03-05-2020 More Hartford Schools upgrades in the works: Cash for Classrooms

CASH FOR CLASSROOMS… On Monday, March 2, Grace Christian School Principal Robin McBride (right), along with students Donovan Hooten, Irene Schwarze and Spencer Corwin, accepted a generous $2,500 check from Casey’s General Store of Watervliet. “At Casey’s, we recognize the important role schools play in building stronger communities by preparing children through learning and life skills, and supporting families. With the help of our guests’ involvement and passion for their local communities, we are so excited to give back to these schools across the sixteen states we call home,” expressed Katie Petru, Director of Communications, Casey’s General Stores. The Grace Christian School Family would like to take this opportunity to say “Thank you” to Casey’s General Manager, Tammy Collins, and Casey’s General Stores for this generous gift. Grace Christian School provides a Biblical Christian education for preschool through 12th grade. GCS will host an Open House on March 17 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. with a free chili dinner beginning at 5:00 p.m. They are enrolling now for the 2020-21 school year.


More Hartford Schools upgrades in the works

By Jon Bisnett Acting on the recommendation from the Building and Site Committee, the Hartford School Board is moving forward with the next step to additional capital improvements as they gave approval to bid out the complete remodel and ADA compliance update of restrooms located near to the band and choir rooms along with the restrooms in front of the auditorium and cafeteria. The project is predicated to run in the neighborhood of $280,000. This comes on the heels of a significant investment of a full update of the auditorium which included lighting and audio to compliment the new stage and seating that was a part of the bond initiative of 2015, greatly improving the facility for both student performers and patrons alike.

BOARD RETREAT Feb. 3 Board Policy Updates were first on the agenda at the February Retreat of the Hartford Public School Board held Feb. 3. The line items received their first reading to then be acted upon at the February Business Meeting on Feb. 17, following a second reading. District Goals Superintendent Andy Hubbard identified four areas he has targeted for ongoing improvement within the school system which served as talking points for the evening. Student Achievement- Utilizing the goals developed in the District Improvement Plan. Facility Planning & Maintenance- Create an Updated Facilities Assessment, with annual updates. Communications- Create an annual communications plan. Strategic Plan- Review and update current plan.

BUSINESS MEETING Feb. 17 Finance Typical monthly bills were presented and paid. Business Manager Rebecca Drake noted at the school board meeting on Monday, Feb. 17 that the recent purchase of new outdoor security cameras for both the high school and middle school was made possible by State of Michigan Safety Grant Funding. Thanks goes out to VBISD’s Gary Brown for writing this grant on behalf of all the public schools in Van Buren County. Additionally, Drake noted the purchase of the carpet extractor for the middle school with Capital Outlay Funding; also, a new scissor lift was acquired via Capital Outlay, and several large book purchases with ELL grant funding. Personnel Transportation driver Mary Radtke will retire effective June 12, 2020. Mary has been with Hartford Schools for the past 13 years. She plans to continue operating Ms. Mary’s Driving School which has aided many local teens in getting their first driver’s license. The board approved terms of the contract for Kara Weberg to fulfill the role of District Payroll and Accounting Specialist. Kara joins the Central Office team equipped with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance from Western Michigan University. Kara is a 2013 Hartford graduate. Her resume includes a background of working with the Watervliet Fire Department and Rieth-Riley Construction performing accounts payable and payroll with both prior employers.

Business Vice President Mike Banic presided over the second reading and approval of Board Policy Updates as follows: Regular NEOLA updates; Special NEOLA update; Law Change – School Aid Act Section 166: Prohibitions; new Communication Policy as was recommended from the district’s recent Communication Audit; updating of Finance Policies as were recommended during the most recent District Financial Audit. In other business the board approved conference expenses for Mike Banic and Rick Vawter to attend the Michigan Association of School Boards Winter Institute held on February 22 and an MASB Workshop on March 14. Final approval was granted to the 2020 Senior Class Trip to Orlando, Florida with teachers Araya Stillson and Heather McNitt as perennial organizers and chaperones. The trip entails four days and three nights from April 27 to the 30th. Forty-six students attending paid a cost of $995 each for the all-inclusive trip. The board also gave thumbs up for the initial request of an overseas student trip to Europe scheduled for July of 2021. Able Robles and Araya Stillson gave a presentation on the proposed trip. The 10-day excursion is planned to include stops in London, Paris and Madrid in a comprehensive package offered by EF Educational Tours, recognized as one the premier travel agencies specializing in student travel abroad. The trip is offered to all current underclassmen at a cost of $4,370. Robles reported 20 students are already registered and made deposits. Administrative Reports Brad Geesaman, Nick Blackmer and Chris Quist presented a detailed report to the board concerning mid-year data (STAR Reading, STAR Math, Delta Math) along with a further update from the curriculum. Geesaman made specific mention that 24 members of the current district staff are fully funded by grant programs. Student Representative Jacob Morales spoke of the new upcoming Winter Formal. Board Members Rick Vawter told of the Redwood Elementary Parent Teacher Organization hosting of a very well-attended Daddy Daughter Dance and is now in the planning stages for a Mom and Son bowling event. Vawter also reminded board members of the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet held on Feb. 27 at the Van Buren Sportsman’s Club in Hartford. Mike Banic spoke as a member of the Hartford Township Planning Commission in announcing a public invitation to an Open House as an opportunity for residents to weigh in on the Township’s Master Plan update currently in process. The event was held Monday, March 2 at Hartford Township Hall. Superintendent Report Superintendent Andy Hubbard was pleased to announce that a director has been hired for the high school – middle school musical this year following a one-year hiatus. The tentative date is the weekend of March 27. Hubbard extended thanks to Araya Stillson and Heather McNitt for their work to make the senior trip possible once again, and further kudos to Stillson and Able Robles for offering the European trip to Hartford students. Book vending machines slated for Redwood Elementary arrived earlier in February. Unfortunately, damage occurred during shipping to the degree they need to be returned. Hubbard is working with the company on an expected delivery date for the replacement units.

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