Archive - Jun 23, 2010

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Tecumseh Car Show nears 200 autos as interest grows

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Jack Baker presented Bob Brady with the Business Choice Award for his 1961 Corvette at the Thursday, June 17, car show in downtown Tecumseh.

Another standout at the show was an Auburn Speedster (see additional photos). The Speedster models were only built between 1935-37 and boasted speeds of 100 mph.
Local resident Jim Dehring (see additional photos) shows photos of his 1964 Corvair convertible.


Scheick loses job as principal at Tecumseh High School to reduce budget

By DEB WUETHRICH

Tecumseh High School Principal Robert Scheick will not be returning this fall to the post he has held as principal for the past seven years. According to discussion at Monday night’s board meeting regarding administrative restructuring possibilities and confirmation by Superintendent Mike McAran, Scheick’s contract will not be renewed and that the district wanted to “look at some other options.”

McAran said that Scheick has been employed by the district for the past three years through PESG (Professional Education Service Group), a third-party employer, and as such, they are at-will employees, a plan that allows school districts to hire educators that have retired at a lower cost than otherwise would be possible because the district does not have to pay for benefits.

Discussion Monday night on proposed plans to help reduce the district’s 2010-11 budget included a recommendation not to fill the position for one year, but to split the responsibilities between McAran, Assistant Principal Dennis Niles, and Athletic Director Griff Mills. McAran and his administrative staff are expected to move to the high school yet this summer in another cost-saving tactic — closing the Administrative Services Building which is projected to save $45,000 the first year.

“We had to take a look at programs or administrators in programs, and programs are more important,” said McAran at the meeting. “So I hope the athletic director and assistant principal will work with me and we’ll try to run it [the high school] between the three of us. We’re down to where everybody is going to have to do some sacrifices for a year.”


Tecumseh School Board considers proposals to reduce costs for sports

By DEB WUETHRICH

When the Tecumseh High School Athletic Department was asked to pare $75,000 from its budget for next year, Athletic Director Griff Mills said he talked to coaches, parents, students and others to brainstorm where cuts could be made. He said different options have included cuts in middle school and freshman sports, cuts of an athletic trainer and various coaches and programs, and cuts in transportation.

“We know that we’re going to have to cut something and it hurts,” he said. “We came back together to brainstorm and there’s just no great idea.”

Mills said that the group looked at plans that would “spread the pain,” and include potential transportation ideas which could include not providing transportation, continuing to provide one-way transportation and having parents take athletes home, and no weekend transportation.

Mills said that Chief Financial Officer Bill Wright is “very good at crunching the numbers,” so after meeting with coaches, Mills proposed, “Instead of cutting, let’s try to generate more revenue to offset.” The plan would include raising approximately $35,000 along with implementing some ideas such as raising participation fees to $165 at the High School, $110 at the Middle School as one-time fees per student; increase family passes from $100 to $150, the first increase Mills remembers; and charge at the gate for baseball, softball and lacrosse games.

“We know on weekends we wouldn’t have transportation, and we would either fundraise or the parents could provide transportation,” said Mills. “I don’t have all the logistics worked out but really what we would like to do is not cut opportunities for kids so we don’t get short-changed on how many coaches there are out there working with kids and put ourselves in some challenging situations.”


Tecumseh City Council, commission discuss possible ordinance to restrict service business in downtown

By JIM LINCOLN

A special joint meeting of the Tecumseh City Council and Planning Commission was held Monday evening to discuss a proposal that would restrict the use of first floor space in downtown businesses from Pearl Street to Ottawa and possibly to Oneida. As recommended and explained in a 2007 report by Hyett Palma, a consultant group, an ordinance change to restrict any additional office or service space would help retain retail businesses.

Monday’s discussion followed previous meetings of the Planning Commission, council and the Downtown Development Authority, which has deliberated the issue with downtown business owners. City Manager Kevin Welch was seeking a consensus on Monday from the two groups for direction.

Director of Development Services Brad Raymond said there are three options:
Amend the ordinance to prohibit office/service uses on the first floor of downtown businesses; amend the ordinance to restrict the use to the first 40’ from the front of the business; or do nothing and retain the existing ordinance. If enacted as proposed, service businesses would be allowed on the second floors. In building with second floor businesses, elevators would be required, according to Raymond.

A majority of comments at the meeting supported a change in the ordinance.

Jan Fox, owner of Grey Fox Floral, said, “I would encourage first floor retail because once it’s gone, it’s hard to get back. Retail breeds retail, and consumers are reluctant to progress down our street (S. Evans). Having retail businesses adjacent to each other is extremely important.”


Resident questions city’s silence on officers disciplined in arrest of sheriff deputy

By JIM LINCOLN

At Monday’s Tecumseh City Council meeting, Kilbuck Street resident William Shell asked why the city was not being “transparent” regarding information on three Tecumseh Police officers who were recently disciplined as a result of an intoxicated sheriff deputy arrested last February for OWI.

The city has not released the names or disciplinary action taken against the three officers.
The issue stems from an incident on Feb. 27, 2010, when Tecumseh Police officer Darrin Briggs drove Lenawee  County Sheriff Deputy Kelley McCrate home from the Tecumseh Plaza.  McCrate was stopped at the plaza where he registered a BAL (blood alcohol level) of .19. Approximately 90 minutes later, the deputy was involved in an accident on Matthews Hwy. Two other Tecumseh police officers, Troy Stern and Chad Rogers, responded to the accident, according to  the Feb. 27 police report.

“It’s odd,” Shell said of the silence regarding the issue. “They’re public employees. Why is this shrouded in mystery?”

Mayor Harvey Schmidt said there are still issues to be resolved. “We are not at liberty to discuss,” he said.

Shell said if it were anybody else it would be made public, but because the police did it, “it’s hidden behind a cloud.”

City Manager Kevin Welch said,  “It is an employer-employee situation, and some things I can’t make public.” Attorneys have recommended withholding information, according to Welch

“Is council comfortable with this?” Shell asked.

“I am comfortable,” Schmidt responded. “We have employees going through a grievance process.”

City Attorney Laura Schaedler said the officers did not commit a crime, and said labor laws are now protecting them.


Understanding how the State of Michigan’s School Foundation Allowance works

By MICHAEL VAN BEEK

Michigan’s method for funding public education changed significantly when voters approved Proposal A in 1994. The nearly 400 pages of laws directing the state’s school funding mechanism can be complex and convoluted. A key component of the system is the per-student “foundation allowance” and two common myths pertain to it.
First, each year the Legislature establishes a “basic” foundation allowance ($7,151 per student in the 2009-2010 school year), which many incorrectly assume is a state grant to each district. It’s not a grant, but one part of a complicated formula that limits per-pupil funding disparities across districts.

Second, because each school district uses the number generated for it under the foundation allowance formula to estimate its annual operating revenue, many believe the figure represents the total amount per student that each school will have to spend for the year.
In reality, the school aid grant each district receives from the state only represents one portion of each district’s total annual operating revenue. Official figures indicate that in 2009-2010, total state spending under the foundation allowance formula was equivalent to $5,730 for each Michigan student. But districts do not necessarily get this particular sum; instead they receive different amounts based on the formula.

The rest of each school district’s annual operating revenue comes from an 18-mill property tax on the district’s nonhomestead property (i.e. commercial, industrial, etc.). The amount this raises in a particular district varies, and the amount is also included in the foundation grant formula. The combined revenue from this tax and the state school aid grant represents the total amount the school will have to spend for operations under the Proposal A funding mechanism.




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