2017-10-12 / Front Page

HLCS board to search for new school chief

Tyer submits retirement letter

The Houghton Lake Community Schools Board of Education will soon start the search for a new superintendent, following the acceptance of Superinten­dent Susan Tyer’s retirement letter Mon­day.

In her retirement letter, Tyer said she has been in education for 41 years, 15 of which have been in the Houghton Lake district. She has served in a variety of roles, including middle school coun­selor, assistant principal/athletic director and principal, as well as superintendent.

The school board discussed the mer­its of conducting a search within the school district or outside the district.

President Tom Dean said a superin­tendent search by the Michigan Asso­ciation of School Boards ranged from $2,975 for an internal search to $5,950 for an external search. He said Rod Green of the MASB said he could not see a dis­advantage to starting within the district; a search could begin internally and, if no suitable candidate was found, the search could be broadened. Dean said the high­er price would remain the same, even if the district started the search within the district and then searched elsewhere.

Dean said the cost of an internal search includes a planning meeting, the gathering of stakeholder input, creating a profile and conducting interviews. An external search includes those costs plus the additional costs for an application review meeting and a second round of interviews.

The board (member Mark Souder was absent) voted to start with an in­ternal search. Dean said he will contact Green to set some dates.

Tyer will work in the position of su­perintendent until June 30, 2018.

In the meantime, Tyer and the board will work on a new set of goals, as pro­posed at Monday’s meeting.

She and the board agreed that three of last year’s goals could be expanded. Her goals would be to verify the accuracy of all employee job descriptions, work with district leaders to ensure evaluation tools and processes are used effectively and develop and implement a system for feedback to inform the board and district of issues and concerns.

Two new goals were suggested as well, to establish a facilities manage­ment plan (including the current status of buildings and the need to improve facilities in the future) and to establish a baseline for third graders (to comply with a state mandate that will require all third graders to be reading at grade level by the end of third grade). Dean and Tyer will meet to write the goals for approval at the Nov. 13 meeting.

Chartwells Director Lacie Curns pre­sented information about the district’s CEP (Community Eligibility Program).

Curns explained the way the State of Michigan calculates the number of students who will automatically receive free lunches. Due to state cuts, the dis­trict lost several of those students on the state’s list, she said, and it is not based on anything the district did or on enroll­ment. Each building lost different per­centages since last year, she said, with the high school showing the largest loss, from 91% to 57%.

She said schools that go from CEP to non-CEP will always show losses. If the district drops the high school, she said, the loss will only be approximate­ly $23,000, rather than the $57,500 it would lose if the high school stayed in the program.

She said the district, therefore, cannot afford to keep the high school in the CEP and suggested high school students start paying for lunch at a cost of of $2.25. Students will still be able to apply for a free or reduced rate lunch, she said, and reminded the board that breakfasts are still free of charge.

Curns noted that a surplus in the food service budget cannot be used to com­pensate for the difference.

She said a “second chance breakfast” of whole grains can be offered, perhaps between first and second hour, but a stu­dent who ate a school breakfast would not be allowed to take advantage of it on the same day. Tyer said the building principals are working on establishing the second breakfast.

In her superintendent’s report, Tyer recognized building principals, as Oc­tober is National Principal Recognition Month. In attendance were Houghton Lake High School Principal John Win­kler, Assistant Principal Chad Watson, Houghton Lake Middle School Prin­cipal Leif Williams, Collins Elemen­tary School Principal Amy Peterson and Houghton Lake Alternative Edu­cation Principal Heidi Palatka. (Not in attendance was Houghton Lake Mid­dle School Assistant Principal Darren Barnes.)

Tyer also announced that the pre­dicted loss of 25 students for the year did not occur and that FTEs (full-time equivalencies) were up 2.63 students, ac­cording to preliminary information from count day, Oct. 4.

Williams announced the recipients of the forestry grants (funds received from the sale of timber on the district’s forest property in Merritt). He said Amy Koupal, Jan Morgenstern, Dana Strick­ler, Kerry Murray, Lindsay Howard, Theresa McMunigal, Jennifer Williams, Sara Partenio and Kelly Baker received grants. Among the uses awarded were egg incubators, interactive devices, lit­eracy fundamental books and attendance at a play and a Spanish concert.

Tyer noted that a $525 North Cen­tral Area Credit Union donation from its ATM machine fees were put toward the forestry grant.

Also approved by the board were the “Puberty: Wonder Years” and “Safer Choices” programs for the sex education curriculum, as well as a short-term state aid loan through Chemical Bank (the 104-day loan will cover the shortfall be­fore winter taxes are collected and will cost $4,000 in interest and attorney fees).

Hirings approved in the consent agenda the board approved were of Greg Misner as elementary special education teacher, Serinity Armstrong as daycare provider, James Gerdes as Illuminate DNA building coach, Audrey McGee as social worker (with salary sources split, 70% of at-risk funding and 30% special education funding) and Tracy Haggart as JV volleyball coach.

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