Hartford Public Schools “Rising” for 2018
By Jon Bisnett The Hartford Public Schools’ Board of Education met in September with the 2018-19 school year in session. After some serious consideration of enlisting a marketing firm back in 2017, the Hartford Public School Board has drawn upon its own talents working closely with Superintendent Andy Hubbard to build a theme of rebranding and leveraging the district’s strengths to build a very successful marketing campaign to start the 2018-19 school year, #hartfordrising. “We Chose Hartford” signs started popping up around Hartford and neighboring communities in August indicating the choice of parents to send their children to Hartford, be it in district or schools of choice. Leadership reports Strong enrollment numbers in the elementary grades will take advantage of the newly remodeled Redwood campus which also boasts several new teachers joining the team under veteran Principal Ed Dickenson. Middle School Principal Ken Mohney enters his second year at Hartford with an increase in enrollment and draws from his experience of his prior post in administration and athletics to expand opportunities for students and staff alike. High School Principal Dave Janicki leads a predominantly veteran staff while serving in the dual role of District Safety Officer. Janicki is in charge of all mandatory emergency drills and works closely with Van Buren Intermediate School District Safety Coordinator Gary Brown in a proactive stance to review and improve safety protocols and provide specific staff training. The pair was recently featured on WOTV in regard to revised methods of conducting basic fire drills since the Parkland tragedy. Throughout the district several staffers have been cross-trained with CPR skills and are capable of jumping into the driver’s seat of bus should an emergency evacuation occur on short notice before regular drivers can be called in. Athletic Director Nick Blackmer not only coaches Hartford perennial championship soccer squad, but in addition to his administrative tasks of sports scheduling has been instrumental in implementing safety measures including on-field AED, (Automatic Electronic Defibrillators,) along with developing and sharing safety protocols for teams visiting Indian Stadium. With the advent of additional JV Soccer, Girls Soccer and Middle School programs Hartford is seeing record numbers of student participation in athletics. Finance Report Alumni Business Manager Rebecca Drake enters her second year at the post, projecting a conservative positive outlook for the district coffers as the school year begins. Cautiously optimistic Drake and Superintendent Hubbard prefer to reserve judgment until after the October “count day” and release of casino funds via the Interlocal Agreement. MASB Board Secretary Jason Meachum was selected as HPS voting delegate to the Michigan Association of School Boards convention with Treasurer Mike Banic serving as alternate. Redwood drain Board members gave their blessing to a formal proposal from Miller Davis for a change order addressing chronic water issues at the elementary campus. All issues with water infiltrating the building have been resolved without any cost to the district through repair of two critically located flawed drain pipes. Ongoing issues of surface water in the playground area which historically go back prior to the recent construction have only been exacerbated by the building addition. Miller Davis will work with Krohn Excavating and Wiltse Fencing regarding the surface and the addition of a retention pond enclosed by a 6-foot chain link fence. Summer School Principal Ed Dickenson and Stephanie Hallgren recapped the events of Summer School with 91% attendance of 158 students. During the 6-week program all students minimally maintained or improved in both reading and math. The Bash Dean of Students Chris Quist reported on the success of the 3rd Annual Back to School Bash. The event saw huge attendance as parents and students enjoyed rides, games and free food along with an opportunity to visit with over 50 local organizations with various support services for students and their families. The Foundation served over 900 free hotdog meals, while parents received free “Future Looks Bright” t-shirts and theme yard signs, “Home of a Future Hartford Indian”. Board Reports Board Trustee Rick Vawter recently attended MASB Summer Institute classes and gave highlights on subject matter concerning Transportation, Ethics and Open Meetings Act breakout sessions. Later echoed by Hubbard, Vawter expressed concern that OPA has several nuances that with the trend of e-mail and text communication need ongoing review to make sure the district remains compliant. Curriculum Curriculum Director Brad Geesaman covered multiple aspects of student achievement and staff development accomplished during the 2017-18 school year, while also presenting goals for the current year. Geesaman is building a solid data record that will help focus instruction where it is most needed to insure student success in reaching annual progress expectations. Superintendent Report Superintendent Andy Hubbard reminded of Homecoming week events. He recalled elements of the district Strategic Plan already implemented including the new all-staff luncheon which kicked off the year as a mixer for staff both old and new to meet, many for the first time, in a relaxed social setting. MEMIC Insurance picked up the tab for the event. Hubbard also reported on his attendance at the annual Superintendents Conference including a seminar on the Open Meetings Act. Hubbard is working on a proposal to create a tuition reimbursement pool for staff seeking to further their degree work. Additionally, Hubbard thanked the Hartford Foundation and The Pokagon Fund for providing joint funding of the elementary in-classroom libraries as HPS implements the Reading Now Network methodology to take a proactive approach to the recently enacted Michigan Third Grade Reading Law which effectively mandates student retention if annual progress goals are not met. Student Activities HPS has a new Student Representative. Senior Marisol Robles will keep the board informed of student activities throughout the year. President Chambers then moved the board into closed session for the purpose of a student reinstatement hearing. The board meets next for its monthly Work Study at Redwood Elementary on Thursday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m.