Houghton-PT ineligible for Great Explorations

HOUGHTON – After 10 years, Houghton-Portage Township Schools can no longer be part of BHK’s Great Explorations program. However, the district will continue to provide after-school programs, Superintendent Doreen Klingbeil said Monday during the regular board of education meeting.

The end of the program at Houghton isn’t a choice, but a necessity, Klingbeil said. To be part of the grant for which BHK applies, a school must have at least 30 percent children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. As of 2011, Houghton was at 28 percent.

“If they put us in the application, that would immediately make them exempt, so we can’t be part of it,” she said.

The free and reduced number would likely also be a stumbling block for other grants, Klingbeil said.

BHK will work with the district to continue the summer program this summer. Houghton will run an after-school program on its own next year.

“When I was first a principal, we had an after-school program,” she said. “It wasn’t as large as Great Explorations, but we’ve learned a lot and we can still maintain an after-school program. It might look a little different, we may have to charge things a little differently, but we will offer something for parents.”

Klingbeil said she will meet with BHK and its financial advisor to work on setting up the new program.

“We will do the best pricing we can so it’s something that can be maintained,” she said.

In other action, the board:

approved $1,100 for a Model United Nations trip to Ann Arbor. Model UN member Christopher Held said the team would represent Guatemala, learn the nation’s stance on topics, break into committees and address world problems.

hired Melissa Grego as softball coach.

accepted the resignation of Laura Olson, who works in food service.

heard a report from Middle School Principal Jim Luoma. Three students qualified in the second round of the high school Michigan Math Prize Competition. Tenth-grader Daniel Gershenson finished in the top five in the state, eighth-grader Maggie Wang came in 255th and eighth-grader Noah Gershenson finished 520th. The Houghton Middle School team finished in fourth place at this month’s regional competition, earning seven medals. The middle school play took place last weekend: Twenty-one sixth-grade students performed “No Body to Murder,” while 25 seventh and eighth grade students performed “Ten Little Chipmunks.” The performances took in more than $1,600.

heard a report from High School Principal Julie Filpus. Cheyenne Kaufman advanced to the state Poetry Out Loud competition. Jada Riutta, a junior, was selected as finalist for a photography competition; only 8 percent of the 16,000 applicants were so honored. The High School Bowl team finished runner-up among 40 teams, and goes on to state competition in April. The girls’ swim team placed first in the Upper Peninsula swim finals last weekend.

heard a report from Elementary School Principal Patrick Aldrich. Kindergarten registration is coming up on March 20. The move to all-day kindergarten has been “very successful,” Aldrich said; reading scores have been especially strong. The science fair for fourth and fifth graders is March 14. There will be several activities for Reading Month in March.

heard a student council report from president Rachel Collaer. Two weeks ago, the council put on the annual Wing Ding assembly. The council will now transition to multiple smaller projects.