H-PT elects officers

HOUGHTON — In the second year of its customary two-year cycle of officers, the Houghton-Portage Township Schools Board changed as little as possible during Monday’s reorganizational meeting.

The board selected Nels Christopherson as president, Amanda Massaway as vice president, Rob Fay as treasurer and Brad Baltensperger, Brent Burns and Scott Leonard as trustees.

All but one were carryovers from the previous year. Crystal Verran, who had been the board’s secretary, left the board last year after moving out of the area. Board member Buck Foltz was approved as the new secretary.

Christopherson said the two-year cycle was instituted in reaction to a previous board “dynasty” where leadership positions stayed in the same hands for years.

“Over the years, that philosophy got changed,” he said. “And I think it’s been proven, by the way that we’ve been operating and the successes we’ve had … it’s been a good thing, and we’re going to continue with it.”

Rotating officers and committee assignments also gives board members a broader view of the district’s operations, Christopherson said.

The district also renewed its COVID learning plan.

For the second semester, 81% of middle school students chose to receive face-to-face instruction, up from 72% at the start of the year, said Middle School Principal Julie Filpus.

To support students in coping with the upheaval of the year, the high school made a one-time change in the role exams play. Usually, they count for 20% of the final semester grade. For the first semester, students can opt out of the final exam if they passed both quarters and are happy with their earned grade, said Principal Cole Klein.

In winter athletics, indoor sports are beginning to resume after the easing of COVID restrictions, said Athletic Director John Sanregret. The swim team began practice Monday, and will have its first meet Jan. 28. The hockey and basketball teams will return to action Feb. 2 and Feb. 4, respectively. Hockey and basketball teams are not allowed to run any drills that would require contact.

The girls’ basketball numbers are good enough that the school is building a schedule for a freshman team, Sanregret said.

Superintendent Doreen Kramer also updated the board on the Michigan Integrated Continuous Improvement Process. Districts are required by the state and federal government to create plans for school and district improvement. As Michigan’s process was ill-defined, the district chose a process developed by the non-profit accreditation group NCA (later became Advanced Ed and Cognia). After Michigan’s plan grew more rigorous, the district adopted it this year.

In a change from the previous four-step process used by the district, MICIP involves assessing, planning needs, implementing,monitoring, adjusting and evaluating.

“They made those changes to meet what schools really do,” Kramer said.

The board will continue to meet at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month, with the exception of the Dec. 13 meeting. Meetings are slated to take place in the high school boardroom, though that has been modified on a month-by-month basis during the pandemic. Meetings have taken place virtually, as on Monday, or in the middle-high school library.


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