North Branch secures grants thanks to staff, teachers
“It’s through the hard work and dedication of our teachers and staff that we get these grants, which will do a lot of good,” Board President Cory Mabery said. “We talk about alternative funding sources and ways we can make improvements wisely and frugally.”
Multiple grants that have been offered to the district were discussed by the board.
The Lapeer County Community Foundation (LCCF) provided $12,500 that will be used to replace the curtains in the high school auditorium, contingent on the district matching the amount. The current curtains have been in the auditorium since the building opened more than 20 years ago, according to Principal Mark Hiltunen, and are in dire need of replacement.
The board was grateful to LCCF for the opportunity, as exemplified by board vice president Daniel Deshetsky. “We want to thank the LCCF for the generous grant to replace the curtains,” he said. “It will make a big difference.”
The grant provided by LCCF will make such replacement possible, and staff hopes to make the change sometime before the Theater Department’s spring performance. “Any time we can get curtains like this at half the cost,” said Superintendent Jim Fish. “We have to jump on it.”
Also provided via grant, this time courtesy of the Michigan State Police (MSP), the district will begin making improvements to the security systems in several buildings. The MSP offered more than $7,000 to the district, which will be used to install video intercoms at elementary school building doors, as well as install new access door security technology at the middle school, Ruth Fox, the elementary school, and the administration building.
In other board business:
• Director of Curriculum and Instruction Amber White provided a presentation on the current state of curriculum in the district. She stressed the emphasis on student learning and the concept of teaching the skill of learning.
“Specifically, we’re really going to look at data going into next year,” said White. “Which will help us make any necessary changes.” Overall, both she and the board were satisfied with the current state of curriculum throughout the district. “There’s wonderful stuff happening,” she said. “Just lots and lots going on and we’re very excited.”
• Next year’s school calendar has been locked in and is now currently available to interested parties. The board voted to approve the proposed calendar for the 2017-18 school year, which alters regular breaks slightly to better accommodate events throughout the year.
As per state regulation, both spring break and winter break must be uniform with all districts in the county, and the districts worked together to design next year’s schedule with regular testing in mind.
“This coming year we’ll be able to tie in spring break with testing,” said Fish. “So we won’t have to get back from break and immediately go into testing two days after.” The new calendar also shifts the holiday break ahead by a few days, now starting earlier. “We suggested that instead of having that whole week after New Year’s Day off, we moved it up a bit so the break starts a few days earlier,” said Fish. “And since that’s such a busy time, everyone was enthusiastic about it.”
• In a bit of housekeeping, the board opted to cancel its scheduled meeting later this month due to a light agenda and a potential conflict with sporting events. The meeting on Feb. 27 has been canceled and rescheduled for the following Monday, on March 6. Assuming the newly-scheduled March 6 meeting holds, it is likely the meeting on March 13 will be canceled, with all subsequent meetings unaffected.
• The board also scheduled a finance committee meeting for 7 a.m. Feb. 22 to discuss preliminary information regarding the 2017-18 budget.
• This Friday at 8 a.m. Lapeer County Sheriff Scott McKenna will be on hand to discuss with North Branch High School staff and faculty the dangers of carfentanil, a tranquilizer often mixed with heroin that has been linked to one death in the county thus far.
• The board also acknowledged the resignation of elementary school teacher Lindsey Smith, and thanked elementary school principal Greg Matheson for his tactful handling of the situation.