MOISD considers name change, accreditation

MECOSTA AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES – About halfway to the completion of its five-year goals, the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District is gathering community feedback to evaluate its progress.

At a board of education meeting on Jan.14, board members discussed distributing a survey to school staff, administrators, school boards and community groups in the six school districts included in the MOISD to see whether local districts think the ISD is fulfilling its role.

“It’s a customer service-type survey to se if we’re meeting our goals,” said Curt Finch, MOISD superintendent.

The district distributed the same survey three years ago, when initially setting its goals for 2010 to 2015. The goals include: Increasing the quality of communication about the ISD has to offer and becoming the epicenter for everything educational in Mecosta and Osceola counties.

Also at the meeting, the board discussed gaining community feedback on how the MOISD is perceived as the intermediate district considers a name change to an “educational service agency.”

“There’s some confusion about what (ISD) means, more from the state perspective,” Finch said. “The No. 1 reason (for the name change) is to be able to communicate with our legislators more effectively.”

A name change would be expensive and in some ways would nullify the district’s reputation. The goal would be to change the perception of the MOISD and make its purpose more clear from its name, not to change any of the services it offers, Finch said.

The National Education Association is encouraging ISDs to make the switch to “educational service agencies” to provide more unity and clarity among the districts.

Another way to validate what the MOISD has to offer would be with an AdvancEd Accreditation, which requires a two-year process that would mean extra work for the administrative team.

“It’s more to validate what we already do rather than transform us,” Finch said, noting, however, that the administrative team already is spread thin.

Accreditation used to be more of a priority for districts, he added, but the expense has been a deterrent as school budgets are cut. Currently, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators is offering to cover part of the cost of pursuing the accreditation, so the MOISD board will make a decision by the start of next school year whether to move forward with it.

Also at the meeting, the board:

n Approved a one-year contract with the Michigan Education Association for 80 teachers employed by the MOISD. Changes to the current contract reflected new legislation in Michigan. “It’s so volatile right now and changes so much,” Finch said. “I suspect that after the legislation calms down, we’ll start negotiating (for longer contracts).”;

n Discussed concealed weapons laws and how they could impact school security. The MOISD has evaluated its locked door and security camera policies since the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn.; and

n Decided to apply for a 22i grant along with other ISDs, which would provide funds for professional development and equipment to prepare districts for the online testing that will be required for all students in the 2014-15 school year.

The board will meet again at 6 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Administration Building.