Bids to be accepted for Bessemer school bus


November 28, 2017

Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

AL GAISS, left, receiving a present from Gail Maki, a teacher at the Washington Elementary school in Bessemer, for his efforts to provide backpacks and school supplies to kids in need.


Bessemer - The Bessemer Area School District Board of Education met Monday at A.d. Johnston in Bessemer. The board learned their latest school bus arrived Monday morning around 8:30 a.m., and was already being driven that evening. It should get put through a full days work starting today. With the new buses arrival the board agreed to post and accept bids for bus number 11, which according to Chris Bergquist runs well and has a good engine, but due to body rust is no longer suitable for transporting children.

The board received a presentation from Karen Kangas with the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District regarding the Early On Birth to 3 Year Old Program. Kangas said Michigan is one of a handful of states that are birth-mandate states where children with special needs in education are guaranteed access to special education, only Kangas said, "Michigan is the only state that underfunds the program."

According to Kangas the GOISD served 43 kids between 2016-2017 and between the two counties served by the GOISD, 26 percent of the kids qualify for the program. Kangas further described the different means children are enrolled into the program to receive in-home physical and occupational therapy, as well as speech therapy. Kangas described their effort to reach kids when they are very young so the problem areas can be worked on before the kids even get to become school-aged.

Emily Stafford and Gail Maki, Washington Elementary school teachers, presented Al Gaiss, former educator and board member with a box filled with rocks made by the kindergarten class because, "Al is a rock in this community." Gaiss asked Kathy Whitburn to join him at the podium and described the herculean efforts Whitburn has gone through in fund raising and community engagement to provide backpacks and school supplies to underprivileged children in the BASD.

Gaiss described their effort to expand the program through expanded recruitment locally and nationally to serve every kid in the district, so no kid has to feel the shame of not having something their classmates do. This new direction will increase the required giving in support from $15-1,700 now to approximately $3,500 for one year.

Jim Partanen, board member, briefed the board on behalf of the extracurricular committee. Partanen described the deplorable condition of some of the athletic uniforms and that after doing some digging, discovered some of the teams had not had new uniforms in nearly ten years and the girls volleyball team actually bought their own and did not wear school supplied uniform. Partanen asked the board to include $3-5,000 in the next budget and to do so yearly so the school can begin a process of buying new uniforms for the athletic teams.

The board described acquiring a district credit card. School Principal Dave Wineburner said he would like a new credit card, but he would feel better about it once they put in place safety measures to ensure the card was not abused.


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