CRYSTAL FALLS—Plans for a possible new energy audit were discussed during the Forest Park School Board’s Feb. 24 regular meeting.
It has been seven years since Forest Park’s last energy audit, and Superintendent Becky Waters told the board that talks are underway with Integrys and WPPI. The district gets its natural gas supplies from Integrys, and its electric power from WPPI and the city of Crystal Falls.
Waters said the new energy audit could be at no or low cost. “That is in the process of happening,” she said, “so I’m very happy we’re going to get that looked at again and hopefully see some cost savings in energy.”
It’s work that is needed, said Board President Jim Nocerini. “We [Michigan] are way behind Wisconsin in energy savings and things like that. Wisconsin is way ahead of us in helping school districts.”
• The board voted to solicit bids for a short-term loan, which will be taken around the end of April.
This is something Forest Park has been done before, so the school district can pay its bills despite delays in getting state aid payments and local property tax revenue.
“You don’t get the revenue monthly from the state or the taxes,” Waters explained. “It comes in a lump sum, and we don’t have enough of a fund balance” to wait for the payments to arrive.
“We have to borrow to make our ends meet. With the state aid and the taxes coming in, they don’t quite mesh with our bills.”
• A revision to the district’s athletic policy was given preliminary approval on a 5-1 vote, with Board Member Don Peterson opposed. Final action is expected at the board’s March meeting.
Board Member Bill St. John said that the current policy is being simplified and streamlined. “The basic intent is still there,” he said. “It’s just the gray areas we’re looking at.”
He said that students involved in athletics and other extracurriculars will be given a second student handbook. “It doesn’t change anything as far as our students are concerned. It’s just that our athletes are held to a higher standard.
“They’re the face of Forest Park, after all.”
As part of the change, the district’s athletic code committee is being reinstated. That group will make decisions about “gray areas” in the policy, ruling on more complicated cases.
“Our people are asking for this,” St. John said, “and I think it’s important to do this.”
• Nocerini said Forest Park and the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District are discussing making advanced placement (AP) classes available through other schools, mentioning Kingsford in particular.
Students taking those classes could ride to Kingsford on the bus taking vocational students to ISD classes.
He said the two sides are trying to work out a way to make it happen, though it could be a year or two before the classes actually become available.
“We’re in a process where we can’t afford to have a class with four kids,” the board president said. “It’s cheaper for us to go to advanced placement.”
On a related matter, Peterson reported the school improvement committee has discussed moving core curriculum classes earlier in the day, with classes like band shifted after lunch, “for student attentiveness and possible higher test grades in the future.”
• The board reluctantly accepted Bill Santilli’s resignation as head varsity football coach after 18 years, along with four years as JV coach.
School officials expressed their thanks to Santilli, who was at the meeting, wearing a T shirt that read “Forest Park football: Tradition Never Graduates!”
“I think his legacy will always be here,” said the superintendent.
Nocerini reminisced about when he coached Santilli in eighth grade basketball, then through high school. “You’ve done a lot for this community, Bill,” he continued.
“You wonder what success is: I think success is a person like you. You graduated from this school, you came back and you gave.
“We never forget the influence you had on young people. Thank you.” Board members then walked to him for handshakes and hugs.
The board voted to post the coaching position in-house. But Waters cautioned, “It will be a very carefully scrutinized process of trying to fill some big shoes.
“As we all know, it can’t be filled by just anybody.”
• The board also accepted the resignation of school bus driver Mark King and posted the long-term sub bus driver.
Waters noted that he did many runs for the girls basketball and volleyball teams. “The girls think a lot of him.” He has been a bus driver since 2006.
• The board voted to eliminate a high school-middle school clerk position, following a resignation from that position in December. Waters said it is a cost-saving measure.
Since then, duties and responsibilities have been shuffled around. The superintendent said the office will occasionally need help to catch up with work. Those hours will be distributed to its union employees based on a seniority list.
• Peterson said the track committee will meet with city officials on March 12, to discuss a possible DNR grant that would fund a construction track at Runkle Lake Park.
But he noted that because a public hearing would be required, the grant application won’t be submitted by this year’s deadline, April 1.