Clare Schools Begin Planning For New Aviation Program

October 28, 2019

By Pat Maurer

The Clare Public School District was notified earlier this month that they were awarded a $485,000 Thompson Technology Grant, what Superintendent Jim Walter called “Exciting news for our district” in his report to the Board of Education at Monday night’s meeting

The grant will provide “$185,000 for professional learning, $156,000 in technology, $95,000 in a new aviation program and $40,000 for CNC machining, which allows the machines (they hope to purchase three) to be programmed to build products or parts,” Walter said in an earlier interview.

At Monday’s meeting he wrote, “Now the heavy lifting begins! We are seeking a teacher/instructor for our flight program. Administrators and teachers will receive the first four days of professional learning between now and Thanksgiving. We’ll be seeking some community partners for CC (Computer Numerical Control) machines, as that portion of the grant is for matching funds. We are also beginning to prepare for 1:1 technology expansion to the middle school in the next 9-15 months.”

Monday’s BOE meeting also included a power point presentation on the Primary SPARKS (Students Participating in Academics & Recreation) program and it’s outcomes for Clare students.

Now in its third year in Clare, the program serves 45 students and has a waiting list of ten. Rebecca Idzikowski, Project Director for the Regional Education Service District program presented an overview of the program which is federally funded through 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

SPARKS students meet at-risk criteria that include failing grades, low test scores, behavior and suspension rates, chronic absenteeism and free/reduced lunch. “The program is critical,” Idzikowski said. The Federal goals for the program are to increase student achievement and learning in both academic and non-academic areas.

Local goals for the program are to provide a broad range of enrichment opportunities for students and families; Increase positive behavior through community involvement and youth development activities and Increase school-day attendance for regular participants.

The presentation showed that those goals are being met. School day attendance is increased with annual absences down from 8.2 to 7.4 with 30 days of participation in SPARKS and a further drop to 6.4 the longer the program is attended. Suspensions also were reduced through participation in the program.

Speakers are a big part of the program. Through a partnership with NASA, students are looking forward to talking to an astronaut on the computer soon, Idzikowski said. “Students love being involved in the SPARKS program after school.”

The Board members and Superintendent Walter are looking into ways to increase funding for the program to allow for more students who wish to participate.

In other business at Monday’s meeting,
*Student Body Representative and Student Council President Cristian Kunse gave a report on the activities.
*Superintendent Walter gave kudos to both Business Manager Amber Kruskamp for two perfect audits and to Jennifer Brutyn for another clean audit.
*Approval of bills payable totaling $202,456.63.
*Before the regular meeting the board met in a closed session for an expulsion hearing. Back in open session the board voted to permanently expel the student for a minimum of 180 days with a petition to request reinstatement after 150 days.

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