By Travis Smola
Trustees for the Schoolcraft school board approved a $50-per-family trainer fee with an amendment to look annually at finances for the full-time trainer.
The board previously sent the issue over to the Finance Committee to look at funding options for participating in a cost-sharing program with Bronson Hospital that would allow the district to hire current athletic trainer Jordan Love in a full-time capacity.
Treasurer Kathy Mastenbrook said the committee came back with a recommendation to set a fee for this year at no more than $50 per family, but also to re-assess the issue next year. Board President Jennifer Gottschalk estimates they might get half of the $25,000 needed from the fee. The rest will come from the general fund.
The board briefly discussed other ways of funding for the issue after Secretary Ryan Ledlow expressed concerns about asking parents for more money ahead of a looming potential bond project. Trustee Rachel Phelps agreed. However, Finance Director Rita Broekema said it would be difficult because it would require a lot of negotiating to alter the contract with Bronson.
The board also discussed educating parents on why the trainer is necessary. Previously, a trainer was provided free of charge to school districts as part of a program with Bronson and Western. But changes to educational requirements for trainers means that program will end in the next couple of years. The district would like to keep the current trainer in a full-time capacity now.
Superintendent Rusty Stitt suggested also educating parents on the trainer’s expanded role in the district as a full-time employee. The board ultimately decided to approve the fee. But it also added an amendment to look at the issue every year so potential changes could be made to the way the trainer is paid in the future.
Gottschalk also provided a brief update on the facilities study at the meeting. The facilities committee will be looking at data from the latest EPIC-MRA survey held in early April and will be bringing a recommendation on whether the district should pursue a bond issue in November at the May meeting.
The board also honored Tina Darling as the Soaring Eagle of the month award winner at the meeting. “She’s one of those individuals who sees a problem and does not rest until she sees a solution,” Stitt said. The problem was the addition of a crosswalk to the east and south of the elementary and middle school. Many drivers were failing to stop at the new crosswalk, presenting a danger to students.
Darling stepped up to volunteer her time as a crossing guard at the location and quickly developed a good relationship with the students who used it. “Even on the coldest, nastiest, dog days of winter, Tina was out there protecting our kids and building relationships,” Stitt said.
In closing the meeting, the board also thanked high school principal Ric Seager, who will soon be leaving to take on a new job as Superintendent at Watervliet Public Schools. “I just want to say thanks again, Ric, for all that you’ve done for us,” Gottschalk said. “We’re so excited for you to start your new opportunity, that’s awesome! We are definitely going to miss you.”