Transportation to tech center focus of Harbor Beach Schools board meeting


HARBOR BEACH — Transportation to the Huron Area Technical Center was a main point of discussion during the Harbor Beach Board of Education meeting Aug. 19.

Although the topic was intended to be a small part of the agenda, it developed into a larger item.

Harbor Beach Superintendent Shawn Bishop explained that it may be advantageous to use Thumb Area Transit for two runs each day to the tech center. Currently, the school had been using district transportation and staff for the routes.

The Harbor Beach drivers take about 25-30 students on morning and afternoon trips to Bad Axe. The drivers then wait for the students and bring them back after their classes are over. By using TAT, Bishop estimates the school will save at least $13,000 each year.

Board member Dave Navock thought the proposal was not in the best interest of the students, the drivers, nor the school system and asked the board to reconsider. Navock said he felt the school buses were in great shape and the school had more control over their own drivers than it would with TAT and TAT drivers.

“I’m not knocking TAT,” Navock said. “(But) I’ve always been a fan of local school buses”.

During the discussion, each school board member joined into the conversation. After each had a chance to ask questions and add their thoughts to the debate, the board voted and approved a resolution that allows TAT to handle the transportation to the tech center twice daily.

While continuing with new business, the board agreed to close the 2017 Capital Projects Bank Account at Chemical/TCF Bank. The account was several years old and had been created to deal only with school remodeling. The account is now without funds and is obsolete.

The board authorized the issuance and delegation of the sale of bonds, with Bishop contacting the district’s two law firms — Thurn Law, and TFM Financial — to begin the coordination of the sale.

The board agreed to a contract with Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency for preschool to use the a large school classroom for the 2020-2021 school year. They will charge $10,000, which is the same rate charged last year. The rental rate includes all utilities and cleaning by school janitors. The board also accepted the resignation of long-time paraprofessional Sue Witherspoon. Bishop said she had been working for the district for 20-plus years.

Bishop gave a sports update to the board. At the time of this meeting, it looked as if soccer, cross country and volleyball would still be on the fall calendar. Spring sports are scheduled to look much different than years past.

The spring sport schedule will be divided into Spring I and Spring II sports, with football being part of the first program and scheduled to start in early spring, possibly as early as March. The second program sports are scheduled to include softball, baseball and track.

In a sobering piece of information, Bishop said one of the soccer players had several symptoms of COVID-19. Soccer has been suspended until after virus tests have been completed. The next morning, Bishop informed the Tribune the student had two COVID-19 tests taken, with the first test being negative. The district is still waiting for results on the second test.

The board of education accepted three donations to Harbor Beach Schools. Green Stone Farm Credit Services donated $1,000 to be directed to the FFA; Walmart donated backpacks with a value of $500; and State Farm Agent Kevin Rice donated $250 for PPE equipment.

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