New state funds OK’d for school security cameras

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft Board of Education in a brief May meeting learned the state’s budget will include extra funding for school safety which can be used for purchase of security cameras.

Finance Director Kendra Drewyor highlighted other legislative developments, including a new law allowing school districts to use their sinking funds for purchase of buses. It also allows districts to use those funds for security, technology, or real estate for facilities.

In other business, the board approved dairy bids and a proposal to send an HVAC project for the high school out for bids.

Vicksburg district thanks eight retiring staff

By Jef Rietsma

Eight Vicksburg Community Schools employees will say goodbye when the school year ends June 9.
Three of the eight employees retiring have 30-plus years of experience. The collective longevity of all eight equals more than 200 years of experience.

“As always, when we have employees retire, we wish them well in their retirement, and we thank them for their service and dedication to Vicksburg Community Schools,” Superintendent Keevin O’Neill said. “We offer our best wishes to eight retiring employees who were faithful to the district and, day in and day out, contributed positively in various capacities for the good of our district’s students.”

The eight soon-to-be former employees are:

Diana Haring, Indian Lake third-grade teacher, 34 years of employment with VCS.
Melissa Jamerson, Indian Lake second-grade teacher, 33 years.
Jody Young, Vicksburg Middle School language arts, 32 years.
Laurie Jancarz, Vicksburg High School aide, 29 years.
Nancy Spicketts, operations director, 29 years.
Eric Teall, Vicksburg High School language arts, 24 years.
Ronda Vanderkamp, athletics department and Vicksburg High School administrative assistant, 21 years.
Christina Kosiba, Vicksburg High School language arts, 20 years.

Schoolcraft Elementary School construction update

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Construction on the new Schoolcraft Elementary School is progressing on budget and on schedule, pleasing the planning committee and Superintendent Rick Frens. On April 13, this reporter met with Frens, donned a hard hat, and took a tour to see progress at the new facility.

The tour began with the main offices at the front of the building. This space includes offices, conference areas, and teacher and staff work rooms. The security concerns of parents and community were considered with the design of the front entry and placement of the administrative offices. A buzzer system will let visitors through the first entrance, which allows staff a second screen of an individual. Once allowed through a second door and into the school, visitors enter a spacious entry where individuals will decide whether to continue forward on the main floor or climb the stairs to the second level.

The building is filled with windows and natural light.

Grade-level pods and wings extend from the main hallways. The classrooms are large, and pairs of classrooms are joined by a shared office space.

Common space for collaboration between classes or grade-level projects is strategically placed in hallway alcoves with colorful acoustic tiles to absorb sound. The media center is designed for easy access and also includes many windows.

This day, the wooden gym floor was being installed below a colorful Golden Eagle sign hanging high on the walls. And the building’s cafeteria is another large, carefully planned space. Electricians were installing lighting in the upper hallways, and other contractors were at work in a mechanical room.

New classroom furniture, carefully selected and ordered, allows for various configurations and groupings in classrooms.

After careful budgeting and strategic planning, it is satisfying for all involved to see the project proceeding as planned, and it is a point of pride for administration as the new school will be finished and open when school begins next year.

Frens looks forward to welcoming students, staff and the community to the building this fall. “I just can’t wait!”