Schoolcraft School Board Elects Officers, Discusses Safety

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft school board swore in two new members, Jennifer Gottschalk and Jill VanDyken-Hunt, before its first board meeting of 2017.

The board also elected officers. By unanimous decisions, Darby Fetzer was selected to continue as president of the board. Others are Ryan Ledlow, vice president, and Kathy Mastenbrook, treasurer; Gottschalk was chosen secretary.

High School Principal Ric Seager gave a presentation to the board about Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test scores. Mean scores for Schoolcraft were right on par with that for the state.

Approximately 49 percent met both benchmarks while 76 percent of students met reading and writing benchmarks and 49 percent met the math ones. Seager noted that of students who should have taken the test, 82 of 85 actually took it, well above the state’s 50 percent participation rate. Seager said he is discussing the implications of the data with teachers and will be working to make improvements where possible to improve future scores.

Middle School Principal Dave Powers said his teachers will have a big part in helping prepare students for these tests. “If we’re not getting it done at the middle school, there’s not much the high school can do to correct that trajectory,” Powers said in reference to charts showing the trend of scores.

Superintendent Rusty Stitt also did a presentation on the results of a safety survey that gathered 272 responses from staff, students and parents about the conditions at Schoolcraft schools. “The number one question we want to ask our stakeholders: ‘Is it safe here?’” Stitt said.

The good news is, the majority either agreed or strongly agreed the schools were safe. Stitt said he did wonder about some of the neutral responses. The survey also looked for opinions on a variety of additional safety options.

An overwhelming majority, 96 percent of respondents were supportive of the buzz-in system the school recently added. Most would also like to see all traffic into the school routed through the main entrance where there is always someone present in the main office.

Most would also like to see some sort of surveillance camera system put in place, whether it was just the halls or grounds. Stitt noted the cameras could have additional benefits such as determining who broke a rule or for educational purposes. Ideas like metal detectors had less support.

One major area of concern within the schools is bullying. Results showed many respondents are not aware the school has hotlines students could call for support. “Not having a big number of people noticing is a missing need,” Stitt said. Mastenbrook asked about cyber bullying. Seager said it’s a big factor. The majority of the issues they have involve Twitter and Snapchat.

Powers said bullying has changed from what he and many other adults knew growing up. In the past, bullying was targeted and a way to exert power. Today it takes on a broader definition of behaviors meant simply to upset people.

The responses are enough that Stitt wants trustees to look deeper at some things like cameras in the future. “It’s something we need to start having a conversation about,” Stitt said.

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