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Chelsea School Board approves 2019-20 preliminary budget and honors 2019 retirees

Photo by Crystal Hayduk. North Creek Elementary School teacher Karen Glover (left) shakes hands with Shawn Quilter, president of the CSD Board of Education. Glover retires after serving the district for 28 years.
Photo by Crystal Hayduk. North Creek Elementary administrative assistant Lana Ching (left) is honored for 32 years of service to the district; with CSD Board of Education President, Shawn Quilter.

By Crystal Hayduk

The Chelsea School District (CSD) Board of Education approved the 2018-19 final amended budget and the 2019-20 preliminary budget at its annual organizational meeting on June 24.

Michelle Cowhy, assistant superintendent of finance and administrative services, reported that the district will end the 2018-2019 fiscal year with a total general fund balance of just over $5.37 million, which is 18.52 percent of the budget. This is more than the board policy of a minimum fund balance of 15 percent.

Cowhy said the district’s 2019-2020 fiscal year preliminary budget shows a final fund balance of just over $3.994 million. This represents a fund balance of 13.43 percent. However, the district expects to have a minimum 15 percent fund balance in the final amended budget at the end of the fiscal year.

The preliminary budget has no revenue increases from the state because those are still unknown at this time. The expense side assumes steps and pay raises based on current contracts.

The district recognized nine retirees, two of whom were present at the meeting. North Creek Principal Kimberly Gillow announced teacher Karen Glover’s retirement. Glover taught 28 of her 45 years in Chelsea. “She came early and stayed late, and even showed up on snow days to prepare,” said Gillow. “It’s always about the kids – Karen worked to improve her skills to the very end.” 

Of retiring administrative assistant Lana Ching, Gillow said, “She’s not only the face and voice of North Creek, but she’s the most humble person I know.” Ching’s 32 years of “quiet dedication” will be missed.

North Creek paraprofessional Cheryl Cremer, a 20-year district employee, was a “fierce advocate for her students,” said Gillow.

Chelsea High School (CHS) Principal Mike Kapolka spoke of Jed Fritzemeier, orchestra director, retiring with 24 years of service in Chelsea. “Jed isn’t here tonight because he’s with the students at CHO camp, which is no surprise,” said Kapolka. “When he came to Chelsea, there were only 24 students playing strings, but he built the program to about 100 students a year at the high school level. He’s been a constant force in the district.”

Technology consultant Joe Tinsley has retired after 21 years in Chelsea. “We’ll miss his ability to interact with all levels of educators,” said Kapolka. “He had the perfect personality for this job.”

In the absence of the other building principals, Superintendent Julie Helber announced the other retirees. Dave Jolly, men’s and women’s swim coach and middle school science teacher, is retiring after 31 years to coach at Hope College this fall.

Bonnie Adams, paraprofessional, is retiring from her position at Beach Middle School (BMS) after 22 years.

Paraprofessional Linda Dyer (27 years, South Meadows) and Arielle Hughes (17 years, head cook) retired mid-year. 

Photo by Crystal Hayduk. The American Red Cross recognized the Chelsea School District for blood drives held at the high school. During the 2018-19 school year, 171 units of blood were donated, which saved 513 lives. Pictured left to right are Leonard Rezmierski, CHS Principal Mike Kapolka, Superintendent Julie Helber, and Gerry Abejuro.

Representatives from the American Red Cross recognized CSD for its successful blood drives. Gerry Abejuro thanked the National Honor Society students, their advisor, Molly Mattias, and high school secretary Judee Lonnemo for helping with the drives. “Your school donated 171 units of blood, which saved 513 lives,” he said.

Leonard Rezmierski, Red Cross board member, said that out of 100 participating schools in the region, CSD is one of only 11 recognized for this honor.

Jason Morris, assistant athletic director, presented information about virtual learning, required by the state of Michigan through 21f legislation.

Students may enroll in up to two virtual courses per academic term, provided they have registered the previous spring through the counseling office. Courses must be approved by the counseling office as specific requirements must be met. Parents and students complete an enrollment form and sign a contract; parents also sign a waiver giving permission for the student to enroll in a virtual course.

The school district pays for a course taken during the school year; families pay for a course taken in the summer. Course prices vary from $250-400, depending on the vendor and type of course.

Most students enrolled in a virtual course take it at CHS, under the guidance of a mentor teacher; however, students may take the course outside of school with prior approval.

In the last three years, the number of students taking virtual courses has risen from around 20 to more than 100.       

In other board news:

The board approved the $81 million bond application in a vote of 6-0. Board member Poulter listened to the presentation by Brendon Pollard of Kingscott remotely via Facetime, permissible by board policy if pre-arranged. (See related story here:

During the opportunity for public input, Marcus and Lisa Kaemming read their annual letter thanking the board of education and district staff for their efforts during the previous school year.

North Creek clerk Michelle O’Hara has been hired for the administrative assistant position that opened due to Lana Ching’s retirement.

The board approved the hiring of Katherine Beck as a French teacher at CHS and Darren Embury as a speech and language teacher at BMS.

The board commended Matt Pedlow for being named the Michigan High School Tennis Coaches Association Division 3 Coach of the Year. Pedlow had resigned from coaching earlier this month. “It’s a wonderful way to go out,” said Helber.

(Board members Tammy Lehman and Keri Poulter were absent.)

Upcoming dates:

There will be a school board work session at 6:30 p.m. on July 15; location to be announced.

The next regular school board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 12 at the Washington Street Education Center.    


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