Harrison bus driver tells Board, dress, cell phone policies need to be enforced

With nearly half of their members absent, Harrison Community Schools’ Board of Education was barely able to reach a quorum at Monday’s meeting.  The officers – Treasurer Floyd Dennis, Secretary Denise Haskin, Vice President Connie Cauchi and President Marie Roth – conducted the district’s business in front of a group consisting mostly of High School seniors, taking notes as part of a class requirement.

As it turns out, the seniors had plenty of notes to take; the Board’s agenda included 11 information/discussion items and seven action items.

Most of the information/discussion items ended up being very little in the way of discussion, but a lot of information presented to the Board by Superintendent Tom House.  House began by reporting on the most likely path the Clare-Gladwin RESD will take to help fund the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs throughout the RESD – a five-year $1.5 mil enhancement millage.

“We have a Career and Tech Ed program in the Clare-Gladwin RESD that has no dedicated funding or no dedicated space,” House told the Board, adding that they have run the program for many years using whatever facilities or businesses they could find.  House noted that the tuition per student in the CTE program was currently $2,000, but that number was expected to increase to $2,300 by next year.  The enhancement millage, which must be passed by the majority of voters within the RESD, would allow funds — diminishing by $500 each year — to go toward CTE tuition, and would initially provide Harrison with approximately $408,000 to put towards other needs.

House also said there will be an administrative vacancy to fill at Hillside Elementary.  “We have some people inside that probably could perform these jobs,” House said, noting that staff who was “trained, prepared and ready” for such a position may want to leave the district if they were not considered for the vacancy.  President Roth said she would like to discuss the matter more completely with all the Board members present.

In the High School, House reported that the “ancient camera system” was in need of replacement, and that the cost – approximately $6,000 – would be covered by grant money that the district already has acquired.

House also:

*reported that he received a three-year busing proposal that would keep costs unchanged for the first year, with incremental rate raises to follow.

*recommended that the district apply for the $100 per student “fiscal responsibility money” available from the State.

*informed the Board that Principal Thomas will be re-posting the position for a High School math teacher.

*said that the Gear Up program, implemented by CMU students, would begin on Friday.  The program adopts 7th Grade students and follows them until one year past High School graduation, with the goal of teaching them what is available to them in higher education and helping them enter college.

*reported that the governor’s budget had been released, and that the foundation allowance and the at-risk funding for K-12 schools would remain the same next year as they are currently, and that any incentive money would be awarded on the results of this year’s test scores.

*said that his name was drawn at a Consortium of Northern Michigan Superintendents meeting that he attended, and that Granger Construction — a sponsor of the consortium — would be awarding Harrison a $1,000 scholarship.

*reported that an old pressure steamer that rapidly heats and steams food was in need of repair and could be replaced using the food service fund balance, at an estimated cost of $17,000.

During the meeting, Sid Jones, a bus driver and parent, addressed the Board during the Public Participation portion of the agenda.  “I just have a concern over the lack of consistency of enforcement with cell phones, ipods, the dress code,” Jones said, adding, “I’m willing to be part of the solution, if there’s any way I can help.  I think it’s really getting out of hand.”  Jones continued, “I realize it’s difficult in this day and age when, I mean, we’re in an age of technology and we’re in an age of saggy pants and body parts hanging out and things, but if we have a policy, I think we should enforce it.”  President Roth replied, “I agree with you, Sid; there should be consistency.”

High School Principal Jeremy Thomas explained, “The policy is they can have the cell phone on them; it has to be turned off.  This day and age, when cell phones are pretty expensive, we want to make sure students don’t leave them in their lockers.”  Thomas said that he talks to the staff frequently about enforcing the dress code, but that sometimes a student can “slip through the cracks”.  “I know that some of my male teachers have a hard time addressing some of the females, especially when their shirts are torn and you see too much cleavage.  It’s a pretty sensitive issue for some of the gentlemen who work on the staff,” Thomas said.  “That’s when the female teachers need to [address it],” Roth commented.  “Absolutely,” Thomas agreed.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, the Harrison BOE:

*accepted “with deep regret” the retirement of Barb Elliott, Hillside Elementary Principal.

*agreed to hold bi-monthly meetings on the fourth Monday of every other month as a work session, without scheduling those meeting in the months of July and December, and skipping the upcoming March meeting due to Board member absences.

*following the recommendation of Athletic Director Jim Cooper, hired CC Hilliard as the JV Softball Coach.

*following the recommendation of A.D. Cooper, hired Larry Fleming as the Varsity Volleyball Coach.

*passed a resolution to apply for the State’s “best practice” incentive money.

*went into Closed Session at 8:27 p.m. to discuss negotiations.