By Rosemary K. Otzman
The Van Buren Public Schools Director of Instruction told school board members that the district is on “a good chase to meet the state level” and she’s “hoping to get above state soon.”
Diane Kullis presented the school board with two charts comparing the 2013-14 Michigan Merit Exam (MME) and ACT scores with Belleville High School scores at the July 14 regular meeting.
The MME scores were released by the Michigan Department of Education on July 7.
The MME shows BHS is not at the state average in any of the categories, but students have increased scores higher than statewide in math, science, and writing.
“We still are having to work on reading and social studies,” Kullis said, adding statewide students increased their writing skills by 2% from 2012-13 to 2013-14 and BHS students increased their skills by 6% during that time.
Kullis said this means the BHS students will “catch up faster.”
She said, “This year our big push is science.” She said BHS is looking for a collaboration with one of the universities to better utilize the new science equipment at BHS. She said they also are working on social studies.
The chart show BHS math scores at 16% (compared to statewide at 29%); reading at 53% (state 59%); science at 16% (state 28%); social studies at 34% (state 44%); and writing at 42% (state 51%).
The ACT breakdown showed BHS below the state in every category, as well, but moving upward at a faster rate. She pointed out 5.1% of the BHS students are doing better in English than they were the previous school year. Statewide 56.8% of students met proficiency in English, up from 56.3% the previous school year and at BHS it was 50.2%, up from 45.1% the previous year.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” said board treasurer Sherry Frazier. “I would like to see some work on science. I would think some university would like to get in the Einstein Room and maximize its use.”
Kullis said there is an elementary school mandate that they concentrate on science and social studies.
“This speaks volumes for where we were a few short years ago,” said Trustee Scott Russell. “Nice work.”
In other business at the July 14 meeting, the board:
• Heard a report on the more than 20 board policies that need updating to comply with state statutes, plus some new policies. Trustee Russell gave a summary of all the changes. This was considered the first reading of the changes and at the August meeting the board will have the second reading and expected approval. Russell offered to sit down with anyone who wanted details on the changes;
• Approved the resignations of Megan Holmes, after two years at BHS for other endeavors, and Karensa Smith, principal of Rawsonville Elementary for four years, to work for the Romulus Schools;
• Approved the retirement of Mary Beagan of Edgemont Elementary after 16.5 years;
• Approved employment of Elizabeth Bull-Davie as a teacher at BHS, recalled; and new hire Evaristo Rodriguez to teach at McBride;
• Approved resignations of Matthew Rodriguez, a tech specialist for 1.5 years, for other employment; and Kelli Taylor, from food service after 7.5 years;
• Approved retirements of bus driver Karen Krzaczkowski after 12 years; and BHS secretary Penny Young after 27 years;
• Approved use of school buses on Aug. 6 to take students from Huron Valley Ambulance’s Camp 9-1-1 at the U of M Boathouse at Van Buren Park to St. Joseph Hospital, and, on Aug. 7, to take students from Van Buren Park to Van Buren Township Fire Station #2, at the regular rates charged;
• Heard board vice president Martha Toth give an update on legislation having to do with education. She led the meeting since president Brent Mikulski did not attend the meeting;
• Heard School Supt. Michael Van Tassel say he is putting a team together to talk about the expiration of the sinking fund millage in 2015. He said the board will discuss it at its August work/study session because the board will need to make a decision on what it wants to do; and
• Went into closed-door session for the quarterly evaluation discussion on the superintendent.
By Rosemary K. Otzman