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Chelsea School Board officers elected; school start date waiver submitted by WISD

Photo by Crystal Hayduk. In honor of School Board Recognition Month, preschool students hand-printed a poster, and gave board members snowman cups and cocoa mix to enjoy on a cold, winter’s day. The district purchased reusable tumblers for board members in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint.

By Crystal Hayduk

The Chelsea School District Board of Education elected its 2020 officers at its first meeting of the calendar year on Monday evening.

Shawn Quilter will continue as president, Tammy Lehman will be the new vice-president, Laura Bush will again serve as the board’s secretary, and Kristin van Reesema will remain treasurer. 

Superintendent Julie Helber said the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) has submitted a school start date waiver request to the State of Michigan. She said superintendents met in December, and due to strong interest for starting school prior to Labor Day, it was decided that WISD would submit one waiver to cover all county districts.

“Saline and Whitmore Lake began early this school year, and Manchester has already applied for a waiver for 2020,” said Helber.

The next step in the waiver process is a public meeting held by the state. Information will be provided when it is available.

If the county-wide waiver is approved, districts are not obligated to begin early, but they may. (Related story here.)

Heather Conklin, curriculum and instructional specialist, presented the district curriculum council’s (DCC) recommendations for new courses. The electives courses proposed are social studies at the high school (Turning Points in History, Historical Roots of 21st Century Issues A and B, Exploring History Through Literature, and Women in History) and Drama 2 at the middle school.

Conklin said the elective course proposal is a lengthy process, which begins with a teacher’s idea based on students’ interest and the opportunity for curriculum extension, to cover material that there isn’t time for in a core subject.

The teacher proposes the course to their department, then to the building principal, and finally to the DCC, which includes Conklin, grade level chairs, district leadership, teachers, and a board member.

Feedback is provided at all review levels. If approved by the DCC, the teacher finalizes it and aligns it with standards. The school board’s approval is expected to be on the board agenda in March.

Because electives are proposed on a six-year cycle, Conklin said students have expressed interest in these courses for quite some time.

In other board news:

The board approved the appointment of Jenny Guest, North Creek parent, as Chelsea’s representative to the Washtenaw Intermediate School District Special Education Parent Advisory Council for a two-year term.

The board approved a resolution to authorize the sale of the first series of the 2020 bonds, which was approved by voters in 2019, for $31 million. (Related story here.)

Chelsea High School has been named to the AP District Honor Roll in the Advanced Placement District Awards for the second year in a row. Principal Mike Kapolka said the honor roll designation is a result of the increasing numbers of students who are taking AP classes compared to the number of students in the school, as well as the high percentage of students who take the AP exams and pass them.

The district purchased tumblers to give to board members for School Board Recognition Month. Helber said the district provides water bottles to board members at each meeting, but decided to purchase these instead “to make a move to a more environmentally-friendly accommodation.”

Upcoming dates:

There will be no school on Monday, Jan. 20 in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The free Parent Educational Series continues with “Vaping 101—What You Need to Know.” It will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the Beach Middle School media center; food and childcare will be provided. RSVP to Lisa Nickel at [email protected].

More information can be found here.

There will be a half-day for students on Friday, Jan. 24.

The next board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Washington Street Education Center.

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