09-17-2020 Watervliet schools hit “bumps” as school year begins but are determined to overcome

THIS KUTE KID IS… 3-year-old Alissa Kate Mattimore receiving her first haircut from her “PopPop”, Tim Mattimore. Ali’s parents are Ryan and Michelle Mattimore of Hartford. She has one sister, Mackenzie Mattimore of Paw Paw. Ali is the granddaughter of Tim Mattimore of Hartford, Pam Bench of Hartford, Marie and Rick Wheaton of Benton Harbor, and Gary Longcore of Paw Paw.

Watervliet schools hit “bumps” as school year begins but are determined to overcome

By Joshua Coffin The Watervliet Board of Education met for their regular monthly meeting on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. The board met together at the school’s media center while the public was invited to attend as an online teleconference, in precaution for COVID-19, via a post on their Facebook page prior to the beginning of the meeting. Those entering the building were greeted with signs advising them to wear a mask at all times while inside. Being some of the only people in the building, several board members used masks; although a majority of them not wearing one for the entire duration of the meeting.

Technology Not unlike other schools, trials and tribulations have been hitting Watervliet Public Schools as they entered the 2020-2021 school year amidst the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. For students going to school virtually, a sense of normalcy has yet to be found. The vendor through which these students are taking their classes has seen a large uptick in attendees due to COVID-19 and is over-booked for many classes. This has caused classes to be filled without any teachers. Watervliet schools are potentially going to switch vendors in the near future because of these issues.

Superintendent Ric Seager said, “Our staff is making an incredible effort and they’re doing a great job of implementing the program as we put it together.” The school is taking each day as it comes and learning as time progresses. For the time being, there are Chromebooks for only remote learners and high school students. Students were supposed to begin the school year with the computers but due to a shortage the school was unable to get all of their students computers. That being said, on Sept. 14, 522 new Chromebooks were delivered to the school that was ordered in early June. There is still a process to prepare each laptop for student use. The recent shipment will fulfill the onsite middle school and elementary students, thus providing the computers to all students. In other technology advancements the school has made, MiFi, an internet service for students in need of it, has been made available for them. As the world has been more Internet based than ever before, it was brought to the board’s attention that students and families needed access to it and have been able to provide it for them. At the moment, there are an estimated 70 MiFi units deployed to students and there are around 30 students that still need the service. The board is working to fulfill all those needs.

Educational goals As the school year progresses, Watervliet Public Schools are required to have educational goals just as any other year would have. The superintendent would prefer to use the benchmarking assessments that are usually used and measure growth just like is normally done. That being said, the assessments will be particularly difficult as not all students are in the same place. Remote students will have to come into school for testing. The 25 percent of students that chose the remote learning option, being the online learning through Watervliet Public Schools, will have to come into the schools at planned times for these assessments and testing. The teachers of Watervliet Public Schools have seen particularly difficult times with balancing online and in person students as well as countless other priorities throughout the school year. Though there were many concerns for workloads and maintaining a healthy mentality during this unprecedented time at previous board meetings, the board voted to push forth with their plans and is now seeing the cracks in the system that must be mended. As the school year progresses, the board plans to develop and phase in ever changing plans to resolve issues that arise as soon as they can. Superintendent Seager said, “It’s going to take us three to four weeks to get it implemented. I want to give people some hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Administrative Report Administration from all the schools gave reports from their respective schools. Carol Fetke, Bill Tiefenbach, Dave Armstrong, Christina Powers, David Kindt, Ken Dietz, Molly Van De Wege, Terry Adams, and Mark Isbrecht all gave short updates as to how the school year was going. All agreed that matters were of course challenging, but faculty and staff “hit the ground running” despite the setbacks. A majority noted that the teachers and staff are doing great, intensive work with the massive changes the school and the world has seen.

Riverside U.M. Church holding coat drive Spreading warmth … one coat at a time

Riverside and Coloma United Methodist Church Missions Committees along with the help of Penny Moss (Moss Chiropractic) and Brian Smith (Edward Jones) are hosting a coat drive to collect clean, gently worn, warm coats of all sizes and other winter items in conjunction with the nationally run “One Warm Coat” campaign. Area residents are invited to make a difference in our local community by donating to the coat drive now until Oct. 14 at Riverside United Methodist Church (4401 Fikes Rd., Benton Harbor), Edward Jones (154 Badt Dr., Coloma) or Moss Chiropractic (429 N. Paw Paw St., Coloma). Items collected will be distributed to those in need on Saturday, Oct.17 at the Riverside United Methodist Church from 9:00 am – 12 noon. Masks will be required to participate. For more information or questions, call 269-468-6062. One Warm Coat is a national non-profit organization that works to provide a free, warm coat to any person in need and raises awareness of the vital need for warm coats. The coats are distributed in the community where they were collected, to any person in need, without charge, discrimination, or obligation. For more information on the national campaign, visit www.onewarmcoat.org.

Open enrollment choices can have big financial impact It’s that time of year again, where, if you work for a medium-to-large employer, you’ve got some decisions to make because it’s open enrollment time. Of course, depending on your situation, you may have been working remotely for a while, but, even so, you will likely have the opportunity to review your benefits package and make changes. And you’ll want to make the right moves, because your choices can have a big financial impact on your life. So, take a close look at these key areas of your benefits program: Health insurance – Think about your health care needs over the coming year – will you or someone in your family be coping with a chronic illness or facing a surgery? Will you need to at least consider testing and possible treatment for COVID-19? In any case, make sure you’re choosing the right plan for your needs. And pay close attention to any changes in your health insurance, such as whether the plan’s provider networks have changed – you may want to make sure your own doctor is still in-network. Also, check to see if you can reduce your health care premiums by taking part in a wellness program or health-risk assessment. Life insurance – Your employer may offer a group life insurance policy for free, or for a small amount. It’s probably worth your while to take this coverage, but it may not be enough for your needs. If you only had this group policy, but your family situation has recently changed through marriage or the addition of a new child, you may well need to add some private insurance. Disability insurance – In addition to offering group life insurance, your employer may provide short-term disability insurance as an employee benefit. Like group insurance, this disability coverage may not cost you anything, but it may not be adequate – typically, short-term disability only replaces part of your income for three to six months. And while you may never need to miss work for an extended period of time, you never can tell – after all, more than one in four 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. You may want to consider purchasing your own long-term disability policy on top of the coverage offered by your employer. Retirement plan – You can probably make changes to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan at any time, but why not look at it now, when you’re reviewing all your benefits? If you can afford to increase your contributions, you probably should, because a 401(k), with its tax advantages and ease of contribution through paycheck deductions, is a great way to save for retirement. At a minimum, put in enough to earn your employer’s match. You’ll also want to review your 401(k)’s investment mix. Is it still providing you with significant growth potential within the context of your individual risk tolerance? Over time, you may need to make some adjustments, either because an investment is underperforming or because you’re getting close to retirement and you need to reduce your risk exposure. In any case, it’s a good idea to check up on your 401(k)’s investments at least once a year. Your employee benefits are an important part of your overall financial picture – so do what you can to get the most from them.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC


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