‘Early Start’ in Ontonagon addressed

Skip Schultz/For the Gazette Terry Anderson, speech language therapist for the Michigan Early On Program, addressed the Ontonagon Area School District Board.

At the monthly meeting of the Ontonagon Area School District (OASD) Board, “early start” was addressed in two ways.

The board decided to not start the 2018-19 school year “early,” and stay with starting school the first Tuesday after Labor Day.

Shortly after, it was Terry Anderson, a speech language pathologist, who addressed the board about the “Early On Michigan” program. The state-wide initiative offers early-intervention services for infants and toddlers, birth to three years of age, with developmental delays and/or disabilities, and their families.

Eight families in Ontonagon County are currently in the program.

“We work with families to help the children grow, to give the child confidence and to help the parents,” Anderson stated. “While our program is for children up to three years old, we don’t abandon them after three years old. We help in getting them in other programs.”

Anderson stated that the Early On program has had funding cuts, even though expenses continue to rise. One of the expenses she stated was travel. The program is funded through Michigan’s Office of Special Education.

The program is for children with the following disabilities; autism, blindness or visual impairments, cerebral palsy, deafness and/or hard of hearing, Down Syndrome, speech or language resources.

“Most of the children I work with have speech problems,” commented Anderson.

Other health-related topics were talked about at the meeting included students attending a Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) leadership event at Bay College in Escanaba on Feb. 2. On Feb. 28, grades 1-4 will have a “Dental Day” with staff members of Strong Dental Clinic.

An issue that has garnered national attention after the Florida school shooting is whether a school district should allow guns on school property. Superintendent Jim Bobula brought up this topic when going over a policy program that the OASD subscribes too.

“This issue has been addressed in the courts in Michigan, and the policy of allowing each school district to adopt their own policy has been upheld,” Bobula stated.

The board has a policy of not allowing any guns on OASD property.

This policy was addressed at this past Saturday’s Ontonagon town hall where three Michigan governor candidates were in attendance.

It was after the meeting that Bobula commended Ontonagon Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Witt for his attendance and help with the town hall. This included the professional “protocol” that Witt had with organizers of the event and the candidates.

“The Governors Candidate Forum this past Saturday was a successful event,” Bobula told the board.

The Junior High Winter Recreation Day was held on Feb. 9 at the Porcupine Mountains. Students took advantage of skiing and snowshoeing.

On Feb. 26, grades 3-5 will have their recreation day. On that same day, grade 7-8 students will be attending the annual Women in Science and Engineering event at Michigan Tech.

The Kindergarten Roundup will take place on March 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the school. Parents are asked to call the main office to set up an appointment.