With an audience of approximately 150 parents and students filling the high school auditorium on Tuesday night, Hartland High School principal Ben Mainka delivered his first State of the School address.
During the hour-long presentation, the new principal discussed changes that have already occurred during his first year at the high school as well as several potential changes that could take place during the 2013-14 school year.
“The first thing we need to do in our schools is move from a traditional model of teaching to a much more rigorous and engaging model for our students,” Mainka said. “If you were to see a classroom now and certainly over the course of the next few years, you are going to see students engaging in the learning much more than sitting back and receiving information from a teacher.”
During the question and answer portion of the evening, parents in the audience asked about the security measures in place at the high school and whether or not there were armed guards present in the school.
Calling the issue a “sensitive topic” in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, Mainka said he felt that the building was "much more secure" and they have had "many conversations since what happened in Connecticut."
“Public schools are gun-free zones,” Mainka said. “We do not have what I consider to be armed guards. Our head of security is a retired sheriff, and so by law he is exempt from gun-free laws, but at this time we do not have anybody who is armed.”
Expanded partnership and possible new curriculum additions
During the address, Mainka recognized school efforts such as pre-game inclusion efforts during home football games that he called “a big success” as well as highlighting a partnership with the University of Michigan-Flint campus.
The current partnership gives students the opportunity to earn college credits in the areas of business, economics and criminal justice and Mainka says they have expanded that partnership to include programs in advanced medical careers and pre-engineering.
“The cost is $250 per semester to attend- that’s best deal in town,” Mainka said.
Although many details are still under discussion, Mainka also addressed the possibility of the addition of new online learning classes, modifications made to the attendance policies and implementing a seventh hour to the school day.
According to Mainka, a seventh hour day is being considered in other districts, including Howell and Brighton, but explained to the audience that it would not mean a longer school day.
“What is means is that the class period would be reduced in time,” he said. “It opens up with more flexibility in the schedule, more opportunities."
Another addition is work-based learning, which is an opportunity for students to earn high school credit in a work place setting. Mainka called it a "valuable" program that he hopes more students will have the opportunity to get involved in.
New online registration and payments options will also be availble for students and parents, which should help reduce paperwork and long lines during the registration process, according to Mainka.
Parking issues in high school lot
For many students in the audience, parking was a big issue, with several asking for clarification on possible changes to pricing and space issues.
Sophomore class president John Moraitis explained that a student thinker group has been discussing possible solutions for parking selection, reserved spaces and reduced pricing.
“A lot of the money that comes from the parking passes goes to the security team which provides parking regulation and making sure the parking lot is safe,” Moraitis said. “We have talked about reducing the price for next year and that is still up in the air.”