Escanaba gets ready for school opener

ESCANABA — The Escanaba School Board voted Monday night on action items that will get the school district ready to open its doors next month. Superintendent Coby Fletcher gave the board an update on the opening week of school and told the board about training for the school administration.

“We have worked really hard at a co-parent program that’s aimed at strengthening what we do as a school,” said Fletcher.

Last year, the program Leader in Me was introduced to portions of the school district. The program will be taught in the entire district by the end of the school year.

Starting the beginning of this year, the district will work with a new Michigan initiative called Handle with Care. It is a protocol that will help with communication between the school district and outside agencies.

“We are seeing more students coming into the district having experienced childhood trauma one way or another,” said Fletcher.

There are any number of violent or traumatic acts that children see away from school. Staff members will train in the program and come back with the experience to train others. After teachers and the administration are trained in the protocol, they will be better suited to help students with traumatic issues.

“What it does is allows us to proactively address the needs of the student. Frequently what happens now … something happens, we don’t know about it, the kid comes to school the next day and has an outburst and we think … here’s a discipline problem,” said Fletcher. “We can make it worse instead of better. The Handle with Care protocol allows us to get a leg up on whatever issues the kid is facing and deal with them.”

Some members of the administration trained earlier in the yearand will help train others this school year. The protocol kicks into gear when an incident in a student’s home. When a child is exposed to trauma a law-enforcement officer will contact the administrator assigned to the Handle with Care protocol. Appropriate teachers would then be notified of the recent trauma the child had experienced. The notified teachers then observe the student and utilize interventions as appropriate and possibly refer the child to the school counselor. The school councilor will assess the child’s needs and speak to the parent or guardian. The protocol continues from there as deemed necessary.

Over the last couple of weeks, staff have been working to prepare for the school year, according to Fletcher. The summer has been very productive.

“It’s not just summer break for our staff,” said Vice President Bob Chaillier. “It never is.”

In other business the school board:

– Listened to Director of Food Service Nancy LaFave’s recommendations of milk and bakery suppliers. The board approved Jilbert Dairy Inc. to supply dairy products and Aunt Millie’s to provide bakery products. Escanaba belongs to a food co-op that provides other items to the school district.

– Approved the 2019-2020 Student/Parent and Coaching Handbook. The handbook is basically the same except for an addition to the elementary handbook. The last paragraph under Positive Behavior Supports on page 9 has been added to. The principles from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People were added. The habits are part of the Leader in Me program now being implemented in the entire school district.

– Observed a presentation by Bay College President Laura Coleman about the college’s millage proposal.

– Adopted the NEOLA policies as presented by the state. In a previous board meeting Aug. 12, Secretary Kathy Jensen was concerned about lowering the age requirement of substitute teachers. Even though the policy took out the minimum age requirement, 22 years of age, the teacher still needs to have a minimum of 60 college credits before substitute teaching.

– Received a list of administrative assignments from Fletcher. The list showed which staff member is responsible for varying areas of the school district.

– Received an updated report from Director of Operations Amy Cseter regarding the cleaning of schools and installation of the security system.

– Approved ratifying 2019-2020 principal contracts with a raise of .76 percent and the principals giving back two sick-leave days.

The school district will have open houses Wednesday, Aug. 28, for all campuses.

– Escanaba Student Success Center, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

– Escanaba Upper Elementary, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

– Escanaba Senior and Junior High School, 5 – 6 p.m.

– Lemmer and Soo Hill Elementary Schools, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

– Webster Kindergarten Center, 6 – 7 p.m.

The next Escanaba School Board Committee of the Whole meeting will be held Sept. 9 in the courtyard room at 6 p.m. in the Upper Elementary School.