Mike McAran to retire as TPS supt. at end of next school year
The Tecumseh School Board conducted its annual evaluation of Supt. Mike McAran in executive session following Monday night’s regular meeting and emerged from the session to vote unanimously that they find his performance “effective.”
McAran told the board during the closed session that next school year will be his last, so his contract will be for only one year. McAran, 68, has been superintendent of Tecumseh schools for eight years, succeeding Todd Bingaman who passed away in office.
“In the eight years that I have been here, I’ve seen the budget go from $27.5 million to $22.5 million and the cuts that we have had to make have not made me the most popular guy in town,” McAran said. One of the criteria in the evaluation for school administrators is money management, and the board noted that under McAran the district revenue has fallen by $5 million, but no programs or sports have been cut.
This year the State of Michigan drafted and instituted the Michigan Revised Code of March 2012, which is an evaluation procedural for all school administrators and teachers. There are four possible levels of proficiency that the board could have selected in its evaluation of the superintendent’s performance: “highly effective,” “effective,” “minimally effective,” and “ineffective.”
The Revised Code will come into play in another case for McAran when he must determine which two elementary teachers are to be laid off. The board also voted unanimously on that issue, which was forced as a result of declining school revenue and enrollment, especially in the district’s elementary schools.
According to the Revised Code, seniority and tenure no longer figure into the equation as administrators make the decision about whom to lay off. “State law now says that you must lay off the least effective and we have to do it before June 30 or they remain on the payroll for the coming school year,” McAran said. He acknowledged that there is a possibility that the teachers could be rehired if circumstances change between now and September.
This school year, kindergarten enrollment in the Tecumseh Public Schools was 1,057. According to the best information that elementary school administrators have, enrollment in kindergarten for the coming school year will be 999. “Unfortunately, we have no clear idea of what the final enrollment will be. We do know that the State will not begin paying us until October, but we never know how much,” McAran said. “Meanwhile, we have to begin paying our teachers in September.”
McAran told board members that an unexpected source of revenue may be coming in the form of gas and mineral rights for the Sutton Elementary School property. He said that he had received a letter from a Traverse City company that explores and extracts gas and oil, and the company expressed interest in buying options on approximately 10 acres of the property.
It has been reported that the company sent similar letters to other property owners in Raisin Charter Township where it hopes that untapped resources may lay beneath the ground.
McAran has referred the matter to the district’s legal counsel to examine the ramifications of revenue from mineral rights.
Typically, energy companies will pay an amount for exploratory rights and a percentage of the profits from the extracted material. McAran said that no action will be taken until further information is forthcoming from the company regarding the methods and impact of exploration and extraction.
Although the income from food services has no bearing on school revenue, because food service is contracted with Aramark, a private company, the school board must approve any changes, and Monday night the trustees approved a slight increase in meal prices for 2012-2013.
Aramark Food Services Director Zachary Cohen told the board that the increases were directed by government requirements that stipulate “a weighted average paid lunch price that is equal to the difference of the reimbursement we receive for a free lunch and a paid lunch.”
If a school district does not want to raise paid lunch prices, it can use non-federal funding to cover the proposed dollar amount increase, which would have required a deposit of approximately $8,700 into the food service fund next year instead of raising paid lunch prices.
Elementary lunches will increase from $2 to $2.25, middle school lunches will stay at $2.35, high school lunches will increase from $2.35 to $2.50. Free lunches and reduced price lunches are available for students who qualify.