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Chelsea School District Transportation Woes Return; Board Approves Gun Safety and Safe Gun Storage Resolution

By Crystal Hayduk

The Chelsea School District (CSD) will start the year short of a full staff of bus drivers, said Mike Kapolka, district superintendent, at the school board meeting on Aug. 21.

Lisa Book, transportation director, plans to rotate and stagger routes as a temporary solution until more drivers can be hired. Route information is expected to be posted on the transportation website on Aug. 23. 

In the meantime, current district paraprofessionals and food service workers are being approached to determine their interest in training to become a bus driver to “piecemeal” staff in addition to searching for new hires.

Kapolka said district administrators know the countywide driver shortage impacts families. He is hopeful that all routes can be running normally within a few weeks after school begins, once enough drivers have been hired and trained. (Related story here.)

The school board approved the resolution in support of gun safety and safe gun storage. Given the importance of safety, the problem of gun violence, the alarming statistics of death due to firearms in children and teens, the percentage of guns not stored securely, and the urgency to act, the board passed the resolution. The documentation clearly communicates the district’s commitment and plans to collaborate with law enforcement and mental health professionals, and to provide annual education on firearm safety. 

The full resolution can be viewed as an agenda attachment (item 8).

During the opportunity for public comment, a community member thanked the board for passing the resolution. She said she hopes it will inspire nearby school districts to act, as well.

Board members discussed the class action lawsuit against multiple social media platforms. The lawsuit agreement with Frantz Law Group, APLC alleges that social media companies have caused a higher percentage of children and teenagers to experience increased anxiety, depression, and thoughts of harming themselves.

According to information on the Frantz Law Group’s website, the lawsuit asserts that social media platforms contain harmful content and algorithms that hook young people, keeping them addicted to social media use while also encouraging unhealthy behaviors and comparisons.

Harmful social media content and its effects also directly and negatively affect school districts’ ability to achieve their mission to educate students.

The goal of the lawsuit is to both hold social media companies accountable and to obtain funds for districts to provide preventative education and mental health services.

There would be no cost to the district to join the lawsuit. If the lawsuit prevails, the district will pay 25% of their award to Frantz Law Group.

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

Kapolka congratulated Dr. Luman Strong, Chelsea High School (CHS) assistant principal, on his retirement after many years of service. Strong has accepted a full-time faculty position at Spring Arbor University.

Andrea Franco has transitioned from assistant principal at Beach Middle School (BMS) to replace Strong. Her first day at CHS was Aug. 16.

The district is posting internally to fill the interim assistant principal position at BMS, hopefully by the first day of school. “Because we have several members of our teaching staff who have administrative credentials, this is a way for us to potentially grow our own administrators within the district,” said Kapolka.

In other board news:

Trustee Glenn Fox expressed gratitude for the many selfless acts district employees perform each day. Additionally, Fox recognized teacher Eric Robinson for his altruistic donation of part of his liver to save the life of a pediatric patient, which goes “above and beyond.” (Read the story about Robinson here.)

Trustee Laura Bush also recognized Robinson. Years ago, she helped him to get on a bone marrow donation registry. He told Bush a few weeks before his recent surgery that he hopes to inspire others who can donate anything, whether it be bone marrow, blood, food—or an organ. “This is the kind of staff we have in this district, and this community is amazing. It was truly a heroic thing,” said Bush.

Trustee Michelle Craig thanked Chris Simpson, director of food services, and the food services team for the new Global Eats program rolling out this October at CHS and BMS. “It will be a great way to help students become more globally and culturally conscious while eating great food,” she said.

Board President Eric Wilkinson thanked the many Chelsea Fair volunteers for their efforts.

The meeting was videorecorded and will be available to view for one month here.

Upcoming dates:

The first day of school for students will be Aug. 28.

There will be no school Sept. 1-4 for Labor Day weekend.

The next board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 in the board room at the Washington Street Education Center.

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