MAPS announces Student Safety Committee members

MANISTEE — Members of the Manistee Area Public Schoolsw Safety Advisory Committee were revealed to the board of education at Wednesday’s meeting.

Manistee Area Public Schools superintendent Ron Stoneman (far left) tells the board of education who the new members on the Student Safety Advisory Committee are at Wednesday's meeting.

Manistee Area Public Schools superintendent Ron Stoneman (far left) tells the board of education who the new members on the Student Safety Advisory Committee are at Wednesday’s meeting.

Superintendent Ron Stoneman said there still are spots to be filled on the advisory committee that will be used as a source of looking at areas of concern in the school district. The idea of the committee was initiated after incidents of bullying and other school safety issues occurred in the district.

“We met on Monday and it was more of a forum as we had the opportunity to reflect on the information and dialogue we had from the first meeting,” said Stoneman. “I asked the group to reflect on some other concerns the group may have which turned into 70 minutes of good dialogue and conversation. I am just feeling a good partnership developing.”

At this time the committee will consist of Stoneman, board members Shelley Johnson, Daniela Thomas and principals Andy Huber, Julia Raddatz and Kevin Schmutzler. Parent and community representatives include Shelly Connell, Shannon Ladd, Bryan Miller, Jennifer Oleniczak, Monica Salingue, Jenna Sands, Jennifer Scarlata, Matt Somsel and Jason Sullivan. There also are slots for law enforcement and student representatives that have yet to be filled as they are looking at two-year terms for committee members.

“The component we need to be successful with here at school is that parent information, thoughts and concerns are addressed,” said Stoneman. “It’s truly a partnership and we are really starting to feel that and the positive effects of those conversations with the administration at the school. The concept was to keep the committee size workable, but the participation from the outside is imperative.”

Johnson, who is representing the board on the committee, said she was pleased with what transpired at the meeting.

“It was a great meeting and exactly what we wanted with a lot of positive communication,” said Johnson.

Stoneman said there will be challenges in the upcoming weeks for the committee and school officials. However, he said it takes everyone to make the efforts of the committee successful.

“We need a lot of communication for what is expected on our side and what they expect on their side,” said Stoneman. “The dialogue is so important. I think the school administration is trying to step up that understanding with the community and what they need from us, so that they feel their kids are being safe and their issues are being addressed.”

He said they will be reviewing lots of things like student handbooks and the operations of the buildings.

“We will be reviewing a lot of policies and a lot of explanation of why things are in those handbooks,” said Stoneman.

Stoneman said that all the committee meetings will be open to the public in the future and he encourages the public to keep attending and giving input.

“Please do not feel that you can not participate,” said Stoneman. “I appreciate all that stepped up to serve on the committee. I would deeply encourage everyone to keep participating and there are several people who have little kids who aren’t at MAPS, but I encourage them to stay engaged in the process as we move forward.”

Stoneman said in the future they will be bringing in bus drivers, food service, coaches, students, teachers and others who will be joining the conversation as concerns are addressed in those areas.

Board president Dr. Paul Antal asked what a parent is supposed to do if there is a concern that they want the committee to address.

“If there is a problem in the classroom they should approach the teacher and if they think the administration (principals) should know they need to contact them as well,” said Stoneman. “If they feel teachers or administrators aren’t addressing it then they should come to me. I can bring an incident to the committee or we will plan to have an agenda where the public can speak to them about it.”

Stoneman said it will be his responsibility to communicate to the board what is going on in order to address it. The board members on the committee will also be made aware of it.

Board members also took action at Wednesday’s meeting to approve the five contracts for principals Andy Huber, Julia Raddatz and Kevin Schmutzler, assistant principals Kenn Kott and Jason Traviss.

Action was also agreed on by a 7-0 vote to approve Michigan High School Cooperative Agreement Renewal agreements for hockey (Manistee, Manistee Catholic Central, Ludington Hart and Shelby) and wrestling (Manistee and Onekama) where MAPS is the host school. They also agreed to enter into a co-op agreement with for boys and girls skiing where Onekama is the host school.

Due to the deadline constraints and the length of Wednesday’s meeting, more stories will follow in upcoming editions of the News Advocate.

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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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