By Rosemary K. Otzman
Keystone Charter Academy Principal Keturah Godfrey told school board members that last year’s summer program was “incredibly effective for our whole school” so the board unanimously approved paying $10,800 for this summer’s program.
At the regular school board meeting on April 10, Principal Godfrey noted that she had not asked the board for money for many of her projects, which she funded out of her principal’s fund, but this was too costly for her to handle alone.
The board has some $53,000 in discretionary funds, so it considers requests from various departments.
Board members unanimously approved the $10,800 for the ThinkStretch Summer Learning Program, as well as $2,800 for seven iPads with covers to be used in the technology program, and $400 for the Eighth Grade 2014 Graduation (dance and food).
Godfrey said last year the eight-week ThinkStretch program reduced the summer educational loss for students. Last year it was available only to pre-Kindergarten to fifth graders. The company now provides materials up to eighth grade, so every Keystone student can participate.
Katie Hartsock, coordinator of the program, said the cost covers workbooks for every student, 750 parent guides, a coordinator kit, and people from the company in Ann Arbor who will come in to host a ThinkStretch training event for parents.
Also, Wednesday playground sessions in the summer coordinate with the summer studies. And, at the end of the program medals are given out to those who have participated.
Hartsock said teachers volunteer time on Wednesdays in the summer. They look at the scores of the students and work on their weaknesses. Popsicles also are part of the project.
She said 40-60 students attend the Wednesday sessions, and from two to four teachers volunteer, along with five administrators.
“I commend the teachers for volunteering,” said board member William Johnson.
In other business at the April 10 meeting, the board:
• Approved the 2014-15 parent-student handbook, which has a few changes, including institution of the trimester, which has the same length of school year, but is broken into three segments. Also there were updates to the search and seizure of electronic devices during certain periods, which will be returned to students at the end of the day. Also, there is no alcohol on the premises and there is a change to include background checks for chaperones on field trips;
• Approved the 2014-15 school calendar, aligning the holidays with the Van Buren Public Schools schedule;
• Approved the audit letter of engagement with Plante-Moran. The financial audit will start the end of May for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014;
• Heard Principal Godfrey say recent studies show Keystone outperformed the Van Buren Public Schools in test scores in 11 categories out of 17. Board President Vesta Losen said her figures showed Keystone outperformed VBPS, Lincoln, and state scores in 16 out of 17 categories. Godfrey said she would check her figures; and
• Heard the representative of Bay Mills Community College, which charters Keystone, speak from a cell phone in the middle of the board table to say the board should advertise for new board members even if they don’t need any at the moment. They could be on a waiting list.
By Rosemary K. Otzman