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Concerns raised at Hancock Schools meeting

Transportation, special elections discussed

March 20, 2012
By KURT HAUGLIE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - Hancock Public Schools Board of Education members heard about a series of concerns one parent has about the district during their regular meeting Monday.

During public comment period, parent John Haeussler read from a prepared statement about several issues he had, including the number of school principals in the district, what should be done about all-day kindergarten, transportation, a proposed special election in May and use of email by one board member to discuss an issue.

At its March 12 work session, board members discussed restructuring the district's administration. Haeussler said it would be a good idea for the district to switch to two principals rather than three: One for the middle school/high school campus, and one for the Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School campus.

Article Photos

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Members of the Hancock Public Schools Board of Education discuss the agenda at Monday’s regular meeting.

"Given that the district has two campuses of roughly equivalent enrollment, I urge the board to consider operating the 2012-13 fiscal year with two principals and to transfer the athletic director duties to the (Copper Country Intermediate School District) or to hire a part-time athletic director," he said. Currently, Hancock Central High School Principal John Sanregret is also the district's athletic director.

The Michigan Department of Education has told school districts in order to get full funding for kindergarten, they must conduct all-day kindergarten classes. Those with half-day kindergarten will get only half funding.

Haeussler said although Superintendent Monica Healy has stated the district will do better financially to switch to all-day kindergarten, there has been no financial analysis to support that claim.

If a switch was made to all-day kindergarten, Haeussler said the district will incur other costs, including additional staff, furniture and other equipment.

"By switching to all-day kindergarten, the district will receive no additional funding," he said. "Rather, it will continue its current level of funding. ..."

On the issue of privatizing student transportation to R&A Transportation, Haeussler said the costs for the service are actually higher than the costs when the district provided its own transportation of students.

"Thus, for 2011-12, the decision to privatize transportation has not yet yielded financial savings," he said. "Instead, it has resulted in a lower level of service and the loss of one-third of the bus fleet."

Haeussler said the board's decision to conduct a special election in May to renew the district operating millage is fiscally irresponsible.

"The operating millage has expired, and this vote could and should have occurred in conjunction with the primary elections in February at no cost to the district," he said.

Haeussler said an email board member Cory Packard sent to other members concerning the district's Young 5s program violated the district bylaws and the Open Meetings Act, and should not happen again.

Neither Healy nor the board members responded to Haeussler's comments at the meeting, but Healy responded this morning to some of the concerns.

Healy said the email from Packard probably wasn't improper.

"I don't believe that's a violation of either the district bylaws or the Open Meetings Act," she said.

District attorneys are examining the issue, however, Healy said.

As to Haeussler's other comments about various issues, Healy said she and the board are continuing to examine them and will take Haeussler's comments into consideration.



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