Message from the Superintendent
A Letter from the Superintendent to the Trojan Nation
I hope this message finds you enjoying the beginning of the fall season!
It is always rewarding when our students excel to great heights. I had the opportunity to witness just that this past Saturday morning when our Boys Cross Country team dominated the Fruitport Invitational held at Rycenga Park. These young men are favorites to win the conference championship their first year in the OK Black which is a noteworthy achievement!
Speaking of excellence, our Equestrian Team is once again heading to state competition in the coming weeks after winning regionals. We are very proud of their achievements as well!
As you walk the halls of our schools you will notice new signs that promote positive behaviors. These signs are part of a district-wide initiative called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Through PBIS students are actively taught proper behavior in various school situations and are ultimately rewarded for good behavior. The goals of PBIS are to reduce office discipline referrals, improve attendance, and reduce suspensions and expulsions. So far we are experiencing very positive results. In the end, we see this program as one more way to ensure that Fruitport students have the foundation, skills, and background necessary to be successful citizens upon graduation.
Many of you know that school funding and declining enrollment have been issues for the past several years and many school districts, including ours, have experienced very difficult fiscal times as a result. But it appears we have finally turned the corner and things are improving. In fact, our enrollment has finally stabilized which allowed us to have positive negotiations with all of our bargaining groups this fall. We are confident that this is the beginning of many positive enrollment years to come given the amount of residential development taking place in our school district. That, in conjunction with the economic development that we should see in the very near future, should make for a very, very bright future for our students and staff.
Speaking of the future, I again remind you that we have a bond proposal for significant improvements to the high school on the November 8 ballot. This bond proposal is the first step in a facilities master plan where the bond debt is restructured every ten years to afford a bond proposal at no mill increase for building replacement. But why replace buildings that seem to be in such good shape? There are two main reasons:
Our aging buildings cost more for upkeep every year and they will reach a point where they cost more for upkeep than the district can afford. To illustrate this point, consider the fact that, should this bond proposal pass, the high school would essentially be replaced by 2019-20. The next building on the replacement schedule is Edgewood Elementary and it would be 74 years old upon replacement in 2028. Then Beach would be replaced in 2038 and would be 100 years old, followed by Shettler’s replacement in 2048 at 84 years of age, and finally, the middle school would be replaced in 2058 and would be 89 years old.
Our aging buildings do not have the modern learning spaces our students will need to best prepare them for the future. Look at the building replacement schedule above and think about how the world will be different even ten years from now and consider the effectiveness of our existing buildings in meeting the learning needs of students into the future.
For more information on this bond proposal, please attend the community meeting tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium.
Bob Szymoniak, Superintendent