Sunday, February 23, 2020

Record Boards

Q:  Please update the athlete’s achievement board.  I sat next to a young lady that Stephenson should be proud of at the game last night.  Can you imagine achieving a goal and not receiving the award?  Her name belongs up there.  It should have been up there for her graduation.  It should be up there now when she is home from college and attending games.  She earned it.  We should make this an event to honor her when it gets placed.

A: Thanks for the question.  I can respond.

We have found a vendor to provide matching graphics for the record boards.  Athletic Director, Bryan Wickstrom has been in contact with current and previous coaches to make sure there is documentation from coaches to support potential adjustments to the record board.  Our goal is to have the boards updated during spring break which is the last full week in March.

We are also adding a section to our end of the season coach’s checkout sheets that need to be completed by head coaches with assistance from the athletic department to help track individual and team records on an annual basis.

Thanks for the question.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Thursday, January 30, 2020

2nd Grade

Q:  “Just wondering why only one 2nd grade teacher this year?  Is this a plan on downsizing for all grades?  Seeing that second grade has 27 students and the grades with classrooms have around 17 to 20 students?  Is it a test of how many one teacher can teach? Or a budget crisis or something else?      - Parent-

A: Thanks for the question I can and will respond:

Let me answer this question from the bottom up.  There is not a budget crisis at Stephenson Area Public Schools.  That being said, there have been two major research projects in the state of Michigan over the past few years regarding funding of schools in the state of Michigan.  In both reports Michigan is at or near the bottom of school funding across this country. 

Class size is considered a working condition in the state of Michigan.  Working conditions are negotiated in good faith.  These negotiations occur with representatives from labor and management.  Here is a portion of the current master agreement between the Stephenson Area Public School Board of Education and the Stephenson Certified Staff.  Article VII: Teaching Conditions

A.      The parties recognize that their joint efforts should be directed to the enhancement of teaching and learning.  Faculty quality and pupil teacher contact are positive variables that affect student achievement.  Whenever possible, the pupil teacher ration should be lowered if the financial position of the district allows this to occur.

B.      Elementary schools, grades kindergarten through five inclusive should be as follows wherever possible in core academic areas:
1.       Kindergarten                             22 pupils
2.       Grades 1-8                                  27 pupils

It is further understood and agreed that when class size enrollment increases above said numbers in the core content (ELA, Math, Social Studies, Science) areas, an hour of paraprofessional time will be given to the teacher.  Said format shall occur with the first three additional students.  Upon the fourth student a paraprofessional for the entire day, including preparation time shall occur.

Example:  The 5th grade school year starts with 28 students enrolled in the 5th grade core content times.  5th grade would start the year with one hour of paraprofessional time.  As the year progresses another student enrolls during the core content times, an additional hour of paraprofessional time is added, for a total of two hours.  Shortly after Christmas, three more 5th grade students enroll during core continent time, and thus a full time paraprofessional is added for the entire instructional day.
It is further understood that paraprofessionals are not the teachers’ aid to run copies or run errands.  They are hired to help students under the supervision of the teacher.

Thanks for the question and the opportunity to respond.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Q:  Will Stephenson be joining the Educational Partners Program with NMU to allow students easier access in getting internet?   - Parent -

A: Thanks for the question, I can respond to this question:
Late in the week of September 9, 2019 I was able to connect with Northern Michigan University and gain information regarding Norther Michigan University “Educational Access network”.

The plan is for Stephenson Area Public Schools to send a copy of a Northern Michigan University “flier” home in K-5 student back packs on September 20, 2019.  We will also have copies of the “flier” in the elementary and middle/high school office as well as on our website.

For further information parents and students can go to
I am attaching a “flier” to this response for your review also.

Thanks for the question,


Past Sinking Dollars funds

Q: What has the school spent Sinking Fund dollars on in the past? 
             - Community Member - 

A: I am attaching (YTD) Year to Date History of dollars spent from 2013-2014 through September 9, 2019.  I am also attaching copies of audit pages from 2013-2014 through 2018-2019 for your cross reference and review. 

The majority of the funds have been spent in the following areas: roof repairs and replacements, sidewalk and entryway repair and replacement, drinking fountains replacement that have built-in filters, toilet replacements, new boilers in the middle school / high school with appropriate retrofitting, new flooring, electric upgrades for lights and panels, fencing replacement, brick renovations, window caulking, doors and hardware replacement, and asbestos abatement.

Thanks for the question and the opportunity to respond.


What can Sinking Funds be used for?

Q: What can the Sinking Fund money be spent on and what can’t it be spent on?
            -Community Member-

A: I have attached the ballot language to this response for your review.  I am also attaching a copy of REVISED SCHOOL CODE (EXCERPT) Act 451 of 1976.

Under State of Michigan Law, Sinking Fund dollars can be used for the, “purchase of real estate for sites for, the construction or repair of, school buildings, for school security improvements, for the acquisition or upgrading of technology and all other purposes authorized by law”.

Expenditures such as employee salaries, benefits, books, utility bills, and insurances are NOT allowable expenditures for Sinking Funds.

When a sinking fund is approved by the local voters of a school district there is a comprehensive guide that becomes part of the process.  In the Stephenson School District Maintenance Director, Paul Starzynski has and will be the point person for expenditures of Sinking Funds.  As conversations arise regarding potential usage of Sinking Fund dollars, Paul reviews the guide and provides the needed documentation for potential expenditures.  This guide is very specific in what Sinking Fund dollars can and cannot be spent on.  (I am also attaching a copy of what previous Sinking Fund dollars were spent on in the Stephenson Area Public School District).

There is a separate audit annually for and outside authority to determine if Sinking Fund dollars were expended appropriately. 

Thanks for the question and the opportunity to respond.


What is a Sinking Fund?

Q: What is a sinking fund and what is its purpose?   - Community Member - 

A: Thanks for the question.  I can respond.
Section 380.1212 of the Revised School Code (Excerpt) Act 451 of 1976 allows the Board of Education of a school district to ask voters to approve a tax on the taxable value of the real and personal property of the school district each year for the purpose of creating a sinking fund.  (Attached is a copy of said excerpt).

Funds provided with the voters’ approval can only be used for the “purchase of real estate for sites for, the construction or repair or, school buildings, for school security improvements, for the acquisition or upgrading of technology and all other purposes authorized by law”.

A voter approved Sinking Fund is a way for residents to invest directly in their school system by keeping their tax dollars local.  Under current legislation, a district can levy up to 3 mills for up to 10 years.  The Stephenson Board of Education is seeking the approval of 1 mill for 3 years.  Sinking Funds cannot be used for things like regular maintenance, purchasing teaching supplies or textbooks, or pay teacher and administrator salaries.  In fact, the law requires districts with Sinking Funds must also receive separate from other district accounts.  Sinking Funds must also receive a separate audit each year to ensure they are being spent appropriately.  Sinking Funds are often requested by local school districts because the State of Michigan has significantly underfunded education since the approval of Proposal A.

Thanks for the question.