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Farwell busses students with disabilities to CMU program

Farwell Students Damien Brown and Travis Smith tell Farwell BOE members about their experiences at the “Connections That Count” program.

Farwell Students Damien Brown and Travis Smith tell Farwell BOE members about their experiences at the “Connections That Count” program.

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

A special presentation led the Farwell Board of Education’s first Monday meeting earlier this week.

Teacher Ana Allingham outlined high school student participation in the “Connections That Count” program, developed in 2002, by Central Michigan University. She said the program, which mentors students with disabilities, is now in its third week at Farwell. “Students, 25 to 30 of them, go to the CMU campus each Wednesday evening for two hours, where they meet with college students at the CMU Activity Center and have dinner, bowl, swim, play billiards, run on the track and even get help with homework.” She outlined the benefits for Farwell students and introduced two students, Travis Smith and Damien Brown, who told about their experiences and how much they enjoy the program.

The Farwell students travel to the CMU campus by bus, and are working to raise funds to pay for the bus transportation. “Parents are welcome to participate,” said Allingham. “We leave each Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. and get back at 7:45 p.m. The first two trips were free. After that, each of the students is asked to pay $3 to help defray the cost, although Superintendent Carl Seiter asked Allingham to tell him if anyone could not afford that cost. He said he would cover it. Allingham also said she is writing a grant application to the Youth Advisory Committee and would know this month if they will help with the costs. Each bus trip costs approximately $150, she said.

In another matter, board members voted reluctantly, 6-1 with Board Member Irene Hanner voting no, to expel a Timberline student for extensive disciplinary reasons, as recommended by staff and administrators. The student’s mother pleaded with the board to allow her 16-year-old to continue her education, but after reviewing the staff’s report, the board voted for the student’s expulsion.

Another item of discussion at the meeting was the potential purchase of new busses for the district. Business Manager Jacob Sullivan discussed a potential purchase or lease of two busses next year. He said one possibility would be a bonding issue to fund the purchase.

Sullivan listed the district busses including four he recommended for sale with mileage listed from 127,000 to 173,000 miles. He said the busses would not pass State inspection. All of the four, ranging from model year 1998 to 2001, are now only used as spare busses. Repair costs over the past two years totaled $8,545 on those busses. He said the district should purchase two busses for each of the two coming years.

One possible way for the district to raise the funds needed, Sullivan said, is through bond “re-funding” for a lower interest rate, which would save the district enough to fund the repayment of a new bonding measure to raise approximately $500,000 , which the district voters would have to approve in an August, 2014 election or a November, 2014 election. “This means our residents would not see an increase in their taxes,” he said.

Since the matter was a discussion item, the board has not voted on the issue, but will discuss it again at the next meeting. The transportation committee will meet Thursday about the matter.

Other business at Monday’s meeting included:

*A report from Superintendent Seiter that the Farwell Area Schools endowment fund total is $7,996.22 with $559.59 available to use; a note that superintendent and administrator’s evaluations and contract renewals are coming up; meeting are scheduled to evaluate non-tenured teacher with goals for them to meet to achieve tenure; and dates for coming events: Cabin Fever on Saturday; the Clare-Gladwin board organizational meeting on Tuesday, February 11; District PD Day on Friday, February 14; and the play Cow Tippers on the 21st and 22nd. He also said the boys will play Coleman at the Palace at Auburn Hills on February 22 and the annual Eagles Extravaganza is set for March 1.

*The board also approved a request for 12 students; six boys and six girls, to attend a regional bowling event in Cheboygan on February 20-22; and for winners to attend State competition February 28- March 1 if they qualify.

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