By Crystal Hayduk
Chelsea High School’s media center’s chairs were filled with teachers to support a speedy resolution to contract negotiations as the Chelsea District Board of Education began their meeting Monday evening.
Teachers have been working without a contract since July 1.
Six teachers communicated their concerns at the two opportunities for public input, as well as one community member.
Several teachers told personal stories that illustrated serious problems with the current health insurance provider. In an emotional report of the events of June and July in which his wife nearly died, teacher Brian Boos said that the promise of a seamless transition of health benefits between the old and the new plan were not kept.
“While my wife was in the intensive care unit hooked up to a blood transfusion, a nurse case-manager called me into the hall to tell me that our benefits weren’t loaded,” he said.
Boos reported that the insurance company was unreachable by either the University of Michigan Hospital or Chelsea School District for three full days.
“In this day and age with the level of communication that is possible, this is unacceptable.” Boos went on to say that they missed the window of opportunity to begin a treatment plan that had been recommended by every physician.
“Use my family as a reason to change. Do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Vocal music director Steven Hinz, a 25-year employee with the district, began his remarks with praise for the administrative team, who have been personally supportive of his family “… during the trying times of a child with serious medical conditions.”
But, Hinz told the board that the health plan is a system with “serious flaws.”
He explained, “Most recently, my oldest daughter launched a treatment plan for epilepsy and the journey has been wrought with disastrous miscommunication and delays … It is impossible to manage the care of a sick family member when your insurance company continually fails you.”
Amy Wagoner described problems with prescription coverage, which have resulted in several weeks without important medication and confusing co-pay requirements, continuing to the present time – four months into the new prescription plan, provided by EHIM.
Wagoner also spoke about her 3-year-old daughter, who had to be taken to Mott at the University of Michigan by ambulance two weeks ago. Her first thoughts were for her child’s condition, but her second thoughts were related to the cost of treating the condition. “I don’t think that any parent should have to worry about the cost of a true emergency … We need health insurance that we (and our families) can count on,” she said.
Jenine (Chip) Grover suggested to the board that the district’s goal of “maintaining fiscal responsibility” might be reframed as “managing our resources wisely.” She added that the district’s best resources are its teachers, who are not doing the same job they did previously when the teaching model involved whole group instruction.
Teachers now spend increasingly long hours away from their families outside of the school day to manage individualized instruction plans in all subjects, in addition to communicating with students’ families as needed.
“These are sacrifices Chelsea teachers and our families make because we feel we are making an important investment in the future,” Grover said. She requested that the board support the district’s educators with a contract that cares for them.
Community member Jennifer Kundak supported the teachers, reminding the board of the power of their stories and that these events could happen to anyone. She implored the board to “… think hard and with kindness and compassion.”
Superintendent Andy Ingall presented information about per pupil funding and impact on the budget during his board update on the topic of fiscal responsibility. In summary, the total per pupil revenue is $7,367, a net loss of $22 per student from last year.
With 30 additional students in the district, there is a total gain of over $167,000. However, the preliminary budget still shows a deficit of $578,000.
A look at the history of the district’s fund equity account shows that it has dropped from nearly $6.5 million in 2007-08 (26.8 percent of expenditures) to a little over $4.6 million in 2013-14 (18.6 percent of expenditures).
Ingall’s report stated, “Chelsea Schools have not had a balanced budget since 2010-11, spending an average of $291,000 from fund equity for each of the past four years.
“Experts recommend maintaining a fund equity of 15-20 percent and, when necessary, a deficit no larger than 2-3 percent of total expenditures.”
In other board news:
The board unanimously approved a limited membership of five seats in the Washtenaw International High School (WIHI) for the 2015-16 school year.
The next board meeting will be on Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington Street Education Center.
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has informed Chelsea that southbound left-hand turns from M-52 (Main Street) onto Jackson Street are now prohibited.
When the road is reopened, this change will prevent vehicles from stacking up on the railroad tracks.
Signs prohibiting these turns onto Jackson Street have already been installed as part of the current railroad track improvement project.
If you have any questions, please call Christine Linfield at the Chelsea City Offices 475-1771, ext. 210 or call MDOT at 810-227-4681 and ask for Wendy Ramirez.
Read the attached letter from MDOT.
(Chelsea Update would like to thank Kristin Krarup-Joyce, Ed. S. NCSP, Ellen Kent, Ed. S. NCSP and Emily Verbeke, Ed. S. NCSP for the information in this new weekly column.)
If you have a question for one of the school psychologists, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. All information will be kept confidential.
Question: Recent research claims that homework is not helpful for grade school students. Based on a review of current peer-reviewed research, what is your view as a school psychologist?
Answer: The article you referenced certainly provides evidence of the ineffectiveness of homework. However, we like this excerpt from the National Association of School Psychologists:
“Harris Cooper, a leading homework researcher, examined more than 100 studies on the effects of homework and concluded that there is little evidence that homework at the elementary school level has an impact on school achievement.
Studies at the junior high school level have found some modest benefits of homework, but studies of homework at the high school level have found that it has clear benefits.
Despite mixed research on homework effects, many teachers believe that assigning homework offers other benefits besides contributing to school achievement.
