MAPS track construction progressing

MANISTEE — The Manistee Area Public School members were informed this week by school administrators  that a large dirt oval has appeared behind the high school

Work is progressing on the Manistee Community track behind Manistee High School. MAPS board of education members were given an update on the project at Wednesday meeting.

Work is progressing on the Manistee Community track behind Manistee High School. MAPS board of education members were given an update on the project at Wednesday meeting.

building.

That large oval is the early stages of the new Manistee Community Track. Superintendent Ron Stoneman said Team Elmers  is making good progress on the project.

“We are on our third week of the project with the track and we met with (architects) Forsite Design Inc. who stopped by for a visit,” said Stoneman. “They told us there is good dirt out there and they are moving it. They are happy with what they have unearthed and are finding something that is workable.”

Stoneman said they are bringing in any other foundation materials that may be needed.

“We have a meeting scheduled for May 24 with Elmer’s about construction and with all the good weather they are right on schedule,” he said. “We will be keeping you posted on it and there is a great video of our three-week progress (made by the MHS video production class) that we will be sharing with you soon.”

Stoneman also reported to the board on the progress being made on getting the old high school building behind the current Kennedy Elementary School torn down. School officials are looking at ways to take that old high school building down and to construct a new, safer entrance to the Kennedy building for bus and car drop off of students.

Board members recently put together an ad hoc committee to address that situation. Stoneman said they are working with construction management companies and architects to see what can be done with the building.

“We are meeting with Christman Construction Management Company on May 22,” said Stoneman. “The idea of meeting with Christman and another construction management is to get two perspectives, and then we will report to the board about a possible recommendation. We may want to talk to more construction companies, but after two we may want to talk about what the next step is for us.”

Stoneman reminded the board that there is no cost and the construction companies are doing that preliminary work with the idea that the district may consider them for the project in the future.

Another update Stoneman delivered to the board was on the project RIGHTside Design is doing for the district on creating a new brand. The board recently held a work session with the company to give them feedback on a survey they did with district staff, parents and citizens.

“They will be meeting with the PLC leadership team and will continue to work with us,” said Stoneman. “They will be driving us forward on what we feel we are good at and what we may need some help. It contains our own board information (survey) that you provided and the surveys they did with the community. We have a wealth of information to move forward with at this time to develop an action plan.”

Maniste Intermediate School District superintendent Jeff Jennette presented the board with the ISD’s General Education Budget.

“We have to do this every year with the local boards and ask for your approval,” said Jennette.

Board members voted 6-0 to approve the measure.

Members of the board also had the opportunity on Wednesday evening to hear a presentation from the administrators oon the grade realignment proposal for the district.

Over the past two weeks the administrators have hosted two presentations for the public with one at Manistee High School and the other at Kennedy Elementary School.

The new alignment that is in the works for the next school year is as follows:

* Madison Elementary: Pre-kindergarten;

* Jefferson Elementary: Kindergarten through second grade; and

* Kennedy Elementary: Third grade through fifth grade.

Manistee Middle/High School:

* Middle School: Sixth grade through eighth grade;

* High School: Ninth grade through 12th grade.

Parents Sally Somsel and Karen Gajewski expressed concerns over the sixth grade students being sent to the middle school/high school building instead of being located at Kennedy Elementary School. Somsel said she has a fifth grade student who would be one of those making the move next year if the plan moves forward.

“I attended the informational meeting last week that was held at the high school,” said Somsel. “Mr. Stoneman acknowledged then that there is a cultural change that was needed in that building. I would like to know how and when this cultural change is going to occur.”

Somsel said she also wanted more discussion on the changes to occur before school officials put it in place for the start of the 2017-18 school year.

“I feel like this move is being rushed and not all the answers are in place,” she said. “If these conversations were happening in October or November of last year I think would be plenty of time for people to get the answers they are looking for..”

Later in the meeting during the board and administrators’ discussion about the realignment,  it was stated that meetings are being planned in the upcoming weeks and months. Those meetings are going to be to get input from the staff to put a strong plan in place before next year. It was indicated by the administrators that meetings may be needed to discuss the matter over the summer.

Gajewski said she already emailed the board about her concerns and spoke at one of the informational meetings last week.

“I just found out about the money the school gets from the Great Lakes Virtual Academy and wondered why that money is not being used to remodel the lower level of Kennedy Elementary School to keep the sixth graders there?” she asked. “I also wanted to know as school board members being voted in if any of you went out and talked to your constituents and asked them their thoughts on this?”

Later in the meeting during a discussion on the realignment, administrators said they contacted an architect about doing that remodeling and that it wasn’t feasible from a financial or practical standpoint to remodel Kennedy’s basement. They also said discussions have been ongoing with many different groups about the move and would continue in the future.

No official action was taken on the matter at the meeting and school officials said the discussion would continue.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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