School climate, security, Howies honored

bcps school board closed session
Boyne City Public Schools Board of Education went into closed session during last week’s meeting to discuss school security. Photo by Chris Faulknor

The Boyne City Public Schools Board of Education regular monthly meeting held Monday Sept. 9 featured a number of business items—including the results of the latest school climate survey, school security, and bestowing honors on the school system’s many bus drivers, and a special honor for the Howie family for its many years of service.

• At the meeting the board approved a motion, proposed by board President Ken Schrader, to rename the Boyne City Transportation Center to the Howie Family Transportation Center.
The board recognized all the bus drivers with certificates of excellence for their hard work and dedication to the safety of our students.
The ceremony concluded with Schrader revealing a bronze plaque to Director of Transportation Joe Howie, his wife bus driver Lisa Howie, and bus driver Lea Soltis, who is the daughter of Joe and Lisa.
The plaque reads:
“Howie Transportation Center Boyne City Public Schools
This building is renamed in gratitude to the Howie Family for their multi-generational exemplary service, commitment, and dedication in the pursuit and goal of transporting Boyne City Public School students and staff safely for over 40 years.
Renamed by a unanimous vote of the Boyne City Board of Education on the 9th day of September
Joe’s mother Shirley Howie worked for BCPS driving a school bus for 26 years, Joe’s father
Carlton Howie drove for about four years, while Joe is the school’s current transportation director who has worked for BCPS for 31 years.

• Lisa King introduced Sydney Gahn as our new Kindergarten Teacher and she was formally approved by the Board. Sydney graduated from Boyne City High School in 2010 and attended Western Michigan University. Upon graduation, she returned home for four months where she was a substitute for Boyne City Public Schools. Then she moved with her significant other to St. Louis, Missouri so he could pursue a degree in Chiropractic Medicine while she taught preschool for two years.
“A Boyne City Rambler through and through I am filled with Boyne Pride as I was born and raised in this great community,” said Gahn. “I loved attending Boyne City Public Schools. It is a dream come true that I am now a teacher at the very school that inspired me in my love of learning and teaching. We are happy to make Boyne City our home. I am excited to join my Kindergarten Team and to instill a love of learning into my students each year as well as be a part of such a wonderful community again for many years to come.”

• Boyne City High School student council representative Nick Aown updated the Board on the first week of activities. They did many group building and social exercises to help students meet new people and to help acclimate to the first week of school.

School climate survey
• School Climate Survey comparisons from the 2017 to the 2019 surveys were presented by Boyne City Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Little. Over 1,100 students, staff and parents took the survey last May.
“In May of 2017, we gave a school climate survey and then in May of 2019, we gave the same survey. And what we’re looking for is some longitudinal data about our students, parents, and staff perceptions about the school climate,” said Little.
School climate is defined using a diagnostic tool from the School Climate Center in order to help inform school plans and operation.
“Basically, school climate refers to the quality and character of school life related to the norms and values, social interactions, and organizational structures experienced by members of the school community,” Little said. “So, this isn’t just about students—although that’s the major focus that we do—it is also about some other things as well.”
Little said the survey is professionally vetted and therefore the school system can use it when applying for grants.
The survey measures things like teaching and learning, inter-personnel relationships, leadership and professional relationships, safety, and institutional environment.
“They all sort of combine to (determine) what it’s like to be in Boyne City schools,” Little said.
Four reasons to care about school climate, Little said, include the importance of how school climate affects student self-esteem and conduct.
“The second thing is it has been proven that effective risk prevention and health promotion efforts are positively correlated with safe, caring, participatory, and responsive school climate settings,” Little said.
Academic achievement is also linked directly to positive school climate scores.
“And, positive school climate is associated with greater teacher retention,” said Little. “Which is becoming more and more of a challenge for us as the dynamics of finding and retaining good teachers becomes apparent for not just us but the whole country.”
The school system scored highest in safety, rules, and norms, as well as respect for diversity and social/emotional support for students and adults. They also scored high in school connectedness and engagement.
Little said the survey shows that BCPS is a healthy district and that there is consistency within all buildings District-wide.
The survey identified a number of growth that the buildings have been working on.
Little said that, although these are the lowest scores, those area values are still within a “positive and healthy range.”
One area of growth is the feeling of safety with social media which is wide-spread throughout the nation and state.
The second area of growth is developing a great sense of social and emotional security for students.
All buildings have taken steps to help educate and support students in managing the negative effects of social media and have further refined the ongoing tasks of making sure students are supported socially and emotionally.

Super’ Announcements
• Little shared with the board that enrollment is up and there is a good number of new students to Boyne City Public Schools within all the buildings and programs.
As of Sept. 6, it was estimated there were 86 new students to BCPS (1-12 grades), not including the kindergarten population or CTE students.
There were 74 new kindergarten students and 17 CTE students.

• The summer construction is just wrapping up and there a just a few loose ends to finish.

Board of Ed. Announcements
• There will be a Finance Committee meeting on September 23 at 5 p.m.
Board Action Items
• Board Policy 5330.02 Opioid Antagonists Adoption – The Board of Education conducted a second reading and then adopted the Board policy 5330.02 Opioid

• A Board Workshop was held prior to the regular Board meeting to discuss concepts related to a possible May 2020 Bond vote.
Further discussion on this topic is expected at the October board meeting.

Closed Session
The Boyne City Public Schools Board of Education went into closed session citing “school safety.”
This exemption to the Michigan Open Meetings Act is a rather recent change, with the legislature having approved the new exemption earlier this year.
The new rule is as follows:
Section 1308b of the RSC, effective March 21, 2019, requires that school districts, ISDs, and PSAs implement an emergency operations plan and conduct bien­nial reviews of the plan beginning in the 2019-20 school year.
By January 1, 2020, school officials must develop an emergency operations plan for each school building that the school operates.
School officials must develop the plan with input from the public, and the plan must be adopted by a majority vote of the school’s board.
The Legislature added Section 8(k) to the OMA (effective March 27, 2019) to allow a board to deliberate in closed session to “consider security planning to address existing threats or prevent potential threats to the safety of the students and staff.”


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