Things Are In Full Swing for Muskegon Heights School Board

Andrew Trzaska | October 25, 2010

EDIT: The original version of this story  did not indicate whether Muskegon Heights school system is currently in line with current common core curriculum standards mandated by the State of Michigan.  The school system is in fact in line with the current standards.  The new curriculum discussed in the second paragraph is an updated one that has not yet taken effect.  The second paragraph currently reflects the clarification.

With the school year well underway and the concerns of MEAP testing nearly past, the Muskegon Heights School Board turned its concerns to other things at Monday night’s meeting.  S. Ann Lars, Executive Director of Curriculum for the district, announced early in the meeting that MEAP testing had some logistical issues due to the recent grade changes in the district’s many buildings, but were completed and ready to send off to be graded.

After discussing MEAP testing, Mrs. Lars reported on several other academic topics.  First, she spoke on the state’s new common core state standards that must be fully implemented by 2014.  The core, which covers subject areas including mathematics and language arts, is used in over 30 states.  The curriculum used by Muskegon Heights is in line with the current requirements, and Mrs. Lars says few changes will be needed to meet the new standards before they go into effect.

Mrs. Lars also revealed a new initiative she hopes to start in the school system to encourage high-school students who have done well on previous standardized tests to put more effort into preparing for the ACTs.  Named “Club 36” after the highest score possible on the ACT, she hopes to motivate and tutor those interested in college to achieve that magical number.  Mrs. Lars hopes to bring Club 36 into existence in early 2011.

More new things were reported at the Monday night meeting outside of academics.  Mrs. Arletha Banks, Director of Dining Service, reported that the new middle school Breakfast in the Classroom initiative has been successful. 258 breakfasts in line with state nutrition standards were served directly to students that morning, surpassing a previous total of around 100.  Board President Avery Burrell expressed hope that more meals would mean minds that were better prepared to learn. “It’s going to work,” said Mrs. Banks.

Three new staff members were also introduced at the meeting. Ms. Dynasha Hall will be working in middle school special education resources, filling a recent vacancy and helping to meet state special education staffing requirements.  Ms. Tiffany Vauters will be teaching elementary-age Spanish.  Last but not least, Muskegon Heights alumnus Angela Lang will be working at Muskegon Heights High School.

Two concerns were presented at the meeting by the board and others attending the meeting.  The issue of understaffed security came up, and the public concern was echoed by at least one unnamed board member, according to Superintendent Dr. Dana M. Bryant.  Nothing was decided at the meeting, but Dr. Bryant assured the concern would be reviewed.  Dr. Bryant also gave the council an update on the Title I evaluation that the Muskegon Heights Public School system received in August.  He stated that they have yet to receive and view the report, which ranked Muskegon Heights as one of the lowest performing in the state.  Improvements could be made once the report could be examined.

Only about 15 non-board members attended the board meeting.  Spirits were high though when the successes of the Muskegon Heights varsity football team were announced.  This weekend the team will play Grant as they hope to reach the Division 5 championship at Ford Field on Thanksgiving weekend.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst