Watervliet Superintendent Schooley finalist for South Haven position
By Kristy Noack
Kevin Schooley, Superintendent of Watervliet Public Schools, interviewed Tuesday evening for the position of superintendent for the South Haven Public School district. Schooley, who has numerous ties to the South Haven area, was one of four first-round finalists for the position.
The South Haven Public Schools Board of Education announced Wednesday morning that Schooley was the only finalist asked back for another interview.
Following the second interview Tuesday, the South Haven Board of Education planned to discuss all four candidates and follow-up with interviews on November 12 and 13.
During his interview session, Schooley fielded questions regarding his evaluation of curriculum, student assessments, and teaching methods, as well as inquiries as to his management style, involvement in the community, and what sets him apart from the other candidates.
Schooley, defining what makes him different, said, “I think the most obvious is my experience. I’ve been a student custodian, a para pro[fessional], a teacher, a coach, a principal, a superintendent. That’s what sets me apart.”
Schooley also made clear his expectations of the staff that populate the district in which he serves. “You never hurt a kid, physically or emotionally. If you do, I will not have your back.” Schooley told the board that the job of the central office staff is to “take care of the people taking care of the kids.”
The Watervliet superintendent outlined a plan he would use to introduce himself to the district should he be offered the position. He detailed a strategy that included meet and greet sessions with parents, attendance at city council meetings, reaching out to Lake Michigan College and Van Buren Technology Center, and visiting local businesses and the chamber of commerce.
“Parents want to see you. They want to know your story. That’s why I do this. You have to provide opportunities for dialogue. We have to be diligent about reaching outside of these walls.”
Schooley highlighted a career that has featured examples of collaborative efforts with his administrators, board members, teachers, parents, and community members. He made special mention of working with Watervliet city and township officials to secure the services of a School Resource Officer within the district, a position that was created two years ago, and the mental health awareness training received by administrators and teachers in the Watervliet school system.
Twenty-five audience members listened to Schooley’s answers for over an hour.
Schooley has helmed the Watervliet school district since 2010. Prior to being tapped to lead the district, he spent 12 years as the principal at North Elementary in Watervliet.
Schooley has a long career in the field of education. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in special education and elementary education from Western Michigan University and his master’s degree in educational leadership from Grand Valley State University. He previously taught elementary special education at Bay City Public Schools and Fowlerville Public Schools. He also taught at South Haven Public Schools for five years before joining the Watervliet School District.
During his eight-year tenure as superintendent at Watervliet, Schooley oversaw the successful passage of a $23 million bond proposal in 2014 that included two phases of district-wide building, grounds, technology, and safety improvements beginning in 2015 and ending in 2018.
The Watervliet superintendent explained his reasoning behind applying for the position. “This position came open in 2012. Leaving [Watervliet] then would have been detrimental. I think the stars are aligned.”
Although Tuesday’s interview session was serious, there were moments of levity. Board member Lynn Kerber asked Schooley, “What is the most unpopular decision you have made?” Fellow board member John Frost interjected, “Aside from applying for this,” to chuckles in the audience.
Following his interview, Schooley reiterated, “I’m not looking [for a superintendent’s position] all over the place. It’s looking at an opportunity that is knocking on the door and I want to see what’s on the other side.”
During his interview, Schooley was extremely complimentary of his Watervliet school board, staff, teachers, students, and community.
The three other candidates who interviewed before the South Haven Board of Education for the superintendent position included Dr. Raymond Lechner, Nathan Robrahn, and Jonathan Whan. Lechner and Robrahn were interviewed Monday evening, and Whan joined Schooley as part of Tuesday night’s interviews. Both interview sessions were open to the public.
Currently, Dave Peden is serving as South Haven’s interim superintendent. He began his tenure at South Haven on August 27 following the departure of Robert Herrera, the district’s previous superintendent. Herrera left the Rams in June to become the superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools. Herrera spent five years leading South Haven.
Schooley resides in South Haven. His wife Lori is a second-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary in South Haven. The Schooleys have three children: Nicholas, Jackson, and Katherine; Katherine is a junior at South Haven High School.
Michigan Leadership Institute assisted SHPS with the superintendent search.
