Suttons Bay Schools Aim for Flexibility with Budget, Fall Plans
"We've been through our fair share of battles and challenges."
School districts and parents should get a better idea this week of what school will look like this fall. The governor is expected to reveal her “Michigan’s Return to School Roadmap” providing guidelines to schools.
The Suttons Bay School District is planning for both the “possible” and “likely” scenarios, and is moving staff to new positions to minimize the impact on their budget.
School districts have been under a June 30th budget deadline and many have already cut programs and laid off teachers. Suttons Bay is one of those districts already making contingency plans. Superintendent Casey Petz says their main goal in this year’s budget was “maintaining flexibility.”
Petz says changes are happening so rapidly from both the state and from the CDC, that the school district has to match that same level of flexibility to adapt and survive. “General changes in the environment are so dynamic and happening so quickly that our model from an educational and instructional delivery standpoint has to match that same level of flexibility in order for us to adapt. We developed a plan that allowed us to remain flexible and maintain the ability to make decisions as more information becomes available.”
Petz says they were able to plan for the fall with just one lay-off, of a part-time Special Education teacher. “It’s actually not a change in the service delivery model that will affect the kids. It’s just, kind of shifting around that caseload just a little bit.”
The Superintendent says other staff will absorb those responsibilities – and that includes reassigning the two principals out of their roles and moving them into the classroom. “Both of those two principals are being assigned into the classroom. One being assigned Special Education caseload, and the other principal being assigned ELA, which is Language Arts.” He adds, “A lot of the typical responsibilities that might fall on your Middle/High School principal and your K-5 principal are going to look very different. A lot of the work of a principal is related to behaviors in the classroom. And classrooms, hallways, before and after school.” Petz says if there’s another outbreak or schools have to close, they’ll need teachers more than building administrators. “Their time is much better used in front of students in a classroom for the model that we’re moving to.”
As a result, Petz will take on the responsibilities as the new K-12 Principal. Principal Bracey Bechtel is leaving her administrative post and going back to the classroom. She says teachers have been consistently ready to adapt. “I think the way we have things structured is the best scenario given the situation. I think whatever it takes we’ll make it work. Our staff have always just stepped up to whatever challenges come our way. I really have a lot of faith in our team to do whatever we have to do.”
As for the upcoming news and guidelines from the Governor – the Superintendents says the way they’ve designed it, they can adapt to whatever gets thrown at them. “We’re going to be, at the very least, in a different instructional model. Either with blended or distance learning, potentially with less students in the building at the same time so we can maintain social distancing.” He adds, “There’s going to be a lot of hurdles to jump to get to an in-seat model. But also flexibility in thought and mindset that if we go that route. How are we going to get out of that quickly if there’s an outbreak or if somebody gets sick?”
Petz is optimistic, but he says it’s all about planning for every scenario, including what could “possibly” happen and balancing it with what is “likely” to happen. “I hope we’re all back in school. But I also understand that may not happen.”