Coloma Schools setting up for new school year, back-to-school open houses set
By Annette Christie
Plans are underway for the beginning of the school year to start in just a few short weeks. Every school in the Coloma School District will be holding an open house for back to school visiting to get students and parents back in the school attending mode. The Intermediate and Elementary Schools will hold their open house on September 1, 2016 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. New Intermediate School and Special Education Director Darla England told the Coloma School Board that the PTO will be holding an ice cream social in conjunction with the open house. The Junior High Open House will be held on August 29, 2016. Hours are 5:30 – 6:00 p.m. for all incoming sixth graders, followed by 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. for students and parents of all grades. At the High School administrators are repeating the Freshman Orientation for those that missed it in the spring. It will be on August 23, 2016 and starts at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium. The district will hold its Strategic Plan rollout on Monday, August 22, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the High School auditorium. To prepare for the upcoming expenses as is standard for school districts, the school board approved a borrowing resolution in the amount of $2.5 million. With the first payment from State of Michigan not coming in until October 20, the borrowing will lessen the risk that the district will struggle financially. Superintendent Peter Bush asked that the Personnel Committee of the School Board look at the policies involved with background checks of volunteers. Currently, if a volunteer will be in the classrooms on a regular basis with some kind of supervisory role over students, the district does a fingerprint check. For the occasional volunteer the district currently does standard state-wide criminal checks from the state police site, the prison system, and sex offender list. Bush would like the committee to look at if that should be expanded and to review all the policies regarding volunteers. The level of volunteering is something else that Bush expects them to look at. The Personnel Committee of the School Board is Bob Hirsch, Heidi Ishmael, and Kelly Clements. With some remaining bond funds that are authorized to be used for furniture, the school board approved an expense of $2,732 for the purchase of a music stand storage and cart truck that will make it easier to store and move the music stands that the band uses. High School Principal Dave Ehlers said they had held off on the purchase until they made sure that they had some other higher needs met but with the remaining funds, he explained that it was a need for the band. The board also put into place the contract for an athletic trainer. In a partnership being repeated, the board approved a contract with Lakeland Rehabilitation Services for up to 400 hours of athletic training services at $30 per hour. In preparing the bus fleet for the upcoming year, the district learned that two older 2005 buses that were in for annual maintenance were in need of some very expensive repairs. Bush told the board that it would be approximately $9,000 each to get the buses ready, when the actual value of the buses was approximately $5,000 – $5,500. The two buses have been doing bus routes for 11 years and they happened to be two of the longer routes in the district. Through some investigation, administrators learned that the district could lease two newer buses and could trade in the two older buses for approximately $21,678 annually. Bush said while they certainly had not planned on doing two more this year (the board just approved the lease of four other buses at last month’s meeting), the move just made more sense than putting the money into these much older models. The board agreed and approved the agreement with Midwest Transit Equipment for two 2017 78-passenger buses. In other business, Bush told the board that action is still continuing for the movement of the Administration Building. The building and the land it sits on was donated to the district by a family but included a revert clause that it be returned to the family if it was no longer needed. Bush said that at first when remaining heirs were notified they had an interest, however, that has since changed. Bush said that they are now ready to proceed with a quick claim deed that would put the property and building in the school’s name. Once that is final, the district will determine their next move.
Grace Christian School starts 2016-2017 school year August 29
By Annette Christie
Students attending Grace Christian Schools will be returning to the classrooms on August 29. Back-to-School night for students and parents will be August 25 with new students and families at 6:00 p.m. and returning students and families at 7:00 p.m. One of the highlights of each school year is learning the theme for the school year. Mr. Zimmerman, Head of School, said that “One Focus” is the theme with Chris Tomlin’s song, “Jesus” as their theme song. Students, school wide, will be learning the song. Grace Christian School and grounds are located on 24 acres in Bainbridge Township. The address is 325 N. M-140, Watervliet. It is a private non-profit Christian school, accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International. Zimmerman said that the school system will be going through the re-accreditation program this year. They will also be going through the same process that public schools go through to become accredited this year. Zimmerman said that this year will be the year for the Grace Christian juniors and seniors to travel on a mission trip in the spring. Zimmerman said this is a bi-annual activity. On the trip, students will help with construction projects in Jamaica while being encouraged to serve. The trip is for 12 days. The Christ centered environment at Grace Christian offers Christian training along with solid academics. Their athletic programs include volleyball, cross country, basketball, track, soccer, baseball, and softball. Music programs available to students include choir and band. Zimmerman said they have two major musical events each year. Grace Christian School opened in 1974 with approximately 64 students. Their current enrollment is almost 200 students. Zimmerman said that enrollment at Grace Christian is open in all grades Pre-K through 12th grade. Financial assistance is available for families that may need it. Those interested may contact the office at (269) 463-5545.