State ballot proposals approved; Coloma school millage OK’d; Van Buren County voters nix road millage increase
By Annette Christie Proposal 18-1 Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Voters in Berrien and Van Buren counties joined others statewide as Proposal 18-1 was approved in Tuesday’s election. In Berrien County the proposal received 29,288 in favor with 24,351 opposed. In Van Buren County the proposal received 15,898 in favorable votes with 13,195 opposed. The proposal authorizes and legalizes possession, use and cultivation of marijuana products by individuals who are at least 21 years of age and older, and commercial sales of marijuana through state-licensed retailers. It allows individuals 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles and grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption. It imposes a 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences and require amounts over 2.5 ounces be secured in locked containers. A state licensing system will be created for marijuana businesses and allow municipalities to ban or restrict them. It also permits sales of marijuana and edibles subject to a 10% tax, dedicated to implementation costs, clinical trials, schools, roads, and municipalities where marijuana businesses are located. Voters in Van Buren and Berrien counties also voted in line with state-wide voters in support of Proposal 18-2 which establishes a commission of citizens for oversight of the 10-year redistricting for boundaries of the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress. They also approved Proposal 18-3 which changes the way that people vote in our state. With the passage of the proposal, automate and electronic voter registration will be allowed as will no-reason absentee voting.
Voters say “NO” again to the Van Buren County Road Commission Millage increase A second attempt by the Van Buren County Road Commissioners to get a road millage passed has failed. There were 18,197 voters in the county that said no versus 10,470 voters who were in favor. At the Primary Election in August, the voters in Van Buren County turned down the road millage proposal by an 11.46% margin. Several public information meetings were held in the months approaching the November election date. In addition, Road Commission staff and Commissioners have been attending service club and organization meetings, such as Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, etc., to help educate and to overcome the misinformation out there. The intent of the road millage was to allow the Road Commission to bring the primary road system up to an average rating of “good” as defined by the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating (PASER). The primary road network consists of 348 miles of road. Of that, there are 235 miles rated poor, 58 miles rated fair, and 55 miles rated good. These primary roads are the roads driven to get motorists from “here to there”, and may not necessarily be the road in front of each person’s house. The primary roads are the main arteries of the county’s road network, and are important to the motoring public in and throughout Van Buren County. In all, the Van Buren County Road Commission maintains 1,330 miles of road. The Road Commission was asking for a 3-mill countywide road millage for the next 12 years. It was expected to raise $8.2 million for primary road improvements. The current funding mechanism for roads does not bring in enough funding.
Coloma Community Schools Operating Millage Proposal Voters in the Coloma Community School District approved the renewal of the operating millage for the district. It will allow the school district to levy the statutory rate of not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except principal residence and other property exempted by law, required for the school district to receive its full revenue per pupil foundation allowance and restores millage lost as a result of the reduction required by the “Headlee” amendment to the Michigan Constitution of 1963.
Dowagiac District Library Millage Proposal While the voters in the Dowagiac District Library coverage area in Berrien and Van Buren counties said no to a millage proposal for the library, the voters in Cass County turned it around to a yes. The library was seeking the authorization to levy a new additional millage in an amount not to exceed 1.0 mill ($1.00 on each $1,000 of taxable value) against all taxable property within the Dowagiac District Library district for a period of twenty (20) years, 2018 to 2037, inclusive, for the purposes of providing funds for all district library purposes authorized by law, including expanding, renovating, furnishing and equipping the library building and making related improvements. The estimate of the revenue by the Dowagiac District Library millage in the first year (2018) is approximately $523,000. The purpose of the millage is for the expansion and renovation of its historic Carnegie building. The average taxable value of a property in the Library District is $70,000, which means the average homeowner would pay $70 a year. Millage funds will be used to pay on a $7.4 million bond over 20 years for the expansion and renovation of the Library, doubling its size to 15,000 sq. ft. Also included will be renovation of existing spaces, new furnishings, equipment, heating and air conditioning, electrical and plumbing systems, and restoration of the front of the Library to its original Carnegie facade. New spaces within the expansion will include a community meeting room, general study and meeting rooms, a teen space, vending area, and expanded popular collections for books and other items. Voters in Berrien County had nine yes votes vs. 18 no votes. Voters in Van Buren County had 167 yes votes vs. 389 no votes. Voters in Cass County sealed the deal with an additional 2,339 total yes votes.
Midterm election results New faces on city commissions; Dave Vollrath keeps county seat
ED NOTE: At press time these are the uncertified results and winner projections of the state-wide elections held Tuesday
By Annette Christie Watervliet City Commission Two newcomers will be sitting at the table of the Watervliet City Commission meetings come January due to the results of the election Tuesday night. Incumbent Deah Muth and newcomers Michael Bumstead and Jennifer Helms were the top vote getters (Muth-228, Helms-278, Bumstead-223). Current commissioners Larry Hehl and Rick Kinzler will complete their terms at the end of December.
