Outgoing Watervliet School Board Trustee Tim Lynch recognized by fellow members
By Kristy Noack
Six-year Watervliet School Board Trustee Tim Lynch was recognized by his fellow board members on Monday, December 12 for his dedication to the improvement of Watervliet schools.
Lynch, who opted out of running for the school board in the November election, participated in his final meeting and was surprised to receive a plaque of appreciation presented by board president Ted Tees.
Lynch said serving as a trustee “was one of the most challenging (jobs) of my life, but also one of the most rewarding.”
Board vice-president Bill Spaulding offered his thanks and appreciation to Lynch, stating, “I just wanted to thank Tim. The six years he’s been on the board has been an improvement. Mr. Lynch has been a catalyst for board improvement.”
Approvals given to pay bills, amend budget, and support overnight student trips
In other action Monday, the board approved paying November expenses totaling $2,395,169.56. Of that figure, $592,563.89 was related to payroll expenses.
The board also approved amending the 2016-17 budget. Based on a recommendation from Superintendent Kevin Schooley, the General Fund budget was amended to show revenue of $13,355,164 and expenditures of $13,423,076. Those numbers created a deficit of $67,912.
Schooley advised the amendment to the budget was necessary as it was impacted by the hiring of two new teachers and one new paraprofessional. The budget was also impacted by the change in the district to pay coaches as district employees and not on a contract basis as previously structured.
An increase in state aid from $7,391 per student to $7,511 helped offset a potentially larger deficit.
Schooley advised that the district is searching for grants that may help offset the deficit. “I’m pretty confident we can control costs and won’t see a deficit in June.”
The previous budget was approved in June of 2016.
Two overnight trip requests were placed in front of the board for consideration, and both were approved. The Watervliet wrestling program was granted permission to participate in the Fruitport wrestling invitational on Saturday, January 14. The squad will travel on Friday, January 13.
Approval was also given to the Watervliet Middle School Honor Club to take part in a trip to Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Members of the group will have fundraising opportunities to help offset the trip expense of $440 per person. Additionally, space is available for only 50 students of the club.
The board authorized the replacement of the public address system in the middle and high schools. Originally planned for replacement in 2017, the system is not reliable, said Schooley. Secant Technology provided the low bid of $40,000 for a new system that will integrate with the schools’ current phone system and can offer different programmable zones.
School Resource Officer under consideration
The board continued to review and discuss the merits of hiring a full-time school resource officer. Schooley continued talks in December with Watervliet City Police Department Chief Tim Sutherland regarding a job description and list of expectations for the officer.
Schooley advised the district would pay up to $30,000 for the officer, and the district would enter into a three-year agreement with the city and township of Watervliet to be renewed annually. According to Schooley, the three-year term and annual renewal “shows an investment and commitment to the program.”
The school resource officer will become a member of the district’s crisis team, create crime prevention and safety programs, attend school events, maintain student safety, and work with both students and staff on a daily basis. The board is tentatively scheduled to make a final decision on the position at their January meeting.
Schooley also discussed Watervliet’s participation with NEOLA in policy development, revisions, compliance, and creating administrative guidelines regarding board policy. The initial investment if the district chooses to partner with NEOLA would be $23,400 with an annual cost up to $2,500. The board will review the request and possibly vote on the measure in January.
SAC changes in the works
Watervliet High School Athletic Director Ken Dietz was on hand Monday to discuss the upcoming changes to the Southwestern Athletic Conference, of which the Panthers are a member.
Dietz commented that the restructured SAC will drop from 20 teams to 14. “I feel real comfortable” with Watervliet’s position in the conference, he stated. Dietz advised that there are two thought processes under consideration regarding the restructuring of the SAC. “One, shape the league big versus little by school enrollment or east versus west. Two, leave the schedule open to people outside the conference.”
The SAC bylaws require a one-year notice of intent to leave the league. The six departing schools (Bangor, Bloomingdale, Decatur, Eau Claire, Hartford, and Marcellus) have indicated they plan to exit the conference following the conclusion of the 2016/17 school year. That will wreak havoc with next year’s football schedules already being formed.
Dietz said, “We have a solid program. The 14 (remaining) schools are solid. Watervliet is in a great position because of what we have developed and where we stand.”
Construction update – In the home stretch
Schooley provided the board with an update regarding Phase 2 construction progress. The auditorium will be completed by the end of December. Three classrooms are currently being improved and should be complete by the end of the month.
Testing and balancing of the heating system will occur during Christmas break, and punch list items are being reviewed. Painting is also scheduled to be completed during the two-week break. All in all, things are settling down at both the high and middle schools as the project marches toward completion.