EPS board approves technology purchase, staff changes

EVART – More than $28,000 worth of technology will help meet the needs of students at Evart Public Schools next school year.

The Evart Public Schools Board of Education approved spending $28,128.42 to purchase computers and accessories during its regular monthly meeting on Monday evening.

According to Superintendent Shirley Howard, the money will come from three separate sources, some from the bond voters passed in November 2015, federal Title VI (civil rights) funds and additional technology funding in 2016 from the state.

This will allow the district to purchase 30 computers with internal DVD/RW drive options at $415 each; 330 carrying cases for individual devices at $17.59 each and 64 Chromebooks for high school students at a cost of $154.23.

The additional 64 Chromebooks will provide one for each high school student.

“Everyone will then have one,” Principal Jessica Kolenda told board members. “We had enough computers counting our labs, but not enough Chromebooks for every student. This will truly make it 1-to-1 for Chromebooks.”

With the school year drawing to a close, board members also were tasked with some personnel decisions. The board accepted the retirements of second-grade teacher Cheryl Richmond; Kaye Gallinger, elementary food service; and elementary educational assistant Jeanine Booher.

The board also approved the resignation of Paulette Alber as middle school night custodian. The board then hired longtime substitute Scott Booher for the position.

Board members also approved several staff members for positions in summer programs, including George Sims, summer school tutor at Muskegon River Pathway of Hope; Lorissa Helmling and Cheryl Speet, Summer APEX mentors for Pathway; Helmling, as summer school teacher; and Aaron Wetters, elementary/middle school summer reading program.

During Monday's meeting, the board also:

  • Approved several coaches for the fall sports season;
  • Unanimously supported the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District's general fund budget;
  • Approved the 2017-18 school calendar with a notation to comply with any legislation requiring future changes in order to receive the full amount of state funding;
  • Formed a sub-committee of Ryan Hopkins, Kelly Millen and Rosie McKinstry to examine the new high school band handbook prepared by Diana Craven;
  • Selected Alan Bengry to be the board's member to place a vote in the upcoming MOISD Board of Education biennial election. The board selected its vote to be for Michael Wyman, of Big Rapids, the only candidate running;
  • Approved the bid to fix the air conditioning and electrical in the middle school auditorium, with $45,250 going for the system and $5,569 to 3D Electrical;
  • Approved funding for the high school Odyssey of the Mind team to compete at the Worlds competition later this month in Lansing. Through fundraising, the team raised about $2,000 of the $4,500 entry fee, according to coach Jenny Rounds. The district will pay the remaining portion.

During her report to the board, Howard told members the district would need to hire a high school special education teacher for the upcoming year.

“We've had to hire a substitute at the high school this year,” she said. “In order to remain compliant, we are going to need to hire another special education teacher for next year.”

Howard also told board members they've had four staff members elect to take the early retirement incentive, which will save the district money.

Money will be closely watched, Howard said, as she begins work on next year's budget. The district has until June 30 to submit its 2017-18 budget to the state.

“My early enrollment projections for next year will be down approximately 30 students,” she said. “However, the actual number of bodies in the school buildings will be the same as this year.”

Due to declining enrollment from previous years, the district was able to average out enrollment as part of its student counts for state funding.

“I can't average them out this time,” she said. “I have to take the actual numbers for our buildings.”

Along with its regularly scheduled board meeting on June 12, Howard asked and the board agreed to convene June 26 to put the final revisions to the current year's budget and complete the 2017-18 budget.