By Amy Joles
CARO — Although there was much discussion at the last board meeting, little was decided for the 2012-13 school year at Caro Community Schools.
Board members voted against superintendent Bruce Nelson’s recommendation to restructure administrative staff, which would have eliminated or reassigned Schall Elementary principal Sue Chambers.
The change in leadership at Schall was not proposed as a cost savings measure, but as a proactive way of addressing the possibility that the school will be on the state’s Persistently Lowest Achieving list.
The PLA list is developed following federal guidelines approved by the United States Department of Education as required in state law. It includes the lowest performing five percent of state schools.
The list, which has never featured a Tuscola County school, will be released in August.
“My recommendation is that we treat ourselves as if we are on the list and take action,” said Nelson.
Schools on the PLA list must submit a redesign/intervention plan to the state. That plan must include a change in leadership at Schall.
However, board members opted to keep Chambers in place. The former Caro teacher is a contracted employee through e-Literacy, LLC. The program provides some training, professional development and materials for teachers at Schall.
Nelson would not comment on whether he felt the program or materials provided by e-Literacy were inadequate; however, he said it is possible the district may find a new service.
“Potentially, yes. We need to change how we are doing things. We are in need of a chiropractic adjustment, so to speak. All things require consideration,” he said.
Only two board members voted to change leadership at Schall, including Hank Knier and Lisa Graf.
“I am left with impressions more than directions,” said Nelson about Schall’s future leadership in the event the school is on the PLA list.
Under Nelson’s plan, the current Dean of Students, Josh Hahn, would’ve taken on the principal’s role at Schall. Until the board votes on the matter again, there will be no changes in leadership at Schall.
In other matters, the board discussed the possibility of switching back to trimester scheduling. No action was taken on the matter, but it will face the board again at Wednesday’s special meeting.
Teachers who spoke at the meeting were largely in favor of the change back to trimester schedules. Nelson and high school principal Mike Joslyn also spoke favorably about the change.
The board will discuss the issue when they meet at 7 p.m., June 20 to approve amendments to the 2011-12 general fund budget and the proposed 2012-13 budget.
Nelson said the district will not lay-off staff at this time. If those cuts are made, they will be made closer to August.
A cost-savings to the district will be made by way of athletic director Beth Striffler’s resignation.
Striffler has taken a new position with Covenant, she said.
Audience members applauded Striffler’s contributions to the district and her support of young athletes. She told board members that she was most passionate about finding a replacement that would continue to be present and involved at sporting events.
In terms of replacing her, the board approved Nelson’s recommendation to hire two people—one for day-to-day operations and one to handle games, coaches and other responsibilities.
The day-to-day operations position would be contracted in-office for at least six hours per day, hired at about the same pay rate as a secretary. The other position would be compensated at about $5,000 for the school year and could be a teacher or administrator.
“Perhaps two employees could tag-team the position,” Nelson said.
Both positions will be posted soon, he added.
Amy Joles is the editor of the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.