Homework teaches children how to take responsibility for tasks and how to work independently. That is, homework helps children develop habits of mind that will serve them well as they proceed through school and, indeed, through life. Specifically, homework helps children learn how to plan and organize tasks, manage time, make choices, and problem solve, all skills that contribute to effective functioning in the adult world of work and families.”
An additional benefit of assigning homework to students is parental involvement.
By helping your child with his homework, you are gaining an understanding of what is being discussed in class. Homework may serve as a springboard for communicating with your child about what he is learning and will help you as a parent understand your child as a learner.
A general rule is 10 minutes of homework per grade in school. Thus, a first grader should have about 10 minutes, a second grader about 20 minutes and so on. Of course, if you feel like your child is getting too much homework, you should talk with her teacher.
Often, homework may be reading for pleasure, and this is always a good thing.
Be sure to say congratulations to Beach Middle School 6th-grade spelling bee winners Nate Henry, Charles Korner, Andrea Kowalski, Jack Krugh, Kendra Patterson, and Ethan Schroeder.
They will be competing in the SEMMLAA county-wide spelling bee next month.
State Rep. Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) and Melanie Bell, network administrator for the Chelsea District Library, were recipients of 2014 Broadband Hero Awards from Connect Michigan.
The awards were presented at the annual Michigan Broadband Conference in Lansing.
Bell and Driskell helped organize the Washtenaw County Broadband Committee in 2013 to improve the access, adoption and use of broadband in rural areas of the county.
Partnering with Connect Michigan through its Community Enabled Broadband program, the group has identified specific areas in need of new or improved service, shared this information with local providers to pursue solutions, and are now exploring opportunities for local stakeholders to combine their resources to enhance services to residents and local businesses.
“Access to high-speed internet should be a fundamental piece of our state infrastructure as broadband is vital to public education, economic development, and improves quality of life. I’m honored to receive this award and will continue to work toward upgrading access in my district,” Driskell said in a press release.
Connect Michigan is a nonprofit that works with the Michigan Public Service Commission to improve infrastructure and access to broadband service across the state.
Friends of the Chelsea District Library will hold their monthly meeting on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 10:15 a.m. in the McKune Room of the library
Friends of the Library hold a monthly meeting to discuss the book sale and library support.
Everyone is invited.
(Chelsea Update would like to thank coach Kim Eder for the information in this story.)
It was a great end to the season for the 8th Grade Gold Volleyball team as they beat Bedford winning the first and last sets.
Throughout all 3 sets the girls played great.
In the first set, Sammy Pagliarini led the attack serving 8 points in a row. Karie Reiber added with several tips, while Maddie Kemp was hot with 4 hits and a kill for the night.
In the second set, setters Caitlin Dusenbury and Alli Muchler along with Ashley Watson had great digs and saves in the back row. Jamie Gorman and Julia Schachinger and Corrinne Dale covered the front row well.
In the third set, the girls came from behind to win with more hits from Lindsey Atkinson and Sierra Law and great digs and hits by Tori Walz and Shae Wright.
Great season team!
(Chelsea Update would like to thank James Duncan for the information in this story and Claudia Arcangeli for the photo.)
The Chelsea High School Theater Guild will present the play “Footloose” directed by Katherine Altman on Nov. 14-16.
“Footloose” is based on the 1984 hit film. It tells the story of Ren, a young man from Chicago, who after being walked out on by his father, has to move to a small, restrictive town where dancing is outlawed.
Ren falls in love with the wrong girl (or is she the right girl?) and proves to be just what the town needs to overcome a tragedy of its own. “Footloose” turns the typical on its head and encourages us to listen to the wisdom of the young characters, who teach an important lesson about letting go and moving forward.
The fun score features such recognizable tunes as “Footloose”, “Holding Out For a Hero”, and Let’s Hear It For The Boy”.
Performance dates and times are: Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 15 at 3 p.m.
All performances will be held at the Chelsea High School Auditorium.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students/seniors and will be available at Chelsea Pharmacy or at the door. Cash or check only at both locations.
Tags: Chelsea Theater Guild
Once again, Chelsea‘s Halloween costume judging will be at the Cole Funeral Chapel parking lot.
Cider and donuts will be provided, and in addition, there will be a Jack-o-lantern contest this year.
Judging will take place before the official start of trick-or-treating and the games, so the costumes will be fresh and while it is still light out so the judges can see the costumes and we can get great pictures.
Participants will be asked to go their age-group area for judging starting at 5:30, and we hope to announce winners and take photos starting at 5:45 p.m.
For the costume judging, the categories will be 5 years and under, 6-8, 9-12, 13-18, and groups. In each category, first and second place will be chosen for both best costume and most original. All contestants will receive a participation ribbon.
For the Jack-O-Lantern contest (pumpkin carving), please bring your completed pumpkin to the funeral home parking lot by 5:30 p.m. and it must stay on display until 6:30 p.m. There will not be age groups for the pumpkins – children, teens, adults, and families are welcome to enter their pumpkin. Carved or painted pumpkins are acceptable.
First place will receive a $30 cash prize, second prize will receive $20, and third prize will receive $10. All participants will receive a ribbon.
If you have any questions, please contact Allen at the Cole Funeral Chapel, 475-1551.