Alcona to change school board of education terms to six years

LINCOLN – The next elected Alcona Community Schools Board of Education members will be serving six-year terms instead of four after a decision made by the board Monday.

Board members voted 6-0 on the change, with Vice President William Cordes absent. It’s a move Superintendent Shawn Thornton said is in the district’s best interest. Longer terms should help the board keep its knowledge of the district’s unique financial situation.

“What we think is that the board of education is an important position of leadership in the district, and we want to retain as much official knowledge at that level as we can,” she said.

Thornton said the change won’t affect current board members. Rather than have their terms automatically extended, school district voters must elect someone to the longer term. This means the change will take effect gradually as current board members’ terms expire.

School boards can decide whether its members will serve six-year or four-year terms, Thornton said. After initially choosing the shorter one, the board decided after some consideration to make the change. It’s possible the longer commitment might give pause to those considering a run for the school board. While the change will give prospective board members another thing to consider, Thornton thinks it won’t negatively affect anyone driven to make the commitment to serve the district.

“I think the benefit of wisdom, history and experience that board members will gain in that period of time outweighs the negative possibilities of someone not running because of the length of that commitment,” she said.

Board members also voted on a number of annual items, and heard some year-end rundowns of student activities:

* the district will participate in Schools of Choice, a state program allowing students from adjacent districts to attend Alcona Community Schools.

* the board renewed its Michigan Association of School Boards membership, with Thornton and board members noting the drop in annual dues.

* Alcona students should complete 1,098 instruction hours over 175 days for the 2014-15 school year, according to a resolution adopted by the board. That’s pursuant to a calendar the board approved after negotiating it with the teachers association, Thornton said. It’s also five more days of class than what students had last year.

* board members agreed to hire Danielle Hoggard as the special education resource room teacher. She’ll work in both the elementary and secondary buildings, Thornton said. Budget restrictions kept the district from staff for the past two years, so it had to absorb retirements instead.

“We don’t have extra money,” Thornton said. Hoggard’s predecessor “is being replaced out of necessity to meet the needs of students’ individual education plans.”

* seventh and eighth grade teacher Christie Thomas’ rundown of her students’ activities was among the year-end reports board members heard Monday. Students were involved with many different programs and lessons, including a few focused on the environment. They took a field trip to Negwegon State Park to learn about its ties to ancient history, and to a homestead believed to belong to one of the first African American settlers in Alcona County, among many others. Her eighth-graders also raised more than $600 for various charities.

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.