Parents worry about quality after Farwell cuts positions

December 13, 2013

By Marhea Pease

12-13-13 Carl Seiter SuperintendentA couple of weeks ago Farwell Schools were forced to eliminate some positions including the new liaison officer Kelly Bailey, Assistant Principal Tim Moore, and Middle School Counselor Lynn Hoerauf.

With the recognized loss of 58 students resulting in $406,000.00 of funding now gone from the budget it was a difficult choice in cutting staff that not only administrated the school, but also protected the children’s safety and emotional/mental health of the students.

Linda Hallam’s son Alex attends Farwell Schools in the elementary program and she is utterly shocked and outraged. “Mr. Moore is a great loss to the Farwell community. You have kids that come in that are 5,6, and 7 years old that have never been introduced to the real world settings and what is to be expected of them in the classroom. A child in the kindergarten class pushed another student, not hard, and not down to the ground. When Mr. Moore was there he would sit there and work with the students on why it is not ok to lead to physical confrontations when upset or frustrated. Now with him gone that child was suspended for 5 days. It teaches our children that if they want to get out of school this is the best way to do so. Its discipline without education. It creates more problems than solutions.”

She continued to say, “My son has missed some school because I know that there are things that he needs to work on when dealing with other children. We expect these children to just understand and adhere to rules set by the school that is not always properly explained, if even at all. So I kept him home when he should have been in school because I did not want him to get suspended over the issues.”

She also questions, “What is going to happen with the safety of our children now that the liaison officer is gone? What about the children who are at risk because they have unsafe homes or are bullied or even thinking about suicide? The school is compromised by outside and inside threats. Now there is no one that our students can talk to about their personal issues. We cannot assume that teachers who spend over 8 hours a day teaching plus all the time it takes to prepare lessons outside of work will be able to sit down and spend an hour or two to talk to students let alone question if their students might need help in a non-academic way.”

In exasperation she says, “My son has stayed up crying over the loss of Mr. Moore. Because not only was he a great administrator to the school but he is also the bridge to help kids to become successful in dealing with issues inside and outside the classroom. I have been considering homeschooling and transferring him. Skeels and Clare schools are far away, but my other neighbors are considering it too. We will have to car pool but I will do anything to make sure my son is safe and has a bright future.”

She ends with, “I don’t want to demonize the schools or the district. The staff and teachers work really hard every day for our students and for their futures. But this needs to be addressed we need to come up with solutions that will allow us to keep great staff and administration. We need more support from the community and to come up with ways to increase funding. We need to be allowed the opportunity to address these issues at the school board meetings instead of just hearing, “These are the cuts, next order of business.” That will only drive more parents to transfer their kids out of the schools.”

According to and from the Michigan Department of Education Farwell Area Schools have ranked in the 15 percentile in the 2012-2013 school year top to bottom assessment program from the academic year and testing compared to all schools in Michigan.

While excelling and receiving high marks in reading and writing categories for the annual MEAP standardized test scoring for the 2012-2013 school year it was found that 63.7% of 8th graders were not proficient in Math 71.3% were not proficient in Science. The overall scores from 3rd to 8th grade indicated that the average was 45.4% of students were not proficient Math and Science.

Superintendent Carl Seiter states, “It’s hard. It’s so hard to deal with cuts. We have to look at it like a business and right now we are working with less and less money from the state and enrollment. We have to come up with $600,000.00 just to keep our heads above water.”

He continues, “It is not just our school. Every school in Central Michigan is having to cut in any place they can as to not become a deficit district. The alternative to these positions are teachers. We are down to bare bone educational services. Our sole funding is student enrollment. We are always between a rock and a hard place.”

The next Farwell School Board meeting will be held December 16th at 7 p.m. in the media room at the high school. Parents and the community are asked to come in and show their support or offer alternatives to the cutting of staff.

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