Letters to the Editor
Let’s Clarify the Facts on SSC Building Trades
In the Aug. 19 article on the Standish-Sterling school board and Building Trades, many comments made require clarification.
Our past superintendent asserted the district’s never lost money on building trades. Mr. Nelson, school board president, stated the program showed a $174,000 loss since 2001, including subdivision costs, like the three unused lots ($27,500 each, per the board) the school still owns. The school received additional state funding ($12,000-20,000 annually for the past ten years) for simply having Building Trades. Using a conservative average of $15,000 per year for the past ten years equals $150,000 in EXTRA revenue. According to the city, adding some of the school tax revenue on the homes built and sold results in about $22,000 yearly in tax revenue. Multiplying $22,000 for an average of five years equals $110,000.
It’s interesting that Mr. McFarland, school board vice-president, reported the district still has one house for sale, when it sold in June. According to information from Nelson, the 2008-09 house cost $125,000, and the district broke even on the sale. However, the house sold for $142,500. That seems like a $17,500 profit.
Let’s add up revenues: $82,500 assets in lots paid for, $150,000 in state funding, $110,000 in school property taxes, plus $17,500 profit for the sale of the home – a total income of $359,000, less the $174,000 reported loss equals a profit of $185,000 over 10 years. What other program educates students with a skill AND makes money?
Mrs. Golimbieski justified cutting building trades by stating the Bay-Arenac Skill Center offers a nearly identical course. Mike Dewey, BAISD Superintendent, said the skill center has four slots available for students from our school: two in-house, two on sites. The only way there may be more is if other districts in the BAISD don’t fill all theirs. What happens to the other 56 students in the Standish-Sterling Building Trades Program? Further, McFarland stated, “The other positive thing about [the Bay Arenac Skill Center] is the kids are going to a good program.” Does that mean ours isn’t good? How do the board members know? Fortunately, the community knows. At an open house in May to show off the students’ work, 500 people toured the house — no board members or the superintendent came to see it or congratulate the students.
SSC Building Trades Instructor
No more what-ifs
I have questions for the community, S-S board, and Mr. Dodge. When will you start dealing with reality and not “what-ifs”? I understand “looking down the road” and being prepared. However, you can’t do this for every possible situation that MIGHT happen. For instance, hiring three foreign language teachers in the last two years because they MIGHT require it? How about pre-kindergarten? “What-if” the government cancels it? If they do, THEN cancel the program. Right now, core classes are limited and test scores are low. Seniors choose between writing classes recommended for college and anatomy, which are both important and should be available. Teachers are teaching unfamiliar classes, such as math teachers teaching chemistry.
THE REALITY IS we can’t keep extra foreign language teachers when core classes are overloaded. THE REALITY IS surrounding class-B schools, some with 800 more students than S-S, don’t have even three full-time foreign language teachers.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE IS AN ELECTIVE.
Call the counselors and ask. Some colleges like seeing it on a student’s record, but not many. Maybe someday we can employ four foreign language teachers, not now. Then, to layoff teachers! Maybe there’s extra teachers in the elementary because they’ve been transferred from the high school to the middle school, from there to the elementary. From what I’m told, last year’s senior class had 30-40 more students than the eighth grade, therefore, this year, we have that many less students in the high school. A little better planning could’ve prevented the hiring of one teacher, laying off three, and huge class sizes. Looking at other schools, it was stated by the board that Shepherd Public Schools would do layoffs, like this makes the board decisions sound better. On the evening news that night, it was reported at Shepherd that the superintendent would take a pay cut and there’d be NO layoffs. Four board members told me these layoffs are necessary. So, board and Mr. Dodge, even though you hired a teacher and you have $5.3 million in the bank, I’ll give in to the plan of laying off three teachers. Now let’s act on reality, not “what ifs”, and layoff from the bottom, starting with elective teachers. Look at the MEAP scores and help students in CORE areas – Science, English and Math – not electives, since we’re in a “financial crisis”.
Great work at the town hall
I appreciate Pete Hoekstra, Debra Burlingame, Ton Kerrin, Senator Jim Barcia, David Littmann and Father James Fitzpatrick.
Their participation in our Town Hall meeting was greatly appreciated. With their information, we feel we are getting closer to the truth about the Guantanamo Detainee issue at Standish Max.
I would like to congratulate the people of the City of Standish, Arenac County and Michigan for their respectful participation in the Town Hall meeting on Aug. 20, 2009. We had an open meeting for all to attend and those who came thrilled me with their thoughtful questions and pinpoint comments. It would have been even better if opposing viewpoints had been represented. There were City Officials and City Council Members in attendance but they chose not to participate, and Bart Stupak was conspicuous by his absence. I only wish when Congressman Stupak came to Standish on Aug. 7, 2009, he had invited all of us to his Special Meeting.
This is only the beginning of our effort to have a full explanation of the effects to our town, county, state and our country if Guantanamo detainees come to Standish Max.
Of course this is only an issue if Governor Granholm closes Standish Max as she has stated.
I think this is still in doubt and can be resolved. Jim Barcia, a great friend of central Michigan, has represented us for many years in many ways and his idea to try a bipartisan approach to keeping Standish Max open gives us great hope. There is no water and sewer issue if Standish Max doesn’t close. Let me conclude by saying we had a wonderful Town Hall meeting where everyone was invited to come to participate and to observe Democracy in action at Resurrection of the Lord Catholic Church in Standish. Thank you all who participated.
David E. Munson
Once again we find ourselves in the position of hiring someone to work for Arenac County. I would just like to note for the new commissioners that in 2007, the board used what it called the Arenac First Program. This meant that whenever Arenac County needed to contract a service, purchase a product, or employ a person, the ordinary preference was to seek locally first and then seek other sources. I feel this approach has worked very well for the county including hiring and employment.
I feel there are many reasons that when hiring new employees, some sort of “Buy Arenac” influence is a positive for county operations. Therefore, we should practice an underlying preference to choose Arenac County residents to work for the county.
There are many objective reasons to hire locally.
Living closer to work is energy efficient (less gas used driving to work, makes it more likely a person comes in on bad weather days). An employee’s familiarity with the area helps with seeking services, places or locations, or service providers as they do their jobs. Residents who live and work for the county feel a vested interest in doing a better job for their fellow residents.
Another reason is because of the depressed job market in terms of applications, the county is seeing a higher percentage of applicants with stronger academic credentials. Credential so strong it overwhelms the resume of the typical Arenac County resident applicant, whatever the position. I mention this because Arenac County resident applications are usually not as strong academically but compensate for this with real world experience from working for a living and learned in the school of life.
Therefore I hope that all the Arenac County resident applicants (previously discarded in Committee of the Whole action) to be called in for an interview. Let’s give them a chance. Yes we can.
Arenac Board Commissioner, 5th District