Wilde Elementary School kindergarten teacher Mary Hines works with students on the first day of school Sept. 4. Wilde is part of Warren Consolidated Schools.

Photo by Donna Agusti

School is back in session

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published September 7, 2018

WARREN/CENTER LINE/STERLING HEIGHTS — On Sept. 4, students and staff in local districts embarked on a new educational journey with the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Students clad with new backpacks, parents capturing their children’s first day of school in photos, and greetings from new teachers set the tone last Tuesday. While some kids were apprehensive about the first day of school, others jumped right in.

Over the summer, staff across the districts attended professional development workshops focusing on several topics, including mathematics, trauma-informed schools, behavior assessment, understanding poverty, Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies, engineering, competency-based learning and growth mindset coaching.  

Responding to questions via email, here is a look at how local officials have prepared for the new school year. And while official enrollment numbers won’t be available until after Count Day on Oct. 3, some school officials have included projected enrollments for the new year.

Center Line Public Schools
According to Superintendent Eve Kaltz, student enrollment is projected at 3,037. The school year got underway with the hiring of 13 new teachers, two new counselors, one new social worker and one new school psychologist all ready for their new roles.

New at the elementary school level this year are engineering kits that will be used for kindergarten through fifth-grade students. The kits are designed to enhance STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) and support the district’s science curriculum.    

A new welding class opened at Center Line High School for students in the Southwest Macomb Technical Education Consortium program. SMTEC is a partnership between the Center Line, Fitzgerald, Van Dyke and Warren Woods school districts that provides career technical education, or CTE, to 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade students.

There also have been some administrative changes in CLPS. Peck Elementary has a new principal in Meghan Evoy. Other administrators have moved into different positions. Shannon McBrady, previously the principal at Roose Elementary, is now the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources. New Roose principal John Grob is a former Wolfe Middle School assistant principal, and Colleen Berry, previously a Wolfe counselor, is now the school’s assistant principal. Wolfe’s new principal is Julian Roper, who previously was the principal at Peck.

Students enrolled in the virtual online high school classes will have more options this year with new courses that include introduction to renewable technologies, international business game design, restaurant management game design, biotechnology social problems, law and order principles of public service, and national security. The virtual classes are offered only online, and a certified teacher is with students to provide assistance if necessary.

On the financial front, Center Line officials will dip into the district’s fund balance as a shortfall has been projected. Revenues are predicted at $33,213,289; expenditures are projected at $33,761,193. Revenues include local, state and federal dollars. Expenditures include retirements, salaries, benefits, utility costs, and supply and purchase services.

According to Kaltz, the district is expected to use $547,904 of its fund balance, leaving an expected ending fund balance of $1,485,198 at the end of the school year.

Fitzgerald Public Schools
Enrollment projections weren’t disclosed as school officials await Count Day.

Fitzgerald announced a number of new classes this year, including “Spartan Skills for Success,” designed for elementary students in grades one through five at Westview Lower Elementary and Mound Park Upper Elementary. The coursework follows the Michigan Model for Health, and students will learn skills that encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle.  

Also new this year is a journalism class at Chatterton Middle School where students will learn the fundamentals of writing, multimedia and social media. Also new at CMS is Middle School 21st Century Skills. Students will have the opportunity to take an in-depth look at skills they can use in high school, college and future careers. In class, they will learn how to use several Google apps, presentation apps including Prezi and Glogster, and develop skills for appropriate technology use.

Fitzgerald High School will offer a new career technical education course designed to equip students with valuable marketing skills to prepare them to develop a marketing plan for the school store.

The following administrators are new in place for 2018-19: Kim Cerrin, director of academic services; Amanda Clor, FHS principal; Denye Griessel, assistant principal of FHS; Aimee Rioux, principal of CMS;  John Adamus, Chatterton assistant principal; Amy Nelson, principal of Mound Park; and Rebecca Akins, principal of Westview.

As part of Fitzgerald’s ongoing commitment to school safety, all faculty were trained in Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, or ALICE, which is a drill for responding to armed intruders.

Van Dyke Public Schools
“We’re excited to get back to it here in Van Dyke,” Superintendent Piper Bognar said. “We have hired about 14 new teachers who are eager to begin the year with our students.”

VDPS officials predict enrollment to decrease by about 80 students this year from last year. Despite the loss, educators remain optimistic.

“We are enrolling daily, however, and always work to remain steady or increase numbers overall,” Bognar said.

Plans also have been set to enhance current class offerings. One such area is Van Dyke’s computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing classes. School officials will use grant money and have partnered with local businesses to further support the programs, which are designed to prepare students for careers right out of high school.

“Our instructors will be adjusting curriculum to align with industry certificates, and partners will be mentoring students both during the day and via internships, both of which will strengthen the manufacturing industry as a whole,” Bognar said.  

This fall, the Wayne State University C2 Pipeline will begin at Lincoln High School. Students will have the opportunity to join after-school programs related to career pathways in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The programs, made possible by the Michigan Department of Education’s 21st Century Learning Centers grant, will be held on-site daily and run by facilitators hired by the university.

Also new is an attendance program/incentive with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services called “Strive for <5.” Across the district, educators will aim to increase attendance and have all students “strive for less than five” absences all year.

The district’s projected revenue is just under $29 million, and the expenditures are expected to be just under $30 million.

“We plan to make it up by using fund balance and making adjustments as we are able throughout the year,” Bognar said.

Warren Consolidated Schools
Projected enrollment figures were not available at press time.

Eleven new teachers were hired in WCS, and the following administrators found new roles: Dave Meengs, principal at Warren Mott High School; Mary Ann Figurski and Lisa Mullins, assistant principals at Warren Mott; Carlie McClenathan, principal at  the Career Preparation Center; Jack Stanton, principal at Cromie Elementary; and Jason Clark, principal at Angus Elementary.

WCS officials have projected revenue at $163,070,000 and expenditures at $167,893,000 for the new school year. The district will use fund balance dollars to make up the shortfall.

Warren Woods Public Schools
Superintendent Stacey Denewith-Fici has projected enrollment at 3,138. Fifteen new teachers were hired across the district.

New classes have been implemented at Warren Woods Tower High School, including marine biology, American Sign Language, forensic science and college algebra.

This school year, WWPS will have to dip into its fund balance for approximately $1.6 million. Projected expenditures are $34,661,668 and projected revenues are $33,048,047.  

“These numbers will change based on enrollment and our recently ratified teacher contract,” Denewith-Fici said.

There were not any administrative changes in Warren Woods; however, school officials anticipate the hiring of a new director for SMTEC this fall.