Bear Lake Board to be led by Merrill

BEAR LAKE — The Bear Lake Board of Education will have a new person leading the meetings in 2018 after members selected Bethany Merrill as the new president at this week’s organizational meeting.

Merrill has served on the board since 2014 and takes over from Charles Brooks, who has served as the president for several consecutive terms. Merrill was elected on a unanimous



vote of the board.

Other officers elected Wednesday evening include Eric Smith, who returns as vice president; Becky Fink as secretary and Greg Babinec is the treasurer. All three held those positions last year and were elected on unanimous votes of the board.

Other organizational meeting items to be dealt with were the setting of board meeting times and dates. The board agreed to keep the meetings in 2018 at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month in the Bear Lake School media center.

Board committee assignments were also handed out, and they include the following:

• Building and grounds:  Fink, Angela Eisenlohr and Smith;

• Health PE & athletics: Babinec, Fink and Smith;

• MASB Legislation and Liaison: Fink;

• County Cooperative: Babinec;

• Negotiations: Shad Buckner, Babinec and Smith;

• Personnel/student discipline: Smith, Fink and Merrill;

• Policy: Buckner, Brooks and Babinec;

• Manistee ISD representative: Brooks; and

• Manistee County School Management Cooperative: Smith and Babinec.

“Board members were also recognized as part of school board recognition month.

Members of the Bear Lake Schools Board of Education are considering using some of the leftover funds from the Zero Millage Bond to pay for the smart board projectors that the district purchased to be used in the classroom. (File photo)

Members of the Bear Lake Schools Board of Education are considering using some of the leftover funds from the Zero Millage Bond to pay for the smart board projectors that the district purchased to be used in the classroom. (File photo)

“Obviously board members are immensely important because they are in charge of the district and ultimately make all of the important educational decisions using the information presented to them,” said Cordes.

All of the board members were recognized with certificates and tokens of appreciation from the staff.

Cordes also brought to the board a request to put the 19.4844 Non-Homestead Operating Millage renewal on the ballot for the May 8. The board approved the measure.

The district will be asking voters to authorize the millage rate limitation at 19.4844 mills even though they can only levy 18 mills on all property except principal residences and other property exempted by the law.

“What people need to remember is all that can be levied is 18 mills and this is a renewal and not any new tax,” said Cordes. “Every school district has to do this and it runs for four years from 2019 to 2022. We need those funds for operations and failure of the proposal would mean a loss of $916,506 to the district.”

The superintendent also told the board that it appears the district will have have about $150,000 left from the Zero Millage bond request after the roof replacement, bus purchase and technology upgrades. The funds left over due to that fiscal responsibility gave the board and district some options on using those funds for additional upgrades.

“The roof is done and we have the money set aside for our next round of technology and bus purchase, so we are sort of prioritizing what we want to get done,” said Cordes. “We have to get a new boiler control and we are looking at if we still need to replace our fire alarm system. Other things are we are looking at replacing are the bleachers in the lower gym, and redoing and repainting  the floor in the lower gym because it hasn’t been done in years.”

Cordes also said that earlier they had purchased the smart projectors for the classroom out of the general fund, so legally they can transfer the money from the bond because it was for technology into the general fund. No final decisions were made on any of those things at this time as they are still looking at estimates and cost for all of the upgrades that were talked about at the meeting.

Board members also heard the news that the school’s property on Russell Road was sold and transferred to the Village of Bear Lake which plan to place their new water wells on that property.

“Everything was finalized, signed and notarized, so it is all set to go,” he said.


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

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