H-PT counselors talk to board

HOUGHTON – It had been 12 years since the counselors of Houghton-Portage Township School District gave a presentation to the school board.

They returned Monday night. Houghton High school counselor Kristen Rundman, Houghton Middle School counselor Sierra Bishop and Houghton Elementary school counselor Kris Poncek came to the board to describe their work.

Previously, counselors were considered to provide ancillary services such as scheduling and career planning, Bishop said. After Bishop arrived in 2001, they began looking at broadening their jobs to include programming and prevention.

“Some of the key points that we try to work towards are making sure we leave our offices a lot and be in the classrooms so we can be touching the lives of a lot more kids,” Bishop said.

Changes in the district include more parent meetings, more testing, more work with mental health issues.

The elementary school has introduced the Second Step curriculum, which is designed to help students build positive social skills and reduce impulsive and aggressive behavior. The students are training in empathy, impulse control, problem solving and anger management. Poncek said the students are already integrating the concepts into their daily lives.

In other action, the board:

approved the evaluation of Superintendent Doreen Klingbeil. The board scored Klingbeil as “highly qualified,” the best of the four categories outlined by the state. Klingbeil scored over 90 percent in the evaluation.

approved $54,078 in security upgrades from Johnson Controls. Upgrades include lockdown capability, camera additions, an intercom system and an elementary lockdoors system. The upgrades will take place over spring break.

Business Manager Randy Ricchi said the money used for the project is part of the surplus left over from the $12.5 million bond issue, and had to be used within five years.

The board also approved $7,880 to repair the roof on the high school entry area and $9,632 to repair plumbing valves and a strainer for the pool.

approved a funding request from the Junior Statesmen of America club. The club recently attended a mock Congress in Washington, D.C., and will be going to Chicago for a spring conference. The club also won a national contest for designing a sign advertising JSA.

heard a report from elementary school Principal Patrick Aldrich. The school is in the middle of Reading Month, with a goal of 500,000 total reading minutes.

heard a report from middle school Principal Jim Luoma. Houghton took seven of the top eight spots in the Patriots’ Pen competition, including top four finishers Luke Kaarto, Sloane Zenner, Samantha Olson and Kate Woodford. The math team finished eighth overall in the state: Maggie Wang had the school’s highest individual finish at 15th, followed by Noah Gershenson (36), George Tang (72), Sam Wallace (73) and AiHui Yap (110).

heard a report from high school principal Julie Filpus. From March 5 through 7, the school administered the Michigan Merit Exam; the make-up session begins today. A dessert concert for tonight has been canceled in anticipation of the weather. On March, the high school and middle school choir went to Marquette. The high school math team went to the University of Michigan on March 8 and finished fifth overall.

heard a report from student president Rachel Collaer and juniors So-Jung Kim and Tom Strome. Student council seniors will be mentoring next year’s incoming seniors on different aspects of governance. A fundraiser for Bay Cliff Health Camp made about $100.