CRYSTAL FALLS—For the better part of a year, Forest Park School Board member Don Peterson has been working hard on preparations for a Log A Load program, scheduled to take place at the school forest near Alpha this month.
Working with area timber producers, Peterson had arranged a variety of education programs to explain the process of how logging is done in Iron County from beginning to end, and the timber products industry’s role in sustaining the environmental qualities of the forest.
But now it’s all been called off and pushed back four months, to Sept. 17. Why?
Mother Nature. And not the late arrival of spring, either.
During the April 28 Forest Park School Board meeting, Superintendent Becky Waters explained that when Peterson looked over the forest recently, he spotted blue herons. A heron rookery had been established in the school forest.
School officials could do little but call off the event so the herons’ area won’t get disturbed.
It’s disappointing, but the focus is already shifting to next September. When Log a Load finally takes place, it will be a special event for all students, from first to 12th grade.
“It really will be a big school event,” said Waters. Classes from other districts will make the trip to Forest Park’s school forest to learn first-hand about the forest products industry.
• After hearing a request from class leaders Sloan Peterson and Kenneth St. Vincent, the board approved the senior class trip to Wisconsin Dells.
It will take place May 11 and 12. Class members will leave early on May 11, arrive at the Dells at noon and enjoy water park until about 6:30 p.m. On May 12, they will have time for shopping and then leave for home about noon, getting back to Crystal Falls about 7 p.m.
All funds needed for the trip have been raised. The class did a magazine fund-raiser: Students had to sell 10 magazines to be eligible to go, along with being in good standing with the school. Five chaperones will make the trip with the students.
• High school-middle school Principal Lisa Olson reported that baseline impact concussion testing would be done later that week for sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 11th graders.
The physical therapy department at NorthStar Health Systems conducted the testing of all students, not only athletes. Olson noted that students sometimes change their minds whether they will go out for sports, and all student taking physical education, a required class, need it. “It’s a baseline for everybody,” the principal said.
• In his report, athletic director Dwaine Anderson reported that the new athletic conference Forest Park will join next winter has been named the Skyline Central Conference.
It was created by a merger of the Skyline and Central U.P. conferences--Forest Park has been part of the Skyline Conference for many years. With the merger, Trojan teams will regularly play Superior Central (Eben Junction), Munising and Big Bay de Noc (Cooks).
The conference merger only affects boys and girls basketball next year, but other sports may be added later.
• With a new phone system installed, Forest Park’s phone number has changed. The new number is 906-214-4695—it’s a local call from anywhere in Iron County.
The old school phone numbers have been taken out of service. If you call them, you will only get a recording telling you to call the new number.
“It’s digital,” said Waters, Since Forest Park is “saving a lot of money and not going through the same company, they [the phone company] would not release our old number.”
• During his technology report, Board Member Bill St. John noted that the state may make “trig” mandatory for all schools. But it doesn’t have anything to do with math and measuring triangles.
TRIG stands for the “technology readiness integration grant” that Forest Park has received. St. John said staff members have gone through TRIG training this year, something only a few schools have done.
He also spoke about replacing a printer and several teachers’ computers. “These go back to 2008—they are due for replacement.” Also discussed was the possibility of each teacher having their own web page next fall.
St. John also spoke about Chromebooks, which are notebook computers using the Chrome operating system. “The advantage of these over tablets,” he said, “is with the push of one button, they are all programmed.” The tablet computers need to be individually programmed.
“What we are doing,” he said, “is attempting to cut down the use of our support staff.” He said one of the district’s goals is to bring in Chromebooks for second grade.
• The board approved the 2014-15 school calendar. The calendar is aligned with the Dickinson County calendar, so semester exams are held at the same time. The new calendar has 175 student days.
• In other business, the board:
--Agreed to use substitute bus drivers until the end of the school year. During the summer, two bus driver positions will be reposted and interviews conducted, after Forest Park decides its transportation needs for 2014-15.
--Heard from Board President Jim Nocerini that district officials held their first meeting with officials of the teachers union, “and it was really great.” He said the district won’t be able to forecast how much state aid it will be getting until after the Legislature approves a new state budget—usually in late summer, after the school year has started. “I think that is the only hang-up that we had.”
--Board members recently met for three hours on the superintendent’s evaluation, in a closed session. Board leaders will meet with Waters to discuss the results. Waters said the evaluation is more important than past years because of new state laws.
--Approved the lawn services bid from Green Cliff Law and Landscaping, the low bidder.
--Terminated its speech service contract. “That’s just to see if we can find more cost-effective speech services,” said Waters.
--Approved a leave of absence for seventh grade girls basketball coach Nikki Price.