BELDING — Belding Area Schools Board of Education members were treated to an unexpected, colorful and thoughtful surprise Monday evening on a night in which School Board Recognition Month was celebrated toward the end of an organizational board meeting.
After board members Robert Insley and Cori Anderson, who were re-elected to the board in the November general election, were officially sworn in for their new four-year terms, the board voted to assign officer positions for the new year.
After a unanimous vote, each member retained their position from 2012.
Tom Humphreys was re-elected as board president, Timothy Flynn as vice president, Andrea Booker as secretary and Terry Boni as treasurer.
Officially settled in as a board for another year, administrators from all four schools Belding Area Schools presented board members with tokens of appreciation from students and staff of their respective schools.
Students and staff at Belding Middle School signed a giant banner with signatures and thank yous to thank the board members for their service to the district.
“I’ve been with Belding area schools since 2001 and have always felt supported by the board,” Middle School Principal Joel Olson he said. “It’s just a great place to work when you know the people who are overseeing what you do here have your back.”
Woodview Elementary Principal Bruce Cook presented board members with large sheets of paper signed by students and staff with various thank yous and signatures.
Belding High School Principal Brett Zuver presented board members with cards containing thank yous.
Ellis Elementary Principal Tiffany Jackson presented each board member with a poster featuring hand prints from students and thank you’s, a poem written by students and faculty, and a story written by kindergarten students.
Belding Superintendent Sara Shriver also presented each board member with an official certificate and thanked the board members.
“We do appreciate you as board members,” Shriver said. “It’s sometimes a thankless job, it’s sometimes a rewarding job, but we are glad you are here each and every month.”
“It’s humbling to get this thanks because none of us are here for money or accolades, we do it because we care about the community and we care about the kids,” Board President Tom Humphreys said. “It’s very gratifying to feel appreciated.”
In other news, members of the school board voted unanimously Monday evening to ratify the Belding Education Association (BEA) Contract for the school district.
“I think it’s one of those contracts that is a good contract, in a process where everyone can be a little unhappy with the way things go and where everyone may have had to give up a little sometime, we are pleased where we ended up on this,” Humphreys said. “We think this is a fair agreement.”
Humphreys said during negotiations, talks were sometimes difficult as most decisions were hinged on money coming into the district from the state.
“As with most contracts right now, everything boils down to money,” he said. “Everyone knows that most districts are not flushed with cash to give raises.”
Humphreys said the contract is a year and half agreement, ending in July of 2014.
He said it is a zero percent increase of wages for both 2013 and 2014.
Humpheys did add that small raises from the “step increase” process, based on longevity, is in effect.
“We want to be fair to our teachers and all of our staff, but unfortunately right now we are not in a position to give any additional compensation,” he said.
Humpreys said the negotiation process began in July of 2012.
The board also approved the purchase of two new busses through bond monies, with one of the buses being a special education bus, totaling $183,561 through Hoekstra Truck of Grand Rapids.