Farwell BOE plans to install school buzzer system

Erich T. Doerr | Review Correspondent

 

The Farwell School Board met on Monday to say hello to three new teachers and goodbye to a long-time board member.

The meeting was the last for retiring board member Max Paine. Superintendent Carl Seiter thanked Paine at the start of the meeting and presented him with certificate of appreciation. Seiter said Paine has served as a board member on-and-off for the last 24 years and was even part of the board in 1983 when Seiter graduated from Farwell as a student.

“I’m sad to see a man such as yourself retiring from the board,” Seiter said.

Paine was equally quick to thank those who made his tenure on the board possible.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the teachers and administrators,” Paine said, later adding his fellow board members. “Farwell got through a lot of down times other districts struggled with.”

Alongside Paine’s departure the board also approved the hiring of three new teachers with John Coon as a new high school social studies teacher, Alisa Joseph as a new second grade teacher and Benjamin Bryant as a new para-pro at Timberland. All three of the new teachers were in attendance for the meeting.

“We want the cream of the crop,” board member Duffey Doxtader said.

With the Newtown shooting taking place just four days earlier safety was a topic on everyone’s minds especially as Farwell was considering installing a similar buzzer system to the one installed there. Seiter said the elementary school is still going to receive the buzzer but that they have to face the realization a system like that won’t stop an attacker but can buy time.

“It might give us some precious moments to get kids under cover,” Seiter said, adding parents have praised the buzzer system. “That’s what we need is to slow them down.”

Seiter added the school also ran drills and reviewed policies on how it would react if faced with a similar attack or how to keep track of children so it never reaches that point. He found them to be a big help.

“A lot of them are small changes but you don’t see them until you role play,” Seiter said.

It was a rough week for Farwell schools as a middle school student died last week. The schools did provide assistant to those that needed it after the loss, with Seiter noting 100 students signed out the day of the funeral, and Doxtader praised them for the response.

“It’s something that no one ever prepares for,” Doxtader said.

After Paine’s little ceremony came an official ceremony as the school district honored its four Students of the Month. Freshman Caitlyn Veasey, sophomore Amber Spaugh, junior Nina Buccilli and senior Josh Hart each came before the board and presented their awards by Farwell High School principal Dee Yarger.

During the financial portion of the meeting the board approved the $294,569.49 operational invoice and two donations of $400 from Danielle Taylor for the Brian Taylor Memorial fund and $250 from the United Methodist Women for Community Caring Fund. The board also accepted a budget update from Jacob Sullivan who said their fall student count was 1,489 with a blended count of 1,480.35. He said this would translate to a $437,000 increase in state aid.

Later the board talked again with Sullivan about a proposal to adapt a 457 retirement plan as a secondary option. The members each received a copy of the plan and Sullivan said it would not add any costs to the district. The board voted to approve the plan and passed both of the measures necessary to adopt it.

One issue discussed during the meeting with Michigan’s proposed firearm law that would have allowed weapons in schools if the owners had the proper training. No one on the board supported the idea which was vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder the next day.

The meeting ended with a property discussion that was switched at the last minute from a closed session to an open one. According to Seiter the structure in question is the Brink House at 415 E. Michigan St. next door to the high school. The board approved buying the structure for $15,000 given the results of an upcoming asbestos test reveal less than $1,000 in hazardous materials that must be removed.