Evart Public Schools plans for the future.

EVART - It’s been a tough year for students and staff throughout the Evart Public Schools district. Nevertheless, district students, staff, and administrators are looking forward to a better year to come, and a continued fulfilling of the district mission. “It has always been our goal to give each and every student the best education we can,” said district superintendent Howard Hyde. “We will continue to do all we can to create opportunities for our kids to succeed, and prepare them for the next stage in their lives.” It hasn’t necessarily been easy. Continuing budget concerns weigh heavily on the district’s administration. Despite promises from Lansing that the budget situation will stabilize, or even improve, the belt-tightening is expected to continue for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year, and will possibly more seriously impact the 2013-14 education year to come. “We haven’t had to make layoffs per se,” said Hyde. “We have had teachers retire or resign, and they have not necessarily been replaced. “With fewer teaching staff in place, the job of making sure each kid gets the best education possible just gets harder. “We have a creative team, though, and despite the problems we may be facing they are looking for ways to always improve our outcomes.” The school year in Evart cannot be reviewed without reference to the arrest and conviction of former high school principal Alan Kullman. Kullman was arrested, tried, and sentenced on charges of criminal sexual conduct with a 14-year old student. The case wracked the school district and the community, but the hiring of a personable and strongly effective replacement has pumped the high school with a new and increasing sense of stability following a somewhat chaotic period. The new principal, Dennis Peacock, has 12 years of administration experienced had previously been principal at Hesperia High School. He has more than 25 years of experience as an educator and also has coached track and cross country. “Having Mr. Peacock on board is really working out well,” noted Hyde. “He is just the man we needed to calm things down and keep the educational process moving forward.” The district also hired Jason O’Dell as its new middle school principal. Looking ahead to a wrap of the 2012-13 school year, and the start of the 2013-14 year to come, Hyde remains concerned over budget issues and the continuing drop in student population numbers. “We fell below 1,000 students this year. That’s tough,’ he said. “It’s not a good sign for the community, and it is certainly not good for our district budgeting. “We are being called on to constantly try and make up budget losses while being pretty severely limited in how we can generate income. “I guess the only thing we can do is continue to do the best we can with what we have, and with what we’re given. “There really are few or no options.” Hyde says 2012 was not a good year for anyone working in the field of education. Nevertheless, those districts that weathered the storms in relatively decent shape have positioned themselves better for the year to come. “Once upon a time, we could plan for two or three years out,” he said. We can’t really do that anymore. “I’m looking forward to the successes we are planning. We’re doing things a little differently in our buildings and we hope to see the benefits from our efforts - especially while improving our outcomes in reading at all levels. “It is hard and getting harder all the time to be running or working in public education in Michigan. “Still, we will do the best we can for our kids. “That’s the bottom line.”