At Monday’s meeting, the Van Buren Public School Board was presented with the February student count and found that the district had lost 95 students between September and February.
And, that wasn’t so bad.
The total district head count in September was 5,701 and February’s count was 5,606.
Dr. Linda Olson, director of personnel and student services, said this is an unaudited figure from the official Feb. 11 count.
Interim School Supt. Peggy Voigt said this loss was less than the usual number of students lost between September and February and board president David Peer agreed, saying the loss was usually over 100 students.
Finance Director Nick Armelagos said the February number accounts for 25% of the state aid figure.
Peer remembered the good old days when the district had more than 6,000 students.
On an encouraging note, Trustee Kevin English said there was a wonderful turnout for the recent eighth grade open house.
Mike Van Tassel, assistant principal for the ninth grade, said school officials sent invitations to six charter schools and quite a few parents that weren’t from the Van Buren middle schools showed up.
Information Officer Paul Henning said he had brought information on the new high school to the open house and his exhibit was very popular. He said he was told several times that parents were going to bring their students to the Van Buren Schools because of the new high school.
President Peer noted that all the classes in the district are now below 500 in number and the fourth grade has a district total of only 380 students and the 12th grade just 338.
The alternative education head count, however, grew from 156 in September to 164 in February.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the board:
* Discussed and then unanimously approved a BHS 9th grade pilot program for next fall that was worked out between BHS Principal Dennis Conley and Assistant Principal Van Tassel. The program will put 75 students in a block of rooms for four hours, with 25 to a class to work on literacy and math skills. The project was conceived after 42% of the present 9th graders earned a D or E in their English course at the end of the first semester in January; 43.2% earned those grades in math; 39.3% earned those grades in science; and 37.5% earned those grades in social studies. In looking at the reading and math scores for 8th graders who will be entering 9th grade in the fall, there were from 100 to 188 struggling students that need help to succeed;
* Approved Van Buren Township Recreation Program’s request for the use of two buses to pick up children for summer camp, which runs June-August, with the township paying the established transportation rates;
* Approved the requested retirement of Marie Walters, a cook at Rawsonville, after 23 years of service, as of June 9;
* Approved the retirements of Susan Farber, principal of Rawsonville School, after 38 years of service, as of June 23; and Mary Stapleton of North Middle School, after 10.5 years of service as of June 11;
* Approved the minutes of five special meetings in March, including three disciplinary meetings. On March 15, the board suspended a BHS student until the end of the school year, and on March 16, the board suspended a student for 14 days and another student until the end of the first semester in January 2011;
* Was told that Supt. Thomas Riutta will be back Thursday and Friday this week, through next Monday, and then will be gone again until he returns for good on April 18. The board had approved Riutta’s plans to be in Florida for extended periods over the last two months, while Peggy Voigt took over superintendent duties. Riutta told the Independent last week that his wife’s parents are ailing and they are glad to be with them in Florida, even though it’s been quite cold; and
* Was reminded of next Monday’s 7 p.m. session to take action on contracts recommended after the bid openings for work on the first phase of the new high school. There also will be discussion on a proposed budget and action on this school year’s amended budget. The meeting will be at the administration building and is open to the public.