Cindy M. Cranmer

Bill on kindergarten start dates moves forward

May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER A bill to move back the kindergarten start date in Michigan is moving forward after the Senate Education Committee approved a three-year plan to phase it in. Sen. Darwin Booher, the bills’ sponsor, told The Rockford Squire that the five-member panel ended up split over the decision after hearing extensive testimony from educators on Wednesday, March 21. Kindergarten teachers statewide have supported the measure overall, while some school administrators voiced opposition to the plan. Rolling back the eligibility date means fewer students starting kindergarten and the state saving millions in per-student allowances that are provided to public schools. Booher said he is in support of using the savings as an opportunity to restore support and invest in early childhood programs that have been underfunded. Four-year-olds have been eligible to start kindergarten in Michigan as long as they turn five by December 1 of the school year they begin. After concerns were voiced by school districts, a phased-in plan that staggers the cut-off for kindergarten eligibility was approved. During the 2012-2013 school year, the cut-off will be November 1. It will be moved back to October 1 for the 2013-2014 school year and the cut-off by the 2014-2015 school year would be September 1. The original bill had an exception, but that language has since been taken out, but some administrators are pushing for that in the final bill. “A large part of kindergarten is learning how to adapt socially,” said Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter. “When students struggle with the social aspect, the academics suffer.” “From an education standpoint, I think the shift will help student achievement in the long run,” Seiter said. “Academically, it’s going to be a good move.” “Financially, this could impact schools,” Seiter said. “I would choose the academic aspects over the financial aspects at this point.” Locally, Rockford Superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler said parents have the most information about whether students are ready for school. “I really think the people who are most qualified to decide if students are ready for kindergarten are the parents,” Shibler said. “I really think the parents and the school district should make the decision.” Shibler said he likes the idea of allowing for testing to appeal the decision if the age […]

Technology helps deal with emergencies after fiber optic line goes down

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER With the help of technology, emergency calls were offline for only a brief period of time after a fiber optic line was cut Monday, according to officials. Working with the National Weather Service, Kent County Emergency Dispatch officials were able to notify area residents of a fiber optic problem that was affecting emergency dispatch calls in some areas. Cell phone users and computer users that have emergency alerts on their phones or through e-mail learned that there was a fiber optic problem that caused affecting landlines in the Grattan Township area on Monday, April 23. Calls from a landline were not able to go through to the emergency dispatch center. An alert was sent out notifying people that landlines were not able to call 911 and to use a cell phone or to connect with the local fire departments. Grattan Township officials said a fiber optic line was cut, affecting people with a 691 prefix. Kent County dispatchers say the problem was fixed as of Tuesday morning, April 24. Phone calls were being rerouted, according to Grattan Township officials, even before the original fiber optic line was fixed. Calls were being rerouted to the fire departments and then to the dispatch center. Ionia County dispatchers also had a problem with landline phones in the Orleans area of 761 on Monday. That problem also has now been resolved. Montcalm County dispatchers were reporting some problems Tuesday, April 24 with cellular phone service in the Greenville area that could be linked to the landline problems in Kent and Ionia counties. While cell phone users in the Greenville and Belding areas were having problems making phone calls Monday night, those in Kent County’s Grattan Township area were still able to use cell phones to call 911. The landline phones were the only ones having problems. Officials said the lines were being worked on and rerouted before the problem was even fixed. Therefore, there was no major disruption of service calls because of the speed in which technology was able to be utilized to reroute calls to area fire departments. The alerts sent out from the National Weather Service also recommended calling or going to the local fire department if someone could not get through […]

Rockford Superintendent against implementation of all-day everyday kindergarten programs

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER As schools in the Rockford Public Schools (RPS) district prepare for kindergarten round-up meetings, the superintendent has continued to raise concerns about the proposal for all-day, everyday kindergarten classes as it would cost the district an additional $1.8 million. Rockford Superintendent Michael Shibler, PhD, said Rockford will continue “to work hard to provide the best possible education to the students we serve.” However, he said, in times of the state of Michigan’s financial crisis, a proposal to go to all-day everyday kindergarten will put additional challenges on the school district. Shibler explained to The Rockford Squire how, despite initial indications that there would be no further cuts, the proposal for all-day, everyday kindergarten would mean additional hardships on districts. One year ago, the state legislature passed and Gov. Rick Snyder signed a two-year School Aid Bill for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 that actually results in less funding per child in 2012-2013 than during the 2005-2006 school year. School funding was at $6,875 per pupil in 2005-2006 and reached a high of $7,316 in 2008-2009 before being decreased to $7,146 for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 then $7,046 for 2011-2012 and cut to $6,846 for the 2012-2013 school year. “As you can see, from the highest funding level of $7,316 per child in 2008-2009, Rockford Public Schools will drop $470 per child next year. When factoring in the rising costs of daily operations due to inflation, RPS has been forced to cut $9.6 million from its operating budget since 2009-2010,” Shibler said. The freeze in wages and salary, which was instituted three years ago, will continue into the 2012-2013 year. Employees also are now contributing 18 percent toward the costs of their health insurance premiums, he said. “Individually and collectively, Rockford Public Schools has participated in ‘shared sacrifices,’” Shibler said. Snyder has now publicly stated that he believes cuts to public education are over and schools may start experiencing a slight increase in funding. This, Shibler said, should mean that there would not need to be cuts. Within the current School Aid bill is a provision to require all school districts to implement all-day everyday kindergarten beginning in 2012-2013, Shibler said. He said many school districts offer kindergarten programs half a day every day or […]

One injured in three-vehicle crash that included bus

April 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER Photos courtesy of WZZM 13 Rockford school officials and police stated that a tire did not break loose from a Rockford bus as witnesses and early media agencies originally reported during a three-vehicle crash that seriously injured a woman. “A car struck the front tire of the bus, knocking off the lug nuts on the front tire, traveling down the side of the bus, scraping it and then hitting one of the outside tires and knocking it off,” said Dr. Michael Shibler, Rockford Public Schools’ superintendent. Photo courtesy of WZZM 13 According to Shibler, the driver of the white Ford Taurus was ticketed and responsible for crossing the centerline during the early morning accident that ended up involving three vehicles on Thursday, April 19. Early media reports and witness accounts stated that a tire came off the car, but police clarified that this was not the case. The bus was eastbound on Belding Road when the Taurus, which was westbound, drifted into the eastbound lanes and struck the front bus tire and side of the bus. Shibler said the car spun around colliding head-on with the eastbound vehicle, a Volkswagen Passat, which was traveling behind the bus. The driver of the Passat was taken to the hospital by AeroMed helicopter, Shibler said. Officials confirmed that the woman’s condition had stabilized as of Monday, April 23. The woman’s child who was restrained in a car seat was taken to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital as a precaution to be checked out but was not injured. The bus had not yet picked up students, so there were no children on the bus. The bus driver was not hurt in the accident, which occurred near the Bostwick Lake Inn. The driver of the Taurus had minor injuries. The accident occurred on Belding Road near Kitson Road shortly before 8 a.m. as the bus driver was preparing to pick up the first students. “A tire did come off the bus, but only after the car sideswiped the bus and hit the back tire,” Shibler said. “The driver of the white car was ticketed. The driver of the bus was not ticketed or at fault. The bus driver was totally in the right and there were no […]

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