TAWAS CITY – At the recommendation of Superintendent John Klinger, the Tawas Area Schools (TAS) Board of Education approved the purchase and installation of Public Safety 700/800 Mhz Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDAs) at Tawas Area High School and Clara Bolen Elementary School. 

The approval came on a 6-0 vote, as TAS School Board President Shannon Klenow was not in attendance at the meeting, which was held remotely on Feb. 8. Klinger cited the need for these radio boosters at a previous TAS Board meeting, noting that law enforcement and emergency first responders have experienced difficulty with their communication equipment while inside the school buildings.

The equipment will be purchased from Anderson Radio, Inc. of Bay City, who will also perform its installation. Klinger said that while Anderson Radio submitted the low bid on the project, the company also services other public institutions in the area, and are well-versed in systems used by local emergency first responders.

The BDAs purchased by the District will include Battery Backup Systems, external antennas, indoor drop ceiling mount antennas, coax cables with connectors, 800Mhz Amplitude directional DB splitters, lightning protection, and coax cable ground kits. The total cost of the purchase will be $50,755.35, and does not include roof penetrations or roof pitch pockets. The district will be responsible to provide for the external antenna feed through either an adequate existing portal or roof penetration by the district’s preferred roofing contractor. Trustee Mike Butzin offered to lend his experience and expertise to consult on that part of the project.

At the same meeting, the board unanimously approved Athletic Director Chuck Wren’s recommendation to hire coaches through EduStaff for spring sports. Jim Gorman will coach varsity baseball, while the JV baseball coaching position remains open. Varsity softball will be coached by Marcus Doan, and Pat Fritz will head up JV softball. Paul Aylett was tapped to coach girls’ soccer. Boys’ track head coach Scott Jorasz will be assisted by Doug Livingston, while the position to assist girls’ track head coach Brianna Griffiths has yet to be filled. Todd Kaems will coach the golf team as an unpaid volunteer.

By a 6-0 vote, the board approved the district’s extended COVID-19 learning plan reconfirmation update. Current requirements related to the pandemic call for TAS to reconfirm how instruction is to be delivered during the 2020-21 school year, receive public comments from parents and/or guardians on the Extended Learning Plan, and review weekly two-way interaction rates.

According to the update, Clara Bolen Elementary School, Tawas Area Middle School and Tawas Area High School all offer face to face and remote learning opportunities for their students, and families have the ability to choose which delivery mode works best for their child. Weekly two-way interaction rates ranged from 98.9 percent to 100 percent throughout the district. The GPA multiplier issue, which was discussed at the Board’s special meeting on Jan. 25 after a parent expressed concern about the fairness of that system at a prior meeting, was commented on by another parent at this meeting. Brent Hemker, in the public comments segment of the Feb. 8 meeting, said that when one of his older children graduated a few years ago, there were six valedictorians at that graduation. 

“They couldn’t give a proper speech,” Hemker said. “It really, in my opinion, did take away from the ceremony, which is supposed to celebrate and recognize all of the graduates that are there, and it became more entertainment at that time, when there were six of them there,” he added. Hemker also noted that the board of education does two readings of the student handbook every year, and that the Grade Point Multiplier has been approved in each of the last four years.

Trustee Tracee Behnke-Lentz was concerned that her statements about fine arts students during the GPA Multiplier discussion on Jan. 25 were not reported correctly in the newspaper. Behnke-Lentz clarified, 

“What I said was that the students who were pursuing fine arts careers, that want to do it after high school, during their high school years, they don’t have enough time in their schedule to do all of the classes that are currently available to them, because there’s just not enough hours in the day. So it wasn’t regarding what they can do and what those classes can count for after school, but their ability to take them during their four years in high school.”

TAS Board Vice President Julie Ulman, who presided over the meeting, noted that the Grade Point Multiplier question will be addressed further at the board’s next meeting on March 8.

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