MAISD Board hears updates on programs

By Emilee Nielsen • Last Updated 11:27 am on Friday, March 17, 2017

STANTON — The Montcalm Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) Board of Education heard about some of the exciting things happening during a regular meeting last Thursday.

Associate Superintendent for Career Technical Education and Principal for the Montcalm Area Career Center (MACC) Celena Mills told the board about a new climbing wall erected at the center. The wall is 10 feet by 32 feet and was built by construction students at the MACC. It’s currently a traverse wall on which climbers move to the side rather than upward.

Associate Superintendent for Special Education Jodi Willard updated the board on different guidelines and development plans throughout the district for special education students.

Over the last five months, the program placement guidelines for emotionally impaired children have been tweaked in order to put a sharper focus on entrance and exit criteria for emotionally impaired programs.

As part of that, several documents have been created to drive conversation about the best environments for children with emotional impairments in order to best meet the needs of the individual child. This was done based on calls for more collaborative processes between students and staff.

Guidelines for the transition program to help students in the special education program have been updated. The transition program focuses on areas of career exploration, personal finance, employability, communication, social strategies, self-advocacy and daily living.

The updated guidelines include a step-by-step referral process for staff to follow in order to identify a special education student candidate for the transition program and how to go about getting that student enrolled in the program. The guidelines also distinguish the specific differences between the transition programs available.

The transition programs are open to young adults ages 18 to 26 years old who have completed four to five years of high school in a special education program for students with severe impairments. There are several transition programs to choose from, including Seiter Transition Program, Hometown Stanton Transition Program, MACC Transition Program, and the Project EmployAbility Transition Program.

MAISD Superintendent Ron Simon reported on the State of the State and Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

“At face value, the governor’s budget doesn’t look too bad from a School Aid Fund perspective,” he said.

Funding for literacy coaches and community college subsidies from the School Aid Fund (SAF) have increased as part of the budget. The university subsidy from the SAF has decreased.

The budget is not final as the State House of Representatives and State Senate have yet to weigh in, Simon said.

In terms of the MAISD budget, right now the focus is on the general fund as that budget “requires local district action (for approval or disapproval) which is legislatively mandated.”

“Outside of replacing some tables and chairs, I do not see any major purchases or expenses on the horizon,” he said. “As always, we will continue to spend prudently on the programs that we have.”

Simon reported the Career Showcase was a success, with 243 students and 280 parents pre-registered for it at the time of the meeting.

Simon also touched on the ongoing bus driver shortage the MAISD and other intermediate school districts throughout the state are experiencing. He said there have been changes made to the bus driver salary structure to help attract and retain bus drivers.

“Last week, we entered into a letter of agreement with our support staff association and agreed to compensate at a higher rate MAISD retired bus drivers who are willing to come back and sub for us,” he told the board. “The hourly rate paid will be the same hourly rate they earned before they officially retired.”

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