By Rosemary K. Otzman
The official fall student count day is Oct. 2, but at Monday’s regular meeting of the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education a preliminary “whites of the eyes count” was given to the board.
School Supt. Michael Van Tassel said the annual budget was based on an expected blended count loss of 120 students.
During the recent budget discussions, a population of 5,105 was expected for the 2013-14 school year and state aid of $7,372 per student.
He said as of Monday, the student count was up 34 from last spring and down 93 from last fall. The student count usually goes down from the fall to spring semesters. The blended rate is based on the numbers at the fall and spring counts.
Last fall the total school population was 5,314 and in the spring of 2013 it was 5,187. As of Monday it was 5,221.
Supt. Van Tassel said the kindergarten counts are up, which is a very positive sign.
Treasurer Sherry Frazier said if the students and parents have a good experience in kindergarten, they are likely to stay in the district.
“Kindergarten is crucial,” Frazier said, noting that a class size of 30 or 31 kids, that has been reported to her, is too much for kindergarten.
Trustee Scott Russell said 30 is the class limit in the contract, but “it’s not the ideal class size.”
Van Tassel said presently the average number of students in kindergarten classes is 27.9; first grade, 24.1; and second grade 26.5. But during the first weeks of schools students are coming in and moving out.
“Kindergarten is very difficult to guess,” Van Tassel said. He noted that 21 to 22 students is break-even for a class as far as the finances go, with it being different for special education.
Board vice president Martha Toth said that someone came up to her in Meijer’s and told her when a charter school says its 26 in a class, there are 26 in a class. Toth said she told the person that at the charter school when they hit their limit, they don’t take any more students. The public schools take everyone who comes.
The official student population will be reported after the Oct. 2 count day.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the school board:
• Approved using $39,581 of BHS bond proceeds to order a new audio visual equipment package for BHS from Digital Age Technologies. These large monitors, mounts, and ancillary equipment is for the upgrading of two classrooms as student learning labs, two as student centers, and the Einstein Lab;
• Approved using $27,996.96 of BHS bond proceeds to order a new audio visual equipment package for BHS from Netech. This is for the fiber optic and infrastructure upgrading of four classrooms as student learning labs;
• Approved splitting the Food Service pizza bids to two bidders: Benito’s Pizza (on Willis Road in Sumpter) and Domino’s Pizza at $5.99 for the 2013-14 school year. The two, who were both highly recommended, were the second-lowest bidders of four, with the lowest bidder, Happy’s, at $5.50 having no school experience and not answering all the questions on the bid document. Hungry Howie was the high bidder at $6.25;
• Approved the HPS group purchasing program that could save up to $14,000 in food service purchases. Savings also could be realized in custodial / maintenance, office, and medical supplies;
• Listened to the first reading of revisions to the Board of Education Policies concerning limiting foreign exchange students to seven, dress and grooming as spelled out in the student handbook, and taking out reference to a program no longer offered in the Withdrawal from School section. Paragraph 113.01 regarding Schools of Choice (inside the district) is being eliminated, in favor of having the superintendent’s office handle in-district requests for school changes within the district;
• Approved the requested terminations of the following teachers: Jamie Coker after 10 years of service at ECDC, Marina Hicks, after six years at ECDC, and Jennifer Jacobs, after three years at ECDC, all for other employment; Scott McMillan, after 1.5 years at McBride, recall; and Petra Hinderer, after 10 years at McBride, and Sarah Bishar, after 11 years at Edgemont, both for resignations;
• Approved the hiring of the following teachers: Jason Wesley, math interventionist at Rawsonville; Gregory Kirk, fifth grade teacher at Owen; Kristine Trickey, English at BHS New Tech; Jamie Ward, kindergarten at Rawsonville; Adam Trumpour, social studies at BHS; Dion Holmes, special education at BHS; Robin Evans, art at McBride; Tiffany Martell, sixth grade at Owen; Amy Morning, ELA interventionist at Owen; Alexandra Stamper, GSRP/Tuition Preschool teacher at Haggerty; and Holly Ulrich, tuition preschool teacher at Haggerty; and
• Approved the resignations of two Food Service workers: Stephanie Jones, after four years of service, and Arnetta Wilson, after 13 years of service.
By Rosemary K. Otzman