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ISD appeal date set for July 22

Bob Becker and Carl Schoessel listen as Superintendent Franklin explains the current status of the GSRP program.                                                                                                  Luke Froncheck

Staff Writer

The date has been set for Superintendent Richard Franklin to formally express his discontent with a Michigan Department of Education report made public last month recommending the removal of a program from Barry Intermediate School District.

Franklin calls the MDE report a complete error stating that, “Their faulty conclusions led to faulty recommendations.” Franklin requested and was granted an expedited appeals process which includes an informal review meeting that will occur on Monday, July 22 during which his team and MDE representatives will sit down and review the report's finding.

The MDE report recommended that the Great Start Readiness Program be removed from Barry ISD management due to “numerous internal financial control and noncompliance issues.”  The GRSP program at Barry ISD has a staff of 16 and serves pre-kindergarten students from Delton Kellogg and Hastings school districts.

The facts are on our side,” said Franklin. “Truth is on our side. It’s up to MDE what happens next. We’ll see how the process plays out.”

During the ISD’s regular school board meeting on Tuesday morning, Franklin told the board and the surrounding audience of about 20 people that “we will prevail.” Franklin says that he and his team have a massive stack of evidence to support his belief that the ISD has done nothing wrong.

There will be GSRP classes in Hastings and Delton next year,” Franklin said. “We know this has been difficult for everyone. Trust me when I say this has been a difficult time for me and everyone at the office.”

Board members did not make any comments during the meeting, opting instead to move to the next agenda item.

Franklin was also evaluated during Tuesday’s meeting when the board went into a closed session. The closed session lasted roughly 90 minutes after which board president Elizabeth Matteson called the meeting back into session and then reported that Franklin received a score of 3.37/4 or an effective rating.

The board also unanimously voted to hire Jillian Przybysz-Quick as the ISD’s behavioral specialist.

She really seemed like a good fit,” school administrator Dawn Weeks said, “she really impressed us.”

The Behavioral Specialist position was just recently created, fulfilling the promise made by the ISD after voters approved the Headlee restoration millage last August. The ISD promised the addition of three positions, an occupational therapist, a speech-language pathologist, and a behavioral specialist. With the hiring of Przybysz-Quick, all three have been accomplished.

Franklin reported that the Hastings United Way Board approved funding to continue the ISD's home visiting program through the summer until the ISD picks up funding the program again in the fall. The home visits over the summer will target more critical situations and families with a higher need for assessment.

Franklin stated that the ISD's auditing firm, Biggs, Haussserman, Thompson, and Dickenson, is changing its business model and will no longer conduct school audits. However, a partner of the firm, Steve Thompson, is offering to continue providing the ISD’s audits on an independent basis separate from the firm. Some board members raised concerns over the potential change, but secretary Deb Hatfield called the proposal fairly common, adding that the engagement letter will provide a clearer picture.

The board also approved its annual schedule detailing the dates and locations of upcoming monthly board meetings. That information will be published on the Barry ISD websites. Matteson encouraged the public to check the site for potential changes to meeting dates and times.

I want to see some of our meetings done in the afternoon so our staff can attend during the school year,” Treasurer Sharon Boyle said. The board approved the preliminary meeting plan with the intention of looking for specific afternoon meetings conducive with staff schedules.

Trustee Carl Schoessel raised the idea of sending board members or administrators as representatives to the community school board meetings to get involved with constituent districts.

ISD board leadership will remain the same for the coming year after the following slate of officers was approved: Elizabeth Matteson, president;  Robert Becker, vice president; Debra Hatfield, secretary; Sharon Boyle, treasurer.

Matteson also appointed board members to the following committees:  to their committee’s which are as follows;  Finance –  Boyle, Becker; Personnel – Becker, Schoessel;  Negotiations – Matteson, Hatfield.

The board designated signatories as Franklin and Boyle.  It also delegated the day-to-day duties of the treasurer to Assistant Superintendent Cindy Larson. The day-to-day duties of secretary is delegated to Franklin.

The board approved its own compensation at $27 per meeting with compensation for gas mileage based on the IRS’s yearly recommendation.

Merit pay for administrative staff was also approved, as follows:  Cindy Latta Larsen, $2000; Carol VanDenBerg,  $1500;

Dawn Weeks, $1000.

According to Franklin,  merit pay isn’t based on performance but rather how each contract is constructed.

The board also approved the transfer of special education funds to both constituent districts. The ISD transferred $208,210 to Delton Kellogg Schools and $351,756 to Hastings Area Schools. Hatfield asked why the number was a bit higher than initially budgeted. Franklin attributed the costs to the adding of a Behavioral Specialist which is a cost specific to this year alone.

The board also approved the transferring of $48,041 from the special to general to cover office costs from the past school year.


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