By Sylvia Stevens
The Farwell Area Schools Board of Education met Monday, but a quorum of board members was not present to vote on any topics on the agenda.
“Without a Quorum we can’t approve the agenda, the minutes or anything else,” Superintendent Carl Seiter said.
None the less, the board members made the best of the situation and discussed several topics that will be up for a vote at the next board meeting August 18. The first topic discussed was the continued search to fill a high school special education position and a high school English position. The high school has already narrowed down the field of candidates and will be presenting their selections to Superintendent Carl Seiter soon and then he will present them to the board for approval. Also the job postings for a kindergarten and fourth grade position were just recently posted and a committee to review the candidates will be formed shortly.
Seiter then reminded the board that the administration and a few teachers would be attending a training session for the Five Dimensions Teacher Evaluation in Muskegon, Wednesday and Thursday.
“The administrative team along with myself and three teachers, one from each building will be attending Five Dimensions Training on the teacher evaluation tool. We have invited a teacher representative from each building to help promote that openness and transparency with regards to the evaluation process which I think will bolster the relationship between the administrators and them,” Seiter said. “They are going to receive the same training that the administrators are going to receive and then be yet another resource for those teachers and any questions they may have about the process.”
Seiter then informed the board about the ongoing search to find an alternative option for the students in the Chinese Immersion program. Seiter was told by The Midland Chinese School that they would be able to handle 40 to 50 students, but he had yet to hear back if a teacher would be willing to travel to Farwell to teach the students on a weekly basis.
“At this point I’m going to meet with him and form a gathering of some of the parent groups and talk about registration… I feel we need to give preference to that third grade group that has been there the longest and then move down,” Seiter said. “I did talk to him about the possibility of one of his teachers coming here to the school on more regular basis…at this point I am waiting for Joe to tell me whether or not he has anybody interested and then we would talk terms with how much would it take for them to consider driving up here and being here one day a week, two days a week, three days a week after school.”
The next item of business was the status of the communication tower that the school presently uses on Fire Tower Hill. Seiter recommended the school move its communication equipment off of that tower and move it to one the county will be using in Lake George.
“The county has done an assessment of the tower that we are on and found it to be structurally a liability and in their terms could come down and they wanted us to know that they are leaving that tower,” Seiter said. “They (the county) are getting out of their contract and leaving that tower and what that boils down to is the school district would have been physically the only player on that tower and thus putting the most liability on us.”
Even though there will always be a risk of the tower falling over Seiter believed it was far safer for the district to share a tower with the county and thus share the liability then to remain the sole user of their current tower and carry the bulk of the cost if it falls.
“In order to prolong our communication abilities I think moving to a better structurally sound tower situation is the way to go,” Seiter said. “The county is going to handle all of the power cost: they are going to handle any ongoing maintenance costs. The only cost to us in this situation is a little bit of new wiring and the cost of moving our equipment and placing it on that tower.”
Without a quorum the board could not vote on moving the communication equipment so it will be brought up at the next meeting. The final item of business was a status report on replacing trustee Duffy Doxtader.
“Trustee Duffy Doxtader has resigned do to reasons out of his control,” Seiter said.
The board has 30 days to find someone to take up Doxtader’s remaining term on the board that expires December 30. Interested individuals must submit an application to Paula Sullivan by August 12 and then can attend the August 18 meeting and make their case to the board.
“On the eighteenth we will set up a time frame where applicants can talk to the board about why they want to fill out the remainder of this term, ” Seiter said. “Then the board will make a decision on who to appoint.”
At the adjournment of the meeting Holly Thrush, a member of the audience, spoke to the board about the Midland Chinese program and its looming enrollment deadline of August 15. Seiter stated he was never told the program had a deadline, but he promised to speak with organizers the next day about that issue.