Gateway Middle School Students Present Update On Tree Initiative

Gateway Middle School students (from left) Maezy Kirk, Addison Smith and Taylor Johnson update the board of education on the City of Maumee Tree Initiative. MIRROR PHOTO BY KRISTI FISH

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Maumee City Schools students have partnered with the city to increase the tree canopy across the city and the board of education was provided an update regarding the City of Maumee Tree Initiative at the meeting on May 22.

Maumee social studies teacher Mandie Bentz and science teacher Mike Dick, along with three Gateway Middle School students, Maezy Kirk, Addison Smith and Taylor Johnson discussed the partnership with the city.

“We’ve had the kids involved in selecting a place to plant, and Patrick Burtch came out from the city to help us out, so it has been a partnership with them. Dr. (Jodi) Haney has come out as well. We just see this as an awesome chance for our kids to be citizen scientists and have some community pride,” Bentz said.

The students pointed out the many reasons, not limited to environmental stewardship, for increasing the tree canopy, including the increase in property value for homes with trees, a hands-on learning experience and health benefits.

“Trees slow heartbeat, lower blood pressure and relax brain waves,” Kirk said.

“We also want to encourage community members to help plant trees,” Johnson said.

Dick said the city is hoping every student will have their own tree, which will help the city increase the tree canopy, but also provide hands-on learning, benefitting everyone.

“The idea that our students are working hand in hand with our city administration to make the community a better, healthier place, that’s sort of the holy grail of education,” Dick said. “We’re really excited about the project, and we appreciate all of the support we’ve gotten.

The board also made several decisions regarding financial matters for the district.

The five-year forecast was gone over in depth before the board voted to adopt it, said treasurer Paul Brotzki.

“We’re doing OK. We’re hanging in there,” board president Mike Wiley said of the forecast. “We’re still in the black for a little bit longer.”

“It is a solid forecast. It provides our community information that shows them we are very conservative, and we value the tax dollars that our community provides to us, and we are spending them in a very conscientious way,” added board vice president Stephanie Piechowiak. “The five-year forecast is always a work in progress.”

Additionally, Brotzki warned the board that the cost of natural gas would be increasing.

“I do sit on a natural gas consortia board, and we found out the cost of our natural gas is going to almost double. It is still cheaper than if we used any other major providers, so the consortium is working, but we do expect quite an increase in gas this coming year,” Brotzki said.

As for liability, fleet and property insurance, an agreement was approved during the meeting. The contract will begin on July 1, 2023 and continue through June 30, 2024, through the Education Purchasing Council for $156,855.

“It is the same price as last year. There was no increase, and it was the same coverage, so that was good news for all of us,” Brotzki informed the board.

During the meeting, the board of education also:

• Heard from Jen Pfleghaar and her son, Declan, during delegations and communications.

Pfleghaar expressed concern regarding fragrances and food dyes used in the schools.

She suggested the district look into alternatives, including organic and dye-free candies or not offering candy as a reward at school.

Pfleghaar also presented a book to the board that was read during Declan’s class time. He said the book made him uncomfortable. The name of the book was not provided. It did mention a transgender person in the sample reading provided to the board.

Pfleghaar said her son’s teacher said he could read privately at his desk, instead of participating in the reading.

Board president Mike Wiley said Pfleghaar could arrange a time with the superintendent to discuss her concerns further on both topics.

• Heard from Super-intendent Steve Lee. He reminded the board that the district is preparing for nearly 300 kids to attend summer camp activities on the campus.

• Approved the financial statements, cash reconciliation and investment ledger as presented.

• Approved a resolution accepting amounts and rates regarding district levies. According to Brotzki, it is done every year and authorizes the Budget Commission of Lucas County to place the three different levies the district has on tax bills.

• Held a reading and adopted two policies regarding employment contracts for administrators along with holding a second reading to approve a variety of policies.

The policies can be found on the district’s website.

• Adopted the English language arts course of study for grades kindergarten through 12 and approved the adoption and purchase of ELA materials.

• Accepted a donation from the Maumee High School Teachers to the Andy Bates Memorial Wrestling Tournament in memory of Emmy Bates and a donation from First Pres Maumee to Maumee City Schools for the annual Maker pledge.

• Held a public meeting for the purposes of the rehiring of Debra Eyre as the assistant to the treasurer and EMIS coordinator, after her retirement from the position.

No public comments were offered and the board later accepted Eyre’s retirement effective June 30 along with her rehiring effective July 1.

Brotzki said that Eyre plans to remain in the position for approximately five years and will be rehired at the same rate.

• Approved several employment nominations for the 2022-23 school year, including an operational seasonal employee, operational casual employees and substitutes.

• Approved employment nominations for the 2023-24 school year, including Chloe Stoller as the Fort Miami Elementary school counselor.

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