Schoolcraft school board amends millage rate

Schoolcraft High School’s 2021 graduation ceremony. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft Board of Education approved a small increase in the district’s non-homestead tax rate, from 17.786 mills to 18 mills to offset a decrease in federal revenue. The increase amounts to 21.4 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation on non-residential property and second homes.

New Finance Director Kendra Drewyor, in her first meeting with the district, explained the general fund budget assumes a fund balance decrease of 16.77%, approximately $322,000, as a result of the decrease. Drewyor said it should not be anything to be concerned about. The district will still have a fund balance of around $2 million.

“That is still a healthy, healthy fund balance for a district of your size,” Drewyor said.

The action to resolve the millage rate passed unanimously.

Superintendent Rick Frens proposed changes to the administrative team as the district prepares to move from three buildings to two. The new superintendent recommended giving elementary principal Matt Webster new duties as both kindergarten through sixth grade principal and assistant superintendent.

“We had the title of assistant superintendent and I know the concern was that Mr. Webster’s got a lot on his plate now with grant management and new construction involvement and a lot of different things; that’s an honor for work he’s already been doing,” Frens said. “He has a mind for detail that is incredibly impressive.”

Because of the middle school addition to the high school, Frens recommended Matt Dailey serve as principal for grades 7-12. Those two shifts will also change middle school principal Dave Powers’ role in the district. Frens recommended him for a dean of students role.

“His role will be more student-facing, working with kids,” Frens said. “He also has a gift for data management and presenting data for kids, especially as we come back from a pandemic and a year of virtual learning, interrupted learning.” Frens explained that Powers will likely spend some time looking into matters like the number of chronically absent students.

The superintendent recommended Innovation Coach Amy Lawrence’s role shift to a K-6 dean of students role with similar responsibilities. He noted there may also be changes to office staff and other positions as work continues to progress on the new facilities and updates.

This meeting was the board’s first open public meeting since the coronavirus pandemic began. Frens noted that many of the state’s mandates on instruction are expiring this month and that the district hopes to offer full, face-to-face instruction five days a week starting in the fall. The district will still be subject to state and local laws in case the situation changes. Students and staff will still have the option to wear a mask, but Frens is hopeful things will be back to normal.

“We want to re-establish that human connection without the hindrance of face coverings,” Frens said. “We feel that is absolutely an essential step in getting our kids back to a normal school setting. Our kids, our adults, our community have been through a tough time. Now we start to heal that and go back to a normal structure.”

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