By Mary Kindig
At Monday night’s Farwell Board of Education meeting, Mike Zimmerman from the auditing firm Yeo & Yeo presented the Board with the 2010-2011 school year audit. Zimmerman began, “We did give you, on your financial statements, unqualified opinions, which is nothing materially wrong, misstated or no signs of any material errors that weren’t corrected. So everything is in good shape, so you can rest assured that the gentlemen here are doing a good job and taking care of the books.” Zimmerman continued, “You’re a 15 million dollar operation here, which is big business in Clare County. You did spend $186,000 more in the General Fund this year than you brought in…but you still have a fund balance of 1.45 million dollars, which is a little over ten percent, eleven percent expenditures – not bad in this day and age for a school district in Michigan.”
“Spending wisely has been a good thing here and you should feel good that you’re able to maintain your programs at the level that you have. Not to say that it’s been easy, but it’s a job well done,” Zimmerman told the Board. The Board voted unanimously to accept the audit as presented.
In a close vote, the Board approved a second-tier diploma for Timberland students. Timberland’s graduation standards have been exactly the same as Farwell High School, but some students have been lost to other districts that offer a second-tier diploma that makes it easier for some of the more challenged students to graduate. The Board voted 4-3 in favor of allowing 4th year Timberland students, with permission of their parents and approval of the administration, to opt for a second-tier diploma. Board members Rose Sharp, Duffey Doxtader and Irene Hanner voted against the measure, and members Terry Ellenwood, Paula Sullivan, Shari Buccilli and President Max Paine voted in favor.
Dennis Wissinger, chairman of the local VFW Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy competition, and his wife Ruthann from the Ladies’ Auxiliary, presented awards to the winners of the yearly essay contests. The Patriot’s Pen essay title this year was “Are You Proud of Your Country?” for which Farwell Middleschoolers submitted 25 entries. Winners were Aleesha McCurry (3rd place), Chad William Moss (2nd Place), and Cheyanne Pfund (1st Place). The Voice of Democracy essay was titled “Is There Pride in Serving in Our Military?” which garnered seven entries from Farwell High School students. Lyndsey Ruckle was awarded 3rd Place, Heidi Trotter 2nd Place, and Aleeshia N. Collison-Neargardner 1st Place. Winners were presented a plaque, a ribbon and a check for $25 (3rd Place), $50 (2nd Place) or $100 (1st Place). Jack Albee from the VFW also presented a plaque to Ryan Cunningham, after which Mr. Wissinger commented, “This is in appreciation for what the High School does every year for recognizing veterans.”
Liaison Officer Erica Vredevelt told the Board that she had done presentations at the Middle School, High School and Timberland regarding anti-bullying and suicide prevention. “Bullying is something that’s going to be around forever, but with internet stuff, it’s terrible, and the kids are taking their own lives now due to it, and we’re trying to prevent that here,” Vredevelt said. The Board saw a powerful video that was part of Vredevelt’s presentation in the schools, which asked students to “Stop” and “Think” before they “Connect”. Vredevelt told the Board that she and Travis White were asked to present the video at both Harrison and Clare schools.
“When bullying took place in the 50’s, we went home, it was over. You didn’t have to deal with it until you went back,” President Max Paine commented, “Now when you’re bullied you can’t get away from it, whether it’s the internet or smart phones or whatever it is – kids can’t get away from it. And for some reason kids think they can be more cruel on the internet or a cell phone than what they are maybe even face to face.” Superintendent Carl Seiter added, “Erica’s presentation with bullying just kind of reiterates the pressures that public educators have on them today. Not only in public education are we expected to train and educate kids academically, but you have to train them how to behave socially, and I think that presentation went a long way with teaching a student the actual effects of bullying another human being.”
In other matters, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Ryan Cunningham announced October 2011 Students of the Month: Kate Saupe, freshman; McKenzie Garver, sophomore; Julie Swinehart, junior; and Angelina Hammond, senior. Principal Dee Yarger announced the November 2011 Students of the Month: Kailyn Brugger, freshman; Ben Lueders, sophomore; Tim Burgett, junior; and Travis White, senior.
Music teacher Paul Shimmons gave the Board a presentation of a proposed trip to Battle Creek for brass and percussion students. Students will listen to the Battle Creek Brass Ensemble both practice and perform, as well as have the opportunity to play for and take classes from some of the world-renown brass players present. The overnight trip will set out on Thursday, December 1st and will cost the students $15 each, plus the cost of three meals. Shimmons said the Band Boosters would pay the remainder of the costs of the overnight stay.
In other business at Monday night’s BOE meeting, the Board:
*approved operational invoices for the month of October in the amount of $276,825.25.
*unanimously approved Gen-Net to provide the curriculum for Grades 6 trough 12. Gen-Net had been approved for Grades 9 through 12 when Farwell had first been approved for the seat-time waiver program, but the Board had inadvertently never approved it for Grades 6 through 8.
*went into Closed Session at 8:46 p.m. for purposes of a property discussion.
The next meeting of Farwell’s Board of Education will be December 5th at 6:00 p.m. at Timberland High School.