TPS board shortens terms to four years

By: 
JACKIE KOCH

The board of education of Tecumseh Public Schools (TPS) voted to shorten the length of board seat terms to four years Monday, Aug. 26, as well as approving the purchase of chromebooks, accepting a large donation for the high school sculpture garden, and hearing updates from School Resource Officer Chad Rodgers and Facilities Director Mike Smith.

The change in term length was initiated because board members thought more community members might be interested in serving on the board if the commitment was for four years instead of six, according to Board President Tim Simpson.

According to subsection 8 of section 11a of Michigan’s Revised School Code, members of school boards may serve four or six years, as provided by the district’s bylaws. Because the TPS school board voted to change the bylaws to reflect the reduced term length, any new members elected would serve four years, while the current members will finish out their elected terms. The amendment to the board bylaws was effective August 26.  

Simpson and Board Treasurer John Benzing, who were elected to six-year terms, will retain their seats until December 31, 2024; Milton Abbott and Suzanne Moore, elected for partial terms, will serve until the end of 2022; and Michael McNamara, Board Vice President Becky Brooks, and Board Secretary Kevin Johnson, elected to partial terms, will keep their seats until December 31, 2020.

The request for proposal to purchase 400 new Lenovo 100e chromebooks was approved. The purchase will replenish the inventory of up-to-date units for student use. At a previous board meeting, Technology Director Deven Knight said the incoming seventh grade students will need approximately 200 chromebooks and many of the units at Compass Learning Center need to be replaced, as well. The chromebooks were to be delivered before the start of the school year.

Smith reported that the facilities department had completed safety inspections of playgrounds, buildings and grounds. During the inspection of bleachers and stadium seating it was found that some bleacher seating in the high school gymnasium will need to be replaced. The switch will most likely be done around the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays.

Building up the maintenance department was a concern for Smith, who said the loss of the facilities coordinator and six janitors left the department short on staff. He expressed the desire to look at the cost of outsourcing janitorial services for the district rather than having janitors as district employees. “Right now I’m trying to do something to rebuild the department, to take a look at it,” he said. “As part of this I’d like to go outside and see what the competitive bid situation would look like compared to what we’re doing.”

Smith said he has also been working on a building efficiencies company to look at solar energy and other ways to make the district’s building more efficient.

Rodgers reported that he attended a conference on policies and practices for school resource officers earlier in the summer, and said he has been working on the emergency operations plan for the district. One aspect of the plan is the reunification points to connect students to their parents or primary caregivers in case of school evacuation, which requires a contract between the entities involved. Fabricare has agreed to be the location for East STEAM Center; Bader & Sons will be the reunification point for the high school, along with the possibility of TLC Community Credit Union; and he said he was waiting to hear from St. Elizabeth Catholic Church on the possibility of being a reunification point for West STEAM Center. The reunification point for North Early Learning Center is Tecumseh Park (The Pit), and he is still working on a location for South Early Learning Center.

“One thing I did take away from the conference is a threat assessment,” Rodgers said. “So anytime any of the schools get a threat, we deal with it, but there’s really no systematic approach to it, documentable, that remains with the student disciplinary file.” He said if a system of documentation is enacted, the student’s threat history would legally be transferable to any other district the student transferred to. “So we’re working on coming up with a threat assessment that has a central reporting, probably to the central office,” he said. “That way everybody has an idea of what’s going on in each building.”

The board approved the 2019-2020 building handbooks and athletic code and accepted an anonymous donation of $5,000 for the high school sculpture garden.
The next meeting of the TPS Board of Education will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9 at the board office annex.

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