By Mary Kindig
In the wake of four employee resignations the Farwell Board of Education accepted at their previous meeting, Monday’s BOE meeting had the Board approving the addition of four new teachers.
Each school principal introduced the teachers who have already started working in their buildings. High School Principal Dee Yarger introduced Jeff Keson (who is working in the Choice Room), Kevin Wernette (Social Studies teacher and department chair), and Bailey Leasher (Special Education). Middle School Principal Cathy Gross introduced Michelle Ray (Spanish teacher). Principal Tim Moore introduced Lu Liu, the new First Grade Chinese Immersion teacher, who is technically an employee of Michigan State University. The Board unanimously approved the hiring of all new teachers.
Each administrator gave a report to the Board regarding the start of the new school year. Principal Moore reported, “Our pre-school situation is much better than it was last year. Our fee-based program is full, with a waiting list, with people signing up for next year. That’s amazing.” Moore also reported that all the slots are filled in the Chinese Immersion program in Kindergarten and First Grade. Last year there were 25 slots available, and this year there are 100 because of the addition of Lu Liu as a second teacher, and there is a waiting list to get into the program. When asked by President Max Paine how many children were enrolled in Kindergarten, Moore said there were four classes of over 25 students, adding, “We have the biggest numbers around.”
Middle School Principal Cathy Gross reported, “Last year, the Middle School was a targeted assisted school, which means we could only provide Title services to a handful of students. And, over the summer, a group of us met and we went through the process of becoming a schoolwide Title building, which means all of our students receive Title services.” Gross also reported that the Middle School band students were promised that they could also take Spanish, and, after re-working the schedule and hiring Michelle Ray, Spanish was made available to all 5th and 6th Grade Band students. Gross said she discovered that October 5th was Count Day (where the State counts attendance) and now efforts are underway to change the International Walk to School Day to October 4th instead.
Principal Dee Yarger reported that the High School has been busy with Freshman Academy, students enrolling in the early college program, and the processing seat-time waivers. Yarger also reported that Timberland had 59 students enrolled, with four more signing up this week, which she said was the highest number of students ever enrolled in Timberland.
Liaison Officer Erika Vredevelt reported that she is working on topics of internet safety and bullying.
Parent Bill McGinnis inquired about the new attendance policy. “I looked at it, and you’re telling a parent they’re not going to get excused unless they have a doctor’s slip. I don’t know of any doctor, or I haven’t for 20 years, that you can call up in the morning and get to see that day.” McGinnis continued, “Depending on your insurance, or if you have insurance, you’re paying $30/$35 to go see a doctor to get a slip that maybe your son or daughter has an upset stomach or a runny nose or whatnot.”
Trustee Duffey Doxtader responded, “Part of it has to do with us instructing our Liaison Officer a while back to put a bite into our policy concerning the parents of students who are habitual offenders…They did a school within Clare, Harrison, Farwell, through the Prosecuting Attorney and came up with similar things in all the school districts. We reviewed it last week, and we think there’s wording changes has to be done a little bit, but it is being addressed, and if you talk to the respective principals, I think they’ll explain it…It’ll be on an individual basis, but it doesn’t say that.” McGinnis said he would talk to the principals for further clarification.
In other business at Monday night’s BOE meeting, the Board:
*approved operational expenses in the amount of $332,094.02.
*approved Schools of Choice 105 and 105C.
*approved the Safe Routes to School Agreement.
*went into Closed Session at 7:55 p.m., citing Attorney/Client Privilege.