Melanie’s Minutes: Dexter Board of Education Meeting Summary – May 20, 2019

The Dexter Board of Education Meeting was again well attended this past Monday evening, the Creekside media center filled with parents of Mill Creek Community Service and Leadership (CS&L) students being recognized for their many hours of community service.

Mill Creek teachers Jill Jastren and Natalie Park recognized 26 seventh and eighth grade students for their hours of service, with award certificates presented for 25, 50, 75 and 100 completed hours of service.  In addition, 16 of these students also received Presidential pins for 50, 75 or 100 hours of service completed all within the current academic year.  Board president Michael Wendorf also presented the students with certificates of achievement from the Board of Education.

Jastren shared that the 114 CS&L students (7th and 8th graders combined) completed a grand total of 2026 hours of service this year.  Kudos to the amazing accomplishments of these service-minded students!  Full WLD story on Mill Creek CS&L student awards.

Student Representative Update

As this was student representative, Hollie Pastorino’s, last board meeting, board member Ron Darr prefaced Hollie’s report by thanking her for all her contributions over the past two years.  Other board members echoed Darr’s sentiments, saying Pastorino was a great asset and a tremendous student representative.  Pastorino expanded this board position to include all buildings in the district, which member Barbara Read said has made a difference and sets the example of what the position will be going forward.

Pastorino tearfully thanked the board and said that this has been one of her favorite high school memories.  She is planning to attend Eastern Michigan University, studying to be an English and French teacher, with aspirations to become a principal and even maybe a superintendent.  We wish you the best of luck, Hollie!

In high school news, the women’s softball team is having an amazing year, with Sam Sutton hitting multiple grand slams in the last several games.  Prom was last Saturday night at The Big House in Ann Arbor, and featured mini golf, caricature drawings and karaoke.  The Zoology class has been raising tadpoles over the last few weeks and started releasing frogs into the pond near the high school.  And the women’s soccer team took 1st place in the SEC.

At the high school it is senior prank time again, starting with Bring Your Pet to School day.  Students brought in their cats, dogs and even chickens and goats on Monday morning before school.  Later this week, the seniors will set up hammocks around the school and participate in the Tour de Dexter, where they ride tricycles in the building.

In other building news, Mill Creek is wrapping up their first coding class, and the results have been amazing with students creating fully playable video games.  This class will continue on into the high school next year.  Creekside Intermediate held its annual plant sale last Saturday, selling plants grown by the Kitchen and Garden students.  They also had Colonial Day last Friday, where students learned about pioneer times and participated in activities such as butter making and soap carving.

Wylie Elementary is studying historical buildings in Dexter and recently took field trips to the Dexter Library.  Beacon Elementary students recently learned how to make pizza, including hand tossing the dough.  Beacon classes also took their annual field trips to Gordon Hall.  At Anchor Elementary, Science Alive brought in animals for the students, including an anteater and a tarantula.  Classes from Anchor have also taken field trips to Independence Lake to study biodiversity and Michigan biomes.

Pastorino concluded her final report by sharing that Huron High School’s student council, in its inaugural year, recently petitioned their Board of Education to eliminate homework on weekends in order to help mitigate the nationwide student mental health crisis.

Public Participation

Two community members, a former Dexter teacher and a current Dexter parent, came forward to comment on the recent discussion surrounding the anti-discrimination/anti-harassment policy language and the opt-in/opt-out policy.  In regards to the opt-in/opt-out policy, one speaker said that notification is essential in the policy and DCS has the capability for wide-spread notification, citing several texts, phone calls and emails received from the school in the past week.

Former teacher, Jim McCarver, thanked the board for their investment and, through a personal story which he used as an analogy for the current policy language debate, urged the board and community to listen to each other with wide open hearts for the sake of our students.

B2B Trail Easement Update

DCS has drafted an easement agreement for the City of Dexter, which ensures the school will have approval of the final design and location of the B2B trail extension and gives the school the right to relocate any portion of the easement in future.  The agreement also states that the city will be responsible for maintenance and repairs and that the work will be around the school’s schedule and property usage.

Dr. Timmis shared that they are currently working to determine the cost of the project, and are considering having the property appraised to negotiate the final price.  The city needs to have the final agreement to the state by mid-June, so time is of the essence.  The easement agreement will be modified and brought back to the board at the June 10th meeting for final approval.

Bond Update

The Creekside playing fields will not be ready for play this season, due to the poor weather this spring.  Leftover turf was recently placed on the high school amphitheater, enhancing the area and encouraging its use.  There is also plenty turf left to patch fields when needed.  Furniture bids are going out for pilot classrooms in all buildings, the Mill Creek band and orchestra space is on schedule and the Wylie offices are almost ready.

Policy Update

Board member Ron Darr spoke regarding the function of the Policies Committee in light of recent public comment on potential policy changes.  He shared that the district has approximately 350 policies, consisting of over 2000 pages of text.  The DCS administration and the Policies Committee goes through all the policy changes that come down from Neola (the school’s educational policy service), then each policy change has two readings at board meetings before those changes can be implemented.  A change in policy needs 4 votes from the board to be approved.

Darr spoke passionately that the recent anti-discrimination/anti-harassment policy wording discussion is a misunderstanding, and that the board never intended to remove the wording, “sexual orientation and gender identity,” from the policy.

State Budget Update

Dr. Julie Schumaker concluded the open portion of the board meeting with an update on the State of Michigan budget, which has not yet been passed due to disagreements between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Senate.  Schumaker relayed that if the state budget is not passed in June, it won’t be approved until September, which means the Dexter Board of Education will need to complete the district budget for the 2019-2020 school year without the state funding numbers.

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