Over 20 community members and parents of Dexter students attended the April 22 Board of Education meeting at Creekside Intermediate School. Discussion topics ranged from the Board’s annual evaluation of Superintendent Dr. Chris Timmis to the naming of the new alternative education building currently under construction and the location plans for the next extension of the B2B trail (see separate story).
The meeting opened with a presentation by Barb Santo, Executive Director of Human Resources at DCS, regarding a potential new Early Middle College (EMC) program for DHS. Santo shared that the EMC program is designed to allow a pupil to earn a high school diploma and either an associate’s degree, the Michigan Early Middle College Association Technical Certification (MEMCA), or up to 60 transferable college credits at the same time.
There are 146 EMC programs in Michigan, including the Early College Alliance at EMU at which 12 DHS students are currently enrolled and the Washtenaw Technical Middle College at WCC, with 29 students from the Dexter area. Santo stated there are many more interested Dexter students who are unable to participate in these programs due to space limitations.
A new Early Middle College program would provide another avenue of alternative education for Dexter students, helping them to prepare for college and increasing the likelihood for post-secondary completion.
During the superintendent’s update, Dr. Timmis related that the district is currently in “testing season,” with the M-STEP, PSAT and SAT tests being administered. Also, Kit Moran, DHS principal, is leading the search committee which will shortly begin interviews for the new high school basketball coach.
And the Dreadbots are having a great year, and are heading to the World Championships this week at Cobo Hall in Detroit to compete among the top 400 teams in the world. Dr. Timmis shared that the Dreadbots will be moving into a space at Wylie Elementary next year, which will be the first time the program has operated on the DCS campus and will provide access for more students to participate.
Detailed updates from each school building were given by student representatives Chad Robards and Hollie Pastorino, highlights of which included the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber E3 Award received by Mill Creek for their recent “Mental Health Matters Day” program, and the NHS-sponsored Spring Fling event which raised over $3,000 for the local Cancer Support Community charity.
Several community members spoke during the meeting’s public participation segment. Ron Raiford, DHS ’78 alumnus, made an impassioned plea for the board to consider suspending their current policy and name the currently under construction alternative education building located at 8100 Shield Rd. after Dexter class of 1948 alumnus and long-time school supporter, Louis Ceriani.
Ceriani graduated in 1948 at 21 years old from the alternative education program, and has spent his life working in and for the city of Dexter. He has been a member of the Lions Club for 40 years, and has raised tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money for Dexter’s alternative education students. “I hope we haven’t reached the point where we say that no one is no longer worthy…I think it’s time for the school board to make an exception to the rule and name the building after Louis,” said Raiford.
Later in the meeting, board member Dick Lundy shared that at the last meeting of the Facilities Committee they had indeed voted to suspend the current policy and name the new building after Ceriani. The Board as a whole expressed their willingness to do so, but deferred the vote to the May 6th meeting.
Dr. Julie Schumaker presented the board with the completed evaluation of Superintendent Timmis, rating his overall performance as highly effective. Statistical data supported the Board’s rating:
“Under Supt. Timmis’s leadership… average reading achievement across grades 1-8 has increased from the 88th percentile to the 92nd percentile on the NWEA between fall 2014 and 2017, as did math achievement. High school students’ enrollment in rigorous college-level courses (i.e., AP, IB or dual enrolled) also increased significantly from 332 course enrollments in 2012-13, to 580 course enrollments in 2017-18. Additionally, the district’s 4-year graduation rate has risen from 92% for the Class of 2013, to 97% for the Class of 2018. These are all very positive trends and a testament to Dr. Timmis’s leadership and the instructional improvement efforts implemented K-12.”
The evaluation also praises the district’s increased focus on mental health and Dr. Timmis’s significant work on the bond projects, including the opening of Beacon Elementary and the installation of two new artificial turf fields at the high school which were built on-time and on-budget.
Schumaker ended her remarks saying, “Overall, we are so thankful and indebted to Dr. Timmis for his leadership.”
DHS Drama Club
Abby Briggs, Board President of the Dexter Community Players, supported by several DCP board members, asked that the BOE keep them and the DHS Drama Club in mind as the district continues the decision-making process to sell the Copeland Administration Building at 7714 Ann Arbor Street.
Briggs reminded the board that the Copeland Theater has been the DCP home since its inception in 1981, and that the theater is unique from an arts perspective, being one of the few black box theaters in the area.
The next Dexter Board of Education meeting is scheduled for May 6th at the Creekside Intermediate Media Center, with a community chat at 6:00 p.m. and the meeting at 7:00 p.m.