Coloma City Commission While Coloma City Clerk Martha Darling and Treasurer Kelly Clements were unopposed in the Tuesday election, there was one newcomer seeking to win a seat at the City Commission table. Newcomer Fred Reeves will be replacing Nathan Clements at the end of his term. Reeves and Martha Hammond both received 326 votes with Linda Freitag receiving 311 votes. The tallies are as follows: Darling-493; Kelly Clements-480; and Nathan Clements-295. Hagar Township Clerk Sarah Rodriguez has worked as the Hagar Township Clerk since May 2017 after being appointed to fill the vacancy. This is her first time serving in a public office. In Tuesday’s election she received 1,156 votes. County Commission Republican Berrien County Commissioner Dave Vollrath was able to hang on to his seat in the face of opposition from Democrat Patricia Camarena-Rose Barbary. Vollrath is the representative for District 1 which includes Coloma City, Coloma Township, Hagar Township, and a portion of Watervliet Township. The tallies were 3,433 votes for Vollrath and 1,507 for Camarena-Rose Barbary. David Vollrath became a Berrien County Commissioner after winning the general election in 2016.
Veterans Day Observances
Hartford Veterans Day Service is Friday night in Ely Park The Hartford American Legion Post will host the Veterans Day Observance, Friday, November 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Ely Park. The public is invited to attend. There will be free hot dogs, chili and snacks. The Veterans Day service was moved forward as the official day is Sunday, November 11.
Veterans Day service in Watervliet Saturday at 11 am, followed by an open house at VFW Watervliet VFW Post 1137 will be conducting a Veterans Day service at their post home located at 8777 Red Arrow Highway on November 10 beginning at 11 a.m. Retired Air Force Master Sergeant Pete Petruk will serve as the speaker with the closing ceremony conducted by the North Berrien Military Rites team. Following the service, there will be an open house for the public lasting until 2 p.m. Representatives from both the VFW and the American Legion will be on hand to possibly answer questions regarding joining either organization or benefits that a veteran may have coming. They hope everyone will join them for this Veterans Day service.
Marine Corps Birthday Bash On Saturday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. all local Marines are invited to T’s Tap in Coloma to celebrate the Marine Corps birthday. Bring a dish to pass. There will be a raffle for a Kabar knife and a USMC sword. Proceeds from the raffle will go to Toys for Tots.
Veterans Day breakfast at Coloma High School on Monday, Nov. 12 Around 150 veterans and their spouses are expected for breakfast on Monday, Nov. 12 at Coloma High School. This will be the 43rd year for this special event. The breakfast was founded by the late Joyce Tutton, retired principal at Coloma Washington Elementary. The veterans are invited at 7:15 a.m. for juice and coffee with breakfast served at 7:45. At the conclusion of breakfast, around 8:30, the veterans and their guests will be entertained by Boy Scouts of American Troop 696, Coloma Varsity Singers, and Taps played by members of the Coloma High School Band.
Genealogy Society honors veterans with ongoing registry project On this Veterans Day the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society (VBRGS) wishes to extend their sincere and heartfelt thanks to our veterans who have selflessly served our country as well as the many military personnel who are in service today. To commemorate and honor this service and the service of fellow veterans the VBRGS created a Southwest Military Registry some 20 years ago. It is an ongoing project of VBRGS volunteers and chaired by society member Jerry Anderson of Kalamazoo. The Registry is a collection of information on the men and women who served their country during times of war or at peace, in any branch of the military either on American soil or abroad. It honors veterans who have served at any time during our country’s history and at some time in their lives resided in Southwest Michigan. The VBRGS Southwest Military Registry currently honors 2,184 veterans. The information contained in this collection has been received from many sources including genealogical research done by VBRGS members. The Registry is made available to the public and can be viewed at the Webster Memorial Library, Toni I. Benson Room, 200 N. Phelps St. in Decatur. The times it is available for viewing are Monday, Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Special arrangements may be made for viewing on certain Wednesdays (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Saturdays (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) by contacting the society at email@example.com or calling Joyce Beedie, President of the VBRGS, at 269-657-4409.
Piper’s Pantry provides daily essentials to Hartford students
By Jon Bisnett What began quite simply as a community service project for 17-year-old Hartford senior Piper Reinhardt, has truly taken on a life of its own, growing well beyond her initial expectations. “I did some research and found that some kids miss two to three days a week because they don’t have clean clothes because they don’t have laundry soap or they can’t wash their hair so they don’t want to come to school because it’s embarrassing,” said Reinhardt. “This affects not only their attendance but also self-image for the students that just don’t have the money for what most of us consider to be daily necessities.”