RCAPS hires five teachers, approves updated budget

REED CITY — After promoting employees to assemble an all-new administrative team, Reed City Area Public Schools approved the hire of five teachers and an assistant principal on Monday to fill vacant positions.

Rob Nista, former Reed City Middle School teacher, was hired as assistant principal at G.T. Norman Elementary School. G.T. Norman also welcomed new kindergarten teachers Jillaine Cole and Dena Wanstead and a fourth-grade teacher Martha Jones. Jeremy DeVos was hired as a math teacher at RCMS, and Courtney Mills was hired as a Reed City High School math teacher.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had these kinds of announcements at our schools, or any schools in the area for that matter,” said Dan Boyer, board of education president, during Monday’s regular meeting. “We’re happy to have you with your new enthusiasm and new energy.”

Also at the meeting, the board approved an amendment to the 2013-14 general fund budget. The previous version of the budget was passed before Tim Webster took over as superintendent. Since then, RCAPS has hired new high school, middle school and elementary principals, a new high school dean of students/athletic director, new assistant elementary principal and a total of six new teachers. The only new position created was that of curriculum director.

Amid all the shuffling of personnel and generally hiring less experienced people to fill each position, RCAPS saved a total of $29,350 on salary and benefits costs for 2013-14 compared to the previous school year.

The budget amendment plans on stable student enrollment and a total of $13.3 million available to appropriate, which is up by about $159,000 compared to last school year. By the end of the 2013-14 school year, RCAPS is predicting a fund balance of about $237,000, which is approximately $95,000 less than what the fund equity was at the end of 2012-13.

The board also passed a resolution saying RCAPS will meet all eight of the state’s best practice requirements, which bring a $52 per pupil incentive in state aid.

Anne Bianchi, the mother of a student with autism, expressed her thanks to Kris Griffin, the district’s special education coordinator, and the entire special education team for helping her son through a successful transition into high school this school year. Bianchi had previously stated her concerns about the new special education model the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District switched to that focuses on inclusion in general education and reliance on teacher consultants to work with autistic students, rather than providing separate classrooms for them.

Debbie Todd still voiced her doubts about the new special education system, encouraging the superintendent and board members to take action with the MOISD if they wanted to reverse the decision.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 in the Porteous Academic Center, which is the RCMS library.