Nonrenewal splits board
MANISTIQUE – In a split decision by the Manistique Board of Education, the varsity softball coach will not be renewed for the 2013 season. Per the recommendation of the Athletic Council, members voted 4-3 Monday for the nonrenewal of coach Dave McNeil.
According to Superintendent Kathy McDonough, members of the council, herself included, had made the decision to seek a nonrenewal of McNeil as coach. Following the decision, she explained the council attempted to “complete the administrative process” by allowing McNeil to address the council before the matter came to the board. However, McDonough noted that, due to extenuating circumstances, this meeting never occurred.
“I want to thank Mrs. McDonough, she’s done everything she could at the time to get protocol taken care of as far as this recommendation,” McNeil said during the meeting. “I still would like an opportunity to meet with the athletic council. I know it’s out of the ordinary, but my health issues … my wife went into the hospital on the fourth of November, and she’s still there.”
He explained his wife is expected to be released from the hospital in the next week, which would allow him to set up and attend the council meeting.
“I don’t feel that I’ve been treated unfairly or anything like that,” he said. “I really would appreciate if we could table this until next month’s meeting.”
McNeil pointed out his past with the softball program, and his confusion over the council’s meeting and decision.
“In five years, I’ve got two evaluations in my personnel file – both of them are very positive,” he said. “Right after my last evaluation that was positive, I get a letter saying that I won’t be renewed.
The softball program is strong,” he continued. “There have been some things that have gone on over the first five years, but the growing pains that we felt those first five years are strictly from trying to take a program that did not exist and make it into a quality program.”
He noted that in his eight years with the district, five as softball coach, he had never asked for anything, and wanted the opportunity to clear his name.
“I don’t want to go out with these minutes (from the athletic council meeting) that I have right here,” he said.
Board member Giannine Perigo asked if tabling the decision until December hurt the school’s chances of hiring another coach in time. Athletic Director Rob Ryan answered the season starts in March, but the sooner the school has coaches in place, the better.
The motion for nonrenewal was made by board member Tim Zellner and supported by member Amy Kraatz.
“If the season starts in March, we need to start finding a new coach or decide what we’re going to do as soon as possible,” Kraatz said.
Gail Wood, board president, noted that she felt the decision to not permit McNeil’s meeting with the athletic council was not fair.
“I’m not going to hold it against him that his family was sick,” she said.
In a roll call vote, “yes” votes included Zellner, Kraatz, Perigo, and Ginger Stark. Wood, Rae Birr, and Joan Brown voted “no”. The motion carried.
Following the vote, McNeil requested an opportunity to come before the council regardless of his nonrenewal, in an attempt to explain the complaints of its members.
“The picture that this stuff paints of Dave McNeil is not accurate,” he said. “It’s not anywhere near accurate.”
Zellner responded that it was accurate, and Perigo noted that the board and McNeil were out of order.
In other business, McDonough noted that Gov. Rick Snyder is currently rewriting the State School Aid Act of 1979 with the nonprofit Oxford Foundation. She explained districts from the U.P. had sent a list of recommendations to assist in the rewriting process.
Among the chief complaints of the district, is the inequality in per pupil funding, McDonough said.
“First and foremost, we do not get the same per pupil funding as some students do downstate,” she explained. “What really comes to light here is, over the course of the child’s 13 years of public education … per student, we receive about $60,000 less over their school career as compared to students in the lower Michigan districts.”
In addition to the per pupil funding, McDonough noted the district requested corrections to the special education mandate and the current retirement system for school employees. She also added the state should change how they finance schools, doing away with millage requests and lump sum state aid payments.
Another issue is transportation, McDonough said.
“Transportation has always been a huge one for us, as the second largest bussing district in the state of Michigan,” she explained. “We spend 10-12 percent of our budget transporting kids to our district.”
McDonough said the revised act could be completed soon.