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Changes coming to Brandon School District in 2013

December 05, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- The school board unanimously approved recommended changes to buildings in the district during a special Dec. 3 meeting.

Steve Gaynor of the Michigan Association of School Boards confirmed the recommendation he originally made to the board two weeks previously and then presented during a public forum on Nov. 26.

The approved changes include the closing of the former H.T. Burt Elementary, which currently is used as the alternative high school and also contains all preschool classes. The alternative high school will move to the current Belle Ann Elementary. Belle Ann will no longer have elementary students. Instead, all Kindergarten through third grade classes in the district will be held at Oakwood Elementary and Harvey Swanson Elementary. All preschool and latchkey programs will also be at those buildings. Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School will now accommodate all fourth grade classes in addition to the current fifth and sixth grade classes held there. No changes to the middle school or high school will occur as a result of the recommendation.

The changes will be implemented and take effect next fall.

"I think this recommendation offers us an opportunity to continue a very good academic program, if not better, and reduce costs," said Superintendent Lorrie McMahon. "Both academics and financial responsibility are board goals."

Gaynor led the Michigan Association of School Boards team that was hired by the district at a cost of $14,000 earlier this year to provide an unbiased, professional analysis of data, as well as lead focus groups to give recommendations on an appropriate course of action regarding use of buildings. To do this, Gaynor and the MASB team gathered data and took input from focus groups in September and October and developed 11 various reconfiguration options, most of which were immediately discarded due to not meeting space requirements or student needs.

The final recommendation was praised for meeting or potentially improving current academic standards in the district as well as for the expected financial savings of $200,000 annually the changes will give the district. These savings are estimated to be realized through a reduction in teacher staffing ($80,001), secretarial staffing ($42,316), custodial staffing ($24,308), and $53,382 in utility savings.

The district is also anticipating long-term savings in capital improvements to both Burt ($643,494 over 5 years) and Belle Ann ($111,415).

McMahon said redrawn boundaries for Harvey Swanson and Oakwood elementaries will be announced soon so parents will know to which school their children will be assigned. Belle Ann staff will also be reassigned to buildings and classrooms.

"I think some of the staff is excited, and some are concerned and will feel better once they know where they are going," McMahon said. "As soon as we know where they will be, relationships can be built between each building's staff members, parents, and students. Parents should know what buildings their kids will be in next January."

Renovations are planned to divide extra-large classrooms at BFIS into smaller classrooms. Equipment and supplies will be transferred between buildings, but no new purchases are expected, nor are any changes to transportation anticipated. Length of bus rides will be unchanged.

One concern raised by opponents of the planned change is the possible lack of bathrooms in preschool classrooms. McMahon said preschool has been offered in the district previously without the bathrooms located in the actual classroom.

"There are always bathrooms handy," she said.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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