Program changes concern Hyde

EVART — One man’s efficiency measure may well be another man’s deterioration of services.

What may be wise budget moves to one person, may be devastating operational shifts to the next.

Lansing may be happy with cuts being made in public education programs around the state, but local school district officials are worried.

Take Evart Public Schools for example.

At the most recent session of the EPS Board of Education, board members approved a first time ever charge a pay-to-participate fee this school year.

The fee will be $25 per sport with a maximum cost of $50 a year for each athlete and $100 per family.

But the board also voted to eliminate boys’ freshman basketball and junior varsity competitive cheer.

In addition, although JV cheer was offered for the first time last year, the board decided to cut the team. Varsity cheer remains. Cheerleading at the middle school level will become an intramural program run by volunteers instead of a paid coaching staff.

Along with other actions, a secretarial position was eliminated and it was determined that Evart Alternative High School will be moved to the middle school building.

Carol Bogner, who is now the alternative school principal, will become the middle school principal, while former middle school principal Sue Lenahan will move into the job of K-12 counselor.

Donna Joseph will be shifted from her classroom at the middle school and become an elementary Title I teacher.

District superintendent Howard Hyde was officially appointed athletic director, taking on the position as an unpaid job in addition to his other responsibilities. Hyde replaces longtime AD Randy Kruse who was laid off earlier this year.

A lot of shifting and moving around, and Hyde believes there may well be more to come.

“I’m afraid this is a trend we are going to see more of,” he pointed out. “We are going to continue seeing people taking on more and more jobs and roles in the district just in order to keep our existing programs working relatively smoothly.”

Hyde noted that the ‘trend’ wasn’t limited to the Evart school district.

He recently returned from a training session for new athletic directors at which the largest majority of those taking part were additional-career job holders - those already employed in one job, but now taking on the responsibilities of another as well ...generally with no additional pay.

“There were a lot of principal/ADs, or vice principal/ADs,” he said. “I believe I was the only superintendent/AD.

“We going to see more of this as we go along.”

Hyde noted that most of the administrative staff in the EPS district were already carrying more than one title.

“Everybody is doing their job - and doing something else too,” he said.

“Carol Bogner is now middle school principal, alternative ed principal, and also continues to do much of the Title 1 and MEAP coordinating.

“Elementary principal Carol Phelps is also the special ed coordinator, and high school principal Al Kullman is also coordinating aspects of the special ed program.

“With everyone doing multiple jobs, I can’t be sure this isn’t already affecting “the product.”

Hyde noted that when people in any profession got to a point in which they were wearing too many hats, it inevitably created a situation in which their primary job simply couldn’t be done efficiently or effectively.

“We’ve been forced into this position,” he said.

“Politicians in Lansing expect us to be doing multiple jobs, and doing them all very well - maintaining standards they set. Frankly, I’d like to see some of them actually fulfilling the one job they have responsibly and well.”

Hyde said he was convinced that school officials around the state were being forced into a position of “hoping for the best” rather than doing their best on a daily basis.

“I can tell you our work is going to suffer,” he said.

“For example, I simply cannot be 100 percent superintendent, and 100 percent athletic director at the same time. One of the jobs - or both - is going to suffer.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that both jobs are going to be short-changed in one way or the other. That’s just the nature of the beast.

“We can’t expect to keep piling more and more work and responsibility on people already overwhelmed with work, and expect the result to be positive.”

Hyde said he was not convinced the district would see good results or savings in any field.

“Short term, we may save some money with all the measures and steps we are taking, but in the long run those savings may be an expensive undertaking,” he pointed out.

“I just can’t believe that with the way things are going to be running in this and other school districts, that some things just won’t fall between the cracks.

“And when things do fall apart, it will be educators who take the blame.”