By Cathy Taylor
The first scheduled Board of Education meeting since the death of Board Treasurer Floyd Dennis opened on a somber and emotional note as Board President Marie Roth called for a moment of silence in Dennis’s memory.
Roth addressed the Board and the audience with a heartfelt statement concerning her personal and professional relationship with Dennis.
She began, “Floyd has been a colleague and friend to me for over 20 years. I’ve always considered him a fair and honest man. I sat across the negotiating table from him for several contracts, but we always walked away from that table as friends. He has always been a valued and respected member of our Board. We didn’t always agree, but that’s how a good board should be. Every member has a valued opinion, and I certainly valued his. I will miss him greatly.”
Board Secretary Therese Haley stated, “I would just like to say that he was indeed a valued board member and I already miss his smile.” Haley affectionately added, “And I know I will certainly miss his motion to adjourn at every meeting.”
Harrison School Superintendent Thomas House related one of his favorite stories about Dennis. He began, “Whenever a parent would call concerned because their kid didn’t make it home after school, we would get in his truck and ride around looking for them. He was one of our co-workers for so many years and he will certainly be missed.”
President Roth announced that the Board had received a $50.00 donation from the Hillside Sunshine Fund for the school’s scholarship program in honor of Floyd Dennis.
In other Board business, it was announced that the Board had received a letter from the Michigan Department of Education in Lansing expressing appreciation to Lacie Curns, the Food Services Director of Harrison Community Schools. The MDE commended Curns and her staff for “the courtesy and cooperation extended during a recent Administrative Review of the National School Lunch Program.”
During the public participation segment of the meeting, several parents related their concerns to the Board over the apparent lack of security measures in place for the safety of their children in the Harrison School system. As each parent aired their concerns, the Board continued to struggle to provide the parents with adequate and satisfying answers.
Superintendent House gave an update concerning the Freedom Veteran’s Park property lease. He announced that a final proposal has been submitted to Renee Haley, Director of Veteran’s Services, for a 20-year lease on the school lot that will be the site of the Veteran’s Memorial Park. Haley will present the contract to the county attorney for any changes or adjustments that may be necessary.
It was recommended by Jim Cooper that Mr. Tom Whitfield be hired as the new Varsity Boys Baseball coach. Whitfield previously coached at Farwell High School for nearly fifteen years. Whitfield was hired by unanimous vote.
Harrison native Doug Danberry was one of two candidates scheduled to interview for the BOE vacancy created by the death of Floyd Dennis. Danberry began his interview by informing the Board of his past work history as well as his qualifications to serve on the Board. As each board member presented him with a variety of questions, Danberry successfully gave thoughtful and effective answers to each one.
In conclusion, Danberry stated, “I would very much like to be part of a group that can change negatives to positives. I want our kids to get the best education possible.”
The second candidate vying for the Board position was unable to attend the meeting. His interview will be conducted at a special meeting scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
As the final order of business, President Roth called for nominations for the position of BOE Treasurer. Therese Haley announced that Board Trustee Dan Pechacek expressed an interest in the position. He requested that she submit his name for the position. The Board voted unanimously to appoint Pechacek to the position of Treasurer.
The public meeting was adjorned at 8:10 pm, at which time the committee went into closed session.