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6/11/2014 12:01:00 AM
Board finalizing budget; reviews new handwriting curriculum
As Harbor Springs students wrap up their academic year, school board members are starting to do the same. The Board of Education will meet Monday, June 23 for a public hearing on the proposed 2014-2015 budget.

"We're in negotiations now and plan to have everything wrapped up before that meeting," said superintendent Mark Tompkins. Contracts, as well as the district's current financial situation, will be discussed on June 23.

Tompkins said the district is at last coming out of its several year run in the red, as a serious decrease in revenue and increase in expenses required program cuts across the board.

"We are right on the edge now," Tompkins said of operating "in the black."

Last Monday, June 9, the Board of Education met and approved retirements of the following Harbor Springs staff members: elementary school teacher Linda Hammond; Carrie Anderson, middle school special education; Tom Halfacer, middle school science; and Pat Kaniarz, high school secretary.

Tompkins said the district will hire a new high school secretary, as well as a part time special education teacher.

Perhaps the most important part of the June 9 meeting was in discussing a basic-- but overlooked throughout the nation's public education system-- skillset: handwriting.

"In the steering committee (which helps guide the district's educational philosophy) we did a lot of talking about penmanship and keyboarding, and the teacher leaders came up with a strong position statement about the instruction of both penmanship (including cursive writing) and keyboarding skills from Kindergarten to middle school."

New curriculum and teaching expectations will push handwriting and keyboarding back into the educational spotlight, which Tompkins said is a little "out of the box."

"I'm very glad we're doing this, and glad that starting in third grade, our students will learn cursive, which has fallen by the wayside in recent years. In my experience, it's part of penmanship kids really do love to learn, because there is an art to it."

The Board of Education also approved summer pool equipment upgrades to the tune of $277,000. Work will be on "the guts" of the pool-- wiring, filtering systems, etc.

"We are moving away from a chlorine pool, and instead working toward a UV filtering system, which produces a much cleaner, non-toxic environment," Tompkins said.

The pool will close on July 26 and will likely reopen on September 1.

The next meeting of the Harbor Springs Board of Education, including the annual budget hearing, will take place on Monday, June 23 at 7 p.m. in the Harbor Springs Middle School's large group instruction room.

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