Mainka gives first State of the District address in Novi

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published May 23, 2023

 Ben Mainka, superintendent of the Novi Community School District, gives his first State of the District address at Novi High School April 25.

Ben Mainka, superintendent of the Novi Community School District, gives his first State of the District address at Novi High School April 25.

Photo by Charity Meier


NOVI — Ben Mainka, who has been at the helm of the Novi Community School District as superintendent for just under a year, is striving to bring a new tradition to the Novi community with what he hopes will become an annual State of the District address.

Mainka spoke to the Novi community at the Novi High School auditorium April 25 about the many things that have happened in the schools since he took over last summer.

“Tonight is a chance for us to come together and — if I could use an expression from one of our math teachers — ‘to show our work,’” Mainka said. “We have an opportunity to share with you some of the exciting things, celebrate some of the successes, as well as talk about upcoming things that we want you to be excited about as a community member and support our endeavors as a school district.”

Mainka, who came to the district from Swartz Creek, had held similar events in that district. The idea is to showcase all that the district and community have to offer for students. Representatives from every school in the community, school organizations, city representatives, the Novi Chamber of Commerce and many more hosted tables with information. Prior to Mainka’s speech, the school cafeteria was opened and provided free food to allow the community to taste what was being offered to students.

“The food service was amazing,” said Deborah Beeker, president of the Novi Woods Parent Teacher Organization.

Mainka was welcomed to the auditorium with a performance of the school fight song by the NHS marching band, who formed a line on each side of the doorway.

In the speech, Mainka spoke of the many student successes that have been achieved through program offerings such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and many more.

He spoke of the construction of a new lab, which will have $1 million worth of robots to be able to train students in mechatronics. These students will know how to adapt and use robots in the real world.

“These are things that kids in other school districts do not have the opportunity to do,” Mainka said.

He said the district is planning to continue current initiatives and implement a K-5 literacy program and a K-12 character education program, which will help support students with social and emotional learning. The district is also looking into teaching kids about artificial intelligence.

The district is focused on school safety, Mainka said. The district has hardened security at the entrances for its schools.

“Those have led to a variety of other domino effects, but obviously some things we can’t speak of due to safety reasons, but we have a number of security protocols that we train on a regular basis,” Mainka said.

The district uses ALICE for its active-shooter awareness program. It has increased its security cameras and formed a partnership with the Novi Police Department. The district is working on mapping out all buildings so that first responders will have interactive maps of the buildings and know exactly where a call is coming from in the event of an emergency.

“We have worked very closely to try and build transparent communications during crises and that remains a top priority,” Mainka said. “Keeping students safe is a critical part of our school district.”

The one negative issue Mainka discussed is that of transportation for district students.  The district has faced many challenges around the issue of bus transportation. The district has made many changes in order to attract more school bus drivers, Mainka said. However, the school district has been able to offer busing five days a week now.

“We still have a lot of challenges with our recruitment. We still have challenges with our walk zones and we are hoping to be able to transport more students,” he said.

The school is hoping to be able to reintroduce the after-school bus program.  He said the district is working “hard” to remedy the transportation issues.

“I loved the information offered by Mainka and just getting that information out to parents is really nice,” Beeker said.

Following the speech, the approximately 400 guests were able to attend breakout sessions on four different topics: master planning and construction, mental health, school safety, and the new Novi Meadows construction. Throughout the event, complimentary child care was provided for kids up to age 12 in the gymnasium. The child care featured face painting, basketball and inflatables. Around 100 children utilized the services.