Cassopolis school board talks calendars, new hires

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, August 23, 2023

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CASSOPOLIS — The Cassopolis School Board resumed their regular monthly meetings on Monday, Aug. 14.

The district’s new Finance Director, James English, presented details on the financial status of the district. He noted the financial audit, which is currently taking place, and the ongoing impact of state budgets and enrollment on the school district. 

One challenge is the ongoing discrepancy between the fiscal calendar of the school district and that of the State of Michigan. Decades ago, payments were changed in effort to reduce taxes by paying schools on an eleven month basis. The state fiscal calendar begins in October, meaning school is already in session before the first payment arrives, leaving the school in need of a loan to cover the gap. Cassopolis Public Schools only recently made the final loan payment for the previous school year. English expressed intent to seek money saving rates for future loans to make better use of the district funds.  Later in the meeting, the school board unanimously approved multiple banks that may be used for district deposits, allowing the financial office the flexibility to find the most fiscally responsible options.

The Finance Director also emphasized the need to maintain a balanced budget and to have a plan for future expenses, including repairs, equipment replacements, and changes in funding, in order to keep the district “not just operating, but flourishing”.

Superintendent Dr. John Ritzler presented a report on various aspects of the district. He explained the restructuring of staff and teacher positions in order to strengthen core content. The alternative education program, which has been mostly online since the prevalence of COVID-19, will resume in-person functions.

Ritzler also announced a number of new hires, including Cassopolis alumni Kaitlyn Owen and Mary Wright, who are both teaching at Sam Adams Elementary School. Owen has been a long time substitute teacher in the school. Additional hires include Brooke Chappell, Aubrey Carra, Zuri Kelver, and Daun Gregory. With these hires, he announced that all school buildings are now fully staffed.

The transportation department is also full staffed. One driver is being trained in order to be a future trainer, so that new drivers can be trained in the Cassopolis School District. Three new 

electric buses, purchased with a grant, are scheduled to be delivered in September. The goal is to have the new buses in service in the fall.

Board President Deborah Deubner reported that the agriculture program received funding through the CTE Program that allowed for the purchase of a livestock trailer, an enclosed trailer for supplies, and a variety of other equipment. Deubner emphasized these funds were not district funds.

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for September 18, 2023.