Posted Online: March 20, 2013, 10:33 pm

Funding uncertainties worry Orion school officials

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By Lisa Hammer, correspondent@qconline.com

State funding uncertainties concern Orion school officials, Superintendent David Deets told board school members on Wednesday night.

Mr. Deets said he hopes the state doesn't ask districts to take on huge pension obligations. He noted the Orion district is strong academically.

"All the main things you look for in a school system have been either maintained or improved," he said.

The board approved dismissing one nontenured teacher at the grade school, noting the position was a state-mandated "response to intervention" and never full time.

The district is likely to add a full-time teaching position at the grade school, Mr. Deets said, with 77 incoming first-graders expected next year. Mr. Deets said there could be almost as many kindergartners as well, with 54 already registered and more expected to register before the start of school.

Mr. Deets also said that Orion's unchallenged board election on April 9 may mean a low turnout. He noted the school facility sales tax also is on the ballot, with the proceeds from the one-cent increase in the sales tax only available for repairs or construction of school buildings.

He reminded the board that it's estimated 60 percent of the tax revenue will come from people buying gas and food along the county's two interstates. Mr. Deets said the tax would be a "tremendous boon to our facilities."

"The more our stakeholders understand it and learn, I would hope they would reach the conclusion to vote a certain way," he said. "It doesn't make any difference if 90 percent of our stakeholders like the idea if they don't get out and vote for it."

The board also:

--Noted Orion High School's first Academic Awards night at 6:30 p.m. May 13.Along with National Honor Society induction, the event will feature academic awards for freshman through junior classes and the announcement of senior scholarship winners.

-- Accepted the resignation of fourth-grade teacher Casey Wyant at the end of this year.

-- Granted tenure to grade school teachers Jennifer Maertens and Tara Miller and middle school teacher Jennifer Dean.

-- Hired Heidi Tschopp as middle school track coach.

-- Rehired tenured staff, nontenured certified staff and nontenured, noncertified staff for next year

-- Noted volunteers are needed for the next PTA meeting at 3:15 p.m. April 4

-- Noted eighth grade promotion is 6:30 p.m. May 24