Belding school board approves piano purchase, farming trip

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 9:54 am on Tuesday, October 16, 2012

BELDING — A new auditorium continues to take shape at Belding High School, and although it is facing a few delays until it can be opened for students and the public, that isn’t stopping the music and theater department from preparing for performances at the new facility.

At Monday night’s school board meeting at the Belding Area Schools Administration Building, board members approved the purchase of a grand piano for the new auditorium, which was originally scheduled to open this month but has been delayed into November.

“There was an amount set aside in the (2010) bond proposal for a grand piano in the new auditorium,” Interim Superintendent Sara Shriver said. “Through lots of conversation and discussion about a bid process, I believe that the music department did go ahead and find a grand piano for the new auditorium. It will allow them to stay within their budget and add an electronic piano as well. They did their work and found what they wanted.”

Board President Tom Humphreys said high school band director Laura Hyler and middle school band director George Rousseau considered many options before deciding to side with a refurbished model.

“Mrs. Hyler and Mr. Rousseau have tested out multiple pianos and they thought this was the best one for their needs,” he said. “It stays within budget and they are extremely excited about this piano. Even though it is a refurbished piano, it is in like-new condition. A (new) piano of this quality and size would have been significantly more money.”

Humphreys said the piano would be used for band concerts by both the high school and middle school bands, as well as for use by school theatre productions.

School board members voted 7-0 to approve the purchase at $25,000. School board member Terry Boni said he would have liked to have seen the decision come through the finance committee first before it came before the board.

The school board also voted to allow the Belding Future Farmers of America (FFA) group to attend the national convention in Indianapolis on Oct. 24-27.

“I understand our FFA group goes to this on an annual basis, it’s in Indianapolis this year,” Shriver said. “There’s going to be 10 to 14 students who will be going with students from Lakewood, Ionia, Saranac and Lowell. They are looking for the support from the board to be able to plan this trip and begin raising funds.”

At the convention, students will participate in leadership workshops, attend a career show, and hear various guest speakers. Students will also interact with members from across the nation.

“This is something that happens every year,” Humphreys said. “Kate Feuerstein does a great job with the FFA. The kids that go down there have a lot of fun, but it’s a great leadership opportunity for them to attend this. It is paid for by funds from the FFA and monies that the students raised themselves, so there is no cost to the district.”

School board member Andrea Booker said she thought this was a great opportunity for students in Belding.

“I think it’s really great that they are going down with kids from other districts,” she said. “I think that will be a great team building experience. I’m sure that they do a lot with these kids with different events, I just think it’s great that they are all going together.

The school board approved the decision 7-0.

Lastly, school board members voted to continue the contract of Duane Ellis, former superintendent of Carson City-Crystal Area Schools, to work one day a week in assisting Shriver.

“You had all agreed that you would allow me to be your interim superintendent along with director of instruction and technology,” Shriver said to the board. “In being able to do so, you have allowed me to contract some of those services. Duane Ellis has been a very welcomed person to the district with experience. He has a well rounded background in education. He’s been a go-to person in the district when I’m out of the district.”

Humphreys said Ellis’ help has been vital, considering Shriver is working two positions.

“Even though Mrs. Shriver is doing an excellent job wearing two hats, I know having Mr. Ellis in the district just one day a week really allows her to focus on the things that she needs to,” he said. “So far the staff has taken a liking to him.”

The board approved the decision 7-0.

Prior to Monday night’s meeting, the four candidates for two board positions introduced themselves and answered a series of questions asked by Humphreys.

The four candidates on the November ballot are incumbent Cori Anderson, incumbent Robert Insley, Jennifer Boroff and Thomas Cameron.

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