Changing one middle school into a 5-6th grade school and one into a 7-8th grade school, as of the 2011-12 school year, is one of the many recommendations made at last Thursday’s special session of the School Board.
It looks like North Middle School may be chosen for the older students.
The board heard three-year plans for the district from School Supt. Thomas Riutta, Plant Operations and Services Supervisor Brian Brice, and Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Director Peggy Voigt.
“We’re telling you what we think should be done, and we’re asking for no board action tonight,” Supt. Riutta said.
“This is our view of what needs to take place in the next three years,” he said, adding that next year they will do it again and look three years into the future.
Riutta said the administration and bond committee is putting a tremendous amount of time dealing with the construction of the high school. The new school should be opened in the third year, in the fall of 2012.
By this December, it is expected there will be a roof on the building with work continuing inside, he said.
He said the administration is negotiating with all the employee groups and the teachers’ union is expected to vote on the tentative agreement on Sept. 7.
Also, he recommended creation of a technology department, since the new school will include $4 million in new technology and there is only one person working on technology presently.
Riutta also said that the district no longer has a business manager, since Nick Armelagos, who was on sick leave, chose not to come back.
He said the district will have to hire a financial director and, tentatively, he thinks they could get an interim director and then a director later. He suggested bidding out the auditing services.
Also, he recommends hiring a half-time Human Resources Director. Consultant Neil Hartman currently is filling in and his hours could be reduced to 2.5 or 3 days a week next spring.
Supt. Riutta recommended rethinking elementary school attendance boundaries to draw them in terms of neighborhood schools, for pre-Kindergarten through fourth grades.
Riutta also said the district will look at keeping certification for auto repair for 5 years and redesign the alternative education program that was eliminated to create a program more closely meeting the needs of local students.
Riutta also recommended expanding the school day after the new high school is complete. It would run later into the afternoon and allow two-hour science labs, for examplem and give time for music and other classes. He said it would look similar to a community college scheduling.
“It’s the only way we can reasonably deal with the Michigan Merit curriculum,” he said.
Also there will be an ongoing evaluation of district employees.
During the 2012-13 school year, Riutta recommends beginning the superintendent search process, since his contract runs out in June 2012.
During Brice’s three-year plan, he pointed out that his goal is to retire in July 2013 or no later than March 2014, so he intends to leave the district with an excellent operations plan and a knowledgeable and trained staff.
Voigt gave her three-year plan for curriculum, instruction, and assessment and stressed, “My major, major, major goal” is consistency among all the school buildings and grade levels.
She said the district also has to reconsider its use of technology. She said she had a high school student speak to the teachers in August and he told them 100% of his friends have cell phones and most of those are smart phones.
She said there are six computers to share in a classroom, while every student in the class has a smart phone in his pocket that the teacher told him to turn off.
In other business at the Sept. 2 meeting, the board:
* Approved the employment of Laura
Wiech as a high school custodian at a pay of $13.06 per hour;
* Approved the termination of five teachers who refused recall: Ashley Thomas, South Middle School, 6 months of service; Courtney Leaym, elementary specials, 1 year; Elizabeth Portincasa, elementary specials, 2 weeks; Catherine Wiser, special services, 2 weeks; and Megan Phillips, North Middle School, 6 months;
* Approved the employment of teachers Kristy Hickson, elementary art, $38,694; Jennifer Porcaro, district psychologist, $42,450; Laurie Hoffman, BHS special education, $34,853; and Kara Schultz, South Middle School math/English, $39,365 (recalled from layoff);
* Heard Supt. Riutta announce that BHS assistant principal Tim Ottewell has been assigned as interim principal at North Middle School, after Carl Schultz left the position suddenly. Ottewell is filling in for NMS Principal Dianne Tilson, who is on medical leave. BHS Principal Mike Van Tassel and consultant Dennis Conley have 70 to 80 applicants for assistant principal and Van Tassel also is looking at internal candidates;
* Was informed it looks like there will be more students than anticipated in classrooms this semester, which is good news;
* Learned more than 200 backpacks were distributed at South Middle School earlier that day through the efforts of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. Mayor Richard Smith, Sumpter Township Supervisor Johnny Vawters, and Van Buren Township Supervisor Paul White assisted in the distribution;
* Was informed donations are being sought for Operation Warm to provide new coats for needy students in November; and
* Learned that at the next meeting of the board, on Sept. 13, Granger Construction will give a report on the exact cost of the BHS construction and there will be a report on the results of the community forum held earlier this year.