Outgoing Tawas Area Schools Supterintendent Jeff Hutchison addresses the school board at the Aug. 12 meeting.

TAWAS CITY – The first day of activities for fall sports and band camp usually signals the start of a new school year. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators alike prepare for and look forward to a fresh start on the scholastic calendar. Maintenance staff wraps up their summer projects, confident that their work will contribute to the educational process. 

Class schedules are set, new textbooks await distribution, and lesson plans are finalized. Teachers, aides, coaches, cooks and bus drivers are hired to round out the staff. Orientations and open houses are scheduled to welcome new and returning students.

However, on this day at the Aug. 12 meeting of the Tawas Area School (TAS) Board of Education, trustees faced a less pleasant task, reluctantly accepting the resignation of TAS Superintendent Jeffrey Hutchison, effective Aug. 31. Hutchison has accepted a position as special education director at Iosco Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA).

According to the district’s website, the position of superintendent has already been posted, with a deadline for applications set for Aug. 15. First and second round interviews will be held Aug. 19-23.

Hutchison, who spent 22 years with TAS, including the last five years as superintendent, fought through his emotions when addressing the Board about his departure. He said he has “worn a lot of hats” during his tenure at TAS, and was “so proud” of what the district has accomplished over his time there. He added that he was “excited about the opportunity (with RESA),” but experienced mixed emotions about leaving.

TAS Board President Anne Freel paid tribute to Hutchison, saying that she was “looking forward to the new school year, but not without (Hutchison),” adding that he should be proud of his accomplishments. Trustee Connie O’Connor praised Hutchison as a person who approached his duties with “the passion and heart of someone who loves the district,” and cited “so much positive progress” during his tenure. Trustee Shannon Klenow referred to Hutchison as “a great asset to the schools,” and Trustee Jim Bacarella reminisced that his first vote as a member of the school board was to hire Hutchison as superintendent.

In other matters before the board:

• Jessica Romzek was hired as a Tawas Area Middle School Title I educational assistant. Romzek replaces Ann Woelke, who has retired.

• On the recommendation of Clara Bolen Elementary School Principal Sarah Danek, Kristin Wood was hired as a special education educational assistant.

• Corie Del Rio was hired as a cook’s helper at the recommendation of Food Service Director Jan Sancrant. Del Rio replaces Natalie Appler, whose letter of resignation was accepted by the board at the same meeting.

• Sancrant also recommended, and the board approved, a price increase of 10 cents for school lunches, citing the PLE tool provided by the USDA. Middle school prices will increase to $2.10, and high school prices will be $2.35.

• Efforts to obtain funding for new playground equipment for Bolen Elementary by Danek were successful, as the board awarded MidStates Recreation the bid for installation at the meeting. The $41,392 cost of the project will be paid from a grant received by Danek in the amount of $22,268, and fundraising through the PTO.

• Members received several positive comments from administrative staff about the recent active shooter training which was hosted by TAHS. Several agencies took part in the training event, which provided insight to first responders, as well as school administrators.