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Districts reject BRIDGE millage proposal

August 14, 2012
By STEPHEN ANDERSON - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

BARAGA - The fate of BRIDGE Alternative High School is hinging on local districts' acceptance of a proposed area-wide millage, (see related stories on page 3A), but the Baraga Area Schools Board of Education does not agree with that method of funding.

Baraga and L'Anse have their own joint alternative education program called Community Schools, and in addition to disagreeing with a millage as the solution, the board didn't think it was given enough time to make a decision. If the millage was to be on the November ballot across the Copper Country Intermediate School District coverage area, wording would need to be finalized by Aug. 21.

"There's no doubt that everybody is concerned for these students ... but I think right now the general feeling is that there's a different solution," superintendent Jennifer Lynn said. "I'm of the opinion that we need to look at other ways to manage the (alternative education) budget than using tax dollars."

Article Photos

Stephen Anderson/Daily Mining Gazette
Baraga Area Schools Superintendent Jennifer Lynn discusses the BRIDGE Alternative High School millage proposal at Monday’s regular school board meeting. The board rejected the proposal. Shown at left is board president Byron Sailor.

She called the timeline problematic, and board member Bill Jondreau agreed: "I think it's too rushed."

Lynn informed the board that while the Community Schools fund balance is slowly decreasing, "We have not looked at ours with any major at-risk consideration."

While the long-term future of local alternative education remains a concern, the board acknowledged some good news related to one of its programs: BHK Great Explorations after-school program will expand from K-8 to K-12 thanks to grant funding from a competitive Michigan Department of Education program.

Lynn told the board a big reason for receiving the grant was a district-wide student survey conducted last year by the Great Lakes Center for Youth Development.

"Now we have a program that's addressing some of the needs that were identified by the students in that survey," she said.

The board heard a report from G.E. site coordinators Heather Jahfetson and Erin Carter, and watched a five-minute video presentation about the benefits of G.E.

"It's a good program for the district," Jondreau said.

Also during Monday's busy meeting, the board:

accepted Ashley Wyers' coaching resignation from her JV volleyball and basketball positions, and Elisha Laninga's teaching resignation from her sixth-grade physical education position. Both are relocating.

assigned the following coaches for 2012-13: Tom Goodreau for junior high football, Mariah Dunham for JV volleyball, Bridget LaPointe for freshman volleyball, Amy Ellenich for JV and varsity cheerleading and Angela Shelifoe for junior high cheerleading.

discussed athletic numbers and decided to keep all three volleyball programs. The freshman program has 12 girls, JV has 11 and varsity 13. Football, on the other hand, is struggling to maintain numbers, with 15 for JV and 18 for varsity.

"We may need to reduce (the JV football) program as time moves forward and make it a development piece instead of a competitive piece," Lynn said.

approved the 2011-12 annual education report, which acknowledged just missing the state's Adequate Yearly Progress goal of an 80 percent graduation rate with a 75.68 percent mark within the white ethnicity subgroup.

"We weren't far off the mark, but we were off the mark," Lynn said.

The full report will be posted soon to

approved the student/parent and athletic handbooks for 2012-13, which feature only a few changes. One of the larger changes requires a junior high student to take summer classes if he or she fails one or more core classes. The previous rule was having to fail two classes. Also, students will now be permitted to "possess" cellphones during the school day but not "use" them, and student emergency contact information must be up-to-date at all times.

The updated handbooks will also be posted soon to

approved 2012-13 administrative contracts for Lynn and grades 3-12 principal Jon Young, keeping the same salary rate as 2011-12, with the only change being creating more flexibility for continuing education opportunities for administrators.

approved the matrix of class offerings, which adjusted to the departure of Laninga, who will not be replaced. Young gave a detailed overview of class changes which "meet the needs well. ... All in all we are still able to keep a pretty balanced matrix," he said.

Roman/Greek history will be dropped from social studies offerings, and choir/music appreciation will rotate every other year.

The board was impressed with the adjustments.

approved a NEOLA (policy services provider) policy revision related to district support organizations, using advice from the district's insurance company and legal counsel.

heard from Young the district will continue to look into a flipped classroom model that many districts already use. Instead of about 80 percent instruction and 20 percent hands-on, it would be reversed, taking advantage of technology to provide additional instruction.

went into closed session to discuss union negotiations. No action was taken when the board returned.



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