Farwell Schools a finalist for Thompson grant

May 10, 2019

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

In his comments to the board at the Farwell Board of Education meeting Monday evening, Superintendent Steve Scoville said he hoped to hear by Wednesday about the Thompson Foundation Grant, which can award up to $1 million.

Farwell is one of eight finalists in the state for the grant. “If we are chosen, Superintendent Steven Scoville said, the goal would be to get us to a ‘one to one’ student technology ratio, meaning Kindergarten through 12th grade students would each have their own technology device and the staff would get intensive training for teaching with the technology.

The Thompson Technology Grant is funded by the Thompson Education Foundation (Robert and Ellen Thompson)…funded with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Thompson-McCully Company, once one of the largest asphalt paving companies in Michigan.  The mission of the Foundation is to assist in the education of students in areas that have a high concentration of working families.  The amount of the award is determined at the discretion of the foundation.

Scoville said the “tech team” had visited, met with Farwell’s tech team and toured several classrooms that are presently using the school’s limited technology. He said, “Their comments on the way we are using our now limited technology were very positive. They are looking for a school with limited resources, high poverty, while making good use of the technology they do have. They are also looking at our leadership, willingness and commitment to teaching and learning with technology.” He added the grant would have a huge impact on our school and our community,” he added.
He also told the board that the union had approved a change for the Friday before Memorial Day, making it a half-day rather than a ‘no-school’ day. He said with the four day reprieve expected when the Governor signs the bill approved by both Senate and House, the one extra school day plus the legislature’s approval of the additional four would move the last day of school back to June 14th. “We are waiting to hear,” he said.

With the bond proposal on Tuesday’s ballot, the Farwell Board of Education heard from several audience members, most offering support for the bond issue which will provide much needed renovation funds for the district.
Mike Yule expressed his support for the bond, while Ryan Blain said he was “concerned about the approach. “The $24 million dollar bond will cost us $41 million over the twenty-five years,” He said. “That means $17 million in interest we would pay.

Brenda Seiter, wife of former Superintendent Carl Seiter, said they support the bond issue, as did Lisa Gross and Amy Shindorf.

Letha Raymond said while she supports the school and the district’s need for renovation funds, she doesn’t support the bond proposal, saying she has a problem with the 25 year term of the bond. “It’s a hard sell because of the interest,” she said.

In regular business the board approved donations including $200 from the Farwell Women’s Club for M-STEP snacks and $500 from the Compass Group (Chartwells).

The board also approved hiring five new employees: Social Worker Bethany Georgia; Ethan Osborn for the Elementary Playground; Crossing Guard Kelsey Shimmons; Assistant Track Coach Molly Fetzer and Assistant Middle School Track Coach Kailin Glaizer.

Under resignations accepted were Gary VantHull- Transportation; MS Paraprofessional Kurt Meister; High School Teacher Alice Russell, who is retiring; MS Paraprofessional Chris Kelly; High School Art Teacher Krysta Neuman and the termination of JV Assistant Football Coach Brandon Hauck.
Four resolutions were approved by the BOE.

Kellee Robinson was designated the Clare-Gladwin Electoral Representative and Shari Buccilli named alternate. In a second resolution Robinson was charged with voting for Sara Kyle of Gladwin, Lou Adams of Farwell and Jason Pahl of Beaverton in the coming election. Buccilli will serve as the alternate voter.

The CGRESD budget resolution and a School Funding Research Collaborative resolution were also adopted. The last resolution is part of an initiative for equal student funding in all schools.

During public comment, John Pakledinaz stressed the importance of the board and community contacting legislators about equal student funding. “Every student should receive the same,” he said.

Letha Raymond echoed the sentiment. “We need to take what political action we need to end the inequality in funding.

Also approved at the meeting was:
*A student’s application for early graduation;
*An overnight request for the a football Wing-T camp at Timer Ridge in Traverse City;
*A Boys Golf overnight request for the Michigan High School Athletic Association Regionals;
*A track overnight trip request for one boy and one or two girls to attend State Finals; and
*The payment of bills totaling $1,358,387.58.

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