District does more with less

by Dave Cary
Review Correspondent

PLYMOUTH - A common thread permeated several agenda items at the May 16 Plymouth School Board meeting: the notion that the district provides a lot of opportunities for students and community alike while being among the most frugal.

The first came from a perhaps unexpected source - a contingent of foreign exchange students. When asked to speak, in addition to praising the city and school, many specifically said they were grateful for the course and/or extracurricular opportunities they had found here.

A German student cited the “amazing opportunities here,” including tennis, band, and being in a play and a musical that were unavailable back home. An Italian girl said she could never have played soccer back home because of a feeling that “soccer was not for girls.” A Portuguese student said the variety of course offerings let her try out subjects and she was even glad of the fact that she learned “that I hated graphics.”

Claire Sedlacek, who oversees the program, said that in screening applicants, the district considered carefully whether or not the student would be likely to participate in extracurriculars.

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That the district offered a lot with financial restraint was underscored by Business Manager Jon Miller’s presentation of the preliminary budget for the next school year. A school district budget, it should be noted, goes through several reshufflings as harder data come in, right up to its final approval in September or October.

This year’s figures are close to last year’s and show a projected operating deficit of about $72,000 and total deficit of $472,000.

Things that will be in the budget include some kitchen appliances remodeling, carpet replacement at Parkview and Fairview and repairs to the high school chimney. Not in the budget are new band lockers, an upgraded sound system and increased maintenance.

It turns out, Miller said, that what the district offers comes from a district that has a low costper pupil figure of about $9,100 per student.

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In her report, superintendent Carrie Dassow said that after attending a legislative breakfast, she felt the proposal to retain - or even increase - per-student aid at $200 or more was still alive. Regardless, she said, Plymouth, as a low-revenue district, would still be adding three new ag courses, one new business course, two courses that have revised curriculums, a newly-developed math course, and advanced metal welding.

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Reporting on the Community Education Committee, Board Liasion Sally Isely said that several Com Ed courses would begin in June, a rare occurrence.

Board liaison Bob Travis said that the Plymouth Foundation was looking forward to the upcoming awards ceremony, at which over $20,000 in awards would be announced.

Richard York, board liaison to the Professional Development Committee, had a question for the board: studies indicate that time spent on professional development pays off. For a top class school system, it said, 55 was a minimum - Plymouth already puts in about 100.

But that, he said, is for the educational staff. Shouldn’t the same logic apply to the board itself, he asked, to improve the skills and efficiency of the school board also? He asked if a developed program to be held in the summer would interest board members. All agreed it would.

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In maintenance matters the board chose the bid submitted by Robinson Brothers Environmental for the asbestos abatement project at Fairview and Parkview.

The board also approved the bid of Dulmes Decor for the carpet replacement project at Fairview and Parkview.

The Flesch firm was chosen for the copier machine upgrade project.

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The board accepted the following gifts/donations:

• $957.90 from Horizon PATH forstudent transportation.

• $226.55 from Parkview PTK for stunent transportation.

• $550 from Vollrath Co. for student transportation to culinary competitions outside the district.

• A donation of $25 from Sandy Nicholson to the PHS Automotive department.

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In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation request of Kelly Wink, parttime

Speech and Language pathologist at Horizon. She served the district for one year.

PHS special education aide Vicky Kruschke has resigned as on May 19. She has served the district for 17 years.

Lisa Haack has been hired as a specal education aide at Horizon.

• • •

The board approved a travel request from PHS business education teacher Todd Williams to take two students to Anaheim, Calif., to participate in the 2017 FBLA National Leadership June 28. Costs will be paid by the students, their parents and fundraising.

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