MANISTIQUE - The Manistique Board of Education was provided an update on the district's search for two principals, as well as its involvement in a state lawsuit. The updates were provided during the superintendent's report at a recent school board meeting.
According to Manistique Superintendent Kathy McDonough, the district has been searching for two separate principals, one for Emerald Elementary School and another for the Manistique Middle/High School.
The district has received 23 applicants for the elementary principal position and 19 for the middle/high school principal position.
"Ad hoc committees within each building will meet this week to rank the candidates, and decide who to call for interviews," said McDonough. "Those interviews will be conducted in public the week of June 4-8, 2012."
The public is encouraged to attend the public interviews. Final contracts will be awarded at the board's regular monthly meeting on June 18.
The district had implemented a pilot position this year utilizing one kindergarten through 12th grade principal for both schools, but the board determined earlier this year the need for a principal in each building.
Butch Yurk served as the K-12 principal under the pilot, but announced he would retire this June at a January board meeting. He has served the district for 17 years, including 16 years as middle/high school principal.
The one-year pilot for the K-12 principal position was the result of staff and community members who asked about cuts to administration, as a result of teacher layoffs.
McDonough also updated the board on the district's involvement in the Adair II lawsuit against the state - in which the district was randomly selected to serve as a witness.
"Adair II addresses the method of payment by the state for the Adair I fine, as well as the new unfunded mandate of annual teacher evaluations," explained McDonough.
The original trial date for the Adair II lawsuit had been scheduled for May 18, but has now been moved to Sept. 18. McDonough said Manistique Schools was the only U.P. school selected to be a witness in the lawsuit.
In the past, McDonough said the Adair I lawsuit came about when districts were asked to supply data to the state. The lawsuit basically centered on the Headlee Amendment of 1978, which prohibited the state from imposing unfunded mandates on local governmental units - including school districts.
In July 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court had ruled in favor of the school districts participating in Adair I, citing the state is responsible for paying costs for the Center for Educational Performance and Information. Essentially, the state reduced its per pupil funding to school districts and returned it to pay the fine.
The Adair II lawsuit claims using the schools' foundation funding as its source of money was not a "meaningful remedy" and that the amount fell short of what schools actually incurred as an expense in the mandated data. Annual teacher and administration evaluation requirements adopted in 2009 were also added to the Adair II lawsuit, which the school districts say were unfunded and in violation of Headlee.
The board also voted to approve a proposed minimal fund equity balance for the end of the 2012-13 school year.
"Given there is still no state aid package out for school districts, a 'best guess' scenario is that, at a minimum, the district can achieve a $300,000 fund balance," said McDonough. "It is anticipated, and hoped, that it will actually be greater given current retirement reform legislation pending from Lansing and lower insurance rates."
The board approved the recommended $300,000 fund balance figure.