Farwell BOE to hire liaison officer again

January 11, 2018

By Pat Maurer

When they learned from the new Farwell Superintendent Dave O’Bryant that Act 31a,  at-risk funds were available for it, the Farwell Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a contract with the Clare County Sheriff’s Department for a liaison officer at the district’s schools.

The position has been vacant since 2016, when it was eliminated due to budget constraints.

Farwell High School Principal Dr. Dee Yarger said, “People don’t realize how important a liaison officer is in relation to pro-active approaches including education and safety programs in the schools.”

Liaison officers at the district have included Erica Vredevelt, Sean Robb, and Kelli Bailey, she said.

At the Januaryn3rd meeting she told the board said calls to the Clare County Sheriff’s Department for assistance have escalated since the liaison officer’s position was eliminated.

Undersheriff Dwayne Miedzianowski, who was also at the January 3rd meeting to outline possibilities with the board, said there had been 20 calls to the CCSD since school started this year. Yarger said the calls have been much higher since the schools stopped having a liaison officer.

Miedzianowski told the board the cost for a liaison officer for the rest of the school year (February through May) would be around $15,000 to $20,000 depending on the wage and fringe benefits of the officer selected for the position.

He said that the cost for a full school year, including fringe benefits would probably be around $35,000 to $40,000 for a full time officer at the school during the school year. The County Sheriff’s Department would pay wages and benefits for the portion of the year when the officer was not working at the school.

Act 31a at-risk funds have increased, the superintendent said. Last year the funds totaled approximately $421,000, the amount included in this school year’s budget. This year the allocation was increased by $124,581.97 to approximately $545,000. He said 20 percent of the funding could be used for security at the schools, including a liaison officer.

The 31a At-Risk Pupils Legislation funding was developed to ensure that pupils are proficient in reading by the end of grade 3 and that high school graduates are career and college ready. The Allocation Formula is based on the foundation allowance and the previous year’s fall membership and number of pupils eligible for free meals (11.5 percent of foundation allowance times the free eligibility count); Allocations are prorated based on a per pupil amount to stay within the State appropriation.

At the meeting Board President Sherri Buccilli said, “This would be a good thing for our school and students.”

Yarger said “multiple” interviews with potential liaison officers have been scheduled for January 19th. When a selection is made and amount determined, it will be brought back to the BOE for their approval at the next meeting. “Our goal is to have a liaison officer in place February 1st, she added.

In another matter the board discussed setting goals for Superintendent O’Bryant. Board member Bill Geyer discussed included a few Facebook page, regular Superintendent’s columns in the Review, and that O’Bryant should spend time getting to know the students. Kelee Robinson said a goal should be to create measurable incentives to make improvements in the district.

Other goals will be developed.

In other business the board approved the retirement of Jill Archbold and Ben Bryant as a teacher and coach.

The board adjourned to a closed session for a student discipline matter.

Before the regular meeting the annual Organizational meeting was held.

Sherri Buccilli was approved 4-3 as Board President; Joe Maxey was selected at Vice President; Angelina was named Secretary and Kellee Robinson was approved for Treasurer.

On the recommendation of the superintendent, the board changed the meeting schedule. Regular meetings will be held on the first Monday of the month except for holidays and a quarterly workshop meeting will be held on the third Mondays of March, May, August and November. Additional meetings will be scheduled as needed.

After some discussion, the board also voted to hold the March 5th meeting in Lake and the May 7th meeting in Lake George.

At the December 18 regular meeting the board held a walk through with Wolgast and discussed items that they would like to see added or deleted from the lists of potential improvements.

The also accepted the resignation of school bus driver Rob Nix and approved hiring Patty Ludwig as a replacement school bus driver.

After a closed session they accepted the resignation of Debroah Banach, held another closed session for a student discipline matter and held a third to discuss negotiations.

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