03-23-2017 Eric Laws joins Watervliet Board of Education; Middle School/High School Open House set f

Eric Laws joins Watervliet Board of Education; Middle School/High School Open House set for April 29

By Kristy Noack

Eric Laws was appointed to the Watervliet Public School’s Board of Education Monday in the first meeting held at the middle school/high school media center following Phase 2 construction. He filled the seat vacated by Kate Attila-Hyska.

Laws is currently employed by the Whirlpool Corporation as an engineering manager at the Edgewater Technology Center in St. Joseph. He has been with Whirlpool for 13 years.

Eric Laws

Laws is originally from Tennessee and has lived in Watervliet for four years. His wife Angela is employed by Watervliet Public Schools as a fifth grade language arts teacher at North Elementary. The couple has two daughters, McKaylen, a first-grade student at South Elementary, and Lauren, a fifth-grade student at North Elementary.

The board received “four quality candidates,” according to Superintendent Kevin Schooley, for the open position.

Schooley touted the experience Laws has with “team building skills and data based decision making” as characteristics that will benefit the board.

In addition to his seat on the board, Laws was appointed to the negotiations/personnel, superintendent review, school board policy review, and curriculum committees.

Trustee Troy Boone was replaced on the school board policy review by Laws. Boone has upcoming commitments that may conflict with regularly scheduled meetings. Boone received a new role on the negotiations/personnel committee. He previously held the role of alternate; he will now serve as a regular member.

Open House set for April 29

Schooley provided the board with a Phase 2 construction update. The remaining items open on the contract are simple punch list items including touch up painting, replacement of outlet covers, and the like. There are no large to-do items open. According to Schooley, “We’re about done.”

Schooley also advised that an open house will be held Saturday, April 29 from 10:00 a.m. until noon. The middle and high schools will be open for the community to roam the halls to see the improvements in infrastructure and technology.

The board’s facility committee will be meeting soon to review a list of potential projects. Schooley reported there is $1.8 million in additional scope money still available for projects. Some of the money has been received through rebates, and the district has until June 2019 to complete any projects it decides to undertake.

1:1 computing initiative approved

The board approved the 1:1 computing initiative at a hardware cost not to exceed $130,000. The program, which essentially recommends one laptop for each student in grades nine through 12 to use in and out of the classroom, was researched by Curriculum Director Susan Toothman. According to Schooley, the cost of the program has been approved by the district’s bond council and financial advisor.

Toothman spent six months researching the 1:1 program. She advised the board that Chrome books would be offered to the students, and plenty of thought and research has gone into determining the merits of the program. Teachers will be offered boot camps to learn the computers, and Watervliet personnel will be collaborating with Eau Claire and Coloma to see how their 1:1 programs have fared. The plan is to distribute Chrome books to all high school and middle school teachers and administrators first, with students receiving the computers in the fall of 2017. Additionally, discussions were held with parents, staff, and administrators, site visits were held at other schools, and policies were created regarding the acceptable use of the computers.

Schooley noted that the dissemination of computers “is not replacing a teacher. It’s facilitating (the classroom experience).”