Outside threat initiated Farwell Schools lockdown

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

A lockdown at Farwell Schools last week lasted just 23 minutes, Interim Superintendent Tom House reported at the board meeting Monday Evening. “It was an ‘outside threat’ initiated at 2:33 p.m. and called off at 2:56 p.m.,” he said. He said that according to protocol, parents were notified through phone calls of the possible threat and he also noted that the incident would count as one of the district’s required lockdowns.

Clare County Sheriff John Wilson said he would like to “thank the parents, school staff and students for their proactive cooperation until the matter was able to be safely resolved.”

A release from the Clare County Sheriff’s Department Wednesday morning said the lockdown was a precautionary measure. Deputies were called to a home near the school for a domestic assault and were told that the reported suspect, a 39 year old man from Farwell, has assaulted a child and a 30-year-old woman there, and that he was now headed to the Elementary School to “take” another child, who also lived in the residence but was in school.

Undersheriff Dwayne Miedzianowski said, “Deputies took the precautionary measure to keep the children and staff safe until they could arrive on the scene and gather further information.” He added that the man did not show up at the school, but was located at another residence. The precautionary security measure [lockdown] was lifted. He said the man was not arrested at the time, but a report was submitted to the Clare County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

In another matter, House also reported at the Farwell BOE meeting that a committee had screened 15 candidates for the planned Assistant Principal/Athletic Director position at the school and had narrowed the applicants down to four, who would be interviewed Wednesday.

He said to the board, “If you want to keep someone in that position for than two years, you might consider an assistant AD to help cover the responsibilities,” which he added are considerable. He said the combined position would mean hours from 7:45 a.m. to sometimes 10 p.m. for the person hired.

After considerable discussion between House and the board members about separating the two positions at considerably more cost to the district, or adding an assistant to help with the work load, the board consensus was to investigate a contracted assistant through PCMI (Professional Contract Management Incorporated).

The cost for an Assistant Principal would be approximately $60,000 and an Athletic Director would cost between $25,000 and $45,000 per year, House said. A contracted assistant would cost between $13,000 and $15,000. He said he believed an AP/AD could be hired for around $60,000.

At the August meeting House told the board that Jack Kramer, Executive Secretary of the Jack Pine Conference and longtime AD from Houghton Lake had agreed to serve at the Interim AD. Monday night he added that Kramer would not be able to fill that position much longer.

Meanwhile the search for a new superintendent is ongoing. In a letter from Interim Superintendent House, parents, key communicators and community members were notified that the school will be hosting forums next Wednesday to receive input in the development of a profile for the new superintendent.
He said, “The forums will be facilitated by Gary Rider, our representative from Michigan Leadership Institute, who is assisting the Board of Education with search for a new superintendent of schools.

Forums for parents and key communicators will be held September 20 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and a larger one, a Community Forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. that day.

All three forums will be held in the Farwell High School Media Center.

Some other positions were filled and approved at the August meeting including Robert Avis as Director of Facilities and Grounds; Sarah Thayer as Elementary Language Facilitator; Daniel Coronado as Server/Helper/Assistant Cook in the HS/MS Cafeteria; Gary VanThull as bus driver; and Dawn Carnaham as HS/MS Cafeteria Server/Helper.

The district also lost one employee Monday evening when they accepted the resignation of Art History Teacher Tyler Lentovich. They also approved another new hire, Blair Williams as Farwell High School Special Education Para.

House also reported Monday evening on a study by Governor Rick Snyder on school finance. He said he had volunteered to serve on a panel about “how to best fund public schools.”

He said one benefit to schools is the 2X formula, which doubles the state aid for poorer districts in the State. He said the 2X formula would be used this year.
Related to the topic of budgeting, he also reported that as of September 8th, enrollment was at 1,234, about 2.7 below the district budget. “The number is changing almost hourly he said.”

Other business at Monday’s meeting included:

*Approval of Kellee Robinson as alternate MASB voting delegate.
*A closed session to discuss negotiations.

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