholarships.

Personnel contract amendments

 Superintendent Andy Hubbard detailed adjustments to the contracts of technology specialists Kim DeBoom and Robert Sheffey to better reflect the actual amount of hours worked to maintain the district technology systems. DeBoom will be now paid at 219 days and Sheffey 221 days while continuing to log their hours recognizing that technology is a moving target and may require an amendment in the coming year should additional tasks be assigned.

Middle School Washington D.C. trip

Permission was formally granted for the 8th-grade trip to our nation’s capital scheduled for Tuesday, May 30 through Saturday, June 3. The tour arranged by staffer Jennifer Stubbs will include visits to the National Memorials plus Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian, Ford Theater and a ceremony placing a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.

NEOLA policy updates

 Approval was given to the most recent recommended updates to policy from the NEOLA law firm. NEOLA serves as ongoing policy consultant on a contract basis to the district with documentation customized to the state and district’s unique circumstances via choices made by the school board and administrative team.

New business

 Varsity Football Coach Brad Manning presented a new fall fundraising program for student athletics by the selling of 3’x 8’ advertising banners to be displayed in Indian Stadium. Manning assured the board that all proposed ad copy will be first reviewed by the superintendent. Vice President Mike Banic, sitting in for President Chambers on the evening, commented, “I just want us all to understand that we’re not a Division I college looking to have advertising covering every inch of our campus…”

That being said, with the respect to constant challenge of school funding on all fronts, unanimous approval was granted for the advertising program.

Model U.N. trip

 High school teacher Danny Brinninstool secured approval for his team of “worldly” students to participate in the Mid-America Model United Nations March 7-11 at the Radisson Plaza in Kalamazoo. MAMUN is a challenging program wherein students represent countries and platforms in a mock United Nations format. Hartford will represent Somalia and Peru during the 2017 event. It is notable that Hartford’s participation In MAMUN is literally unheard of from a school of the local demographic. The majority of participants are more typically upscale private schools with a specific World Affairs curriculum, yet Hartford has successfully participated for over a decade and during that time has brought home several honors and certificates of merit for their efforts.

Strategic Plan

 Superintendent Hubbard reported that the new Professional Development Committee held its meeting and has elected officers. Curriculum Director will attend their next meeting to begin the process of curriculum mapping.

Board reports

 HPSB Trustee Rick Vawter reported of a recent workshop on student discipline he attended along with Superintendent Hubbard. Vawter touched on points that will be affected by changes in state law, including the need to publish a formal Code of Conduct in addition to what is already contained in the student handbook and board policy.

Nuances to rules include such items as decals or posters stating “Video Cameras In Use” in the school and on buses. The seminar spoke to a legal point in the case of a non-weapon or gun, (e.g. knife blade less than 3-inches,) that the burden of proof is upon the student as any possible justification of possessing the contraband item in school. Legal application of restraints was discussed, while also noting that the rules are different for students 5th-grade and below.

Vawter also covered policy whereby any suspension hearing must be adjudicated with the presumption no suspension initially as the evidence is presented.

By law, any expulsion or suspension must minimally consider – age – discipline history – disability – seriousness of the behavior – potential safety risk – restorative practices and whether lesser interventions could address the problem.

The report prompted the board to question revisiting its own policy which currently handles suspensions and expulsion at the board level. Vice President Mike Banic said, “It may be time to look at this again… we’ve done it both ways over the years…”

Hubbard was quick to add that school administrators by law may only suspend a student up to 10 days. Suspensions of anything over 10 days and expulsions must come before the board by law of the State of Michigan.

Superintendent report

 Andy Hubbard talked briefly in regard to the countywide survey on the balanced calendar school year. Hubbard believes there is just too wide of span of opinions to see all schools in the county get behind the concept.

Construction at “Redwood” is moving ahead, taking full advantage of the mild winter. Gymnasium walls and roof are in place. Floors are being poured this week in the gym and adjacent kitchen. Walls are up and ready to receive exterior brick at the new classroom addition. Crews are waiting on the arrival of a large crane which is temporarily unable to travel until frost loads come off local roads. Give or take a week, all is on schedule despite some local rumors to the contrary.

Hubbard reported six of the seven schools in Region 7 are now formally committed to the Reading Now Network. RNN is composed of school superintendents from 13 West Michigan counties as a collective effort of superintendents, school boards and school districts throughout West Michigan to improve early literacy and, ultimately, student achievement across all grade levels

Having no further business Vice President Banic adjourned the meeting at 7:52 p.m.

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