Student numbers drop at Escanaba

ESCANABA — The Escanaba School Board discussed declining enrollment numbers and approved the beginning phases of installing a sinking fund Monday during its regular meeting.

Superintendent Coby Fletcher presented board members with recent tallies of enrollment. The first unofficial count was done over a week ago.

At the board’s last meeting, Fletcher presented enrollment numbers based on a flash count, which showed a decrease in enrollment by 30 students.

At last prediction and for budgeting reasons, the district estimated 2,328 students, explained Fletcher. Following the flash count, the district accounted for 30 less students.

Another flash count was conducted Friday, said Fletcher, where numbers showed a boost over 1.24 FTE (full-time equivalency). This puts the district at about an average of 27 FTE students less than previously budgeted.

Fletcher said the board should have more information about enrollment numbers after the district goes through its annual audit.

“Once we get the audit findings back, Kevin (Pascoe, director of business services) and I will have the opportunity to sit down and just start looking at budget impact,” said Fletcher.

The board also gave approval for Fletcher to begin to research and develop a plan for the district to have a sinking fund.

A sinking fund millage is a limited property tax to fund major repairs and renovations to school buildings. Other schools within the Delta Schoolcraft Intermediate School District which have sinking funds include Rapid River Area Public Schools and Big Bay de Noc Schools.

Fletcher explained two committees would be in charge of delegating and researching where the funds would be used within the district. The committees would consist of district administration, staff, community members, and parents, noted Fletcher. These members would then provide residents with a very specific list of items the funds would be used for.

The board also listened to a presentation from fifth grade teacher Sue Gannon. Gannon discussed her class’ Chromebook initiative, which allows students in her class to have their own Chromebook to do various homework and classwork on each day.

Gannon explained the 28 computers are handy and allow for less paperwork for her and the fifth graders as everything from writing, reading, math, and social studies can be all learned and taught through online portals using individual Chromebook.

“It’s amazing to be able to have this in the time period that we are with technology and to be able to have one in the classroom. I was thrilled to get it,” said Gannon. “I’m hoping more classrooms can get them because they really, really engage the students and me as well.”

In other action, the board approved for Board President Dan Flynn and Treasurer Robert LaFave to be delegates for a Michigan Association of School Boards leadership conference in November.

The board also heard from its newly appointed student representative, Kassidy Wigand. Wigand, a senior at Escanaba High School, will attend each board meeting to provide members with an update on what is going on within the schools. This week, Wigand said the big attraction is Homecoming Week at the high school. Activities for the week include dress-up days, pep assemblies, and more.

The annual homecoming parade on Ludington Street will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, said Wigand, with the football game against Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to follow at 7 p.m.