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Mt. Pleasant school district teachers make use of Teacher Quality Fund

MT. PLEASANT — The Mt. Pleasant Board of Education convened on Monday, Sept. 9, to review data from the district’s Teacher Quality Committee. The board heard from Kathleen Gavin, the district’s director of instruction, who spoke on how the Teacher Quality Fund has been utilized by instructors within the district.

Kathleen Gavin, the district’s director of instruction, presented the board with information collected the district’s Teacher Quality Committee, which reviews applications by teachers for professional development programs to enhance teacher quality. The Teacher Quality Funds, which come from the state’s Department of Education, can only be used for the professional development of teachers and other certified employees. The committee, which was created three years ago, has seen an increase in applications and overall involvement of teachers from 20 percent of teachers applying for funding to 56.5 percent in this past school year with a total of 161 teachers served. Through the fund, teachers can apply to attend conferences or do book studies on subject content or trauma informed care.

Gavin notes that there are direct impacts to the classroom through the programs the teachers participate in provided by the funds.

“Teachers are creating sensory spots for kids, which may have fidget items or include a meditation component to help students calm down … Overall, they’re just more patient because they understand the minds of the kids better,” Gavin noted.

The committee, which is comprised of five appointed teachers and five administrative members, allots funds to schools depending on the number of teachers in each building. Gavin explained to the board that the requirements for funding to be granted is very stringent. In her report, Gavin notes that “inappropriate uses of funds” includes “paying administrators to engage in professional development” or “paying teachers to meet licensure requirements.”

“It can only be applied to the professional development of teachers. There isn’t any wiggle room,” Gavin said.

At the meeting, board members also reviewed various bids for the Van Allen Elementary parking lot project. Superintendent John Henriksen stated that the school district worked with Warner Engineering Associates, who determined an estimate price for the project, which came to $59,949. The district received two bids for the project with Jones Contracting Corp. entering a bid at $52,777 and Wesley Barton Construction, Inc. entering a bid at $62,073. Henriksen recommended the board approve Jones Contracting Corp.’s bid, which the board did unanimously. Construction of the parking lot will include the removal of several trees and an existing curb. In addition to the parking lot, the board approved a bid from Integrated Technology Partners to update the district’s systemwide phone system, as well as a bid from Meller Asphalt for repairs to the district’s bus garage.

Ed Chabal, the school board’s secretary, presented preliminary fund balance data for the district at the meeting. In his findings, Chabal noted a difference of $483,603 between the 2018 and 2019 school year. Chabal will be submitting a financial report to the state by Sept. 15.