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Two more Brandon District principals resign

July 25, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- Two more district principals resigned this week, leaving school officials scrambling to find replacements with the start of the new school year quickly approaching.

Superintendent Lorrie McMahon said Belle Ann Elementary Principal Cathy Kochanski and Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School Principal Jeff Beane both turned in letters of resignation within the past week.

Kochanski, who arrived in the district just over a year ago, has accepted a position as an elementary principal in the Rochester School District and Beane, principal at BFIS for the past six years, has elected to take a position as a mathematics teacher at Brighton High School.

"They are both fantastic administrators and at all times went above and beyond their jobs as principals," said McMahon. "They were essential members of the district administration team, made a big difference in Brandon, and we will sincerely miss them."

McMahon said the decisions by the principals to leave was not due to any job insecurity here in the district that might have been perceived because of the district's consideration of a reconfiguration of schools.

A facility study is planned to begin in August that will examine consolidation of elementary grades in specific buildings as well as the possible closing of a building.

Restructuring of buildings was first publicly proposed during an April finance committee meeting. McMahon has estimated the district could save as much as $400,000 by consolidating grades into specific buildings. Two options were presented to the board in May, both of which would have Oakwood Elementary house all first and second grade classes and Harvey Swanson having all third and fourth grade classes. The options differed in that in one, Belle Ann Elementary would house all kindergarten classes and preschool programs and H.T. Burt would continue to be home to the alternative high school and the early childhood wing of Burt would be available for rental or closed. The second option would have the alternative high school moved from the H.T. Burt building to Belle Ann, and have kindergarten and preschool classes at H.T. Burt. Under this scenario, part of Belle Ann would be closed.

Savings would be realized through the reduction of about six teachers, which would be possible because consolidating grades into separate buildings more evenly distributes class sizes. However, the plan sparked backlash from many parents in the community and it was determined more discussion was necessary.

Because of the study and possibility that the schools could still be restructured in the future, McMahon said interim principals will be put in both Belle Ann and the intermediate school for now until a decision is made, likely by December, on what the district will look like.

The principal positions have not yet been posted because McMahon said she is exploring other options, including hiring internally, or possibly bringing back "someone who has retired and is interested in just a year-long position."

Beane and Kochanski are the third and fourth principals to leave the district this year. Long-time Harvey Swanson Elementary Principal Dr. Helen Clemetsen retired in June and Andy Phillips has been named the new principal of Harvey Swanson. Alternative high school principal Pam Schoemer also resigned in June.

"It's a lot of change in a short period of time, but Brandon has very sound footing, very strong teachers, well-organized and quality educational facilities," said McMahon. "We will be fine and will make sure the kids are fine."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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