08-13-2020 Return to Learn was Watervliet School Board’s primary discussion; 2/3 of families want o

THIS KUTE KID IS… Ashton O’Neill, proudly showing off his first teeth. His parents are Antonio and Bailey O’Neill from Hartford. Ashton’s sister and brothers are Aubrey, Austin and Aidan. Grandparents to the O’Neill siblings are Danny and Amanda Costner (Hartford), Cecil and Angela Jackson (Watervliet) and Judi Nail also of Watervliet.

Return to Learn was Watervliet School Board’s primary discussion; 2/3 of families want on-site option

By Joshua Coffin The Watervliet Board of Education held its regular meeting virtually on Monday, Aug. 10 due to the recent executive order Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed extending Michigan’s COVID-19 emergency and disaster declaration through Sept. 4. The fully online meeting was met with issues brought by Monday evening’s strong storm as attendees were losing power throughout, making their digital attendance troublesome. DeHaven resignation At the Monday meeting, it was addressed that trustee Andy DeHaven resigned from his seat on the Watervliet School Board as of Aug. 4, 2020. He left his position as explained in a written letter read by trustee Matt Clay. DeHaven wrote, “I hereby resign my seat on the Watervliet School Board to decrease work responsibility. I appreciate the opportunity to serve again on the school board. I wish you all the best as you lead the school system through these trying times.” To which school board president Bill Spaulding responded, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Andy DeHaven for his years of service on the school board and many years of service to Watervliet Public Schools… So we thank him and wish him well in his new endeavors.” Return to Learn As Watervliet’s Return to Learn plan continues to unfold for the upcoming school year, the meeting was of course largely centered on the subject. At the time of the meeting, about 68 percent of the families of Watervliet Public Schools have responded to the survey regarding their preference on how to return to school. Students have the option to return on-site, remotely, or fully virtual. Of the responses, two-thirds of families chose on-site learning and 24 percent chose the remote learning option, equating to around 91% of the responses as of Monday. The remaining responses chose the fully virtual learning experience for the upcoming year. With the expected two-thirds of students to return to school on-site and in person, the school will be able to have more evenly spread out and rebalanced class sizes during the 2020-21 school year. More responses to their survey are expected to come in as more questions are answered. There will be open Q&A for the schools on Tuesday, Aug. 11 for the individual schools. Business The members of the board appointed Heidi Knight and Casey Spaulding as representatives to the PRESA Special Education Parent Advisory Council, both of which were nominated and subsequently accepted the position. The school board unanimously voted to approve the two representatives to the council. “I just want to say thank you for the opportunity,” said newly appointed representative Heidi Knight. Community Eligibility Program continued Last school year, 76.5 percent of Watervliet students were qualified for free or reduced lunch. Thus, the district first entered the federal Community Eligibility Program and was allowed to serve all students breakfast and lunch without collecting revenue. They found it to be very beneficial for not only the students but their families and the community as well. This year, 84 percent of students are qualified for free or reduced lunch, so the board is looking to renew the contract with the program. The nearly eight percentage point’s growth was a result of the COVID-19 economic impact, with unemployment rates increasing. The school was able to serve over 140,000 meals during the shutdown this year with this program. In a unanimous vote, the board decided to continue their enrollment in the program for the next four years. Bread renewal In more food related news, Watervliet Public Schools renewed their bid with Alpha Baking as their bread supplier. As a result of the renewal, the contract between the school and the bread company was far from being toast. “We chose to go back with Alpha Baking because they fulfilled all the needs that we had. Moving forward, last year we didn’t have any issues and they were guaranteeing the same pricing for last year with the exception of two items we rarely use. So it was a benefit for us to stay with them this year,” said Watervliet Food Service Director Terry Adams. After a unanimous decision from the board to renew the bread contract, President Spaulding said, “Congratulations, Terry. You have another year with Alpha Bakery.” New hires The school board approved the hires of two new members to the Watervliet staff. Alicia Hickman, previously a Watervliet Middle School math teacher for the past few years, was hired to be a new high school math teacher for the school. Superintendent Ric Seager said that Hickman was “clearly the strongest candidate out of all the ones we interviewed.” The board fully supported Hickman’s appointment to the position.

The answer lies somewhere in Berrien County

The Berrien County Historical Association (BCHA) is inviting the public to join them in exploring the history of Berrien County through a month-long scavenger hunt. Each correct entry brings participants closer to a Berrien County theme prize package! Everyone 13 years and older are eligible to participate and no purchase is necessary. Clues are sent out weekly every Thursday in August via email and will be posted on Facebook, but all answers must be sent by Sept. 3 to be considered valid. Every correct photo sent will count as one entry towards the drawing (upwards to 12 entries available!) Not every email has to have an answer to each clue, but all answers must include a picture to be counted. Each clue is independent and each one will have its own answer. Entries are to be sent to info@berrienhistory.org. Emails must include the line Scavenger Hunt. In the body of the email, you must indicate the correct answer in addition to the photo. Participants are asked to follow all local laws when taking photos and be respectful of private and public property! Creative photos are always welcomed, but remember to be safe! Photos can be of the site of the answer OR the correct page from the Berrien County Sketches book. Copies are available for