RC making changes to handbooks

ROGERS CITY – In preparation for the coming school year, Rogers City Area Schools Board of Education members made several minor changes to student policies.

At their meeting Monday, board members agreed to Superintendent Katy Xenakis-Makowski’s suggestion to alter the district’s attendance policy. They also accepted Principal Dave O’Bryant’s idea to combine the two schools’ handbooks and create a separate athletic handbook.

In past years, parents would receive letters notifying them of their child’s attendance after the child missed seven, then 10, days of school. This previously reset at the start of a new semester. Instead, the district will stick to the same schedule, taking into account total absences for the entire school year. Xenakis-Makowski said this change emphasizes the importance of school attendance, and will make it easier for the district to meet its state-imposed attendance reporting requirements.

O’Bryant asked the board if he could combine handbooks for middle school and high school students into one. Students in grades six through 12 will get the same handbook, minus athletic policies, and plus a few items to be moved from the athletic section to co-curricular activities. A few sections will contain school-specific items.

Handbooks also will include a section pointing out rule changes and areas of emphasis, a suggestion O’Bryant made after seeing something similar in a Michigan High School Athletics Association rule book.

Middle school students’ parents or guardians will need to be present to sign students out for lunch, in response to a concern O’Bryant raised. The school has a closed campus during lunch, and the rule change helps to enforce this.

“We were starting over the last year or two getting parents calling in, saying, excuse them, allow them to walk to McDonalds,” he said. “I’m not real comfortable with that. It’s why we have a closed campus policy.”

The athletics handbook will be separate with its own signature page, and coaches can hand it out to student athletes at team meetings, O’Bryant said. He pointed out a few minor changes, including updating contacts since he was made athletic director at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

In other business:

board members approved secretaries Tammy Budnick’s and secretary Christin Vogelheim’s one-year contracts. Xenakis-Makowski said each will receive extra pay for their secondary duties, on top of a slight pay increase. Neither employee had received a raise in the past three years.

Gary Bisson will coach the girls varsity basketball team, after board members approved O’Bryant and former athletic director Pat Lamb’s recommendation.

school lunch prices will go up by 10 cents to help the district meet state recommendations, Xenakis-Makowski said. According to a formula the district is required to use when setting meal prices, Rogers City students pay considerably less than recommended, she said. The state wants districts to charge prices close to what the state reimburses, and districts that charge less have to raise prices by a minimum of 10 cents per year. Elementary school lunches will increase to $1.85, and lunches for grades six through 12 will increase to $2.60.

board members approved a lease agreement for the Head Start program, and Xenakis-Makowski said she’s already seeing success at the kindergarten level as a result of the partnership.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.