Martin school bond project goes as planned despite rain

by Austin Marsman

The Martin public school district’s $17.1 million bond project is progressing as expected, despite the rainy fall.

Project manager TMP’s Mike Hammis came before the school board Monday to share the progress. He said the constant rain has hampered efforts to finish athletic fields, but the new scoreboards have been installed, tracks paved and bleachers installed. He said the duct work soon will be installed in the wrestling room.

Superintendent David Harnish complimented the work done thus far and shared some photos with the board.

In a related matter, Trustee Nate Jager asked bookkeeper Samantha Ball about the impact of the district’s switch to LED light bulbs on its Consumers Power bill. She said that the decrease was noticeable and will only improve as motion sensors are installed and the switch is completed.

Harnish noted the school district’s solar project is on schedule and should be up and ready for a ceremonial ribbon cutting in December.

In other business at the school board meeting Monday, the board:

• Heard a story of heroism about elementary special education teacher Katie Castora. High school drafting and computers instructor Barb Schipper gave Castora a shoutout during the public comment.

She said Castora, after taking the morning off for her child’s appointment, returned to school and found one of her students in a medical emergency. Without hesitation, she rode in the ambulance to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with the student and stayed with the student at the hospital.

Schipper didn’t know all of the details, but told the board she was proud to call Castora a colleague and friend.

• Approved the roster of coaches for the upcoming winter season, including three new hires: Brad Moleker, as varsity boys’ basketball coach, succeeding David Curry; Brenda Ritchie to guide the junior varsity girls’ basketball team, and Jason Wycoff to coach the newly-formed bowling team.

Doug MacVean remains as girls’ head varsity basketball coach.

• Voted to drop the cap on students taking a single college course for their first year. The reasoning, according to Board President Jennifer Harrison, was “to address the scheduling issues and needs of programs”. Students, under the guidelines, are required to follow their normal schedule on days that college is not in session. Harrison said that these changes will “balance accessibility with accountability.”

• Corrected the district’s fund-raising policy for students. Organizations and groups will now be allowed to sell “unhealthy” food such as candy bars, doughnuts, etc. once a month as long as it does not compete with the food service.

• Defined its social media policy for staff by insisting all social media use by staff members, on and off campus, should be used professionally and should not post defamatory remarks.

• Heard Harnish praise Sam Ball for her work on the district’s flagship publication “Ship to Shore.”

• Heard Harnish thank the community for recent passage of the millage renewal, which continues a levy of 18 mills on non-homestead property, saying “this is true community support.” He also shared his vision for large-scale pictures of historic local landmarks to be hung outside the new auditorium.

Harnish told the board that the AdvanceED Accreditation process is going well, with a three-day visit later this month.

The next board meeting will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 4, in the high school media center, which was moved up from the regular scheduled second Monday of the month.

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