Bear Lake Schools to host ISD classroom in 2018-19

BEAR LAKE — Bear Schools will be the new home to the Manistee Intermediate School District’s Emotionally Impaired classroom beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

Members of the Bear Lake Board of Education discuss the decision to move the  Manistee Intermediate School District's Emotionally Impaired classroom to their building.

Members of the Bear Lake Board of Education discuss the decision to move the Manistee Intermediate School District’s Emotionally Impaired classroom to their building.

Superintendent Marlen Cordes said they are happy to welcome the program to the Bear Lake Schools. It will also bring in about $10,000 in rent to the district, and students from all of the county schools have the opportunity to send students that are in need of those services to that classroom.

“Right now it is housed at Kennedy Elementary School and the county has two students in it,” said Cordes. “The ISD was looking at cuts and maybe doing some flow back money to the local districts, but we didn’t want to do that. By law we can only put the grades that were in that building or a one grade difference, so being in Kennedy really restricts it.”

Cordes said the program currently has only two students in it and there will be two adults coming as well.

Board member Eric Smith, who also sits on the ISD board said both sides were happy with the new arrangement.

“I know the teachers are very happy to come out here,” said Smith.

However, Cordes said it is kind of a good news-bad news situation. He also announced to the board that the Moderately Cognitively Impaired classroom that was housed at Bear Lake would be moved back to Manistee.

“It is the older students and so the revenue we get from the ISD will be pretty much neutral with one going out and one coming in,” said Cordes.

Smith said the teachers from the classroom also are sad that they have to leave, but it is more feasible to make to the move to the Armory Youth Center building. The class is a transition one for students which teaches them to adapt to living in the community on their own.

“The teachers loved it here and the way our kids interacted with their kids, but most of the programs required them to travel to Manistee and the transportation costs were too much,” said Smith. “They will have a kitchen there that they can use for their program and it just works better.”

Cordes also presented the board with the teacher evaluations for the past year for review. Those evaluations are 75 percent based on classroom observation visits and 25 percent  is based on the growth the students show on the  NWEA test scores.

“The way it works is between Sarah (Harless) and (Manistee ISD’s) Kay Salyer, they go in the classrooms three times a year, to evaluate the teachers,” said Cordes.

Cordes explained to the board that teacher evaluations are based upon student growth with the NWEA, unlike the M-STEP that measures proficiency.

“One thing to keep in mind is M-STEP scores this year are good, but not quite like they were last year,” said Cordes. “A teacher can still receive a highly effective rating even if the M-STEP scores don’t go up. So you might have a fifth grade student who has a third grade reading level, but that teacher could have moved that student a whole year’s growth that would make the teacher highly effective even though they weren’t proficient on the M-STEP because they are still a year behind.”

Harless added that next year the M-STEP three year average would be included in their teacher effectiveness rating.

“It was not required until this coming year as we didn’t have that longitudinal data, but next year every teacher in the state will be rated that way, so some of these teachers will not be in the same range,” said Harless.

Cordes added that the Michigan Department of Education had plans to jump the growth piece to 40 percent next year. However,  now it is looking more likely that a lot of the data coming off the student assessment is not good data and the odds are good the evaluation piece for growth will stay at 25 percent.

Board members were also informed that principal Sarah Harless received a highly effective rating in her evaluation for the past year. The board went into closed session to deliver those evaluation results to Harless.

Harless also delivered her monthly report to the board on the year’s activities at the school.

“We have a lot of the end of the year stuff,” said Harless. “One of the things we did was our Decision Day activities where seniors tell their plans for the future and hopefully we are looking at continuing that for next year. Even some of the juniors are already looking forward to it.”

Harless said they also did lots of field trips and end of the activities. She added that plans are already in the works for the 2018-19 school year.

Board members were also took action on a unanimous vote to join the Michigan High School Athletic Association for another year.

“It allows our kids to participate in all the tournaments and provides us with a level of insurance as far as concussions go, so there are many good reasons to continue our membership,” said Cordes.

The board also took action to name Samantha Mullet as assistant athletic director and yearbook adviser. Current athletic director Karen Leinaar is still going to be with the school, but is adding another position elsewhere and needs to reduce her hours at Bear Lake.

Cordes said some of the funds that they paid Leinaar with will be used to compensate Mullet in the new position.

The superintendent also reported to the board that following the recent roof repair at the school there was a need for some masonry repairs around the edges of the roof.

“We have to keep the water out of there and it is expected to cost between $60,000 and $65,000 for the scope of work,” said Cordes.  “It has been narrowed down to two contractors, and we plan to have it done sometime in July.”

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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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