Cassopolis school board talks ag building construction, student achievements

Published 1:43 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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CASSOPOLIS — The Cassopolis Public Schools Board of Education met for their regular meeting on Monday.

Much of the discussion centered around the construction bid for the agriculture building, adding a needed foundation to keep out wildlife and additional storage to properly house the program’s equipment. The district had the potential to receive $120,000 from the State of Michigan via the Heritage Southwest Intermediate School District, however, the lowest bid on the project came in $90,000 higher than that amount. Discussion revealed that the proposal would take care of most of the major problems with the building, leaving smaller problems, such as ventilation, that could be addressed later. 

If the bid was not accepted, the district would lose the $120,000, as it needs to be spent by September 30th. After extended weighing of both sides of the project, the board voted to approve the proposal.

Several students were recognized for their accomplishments at recent events. Among them were second, third and fourth graders who attended the Young Writers Competition at Southwestern Michigan College on May 10. Also participating were fifth graders, who were unable to attend the competition, but sent their work with the other students. Seven high school athletes were recognized after attending the Southwest 10 Conference banquet. These seniors had achieved multiple varsity letters in at least two different sports, all while maintaining a 3.25+ grade point average. Several students from Sam Adams Elementary School attended the Math-A-Rama at the Heritage Southwest Intermediate School District on April 26th. Librarian Tiffany Scott expressed how proud she was of the students who attended the event.

“What really stood out to me was the character of our kids,” said Scott. “Outside of our walls, they represented us well.”

A new May 28th “Kindergarten Swim Day” was announced. The event was borne out of the idea of a parent who wanted to teach swim safety to students while they were younger. US Business Systems donated $250 to the effort. The event will take place at Stone Lake and will include swimming safety exercises and life jacket instruction.

Business Manager James English reported on the district’s financial status as they move toward the close of one fiscal year and look ahead to the next. He reported on the work to increase revenue and reduce wasteful expenditures to prepare for the funding cliff coming next year. He also highlighted work to simplify processes to save time. The work, along with strategic investing, has led to a substantial increase in revenue for the district.
“We want to spend money,” said English. “But we want to make sure we’re spending money the right way.”

He explained the 2023-24 Budget Amendments for a variety of funds, noting that the district currently has a surplus, which put them in a better position as state funding begins to shrink in the next year. The amendments were approved later in the meeting.

English also updated the board on the ongoing Community Forums assessing the future of the district facilities. The last meeting has occurred until the fall, giving time for Epic MRA to conduct a survey to help point the group in the right direction when they meet again in the fall. English noted how important it is for residents to participate in the survey if called, as it gives the community a chance to get their voice heard and the results will be “invaluable”.

The board also voted to approve the new Intermediate School District budget and a package of Spring Policy Updates, which had been read and altered at previous meetings. The board voted for the final time on the Continuity of Services Plan Update for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds, which will no longer be after they expire in September.

Representatives of the Cass County Historical Commission and the Cass County Historical Society presented a plan to take ownership of the historic Red Brick Schoolhouse. The facility is not used by the district. If approved, the two entities would work together to maintain the schoolhouse as a historical site. The board will vote on the proposal at the June meeting.

The final Board of Education meeting of the school year is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 17. High School Graduation will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday,  May 30 in the high school gymnasium.