The Harbor Springs Board of Education welcomed Diane Novak back to the table on Monday, July 14, to fill the remaining five months of former board member Julie Cupps, who resigned in June.
Novak was one of three candidates interviewed for the appointment. Brad Backus and Craig Bonter also applied. Novak previously served on the Board of Education, when she was appointed following the death of board member John Fischer in 2010.
During the interview, it was clear Novak is already up-to-speed and highly knowledgeable about how the school board functions, something board trustee Rob Fuhrman said is important, particularly because of the short length of the term.
"I think all three candidates could be great, but Diane would be the smoothest transition," Fuhrman said.
Fuhrman made the motion to appoint Novak, which was seconded by Shauna Bezilla. The board approved the motion in a roll call vote, with Lauer and Fairbairn voting no (Lauer said in discussion he liked the ideas Backus could bring to the table, and Fairbairn said he'd encouraged Bonter to throw his name in the ring).
"Diane has been on the board before, she's remained involved with the strategic plan and steering committee, has a lot to offer in terms of knowledge and experience, and is passionate about our district and our students," Bezilla said.
Novak was sworn in immediately following the vote, and joined the board for the remainder of the meeting.
There are three seats that are up for election in November-- the term Novak is filling, as well as Tim Davis and Rob Fuhrman-- and anyone interested in being on the ballot needs to file with the county clerk by no later than July 22 at 4 p.m.
Superintendent Mark Tompkins gave a rundown of the two major facilities projects happening this summer, including changing all buildings to a keycard entry system.
"Half the town currently has keys to our buildings, which is nice and also a problem," Tompkins said with a smile.
Tompkins said all doors will be key-card access only. The main doors will have buzzers monitored by secretaries to allow people into the building during school hours. Coaches and other people who have after-hours access can have cards that only work during specific hours of the day.
The change also comes with a new policy at the high school: campus is closed. Older students have always been allowed to leave during lunch periods, but with the new system in place, Tompkins said all students will be expected to remain on campus.
'We are about five years behind the rest of the country in doing this," Tompkins noted. "But it is a change in culture for our district, and it will come with some bumps along the way."
Board member Paul Fairbairn asked whether emergency services-- particularly ambulances-- would have a key or keycard to open doors if necessary. Tompkins said the Harbor Springs Police Department will have a key, but other emergency services, like ambulances, had not yet been discussed.
"These are the bumps we're going to hit, and still need to discuss," Tompkins said, adding he's confident all procedures and protocols will soon be in place.
Tompkins also updated the board on the pool pump room project. He said the pool will be drained July 26, and the project should be completed within a month.
"It is a pretty intense project, but the goal is to be done before September 1," Tompkins said.
Harbor Springs Athletic Boosters representatives were present at the board meeting, requesting a permentent concessions stand at the high school.
"We are the only high school I've ever been to that doesn't have a space," said Mary Hickman, on behalf of the boosters. "We have to move very heavy equipment every game. It's hard on our vollunteers and it is not safe."
Hickman said they have been requesting a space for a long time now, and that the program-- which has raised more than $80,000 in the last five years for athletics and athletic scholarships-- really needs action.
The board agreed to discuss a plan in committee on August 6 at 10 a.m., and report to the full school board on August 11, hopefully with an answer before the new school year starts.
In addition, the board also hired Adam Wood, current athletic director, as the Blackbird Elementary School physical education teacher. Kristy Fischer will teach physical education for grades 3-8.
Jason Byma was hired as the new elementary music teacher as well. Tompkins said Byma comes to the district highly recommended and noted he saw first hand Byma's skill during a mock lesson taught to Harborage students this summer.
"It was right before lunch, and Jason was able to not only engage all the students-- including a slew of fourth and fifth grade boys, a group typically less than interested in music classes-- the kids actually wanted to stay with him and not go eat. He is clearly skilled in the way he delivers instruction, and I think he will take our music program to a level we haven't even dreamed of yet."
The board also approved a slate of fall coaches, including new JV volleyball coach Katelyn Morse, and new boys varsity soccer coach Aaron Riley. Riley was the JV soccer coach in Gaylord and currently works as a social worker for the Char-EM ISD.
"Aaron is looking at being here long-term, and is very excited about building the program," Tompkins said.