Cox named as new ISD superintendent

MANISTEE — Dave Cox is no longer the  Wexford Missaukee/ Manistee intermediate school districts interim dual superintendent.ISD

That is because the ISD board of education went into closed session at Tuesday’s meeting and removed the “interim,” making Cox the new superintendent of the district. Wexford Missaukee’s board took similar action as well.

Cox said he was excited about the challenge and looking forward to continue working with the various school district representatives.

In another change that came out of Tuesday’s meeting was the news that school districts in the Manistee Intermediate School District were granted a three-year waiver on the pre-Labor day start of the school year by the Michigan Department of Education.

Cox said the area superintendents asked him to seek that waiver, but it doesn’t necessarily mean any of them will actually move up the first day of school to before Labor Day.

Brian Ciloski of the Michigan Department of Education took part in the ISD meeting via a phone conference call to hold a hearing on the subject.

“As you know the legislature requires us to hold a hearing before granting a Labor Day waiver under section 160 of the School Aid Act,” said Ciloski. “The purpose of the hearing is to inform your community and provide them with an option to provide public comment.”

Cox explained why they are seeking the three-year waiver.

“This ISD has not to date had a pre-Labor Day waiver and the superintendents in the spring were talking about it and having that flexibility moving forward,” said Cox. “It does not mean they have to take advantage of it, but they have the option. We had a superintendent’s meeting today and I would think two or three of the four districts would be leaning toward it.”

Cox said the rationale for such as decision was early college enrollment with two local districts sending students to the Wexford Missaukee ISD to take advantage of their current career tech programs. By moving up they can also participate in the early college programs.

He said they also have early college and dual enrollment with West Shore Community College with the Manistee Area Public Schools and Onekama Consolidated Schools.

“The goal would be to increase post secondary opportunities in college attainment and enrollment, especially that first generation in the family getting a degree,” said Cox. “Having that short summer break not this summer, but the next one would also be a help in improving the state test scores. That is kind of it in a nutshell as to why we are asking for the waiver.”

Ciloski said the only comment he had from the state perspective was occasionally they require some results from the state to show this waiver is providing success within the districts.

“What we would be looking for, since we are talking early college programs is that the districts would be able to show that participation in such programs has increased over the years,” said Ciloski. “So we will track you from the start of the program to that third year.”

Manistee ISD board president Mary Becker Witt inquired if there were students not signing up for the early college classes because of the later start.

“The early dual enrollment starts outside the first day of school, but for the early college program, they have to be on campus either in Cadillac or at West Shore,” said Cox. “Dual enrollment not necessarily, but early college yes, they have to be in school. There also is some transportation problems for some students by starting later (because busing is not up and running yet).”

Board member Lynda O’Shea inquired if the common calendar that all Manistee ISD school districts take part in would be impacted by one or two districts starting school prior to Labor Day.

“We have the common calendar, but his waiver is where that could be interrupted,” said Cox. “Your Christmas and spring breaks would remain the same. There is never a common ending date for any of the school districts, so that wouldn’t be impacted.”

Ciloski said the state was granting the three-year waiver and it is strictly up to the local districts if they want to participate in it.

“It is there as an option, and if they don’t want to do it the first year, they can come on after that, or if they start it and then want to opt out they can to that as well,” said Ciloski.

Board members said there might be some local discussion from a tourism standpoint, but with the waiver the districts now have the option if they want it to start before Labor Day.

“We got it for them if they need it,” said Becker Witt.

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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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