Public attendance low at meetings to discuss school plan

By: 
KERRY HAMILTON SMITH

Four of five meetings to gather input from parents and community members have been held by Tecumseh Public Schools (TPS) administrators regarding the reorganization of grades and school buildings. TPS Superintendent Dr. Kelly Coffin has received a fair amount of feedback over the past month.

Board members in May approved a plan that will reconfigure schools and grade levels as follows: Sutton Elementary will host preschool, young fives, kindergarten and first grade; Tecumseh Acres will house young fives, kindergarten and first grade; the current middle school will hold all second through sixth graders; Herrick Park will be the site for seventh and eighth graders as will Patterson; and the high school will remain unchanged, with ninth through 12th graders attending classes there. The reconfiguration will take place in the 2017-2018 school year.

According to Coffin, the meetings have been lightly attended – between 10 to 15 people – but she has also received phone calls and emails about the reconfiguration. Most of the concern, she said, has been with regard to Patterson and Herrick Park, where 7th and 8th graders will attend. She said parents are most apprehensive about connectivity and friendships that have already been established.

“I understand change is hard,” Coffin said. “After we have these conversations, people are thankful to have the opportunity to be heard. I’ve lived in this community a long time. I know that feeling of not being heard.” She said right now most people are trying to get used to the plan and are glad the board and administration are taking a year to consider all of the changes.

Coffin will compile the information and present the feedback to the Tecumseh Board of Education at the August meeting. The board will determine what to do with the information. In September, a committee of 45 community members who volunteered to help will begin making final plans. The final input meeting will be held June 22 at 6 p.m. in the Tecumseh Administrative Services Build-ing on Ottawa Street.

In other TPS news:

• The board heard a report about the school improvement process with regard to science, reading and math. Different goals were established for each grade for the school year and measurement was based on an across-the-board percentage. Using various assessment methods, all but the 2015-16 fourth grade met or exceeded percentage goals. Strategies to increase understanding of math, science and reading for that class, along with developing new goals for all classes, will be submitted by building principals by June 30.

• The board approved the 2016-17 district calendar and renewed a one-year contract with ARAMARK Food Service. Laura Pleasant, director of Tecumseh’s program, reported that hot lunch numbers had increased for the year but that a la’ carte items had decreased due to federal mandates requiring healthier food offerings. She said several new programs will be offered the coming school year. Food services will be feeding the football team before each game to make sure team members are well nourished. She is also working with the chef at ProMedica to provide different tastings.

• First Student Transportation Director Jason Szteiter outlined the year for the board, saying only one minor accident occurred while students were on the bus, most likely caused when a driver of a vehicle ran into the back of the bus while distracted by a cell phone. There was no damage to the bus and Szteiter reported most of the students didn’t know there had been an accident. Szteiter said staffing is the greatest issue, but that all drivers signed letters saying they will return for the 2016-17 school year. He said an external camera is being purchased for one bus to get an estimate to determine how many cars pass on flashing red lights. Tickets can be written using the video. Szteiter promised the board he would have more facetime with students and intends to go on two ride-alongs a week next year. “Face time is invaluable,” Szteiter said. “Busing is not just a taxi ride. It’s part of the quality of their school life and I want students and parents to have an unmatched experience.”

• The board approved the new curriculum for health education. Puberty: The Wonder Years will be the course used for fourth through sixth grade students. Family Life and Sexual Health (FLASH) will be used for special education classes. Corner Health Theatre Group will discuss diversity and relationships at the high school level. Guest speakers will present Students Teaching AIDS to Students (STATS) to high school health classes.  The Health Advisory Committee and the Sex Ed Advisory Board, made up of teachers and parents, reviewed the curriculum and made recommendations, which were adopted by the board.

• The board approved a student trip to Spain in 2017 for Jose Mejia’s class as well as an overnight trip to Mt. Pleasant for the basketball team later this month.

Category:

Tecumseh Herald

 

110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286
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800-832-6443

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