Farwell’s Board of Education voted to extend the contracts of all their administrators for a period of one year at their regular Monday night meeting. Superintendent Carl Seiter had high praise for all the administrators – Elementary School Principal Tim Moore, Middle School Principal Catheryn Gross, High School Principal Dee Yarger, High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Ryan Cunningham, Business Manager Jacob Sullivan and Transportation and Physical Plant Director Rex Raymond.
“Our administrative staff – I can’t be more proud of what I’m seeing and able to work with every day…I’m real proud of them and their performance they’ve been able to do this year in a time of added duties. We’re all cutting back. Assistant Principals are gone, different positions that lended support to those administrative positions are gone. The demands today, in my opinion, far exceed what I’ve been accustomed to over the last 20 years. And I think all of them are growing, [and] doing a great job,” Seiter said.
The other agenda item — that only occasionally comes before the Board for a vote — was the move to amend the current budget in order to purchase a new bus. With finances strained in most districts, it has been difficult for most to keep up on their scheduled rotation of purchasing busses. Farwell, according to Business Manager Sullivan, has purchased only about half the number of busses in the last seven years than their schedule had called for. The Board voted unanimously to purchase a new bus out of funds in the current budget, at an estimated cost of $80,000.
Other than those two items, the rest of the Farwell BOE meeting was the usual mix of business, information and celebrations.
Principal Yarger announced the March 2012 Students of the Month. They are: Madison Sinks, freshman; Rachel Brown, sophomore; Trevor Staley, junior; and Greg Shimmons, senior. Yarger also reported that 57 percent of graduating seniors had taken at least one dual enrollment class, and that at least 92 percent of those students enrolled in college classes will have successful completion of those classes.
Teacher Darin Mogg showed off the LEGO project that his 4th Grade LEGO team built for the recent competition in Mt. Pleasant. Principal Moore said, “In the first contest we ever competed in, Mr. Mogg’s team took first place in the team build and the People’s Choice Award.” Mogg said the students built the project themselves, which featured a farm scene, complete with a moving windmill.
Athletic Director Cunningham announced that three Farwell wrestlers qualified for State competition on March 3rd at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Cunningham also reported that spring sports practices started last week, and he brought to the attention of the Board that two schools in the conference had raised their sports admittance fees from $4.00 to $5.00.
Principal Gross reported that Camp Farwell – the overnight camp held in the school for 30 6th Graders – was very successful. Students learned about high school opportunities, the dual enrollment program and college life. Ms. Gross also reported that enough Middle School students qualified for the All-A bus trip to a Detroit Tigers game to fill a bus and two follow vehicles.
As requested by the Board, Principal Moore gave a presentation comparing kindergarten students’ achievement levels in Math and English Language Arts between the students in the Chinese Immersion program and the students in the general population. Studies show that the benefits of learning a foreign language often do not show up in test scores until 4th Grade or later. While there was some fluctuation in preliminary test scores, overall, the data supported neither a benefit nor a loss to students in Chinese Immersion. “The scores are very statistically close,” Moore noted.
Superintendent Seiter reported that the Physical Plant committee met with representatives from Ameresco last Thursday night. “Ameresco went over, in detail, the entire project, reviewed every ECM – energy conservation measure – that was identified in the project as far as, once completed, would provide energy savings to the district…We also identified areas that were fixed along the way that Ameresco had uncovered that needed repair in order to achieve those ECMs. Those items that needed [to be] fixed, they spent approximately $28,000 on repairs…It boiled down to Ameresco picked up the tab on about $15,000 or $16,000 worth of these repairs in order to achieve our savings,” Seiter said. Ameresco also identified several items that could be repaired or upgraded in the future that would result in additional savings. “Temperature Control [the contractor] and Ameresco just did a fantastic job, as far as we’re concerned,” Seiter concluded.
Liaison Officer Erica Vredevelt did a presentation to the Board about the projects she has been working on at Farwell schools, in addition to her duties as liaison officer. They included writing grants, anti-bullying programs, coordinating student ride-alongs with the Sheriff’s Department, the Teen Summit, Clash for the Cure, International Walk to School Day, practicing and training for school lock-downs, and extra duties such as chaperoning school dances and maintaining Toula the dog’s Facebook page.
In other business, the Farwell BOE:
*approved operational expenses for the month of February in the amount of $298,382.69.
*accepted an anonymous donation of $100 for the High School and Middle School choirs.
*approved the final reading of the NEOLA policies.
*approved a three-year technology plan, as presented.
*accepted the resignations of Denise Fletcher, custodian and former bus driver, and Jeff Keson, High School media center employee.
*went into Closed Session at 9:05 p.m. to discuss the superintendent’s evaluation.