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Photo by Katie Rae Hayduk. Nicholas Cunningham, special education teacher consultant at Beach Middle School.

By Crystal Hayduk

Members of the community who desire to provide public input at Chelsea School District Board of Education meetings have a new procedure to follow.

Meetings will still provide two opportunities for public input, but additional procedures and guidelines have been instituted and are available in writing at the meetings. Persons who wish to address the board must complete a form with name, address, and organization represented (if applicable) to be given to the district secretary prior to the start of the meeting. Individuals may speak for up to 3 minutes.

“By having those who wish to comment fill out the card, we are able to gather their name, address and affiliation quickly and without error and it allows for more efficient tracking of public comment data,” said Superintendent Julie Helber. “Many boards follow this process.”

Beach Middle School Principal Nick Angel introduced the district’s latest hire to the board at their meeting on Oct. 9. Nicholas Cunningham is a special education teacher consultant at Beach Middle School, who works primarily with sixth grade students. He received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, and his master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Nick has a wide background with 10 years of experience in the Chicago area,” said Angel. “He’s a great support for our students, he is (unlike me) quiet and reserved. He’s done a great job assimilating with students and staff.”

Photo by Katie Rae Hayduk. Eric Robinson tells the board about his attendance at the Apple Distinguished Educator Academy in Houston last July.

Second-grade teacher Eric Robinson spoke briefly to the board about his attendance at the Apple Distinguished Educator Academy in Houston last July. Robinson was one of 125 teachers world-wide chosen for the award in 2017. “Eight years ago, I didn’t even have a cell phone,” Robinson said. “But now we use technology to develop innovative strategies to educate from preschool to post-high school, and we can connect with people around the world.”

Orchestra Director Jed Fritzemeier, who also directs the extracurricular Celtic music group, Chelsea House Orchestra (CHO), presented the board with a request to approve a performance and cultural trip to China for CHO. John Crozman, accompanied by Jane Case, both of Culture Path, the performance tour group that helped CHO travel to Scotland for the Stirling Bridge International Youth Arts Festival in 2016, provided an informative presentation and slideshow about the China trip.

“Scotland was fantastic – well-planned and solid,” said Fritzemeier. “That’s why we’re interested in working with Culture Path to go to China. Playing in China would be like playing in Carnegie Hall every night. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; something the kids may never, ever be able to do again.”

Crozman described a performance trip to China as a combination of artistry and cultural exchange. The students would perform in four cities, including Beijing and Shanghai over the course of a 10-day trip during spring break of 2019. By traveling during the school year, the students would be able to interact with Chinese students, who would love to speak English with American students. In between performances, CHO students would learn about Chinese culture, said Crozman.

Photo by Katie Rae Hayduk. Jed Fritzemeier, CHO director, requests the board approve a performance trip to China.

The all-inclusive cost of the trip would be approximately $3,000 per traveler. Board member Laura Bush asked if the price would be prohibitive. Fritzemeier said that planning well in advance would permit more fundraising, noting that fundraising covered about 40 percent of the cost of the Scotland trip with less advance notice. The trip would not be mandatory for CHO members.

The board is expected to vote on the request at their next meeting.    

Mark Paulus, senior project manager for Clark Construction Company, presented information on the lowest qualifying bids for work at the transportation building site. “Now is the time to get this done, before winter hits,” he said. Paulus said the materials needed are petroleum-based products, so the prices will be rising following hurricane damage in the Gulf.

With board member Greg Rhodes absent, the board voted unanimously to accept the bid from Best Asphalt, Inc. at a cost of $153,700 for earthwork and asphalt paving, and the bid from GM and Sons, Inc. at a cost of $139,750 for concrete paving. The work is expected to be completed this fall.

The board also approved updates to the anti-harassment policies.           

Upcoming date:

The next regular school board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 in the board room at the Washington Street Education Center.

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