2013-07-18 / Front Page

MAS band program to return

District will seek half-time teacher after 2 years without

MANISTIQUE – Band is back. During Monday’s meeting of the Manistique Area Schools Board of Education, members voted to reinstate the position of a half-time band instructor.

According to Superintendent Kathy McDonough, the decision has been “long awaited”, as members of the community and teaching staff have recently rallied for the return of the band program. The program had been cut in 2011 after district budgetary woes forced the lay-off of then-band instructor George McClinchy.

The money to fund the part-time position was uncovered after meetings with principals John Shiner and Erik Mason, McDonough explained. Their “staffing maneuvers”, coupled with recent staff retirements, freed up enough money to cover the position’s cost.

According to Shiner, 28 high school kids have already expressed interest in the program, but he conceded there is more work to do until the program get’s on its feet.

“It’s not going to be an easy road, but I think if it’s something we want, we’re going to have to work on it,” he said. “It might take a couple of years to get it rolling. Hopefully we can get the right person on board.”

The band teacher will teach three hours of instruction per day – combination classes of grades 5 and 6, grades 7 and 8, and grades 9-12.

In other business, McDonough requested the creation of a position for district special education coordinator. She asked the position be supervisory, meaning it would be non-union.

McDonough explained the district has been working with the Department of Education’s Continuous Improvement and Monitoring System-2, which covers 19 performance indicators for the district. In recent years, the district has been sited for discrepancies in suspensions/ expulsions in special education, as well as having 15 late Individualized Education Program reports in the 2011-12 school year.

“They don’t care what your reason is for that IEP being late,” she said.

McDonough noted an advocacy negotiation she participated in last summer “took a lot of time”.

“I negotiated, at length for months with an advocate in the state of Michigan monitoring a special education complaint,” she added.

The district has also been in violation of the educational environment indicator on its CIMS-2 “report card”. McDonough said a potential monetary penalty could be applied if the violation continues.

McDonough explained she had previously completed the duties of the district special education coordinator for eight years while she was an administrator. In her first year as superintendent, she trained a special education employee to take over the duties. Upon the retirement of that employee last year, another special education employee held the position part-time.

The new coordinator would report to McDonough, as well as to the principal for evaluation reasons. She explained the position would hold accountability, so the district can know why any IEP’s aren’t being completed on time, why the district is entering any advocacy situation, etc. Funding for the position would be siphoned from the recent retirement of the special education teacher consultant.

“This would basically be a wash to the retirement,” she said. “The switch here is that I’m going from what was union to non-union.”

McDonough noted the teacher consultant position will be assigned to a teacher.

“The teacher consultant portion of this I can assign pretty much to any teacher and file with the state,” she said. “This person would then still call the teacher consultant caseload, but the actual function of the teacher consultant, i.e. the contact with the student, could be done by any teacher just by filing the designated form.”

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