Agreement increases HLCS career tech options
Seeking to provide more vocational opportunities for Houghton Lake Community Schools students, the board of education Monday approved a one-year contract with Wexford-Missaukee Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 2017-18 school year.
Some board members had previously visited the Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center (CTC) in Cadillac and welcomed Wexford-Missuakee Intermediate School District Superintendent Jeff Jennette, CTE Director Dave Cox and CTC Principal Tim Rigling (a Houghton Lake graduate) to Monday’s board meeting.
Jennette said the Wexford-Missaukee CTC is not trying to compete with COOR Intermediate School District or Kirtland Community College. He said the center operates on just over 6 mills ($6 per $1,000 taxable value), which was voted in 30 years ago, whereas COOR ISD operates on about .9 mills (90 cents per $1,000 taxable value).
“We’re in it for the kids,” he said.
There are open slots available, he said, in several of the 15 programs offered, like agri-science, construction technology, automotive technology and business management.
He said the construction class, for example, is building a house and students are learning alongside working contractors.
Other programs are offered (not all have openings), including computers, networking and electronic technology (CNET); digital media production; engineering technology; heavy equipment mechanics; health science careers; intro to health care; metal fabrication; power sports and equipment (PSE); public safety; teacher academy; and career skills.
“We have open seats,” he said.
Cox said the CTC currently serves three out-of-district schools, including Grayling High School. Also offered, he said, are seven early college programs (students attend one year extra after high school for an associate degree, to be completed at Baker College).
Houghton Lake High School Principal John Winkler said the out-of-district cost to Houghton Lake per student is less than taking a COOR class, saving about $9,000 for 51 students served. Wexford- Missaukee’s tuition rate is $1,000 per year or $500 per semester. COOR’s current rate is $1,628 per student per year.
The goal is for students traveling by bus to Cadillac to have Wi-Fi access in order to take online classes while being transported.
Students will still have career tech opportunities through COOR ISD, offered at three locations, Kirtland Community College, at its Roscommon and Grayling facilities and Kirtland’s M- TEC in Gaylord. The intent is for a recreational engines class to be continued to be offered at the high school through COOR, according to Interim Superintdent Susan Tyer.
The board approved the contract with Wexford-Missaukee, 6-0 (member Mark Souder was absent).
Winkler also presented a proposal for a reduction in graduation credit requirements, from 26 to 24, out of a possible 28. He said the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements (such as English, math and science) would remain, but there would be a reduction in the number of electives, from 7.5 credits to 5.5 credits. He said most students will graduate with 28 credits.
The change, which the board approved, will provide more flexibility for dual enrollment students, transfer students and students who have a tough freshman year academically.
The board of education also approved a settlement with COOR ISD over its health insurance fund, 5-1, with member Kelly Christian voting no.
The settlement is between the ISD and its six school districts, for $1.5 million. Houghton Lake Community Schools will receive $107,208 this year and $55,837.50 for four subsequent years.
Finance Director Camie Hansen said COOR did not change its practices following a legal change about six years ago (the act required public employers to limit their contributions toward employee health insurance plans by implementing either a “hard cap” or “80/20” cost sharing arrangement) and continued to charge its LEAs (local education agencies) for full family insurance, placing the money into an insurance fund.
“This is a settlement,” Hansen said, when member Charlene Baker asked about interest that may be available.
Christian said she voted no because she was disappointed with the amount given back to the districts, feeling it was not appropriate.
In a finance committee report, Christian told the board Houghton Lake is one of three districts behind in its schedule to install Illuminate data system and, through an agreement, will pay about $2,600, payable through the Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant.
Christian also reported that bids were received for the leaning scoreboard at the football field, budget meetings are planned for March and June and the committee recommended removing a 90-day delay for health insurance for secretaries.
The board approved a bid from Porath Contractors, Inc., for securing the scoreboard and approved a change in the secretaries’ handbook, eliminating the 90-day wait. Also approved was the alternative education handbook.
Board members also approved a bid from Northland Securities for bond refinancing, saving the district $388,720 (from 4.33% to 2.46% through 2028), resulting in a reduction of the debt bond millage from .93 mills (93 cents per $1,000 taxable value), approved in 2008, to .65 mills (65 cents per taxable value). Northland Securities’ net interest cost is $782,824.92.
The district will contract with the Michigan Association of School Boards to pay a negotiator $140 per hour (the same cost as the last negotiator) for contract negotiations throughout the district.
Interim Superintendent Susan Tyer’s goals were approved. Among her goals: Create job descriptions for all employees, ensure that each employee has completed an evaluation in his or her file and continue to foster excellent relationships with the staff, board and community.
The board also agreed to move forward with negotiations with Tyer on a new superintendent contract for next year. The board had previously discussed offering a one-year contract to Tyer, making her the permanent superintendent while a search is conducted for a replacement.
Tyer reported that a 21-member Facilities Usage Committee, consisting of some board members, teachers and community members, met Feb. 2. The main task is to address overcrowding at Collins Elementary. The committee will meet again tonight (Thursday) and is expected to report to the board March 13.
The school board’s technology committee, Julie Brown, Tom Dean and Kevin Nagel, met last week, Tyer said, and will be working on a three- to five- year plan.
Houghton Lake Middle School Principal Leif Williams reported on progress made at the middle school. He said work has been done with the Blueprint for Rapid Turnaround and ensuring students have access to supports. He said data analysis is being used to drive the School Improvement Plan and that there are now two instructional coaches, Alicia Thompson for math and Jennifer Williams for reading.
The consent agenda was approved, including the resignations of Band Director David Kolmodin, One-on-One Teachers Assistant Patty Maeder, Bright Beginnings Childcare Director Patricia Wagner, Houghton Lake Middle School Paraprofessional Maria Chludil, Color Guard Advisor Cheryl Holladay and Child Care Provider Jade Chumney.
Also included in the consent agenda were the hirings of Maeder as teacher assistant in the middle school resource room, Chumney as day care director, Steve Rieger as head mechanic, Dustin Stein as mechanic, Doug Marra as auditorium technician, Joan Cascadden as substitute bus driver and Brande Eddy as assistant.
The board recognized April as Social Host Awareness Month.