BELDING — The Belding Area Schools Board of Education meeting Monday began with a moment of silence.
Board President Tom Humphreys stood from his chair and asked that everyone stand for a moment in memory of Devon Morrison, 10, a Woodview Elementary School student who was discovered dead in the Flat River earlier that same day.
After about 20 seconds of silence, board members took their seats, and got to work after a difficult few days that affected the entire Belding community.
The meeting’s tone turned positive, as Ernie Cox, vice commander of Belding American Legion Post 203, along with his wife, Kelly Cox, sergeant at arms for the Women’s Auxiliary, presented the board with 75 American flags, donated to the school after funds were raised during a steak fry at the Belding Labor Day Celebration Festival.
“Mrs. Shriver told us that the district needed flags,” said Ernie Cox, who is also the high school bowling coach. “On behalf of the Belding American Legion Post 203, we are honored to present the Belding school district with the symbol we have fought for and find true to our beliefs. We are looking forward to joining the school district and honoring the flag and educating the youth in the proper display and history of this great symbol.”
Humphreys said the district was beyond grateful for the American Legion’s donation.
“On behalf of the board and the entire school system, I want to thank you for this,” he said. “It is very much appreciated. This is just another opportunity for us to work together. The district does appreciate everything the legion does with fundraisers for our sports and booster clubs. We’re glad to be able to partner in this way to be able to display the flags in a proper fashion in all of our classrooms.”
In new business, board members voted unanimously to place a countywide technology regional enhancement millage on the ballot for voters to decide on during the Feb. 25, 2014, election.
“The Ionia County Intermediate School District is seeking a millage for technology enhancement across the county to increase student achievement and help prepare students to become career and college ready,” Superintendent Sara Shriver said. “In addition, this millage would allow districts to purchase and maintain technology that will secure buildings and promote student safety. Each local board of education needs to pass a resolution as part of the millage process.”
According to the resolution, the “regional enhancement property tax” millage would be set at 1 mill that would last for five years, from 2014 through 2018.
School board member Timothy Flynn said he believes the millage needs to pass for the district to continue its successes.
“I know that the voters of Belding just approved an increase in order to give us beautiful new facilities, but this technology component really will give us the ability to maintain the technological advances that we’ve been able to implement and install in the classrooms here,” he said. “If we’re really going to give our students an opportunity to compete, than this technology millage is absolutely critical.”
Band semi trailer
Board members also voted unanimously to approve providing funds in the amount of $6,000 toward the Belding High School Band Department to aid in purchasing a new semi trailer to be used for transportation of instruments and equipment.
“The band program is in need of a new trailer to transport band equipment to various events, including competitions and the planned band trip to Florida during spring break in 2014,” Shriver said. “The Band Boosters is able to fund some of the cost at $8,195.”
Shriver said the original trailer, built in 1979, did not pass inspection this year.
Flynn said he realizes budgets are tight, but said a trailer for the band is too important to go without.
“I know that budgets are tough and we’ve had to make cuts, and the band has been impacted by those cuts,” he said. “It really seems to me, if they don’t have the ability to compete and march, that would really imperil the success of that program. If we’re going to have a band, I think this necessitates a one-time increase to the band’s general fund.”
Board members also voted unanimously to continue the agreement between Davenport University and the school district to continue the Middle College Program through the 2014-2015 school year, the only changes being that the fee per credit hour was raised from $90 to $99 and the number of required students to participate was raised from 12 to 15.
The board also voted unanimously to approve an update to the district’s School Emergency Procedures and to increase custodial services as both Ellis and Woodview elementary schools for one hour during the day for the purpose of putting away tables and mopping the floor.
Shriver said the extra custodial coverage after lunch will free up the paraprofessionals, allowing them to remain 100 percent federally funded. The extra cost of services per month will be $590.