Cassopolis schools talk facility upgrades, student funding

Published 10:33 am Friday, March 1, 2024

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CASSOPOLIS — The Cassopolis School Board met for their monthly meeting on Monday, February 26th. They received reports on finances, technology and voted on facility upgrades and student funding.

Ray Govert of Timberwolf Consulting Group gave an update on the state of technology in the school district. He reported on a number of changes implemented since taking over technology six months ago. The district is in the planning stages of switching from an out-of-date phone system to a cloud-based platform. A long-term project to bring cameras to a functioning state is nearly complete. A firewall was replaced, creating a less complicated and more efficient system that will save the district $50,000 a year. Govert reported that he has changed multiple vendors for the schools, finding services that are easier to work with, more responsive, and that will save the district money.

Outdated equipment has been removed and will be disposed of using the Dowagiac Recycling Center. Funds from the disposals will be used to fund repairs of student Chromebooks. Middle School students have received new Chromebooks and were required to sign a policy agreement. Govert credits the agreement with greatly reducing the damage rates to the equipment.

He also outlined the Timberwolf Student Tech Program, giving students the opportunity to learn a variety of skills, including the in-house repair of district Chromebooks, and earning money while doing so.

During his report, Superintendent Dr. John Ritzler recognized multiple teams and individuals from the district who qualified for state competition during the recent Future Farmers of America regional competition. He also thanks the Cassopolis Public Schools Foundation for awarding seven mini-grants throughout the district.

Business Manager James English gave a review of the recent budget proposed by Governor Gretchen Whitmet and its potential impact on schools. He noted that the $241 per pupil rate does not meet the needs of Cassopolis Schools and does not keep up with inflation. The proposed budget by the Governor is the first step in the state budget process that will likely be completed in  the summer.

English reported that twenty community members had signed up for the committee that will be reviewing facility needs in the district. The first forum will take place on March 11th. He hoped to have more citizens joining the committee before then.

The Board of Education approved a utility distribution easement to allow new electrical systems to be installed for the new electric buses purchased by the district. The three buses are ready for use once the school is prepared for them. The cost of the buses and other equipment for the district was $42,000, with the other part of the overall $1.2 million cost being covered by grant funds.

The next Board of Education  meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 18. It takes place at 5:30pm in the Cassopolis Ross Beatty High School Media Center.