Onekama school board OKs bond construction bids

ONEKAMA — When the final school bell sounds on the 2017-18 school year at Onekama Consolidated Schools it will be replaced with the sound of construction work.

The Onekama Consolidated Schools building will be getting a new roof after bids were approved at Monday's meeting.

The Onekama Consolidated Schools building will be getting a new roof after bids were approved at Monday’s meeting.

This week the board of education gave its approval to several bid recommendations for bond improvement projects that came to them from the district’s contract manager Wolgast Corporation and engineer the Spicer Group. It is work that the board is looking at doing in the summer with bond funds that were gained from a Zero Millage Increase and bond request that was put before the voters in the spring of 2017.

Superintendent Kevin Hughes said the bids that came in were lower than anticipated.

“What the bids came in at were good as it was under budget,” said Hughes. “We had $1.7 million to spend on this project and we came in at $1,007,471 and with the contingency funds we have in place (possible cost overruns) so we have about $500,000 that we have left from the bond in leeway with these bids. So the preliminary numbers look pretty good.”

Bid recommendations that were accepted by the board included:

• General Trades: Triconn Construction from Muskegon for $64,400;

• Roofing: J.Stevens Construction from Muskegon for $355,500;

• Mechanical: D & W Mechanical from Traverse City for $552,122; and

• Electrical: Padigm Electric LLC from Bear Lake for $35,449.

Hughes reminded the board that when the voters approved the Zero Mill request they also approved a 10-year Sinking Fund for the district that generates $300,000 a year.

“We can use that for technology and upgrades in the next 10 years,” Hughes said.

Board members also made the decision to move a lot of their school depositories for the building and site fund, sinking fund, 2004 debt return fund, 2007 debt return fund, 2008 debt return fund, 2017 debt return fund and the general savings fund from PNC to West Shore Bank.

“We made that move because PNC left Onekama and we moved all those funds over to West Shore Bank (who moved into that location),” said Hughes.

Board members also took action to become members of the School Equity Caucus at that meeting. Hughes explained what that group is looking to do.

“The School Equity Caucus is a group that is trying to get parity in school finance,” said Hughes. “At the countywide school board meeting a few weeks ago the keynote speaker addressed that topic. Their goal is to have schools throughout the state to have comparable funding. We thought his presentation at the countywide board meeting was pretty powerful and that is why we are going to join it.”

Onekama Consolidated Schools had been a member several years ago, but now they are rejoining.

“According to the study done on this, the minimum base that all the schools should be getting is $9,590,” said Hughes. “Right now we are the highest in the county at $8,272 so you are talking about $1,300 per student. On top of that we should be reimbursed for transportation we should be getting $973 per rider on top of the $9,590 and you might get extra for being rural or for being high poverty area.”

Other things where school districts could pick up money for a full foundation grant are if they have special education students.

“It’s not getting much traction yet, this study would help us a lot,” said Hughes.

Hughes said on the positive side that may help with the legislation is there are quite a few of these low funded districts in southeast Michigan where the majority of legislators live.

“It’s not just a we against them thing as there are districts adjacent to Bloomfield Hills who are getting the same basic foundation as Manistee and Bear Lake,” he said. “With the 2x funding over the past several years some of those districts in the county are getting close to us, but there still is a gap.”

Onekama principal Gina Hagen presented to the board information on the new Michigan Parent Dashboard that parents can visit at MISchoolData.org/ParentDashboard to gain information on the state school districts.

“It is a very parent friendly transparency tool that shows the performance of every public school in Michigan and is a new direction in accountability,” said Hagen.

The new tool came about as a result of several things including the Every Student Succeeds Act, parental request and it was requested by the State Board of Education policy. It was created by the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information, the State Board of Education and parents and other stakeholders.

“What it does is allows parents to make decisions about schools and compare school performance to other similar schools nearby or in terms of demographics,” said Hagen. “What people will find there is school level information, nearly 20 different factors and it includes three years of data.”

Information includes details on state test results, student performance, student growth, graduation rate, English learner progress, participation on state tests, advanced coursework, post secondary enrollment and on-track attendance.

“Parents can see all the students in a school and different groups of students in terms of race, English learners, students, those with disabilities and more,” said Hagen.

Hagen said the dashboard system is designed to be a living tool that will change as every year passes and additional data is entered.

“What this means for the Onekama Consolidated Schools is we can see how we compare to similar districts, the overall state data and there are reports about student growth to analyze,” said Hagen.

Several things were cited where Onekama students are rated including that they outperformed the state in graduation rate and advanced coursework (dual enrollment and voc tech classes).

“How we did that was students and staff created individual success plans, staff helped students accomplish their goals and administrators supported staff and programs,” said Hagen. “We do have some areas that need more work like strategies to decrease our achievement gap and to continue focusing on curriculum alignment and instruction to improve student growth.”

Hagen said they hope to achieve that by continued monitoring of student growth with data, professional learning and collaboration, and monitoring implementation of research based strategies.

 

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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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