By LINDA LOBECK
IRON MOUNTAIN - Both a parent and administrator talked about the need to be positive about the Iron Mountain Public Schools during a meeting of the school board of education Monday night.
Supt. Tom Jayne highlighted some of the positive things that went on to end the school year as well as what's planned for the upcoming year in addition to the bond projects.
"We listened to parents, staff and the community and have made some great additions to the curriculum next year. We have also reinstated K-12 bussing with no added cost to the school district along with no staff layoffs at this point. We have a lot of things that are positive moving forward," Jayne said.
One of the plans for the 2014-15 school year is to partner with local businesses and Bay College. Jayne noted that they are working with Bay to come to the Iron Mountain High School campus to teach psychology and English composition.
"At this time, it looks very positive. Bay will work with us and come on campus even if we don't have the mandatory 13 students they state they need in order to offer this on campus. If we have 9-10 students, they may still come during the day," he said.
There will also be two sections available during the day for students to go to Bay as well and transportation will be included if necessary.
Along with working on moving forward and solving financial challenges, Jayne said that they are advertising the sale of the Central School and 13 acres of land the district owns east of North Elementary School.
Enrollment predictions for the next five years still show declines for the school district. "But anything we can do to maintain the current enrollment of 870 and add 50-60 new students could solve the financial and contractual challenges in the upcoming fiscal year," Jayne said.
He added that by doing this it would solve the district's debt problems and they wouldn't have to implement any salary reductions. "We are working hard behind the scenes to stabilize us and add to our numbers. I encourage our staff and public to concentrate on the positives that are taking place within the district this summer and Continued from page 1-A.)
next school year so we can all move forward in a united stance to attain our goals."
Jayne also reported that the bond millage rate will be going down - from 5.34 mills to 5.18 mills in 2014-15. The current bonds will also be refinanced after May 1, 2015, and that will potentially save the taxpayers an additional $186,000 on the existing bonds.
During public comment time, Katie Maxon of 1312 Grand Boulevard Circle in Iron Mountain addressed parents, teachers, support staff and the board members at Monday's meeting.
To the parents and students, she asked them to stay with the school district, saying "pulling your child from this district hurts the opportunity of every other student."
Maxon told parents that they have incredible teachers who are dedicated to giving children the best possible education and they should give them the chance to do that.
"If you leave and your $7,000-plus per child leaves with you, you have sealed the fate of the remaining students here. Please, I'm begging you to give Iron Mountain a fighting chance to fix itself. Keep your students enrolled here and get involved to help make the change you want to see."
She also asked the teachers and support staff to continue to work hard for every student. "I know how difficult it can be facing a potential pay cut, impending layoffs and district shortfalls, but continue to pride yourselves on making the classroom place of learning and joy for your students."
She encouraged them to continue to teach, mentor, coach, and volunteer.
Finally, she addressed the board asking that they do not make any proposed pay cuts noting that last year 10 teachers were cut in an effort to keep the district from going into debt. It may have felt like the only solution, but she said the district ended up in debt anyway.
She recalled that during the recent drug education Reality Tour, Board President Jeff Michaud had praised Principal Maryann Boddy for her work to get the drug Spice taken off of the shelves in the state.
"He (Michaud) stressed the enormous impact our small, local district had on a statewide issue. Now I know school funding is different that drug legislation, but why can't we be the district to fight this?"
She felt they could send the message that schools are underfunded with more than 10 percent of districts functioning at a deficit. "I think we need to fight for this, just as we fought for and changed other important issues that impacted our district, because we truly are the place to succeed," Maxon said.
Michaud thanked everyone for coming to Monday's meeting and Maxon for her words about the district.
"I think we need more positive statements like we heard tonight. We have a great district and we need to continue to highlight it and focus on all we have to offer here," Michaud said.
Another highlight to the summer and start of the new school year, Jayne said, will be the greenhouse returning to East Elementary School. He added that Dr. Poppy, a scholarship donor and as well as donator of the greenhouse, recently died. He noted that the school district would be extending its condolences to his family.
Mary Couper, of 633 Detroit Ave. in Iron Mountain, spoke during public comment time that she was pleased that the greenhouse was being returned to East Elementary School. It had been a $20,000 gift from Dr. James Poppy and had been sitting over at the DIISD the past couple of years. She suggested that a plaque be placed on it noting the generous donation from Dr. Poppy, a native of the eastside of Iron Mountain.