New policies at Hancock cause debate

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette At Monday’s Hancock Public Schools Board meeting pictured from left to right are Superintendent Kipp Beaudoin, Board President Kevin Kalinec, Principal Ezekiel Ohan and vice president Paula Nutini.

CORRECTION, Jan. 19: In a story in Tuesday’s paper, the name of the late Hancock School Board member Steve Lancour was misspelled. Also, at the time of his death, Lancour held the office of board secretary, not president.

HANCOCK — The School Board heard plans for new staff, exam policies and parent concerns on those policies at its Monday meeting.

Middle Schol and High School Principal Ezekiel Ohan reviewed new exam week procedures, which set makeup days, require advanced excused absence and set the exam grade weight at 20 percent of a course grade.

Additional changes restrict students from exiting classrooms during testing, create a prep-week building up to exam week and create the extended opportunity learning center for additional study.

The study space appears to be popular with students, with Ohan counting 55 studying Monday.

“I think it’s an affirmation that students want a place to go that’s dependable, that’s calm where they can receive the attention that’s necessary,” Ohan said.

However, not all the implemented policies are popular, leading some to express displeasure during the public comment period.

Parent Ken Miller objected to restrictions on loitering between classes and socializing during exam week. He also voiced concerns over a lack of transparency regarding the policy change, as those changes were not listed with rules sent to parents.

Students were informed by teachers of restrictions on socializing in the halls in the morning and while exams were ongoing. Instead, students spent the mornings in classrooms studying.

“As concerned and active parents, we have the following questions regarding these changes. Why is there a need to implement such harsh changes?” Miller said. “These rules and regulations are not changing the school for the better.”

Miller expressed a desire for more positive motivation and less stringent procedures.

Reviews among students are mixed with some supporting the policy and others against it. One student expressed her approval, finding the quiet time and lack of “ruckus” helpful.

“For me… I just need to collect and focus on my thing so…it does help,” she said.

The student felt the policy encouraged “constructive study.”

Another student didn’t like the change.

“In the morning, I think we should be allowed to talk to our peers,” the student said.

“You can’t make everybody happy,” Ohan commented.

The board is currently in the process of selecting a new trustee to serve in place of Steve Lancore, who passed away in December. Interviews are planned with two candidates being considered to serve the rest of Lancore’s term.

A new math teacher has also been selected for middle school and high school students with a start date later this month.

The trustee officers were reshuffled, with Kevin Kalinec to serve as president in place of Lancore, Paula Nutini to serve as vice president, Randy Heinonen as secretary and Michele Blau continuing as treasurer.