11-05-2020 Salary increases and stipends approved for some Hartford Schools personnel; board continu

THESE KUTE KIDS ARE… Jack Metz (left) and his twin, Xander Metz; both 7 years old. They are the sons of John Metz & the late Heather Yetzke-Metz, St. Joseph. Their proud grandparents are John & Marge Yetzke, Bainbridge Twp. and Donna & the late Bob Metz from Baroda. Their mother taught 5th grade at Watervliet North School; they are in 1st grade.

Salary increases and stipends approved for some Hartford Schools personnel; board continues to meet in-person with COVID-19 protocol

By Jon Bisnett The Hartford School Board continues to meet in person with masks and social distancing, while live-streaming to the general public for the October business meeting of Oct. 19, 2020. Finance Normal monthly bills were paid. Business Manager Rebecca Drake noted untypical disbursements, as final billing from Maner Costerisan for the annual financial audit and Brown Locksmith bill for the rekeying of several Middle School exterior doors were included. Personnel Fred Smyser, 5th Grade teacher at Redwood Elementary, has given his resignation. The Board also heard and approved a request for an unpaid leave of absence by Angie Sumners through the end of March 2021, during which time Sumners will be completing her student teaching to become certified as an elementary teacher. Destini Mireles has been hired and will act as a Middle School Special Education Paraprofessional. Business The Board was presented with attendance data from each building and reconfirmed the district’s extended learning plan. Recent legislation requires review and approval on a monthly basis. Acting on the recommendation of the finance committee and Superintendent Andrew Hubbard, the board approved salary increases for non-HEA professional staff that had their salaries/contracts frozen at the start of the contract year. Additionally, the board announced a 1.5% pay increase for all Edustaff employee’s that are working in the district including custodians and secretaries. The board also approved a 1-year contract extension with the HEA (teachers union). Standard level increases apply. Again, acting on the recommendation of the finance committee, the board voted unanimously to approve a one-time stipend in a amount equivalent to regular 2-week pay as acknowledgement for additional work performed outside of normal contractual obligations due to COVID-19, loss of annual vacation leave, and additional work hours in evenings and weekends planning and implementing the district’s Virtual Academy for each building. The stipends are to be paid with federal COVID-19 funds as suggested by the school auditing firm since the work was directly due to COVID-19 pandemic, thus having no effect on the general fund budget. Business Manager Drake, Technology Director Rob Sheffey, Curriculum Director Bradley Geesaman, and Superintendent Hubbard all received stipends. Bond interest payments were approved for the 2014 Refunding Bonds and 2015 Construction Bonds. The 1st reading of recommended policy updates from Neola was read into record. Operating under a recommendation by Thrun Law, the District’s law firm, due to the recent Michigan Supreme Court decision limiting the Governor’s authority, approved a motion to ratify all board decisions made at all meetings held from May 1, 2020 until today’s date. The board also approved a resolution to utilize electronic participation at school board meetings, as necessary and in approved circumstances, in compliance with the current exceptions to the Open Meetings Act. Board report Trustee Ginny Rice expressed her appreciation for the new football coach, Tom Matthews, helping supply workers for the rocket football home games. Rice remarked that it was good to see our varsity players in their jerseys working the chains and scoreboard. It means a lot to the younger players seeing the high school players support their games. Superintendent Report Superintendent Andy Hubbard reported that although he was initially disappointed with the lack of media coverage at the Book Vending Machine unveiling, Public Relations Director Ally Sinclair was able to persuade WSBT 22, the CBS affiliate in South Bend, to come do a video segment about the new machines. The spot has been picked up by dozens of CBS affiliates across the country, including the CBS Sunday Morning Show. Redwood Principal Chris Quist has received multiple calls from school districts across the country inquiring about Hartford’s machines. Hubbard concluded with a sincere thank you to all district employees for their continued efforts to make this a safe and productive start to the school year.

Food Drive in Coloma Nov. 14

New Hope Community Church of Watervliet is holding a Food Drive on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 at Harding’s Friendly Market in Coloma. New Hope will be collecting non-perishable food items from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to benefit HOPE Resources Food Pantry.

Spectrum Health Lakeland earns Chest Pain Ctr. accreditation

All three hospitals at Spectrum Health Lakeland were granted accreditation to the Chest Pain Center by Corazon, Inc., a national leader in services for the cardiovascular specialty. Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph was granted accreditation with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) services, formerly known as angioplasty with stent. Lakeland hospitals in Niles and Watervliet were granted accreditation without PCI services. Through a rigorous process, the accreditation proves that the programs at Spectrum Health Lakeland, have met the Corazon Accreditation Standards for Chest Pain Accreditation as well as maintained compliance with national and societal guidelines for the management of the chest pain patient population. “Receiving accreditation to the Chest Pain Center at all three of our hospitals is a significant achievement and serves