2007-08-30 / Front Page

New Century Club To Help Fill Funding Gaps for School

By Amy Polk

A new club has been formed to help fill in some of the funding gaps at Les Cheneaux Community Schools. The group of local citizens headed by Joe Forrester launched the Trojan Century Club in reaction to budget cuts, and Monday night, August 20, the school board formally agreed to accept money raised by the club. The board will also write a letter of support for the club's activities to satisfy a request by the Les Cheneaux Community Foundation.

The club hopes to raise supplemental money for vulnerable programs like athletics, art, music, and industrial arts, Mr. Forrester said.

If adopted by the foundation, the Century Club will become a fund under the umbrella of the foundation and be awarded the same nonprofit status the foundation now bears. As part of the community foundation, Century Club members will be able to advise the foundation board on how to distribute money for school programs. The Community Foundation Board still needs to vote on adopting the club as a fund, Mr. Forrester told school board members.

The foundation has several funds that operate this way, including the Les Cheneaux Arts Council and Youth Advisory Council. Grant seekers will apply to the community foundation for money, and the foundation would distribute grants from the Century Club Fund to appropriate applicants.

Several details need to be confirmed before people can join the club, and Mr. Forrester said people cannot come up to him and give him a check for the Century Club.

Any donations should be made to the Les Cheneaux Community Foundation. Minimum donations will be $100 a year and maximum will be $1,000. The founding members hope to establish both endowed and non-endowed funds. Endowed funds invest donations, and the interest earned on the principal is given away as grants. Non-endowed funds are simply kept in an account and given away as they are needed.

The Century Club will not compete with other fundraising efforts like the Trojan Booster Club and Music Boosters, Mr. Forrester said, which both already raise funds throughout the year to supplement the athletic and music programs. Rather, he said, it will provide more resources the district can draw from in times of financial crisis.

"We never want to reach a point where we need to do pay-toplay or pay-to-ride," Mr. Forrester said.

Cedarville Trojan fans will pay more to watch home games this year, as the board raised season pass rates Monday night.

Another reaction to the budget cuts, Cedarville High School Principal Randy Schaedig recommended the increases because "due to the cuts that were made in June, we need any additional revenue we can get."

Student pass prices will not change. Senior citizen pass rates were raised to $40 from $25. Adults will pay $80 a year instead of the $70 rate from last year. Family passes now cost $150, raised from $130.

Questioning "why are the seniors taking the big hit," Trustee Dave Murray was told the senior rate "hasn't been raised in awhile" by a member of the audience, while a few others said they did not think the rate was too high.

A personnel committee was established by board president Dan Burrows partly in response to complaints about girls basketball. The board received several letters about the girls varsity basketball program and coach Sonja Duncan, including three complaint letters from parents and students and one letter in support of Mrs. Duncan as a coach. The complaints cited concerns about what they called inappropriate treatment, name-calling, yelling at players, and favoritism, but complimented Mrs. Duncan's knowledge of the game of basketball.

One of the letters requested the board enforce three of the 15 standards of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Code for Coaches.

The three cited are to develop an understanding of the role of interscholastic athletics and communicate it to the players, parents, and public, develop fair, unprejudiced relationships with all squad members, and develop, communicate, and model policies for athletes' conduct and language.

"We just want to do what's best for the girls," said Camie Hansen, a mother of one of the players who signed the letter citing the MHSAA Code for Coaches.

Following a break in the meeting, Mr. Burrows addressed the dozen people who apparently were waiting for action on the letters, and told them the board would not be taking action that night and would defer any action to administrators and the newly established personnel committee.

"The letters sent to us by concerned parents were taken under consideration, and, personally, I've been thinking about this for the past two weeks, and this is one of the reasons I established the personnel committee," he said. "The board is not going to take any action on this tonight. They are going to let the committee advise the administrators on this. I don't think the board should be making a decision on this now or at a future meeting."

Complaints about coaches and staff are nothing new, and Mr. Burrows said he established the personnel committee, in part, to address the concerns raised in the letters and to help support administrators when complaints arise from time to time.

He thinks it is not the board's place to handle personnel issues, but rather a role delegated to administrators.

"I feel the board hired very capable administrators," Mr. Burrows added, explaining this is the best solution he can come up with.

Assisting the administrators as the new personnel committee are Tony Hakola, Dave Murray, and Dave Sudol. The committee's role and effectiveness will be reviewed, and its responsibilities and role can be changed if necessary, Mr. Burrows said. In addition to helping resolve conflicts, the committee will also evaluate and update job descriptions, create job descriptions and evaluation criteria where none exist, and help administrators review potential candidates for current and future positions.

"We have no job descriptions for coaches, and we need that," Mr. Burrows added.

Mr. Burrows assigned board members to other committees, picking up a task tabled from the organizational meeting in July. Trustees typically volunteer to serve on various committees, but Mr. Burrow said he wanted to try assignments this year. Anyone with conflicts was invited to change their seats.

Dave Sudol will chair the negotiations committee that also includes Mr. Burrows and Carl McIntire. Mr. McIntire will chair the finance committee comprised of Mr. Burrows and Mr. Sudol. Dave Murray will chair the policy committee which includes Ronda McGreevy and Tony Hakola.

Mr. McIntire will chair the building and site committee, which includes Marianne Coyne and Mr. Burrows. Mrs. Coyne will chair the superintendent evaluation committee, which includes Mr. Hakola and Mrs. McGreevy. Mr. McIntire will serve as the Consolidated Community Schools Services representative on the board.

In other news, trustees hired Huff's Repair of Cedarville to be the district's bus mechanic for the next three years.

He will be paid $48 per hour, an increase of $3 per hour over his last contractual rate with the district. His was the only bid the district received.

The board also elected to buy as many as 15 sociology textbooks for $25 each, allocating up to $400 for the books, depending on how many students enroll in the course, said High School Principal Randy Schaedig.

Teacher Gretchen Storey instructed the class last year with no books, pulling information off the Internet when it was available.

Mr. Schaedig recommended the board buy books for the students, and said less expensive used books might be available.

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