Onekama board gets updated on student educational opportunities

ONEKAMA —Onekama Consolidated Schools students are taking advantage of several education opportunities that are being offered to them.

Onekama Consolidated Schools counselor Scott McKenney reports to the board of education on the number of students taking dual enrollment and career tech classes.

Guidance counselor Scott McKenney told the board of education on Monday about dual enrollment and career tech programs offered to the students through West Shore Community College and the West Shore Educational Service District (ESD).

The school counselor spoke about dual enrollment classes first, 25 students are taking 17 different courses this year.

“Most of the students took on an average of two classes per semester for the year,” said McKenney. “We had a very successful year as all but one student in the first semester and two in the second one took on the classes and finished them with a passing grade.”

McKenney said the only downside is none of the courses were offered at the high school. Students also didn’t have the opportunity to take Advance Placement classes given at Manistee High School where they offer AP calculus, chemistry and an English Class.

“Ninety-nine percent of the classes our students took this year are general education courses that will transfer to 99 percent of the colleges and universities they wish to attend,” said McKenney. “I have done that on purpose with the idea that they can meet some of those general education classes they need to take in college.”

McKenny said the students have been very productive this year and he just wanted to make them aware of what they had accomplished. He also filled the board in on the Career Tech Education classes students are currently taking.

“We have 13 different programs down at West Shore,” said McKenney. “Some years all the programs are filled up and other years they don’t get filled up. This year we had a number of programs that students did not take as we didn’t have anyone taking construction trades which was very unusual. They were more interested in the technology ones like welding technology, mechatronics/pre-engineering.”

McKenney said next year he has five students already signed up for construction trades right now.

He added that the educator academy program is down as students are not looking at going into the education program at this time.

“It’s hard to get students to look at those programs, but now is really the time to do it in high school, instead of when you go to college,” said McKenney. “If you think you want to be a teacher or an engineer take a CTE class while you are a junior and find out if that is what you really want to do. If you get there and find out you don’t want to then you haven’t spent $20,000 to do it.

“All of the West Shore ESD Careet Tech programs have transferable credits to WSCC if they choose to use them,” said McKenney. “You can receive anywhere from six to 13 allied health credits when you graduate. If you take the Allied Health credits those 13 credits transfer to the nursing program at West Shore and you are a certified nurses assistant.”

He said a number of the students have done that in the past and continue to do it.

McKenney said there isn’t a lot of online classes being taken this year — 17 students are taking four programs. He added they are also offering credit recovery in math and English Language Arts for four students.

Superintendent Kevin Hughes also updated the board Monday on the Sinking Fund and Bond issue projects.

“In the last round of elections the public voted in a bond and a sinking fund,” said Hughes. “We are on the finishing edges of bond proceeds on some of these things tonight. Most of the awards are coming from sinking funds.

Hughes said he wanted to make it very clear to the public bond money can only be used for what improvements were voted in by the voters and that sinking fund can only be used for building and technology types of upgrade things.”

“People wonder why we are cutting money out of our budget for teachers, teachers aides or things like that and still doing these projects,” said Hughes. “It is because that is all these bond and sinking funds can be used for as you can’t use them to hire more teachers and things.”

Hughes said they get $317,000 a year with the sinking fund so they had a committee lay out a plan on how those funds would be spent in the future. He stressed that after he retires in July the plan can be altered at any time by the board and new superintendent depending upon the needs of the district.

“Technology will always be a line item in that because we are entering into an agreement tonight for that,” said Hughes. “Starting in 2020 we put in a line item for heating and cooling to keep up with those things being updated. Next summer the big project would be resurfacing the track which will be about a $125,000 project. We learned in the past if you don’t stay on top of that it can turn into $250,000.”

Board member Sam Catanese said having a plan in place is important.

“I will say it is well thought out and the other thing is that if something comes up we can pull money from other allocated things down the road,” said Catanese.

Board members then approved bids for improvements to the tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball fields, windows and doors, and technology upgrades. The construction projects would be overseen by a representative of Wolgast Construction to make sure they are being done correctly and free up the maintenance staff at Onekama Consolidated Schools.

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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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