Farwell Board of Education Votes 6-1 to Stay in Jackpine Conference

January 13, 2020

Coach Tyler Thayer reported on the progress of the new Robotics Club.

By Pat Maurer

Following a lengthy discussion and review of the community survey, the Farwell Board of Education voted 6-1 to “stay in the Jack Pine Conference at this time.”

Superintendent Steven Scoville said of the 91 responses to the community survey, “75 percent were in favor of remaining in the Jack Pine Conference. The additional travel time was the biggest concern,” he said.

Farwell Athletic Director Mike Groulx said, “My recommendation is not to switch to Mid State.

During Public Comment, Bryce VanBuskirk said, “I think the change would not be good. I think the Jack Pine is where we belong.”

John Walkawitz disagreed. “I’m totally with it [the change], he said. The change in conferences will help up retain kids. Changing the conference will mean we start winning and academics would go up. A lot of our athletes move over to Clare because they are sick of losing. The change would mean more community support and more revenue. I would like the board to vote on this tonight.”

Superintendent Steven Scoville explained earlier, “Farwell Area Schools is a member of the Jack Pine Conference and is a founding member of that conference. Our coaches’ counsel has been comparing athletic conferences and researching this issue.” Scofield said the change is being considered because Farwell has “the smallest high school enrollment in the JPC.”

Monday night he said a proposed change that would mean larger schools would lose points even if they won a game against a smaller school. Farwell is a division 7 school, while Clare and Gladwin are division 5 schools.

Scoville also said changing to the Mid State Conference would mean more travel on secondary roads.

Board President Joe Maxi said, “I’m on the fence. I think the [survey] numbers are skewed because the same people could take the survey multiple times.

Groulx added, “We need to build youth programs. I think the JP benefits are good. Mid State is not the right conference for us. We just have to do a better job with our kids.” He added, “We need people dedicated to doing this.”

BOE member Shari Buccilli said, “My concern is academically, how would this [change] affect our students?” Kellee Robinson said, “I don’t think our sports program is all that awful. Angelina Smith said, “Leaving now would be counteractive.”

In a letter to district residents, Scoville wrote, “This decision was made after several months of study on this issue. During that time the Board of Education heard from coaches, parents, community members and athletes.”

In another matter at Monday’s meeting, a presentation by Robotics Club Coach Tyler Thayer outlined the progress of the club which was established last year. Thayer said the club meets every Wednesday and presently has four students. This year a are a Rookie 1st Robotics team and will design and manufacture a robot and take part in two competitions, one at Ferris State University and one in Shepherd.

Principal Dee Yarger said the club has acquired two grants and donations, but still needs tools.

The Board also recognized the FHS Students of the Month including 8th grader Miguel Santiago, 9th grader Raini Sponseller, 10th grader Ryleigh Horodyski, 11th grader Mackenzie Phillips, 12th grader James Railer and for Timberland McKenzie Brewer.
Other business at Monday’s board meeting included:
*Approval of Administrative Contracts with a one percent increase;
*Approval of a wage re-opener of the teachers’ contract granting a one-step increase for all eligible and a $350 one-time stipend for those not eligible for a step increase.
*A report on the Michigan Association of School Board’s meeting guidelines including students at the top of the list, a calendar for the board, and aligning the superintendent’s evaluation with the board calendar.

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