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Accolades, awards, and answers were addressed at the Coloma Board of Education meeting

The monthly meeting of the Coloma School Board on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023 was called to order and after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, roll call was taken where it was reflected that two members were missing from the meeting.

Updates from building principals

High School Principal Craig Fisher was pleased to inform the board that Brian Klee was presented the Starfish Award. Klee has been a high school mathematics teacher for nine years.

In a statement, math teacher Joshua Fields said, “I chose Brian Klee for the Starfish Award because of his dedication to meeting the students where they are, and his dedication to helping students achieve more than they believe they can. Brian is not only dedicated to his own students, but to his football players, all the students at Coloma High School, and his colleagues. Mr. Klee is an exemplary teacher, and is extremely deserving of the award.”

Principal Fisher also informed the board that several Comet band students performed at MSBOA District Solo and Ensemble. These students prepared a solo, and in a couple of cases a duet, to perform for a judge and receive a rating. He was proud to say that all students received either a Division I or a Division II rating. Those who received a Division I have qualified for the State level of Solo and Ensemble where the judging is much more rigorous.

Finally, Fisher spoke of a Career and Technical Education 61c Grant that purchased items for those classrooms. Things like a two-post lift for the auto shop, EKG and blood pressure simulators for the nursing programs, a virtual welding system, and CNC and lathe packages for the students in machine and tooling classes.

The Junior High School report was given by Wendy Tremblay, where she announced that parent-teacher conferences will be held on March 2 and letters will be sent out soon.

The elementary school principal, John Klein, reported that the Kindergarten Round-Up and the Little Learners Preschool sign-ups will be held on March 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. and again on April 1 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Klein also informed the board that the elementary school will participate in “March is Reading Month” by hosting various guests to come into the classrooms and read to the students.

Related to reading, he told the board that the summer pop-up libraries in the community and the book fairy visits to students’ homes were a success. He stated the data shows that 68% of the students who visited the pop-up libraries showed growth from the Spring of 2022 to the Fall of 2022.

This was a big win considering many students experience the “summer slide.” He continued that he and his staff are looking for ways to scale up this project for this year so that more children can get involved. NWEA data also shows that 44% of students who received home visits showed growth from Spring of 2022 to the Fall of 2022.

Infrastructure issues & Bond proposal

After a widespread power outage that occurred last month in Coloma, damage to some of the equipment that is motor-driven happened as a result of the intermittent power surges. The Coloma Board of Education has learned of this and other maintenance problems like a heating issue in the 3rd-grade classrooms that took two days to rectify and a thermostat problem in the music room that is currently waiting for parts to complete the repair.

These are just a few of the incidents that show the aging effects of a worn-out infrastructure that is driving a bond proposal that will be on the May 2 ballot. Speaking of the recommended proposal, Daniel Mares, the Instructional Technology Specialist and the Director of State and Federal Funds-Grant Manager, told the board that the bond proposal information can be found on the ccs.coloma.org website.

Mares pointed out that there is a frequently asked questions document as well as a bond overview that can be viewed by all. These documents explain what is being included in the $28,250,000 bond. The list includes replacing decaying single-pane windows, updating temperature controls, replacing a 50+-year-old boiler, resurfacing the track, fixing cracked pavement and sidewalks, adding air-conditioning, bringing the playground to current codes, and building a community and student center. This center which would house an auxiliary gym, fourth and fifth-grade physical education classes, indoor recess when required, and community events would be a great addition to the intermediate campus.

Additionally, a tax calculator can be found on the website for those interested in how much the bond could affect homeowners.

Other business

Mares also spoke of a grant awarded to the school. The grant named Grow Your Own was received which will aid three current employees to further their education with a commitment to serve at Coloma after their certification is achieved.

A bid for the installation of a monitoring system to detect environmental hazards including the detection of e-cigarettes within the 4-12 school buildings was approved at the meeting. The 24 new monitoring devices are linked to cameras which send alerts via text or email to the appropriate authorities once the environmental sensors are alerted to things such as smoke, noise, motion, vaping, and even humidity concerns. This project is expected to be finished in the next few months.

Additionally, this company also offers cloud-based building security systems. The company combines security equipment such as video cameras, which the school already has, with access control systems that will be installed on 36 doors between all Coloma School campuses.

The installation of this new software will require badging or access cards for each employee. It will also give the district the ability to remotely schedule the locking and unlocking of the doors and a single lockdown button for security measures. The expected completion date will be sometime in June.

In other news, the minutes from the Jan. 30 special meeting, bills, personal report, and a lawn care program for the football field were approved. Trustee Tandy Ulleg was appointed to serve on the School Improvement and Personnel and Finance Committees during the meeting.

Public comments

Concerned citizens showed up in full force as many individuals approached the board. The following concerns were addressed by individuals that were registered:

The first speaker urged the board to follow their public complaint policy and hopes that they will follow through on a three-page letter that was sent also questioning their adherence to their sex education policy.

The next speaker challenged the transparency of the board and mentioned the controversial gift that was given to students by a school employee.

Another concerned attendee questioned the board’s decision on the outcome of the controversial book, as well as the decision to strip two students of graduation honor cords given to the students from outside organizations at the 2022 commencement ceremony.

The fourth presenter asked the board for an apology for the handling of the book controversy.

The fifth presenter passed as the previous speakers addressed his concerns.

The final presenter asked bond-related questions.

Following the public comments, the board went into close session for the superintendence review and adjourned.

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