August 22, 2007
Parents of Onekama Students:
I have enjoyed my first year as Superintendent of Onekama Consolidated Schools. We have accomplished a lot and plan on continuing to move the district forward.
In the past year we have fully implemented the K-12 Student Services office and Mrs. Hagen made a brilliant transition into her K-12 principal role. The staff also accepted the challenge of teaching more sections of classes and individual members took classes and training to help the district maintain diverse course offerings.
The sinking fund has allowed us to continually update the campus with our newest addition of the baseball/softball complex, wiring for the technology updates, removal of a fuel and gas tank, and the grading and irrigation of the practice football area below the hill.
Mr. Peabody, our technology coordinator, has centered his focus on keeping Onekama on the forefront in technology. The new fiber optic network will be online in late August; he has updated three computer labs, and revamped several classrooms. The district boasts a student/computer ratio of 1.5 students per computer. We feel and recognized that technology is an integral part of the current students’ daily life and future preparation.
One of the school board’s goals for 2006/2007 was to access the current facility and develop a plan to update the campus. Frank Figgels was hired through Devere Construction Management to help oversee the process. GMB Architectural Firm was hired to help with the building assessment. A community group was formed to examine the current facilities and develop the needs for the future. After several meetings the focus became what to do with the 1930 part of the campus, updating the 1960 and 1950 portion of the building, and the need for another gymnasium. Cost analysis was done on what needed replacing, updating, demolition or new construction. In the end, the community group felt that a combination of updating, demolition and new construction was needed to ensure the Onekama campus would be viable for the next 50 years.
This plan includes, remodeling both the 1950 and 1960 portions of the building, demolition of the 1930 section and building a new gym and multi use cafetorium, as well as lights for the football field and a new secure bus garage. These updates would include updating security, technology, and allowing our student athletes to better compete with adjacent districts who have multiple gyms.
This issue will be on the November ballot and will cost the taxpayers $14,100,000.00. The millage increase we are requesting is 2.99 mills. Also, the one (1) mill sinking fund would not be renewed with the millage passage. In reality, the millage increase would net out at 1.99 mills.
In the past year we have “reached out” to our neighboring districts and have found ways that we can add programming for Onekama students through cooperation. During the past year our students participated in a full scale musical production “Beauty and the Beast”. We were able to offer adult education classes through Manistee County Community Education. Our band students were able to participate in a concert with band students from Bear Lake and Brethren High schools.
This coming year our students will have even more opportunities through newly formed cooperatives. Our students will now be able to build a house from start to finish by being part of the newly formed Building Trades Coop. This coop is between Frankfort High, Benzie Central, Bear Lake High, Brethren High, and Onekama High through the Traverse Bay Area ISD. Also, our students will be able to take A+ computer repair and programming and WEB design through Traverse Bay Area ISD. Students will get more opportunities in the Health Care field as West Shore Medical Center and West Shore Community College will be offering college classes to high school students interested in the medical field.
In athletics, our students participate in cooperative sports with Bear Lake (Cross Country, Track, and Football), Brethren High School (Skiing), and now Bear Lake and Manistee (Wrestling). The academic and athletic agreements allow expanded opportunity for Onekama students and also allow them to receive the excellent education that a small school like Onekama can offer. The fact that Onekama has a 100% graduation rate and graduates who go on to technical careers, military, or college signifies what the Gates study found; small schools effectively educate students better than their larger counterparts.
I am extremely proud of all the fine things that go on at Onekama Consolidated Schools and I would like to share a few things you might not know.
We are currently getting the grounds and facility, busses, classrooms, computers, and staff ready for the students return on Tuesday, September 4th. Mrs. Hagen, Mr. McKenney and I are getting your child’s schedules and teacher assignments prepared for the upcoming school year. We are happy to say that math, music, art, physical education, Spanish, English, social studies, industrial arts, history, and reading will be part of their education experience. Our goal is to have your child join the list of distinguished Onekama alumnus that have gone on to be leaders in our community and communities around the country.