Erich T. Doerr | Review Correspondent
The Farwell School Board met last week for its first of two meetings this month. The meeting was mostly discussion but the board did take one action involving the increase of wages for pre-school staff.
The main issue at hand and the only action item of the night was a piece of old business about rising wages for Farwell’s preschool instructors. Superintendent Carl Seiter led the discussion by talking about costs of the program versus how much it earns back in tuition. According to figures presented at the meeting the program costs $83,028 a year to run but makes back $75,000 in tuition meaning the district only has to supplement it with $8,028. The program has two employees with the proposed increased wages resulting in a total cost increase of about $400 per person.
The board believed this was an acceptable figure and unanimously approved the measure after a motion by board member Duffey Doxtader and a second by Paula Sullivan. The $400 increase is roughly a half-percent raise on their current wages.
Farwell recently held its National Honor Society induction ceremony which both board member Shari Buccilli and superintendent Carl Seiter attended. A large number of students were honored with Buccilli and Seiter both reporting it was a good ceremony.
The schools also recently held a round of parent-teacher conferences from which Seiter presented data on parental attendance. According to his data 60 to 70 percent of elementary school parents came but the number drops off as children age with 50 percent of middle school parents coming and 25 percent of high school parents. No matter what the level he said the conferences were a great chance for parents to return their parental surveys to the district and many did.
Seiter continued to lead the discussion as the topic switched to an update on capital projects. According to Seiter they have identified the issues with the streets project and the high school roof getting priority. He added they are looking at four other projects tentatively but some could play out into next year.
“I expect at the next board meeting we’ll get our synopsis,” Doxtader said about the general fund for them adding he hopes there are no surprises. “I hate surprises.”
A brief discussion about tightening security regarding visitor access also came up. The tentative plan involves a buzzer system to grant entry but the board noted there is still a lot of planning that needs to be done before action is taken. While information brought up at the meeting said the plan looks like it could work at the elementary school the middle school was said not to be in agreement with it and there are concerns the buzzer could disturb classes. Doxtader suggested phasing in the system slowly starting with the elementary school while Buccilli said installation would be an easier job at their primary school but no decisions were made on the program.
“There’s debate among the administration about it,” Seiter said, noting it is a balancing act between securing the buildings and having a welcoming atmosphere.
Some of the meeting was spent on political discussion of upcoming issues such as the controversial House Bill 6004 and Senate Bill 1358. Both are intended to put more control of underperforming schools in the hands of the state government.
“We’ve got to keep our eyes on these bills,” Seiter said.
Doxtader suggested much of the reasoning for the bills it has to do with the Detroit school districts. Seiter agreed noting one of the programs the bills intends to expand is a joint effort between 15 Detroit-area districts, Eastern Michigan University and the state government.
“It’s become worse and worse,” Doxtader said. “This is to destroy the whole system instead of fixing the problem… The system is dead.”
Doxtader added they need to get the word out against the bills.
“It’s not a matter of logic, it’s a matter of noise,” Doxtader said.
All members of the board were present for the meeting except for Irene Hanner. John Gross who is going to replace the retiring Max Paine next month was also present for the meeting.