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Viking Longboat: Volume 15, Issue 6

Viking Longboat: Volume 15, Issue 6

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Published by haslettstudentmedia
Viking Longboat: Volume 15, Issue 6
Viking Longboat: Volume 15, Issue 6

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Published by: haslettstudentmedia on Mar 15, 2010
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3.12.2010 haslett high school 5450 marsh road haslett mi 48840 volume 15 issue 6
 The school board meets to make a very difficult decision next month. It has been discussing, debating and arguing over thisdecision since last year. Board members polled over a thousandschool district parents to get their opinions over the issue. What-ever they decide will impact every school in the district. Whateverthey decide will impact an entire community. The school boardmeets in a month to cut $1.8-2 million from the district budget.“I’ve been in the (school system) for 35 years and this is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” superintendant of schools Mike Duda said. The struggles of the Michigan government and economy haven’t been any secret for the past few years. The government fundsschools with the 6 percent sales tax placed on all goods. After theautomobile industry went bankrupt, spending took a nose diveacross the state. No money was coming into the state, so they statehad none to give to the schools. Many schools will not be able tosurvive this severe decline in funds over the next few years.“School districts are going to be falling off the cliff. They aregoing to no longer be able to afford to operate,” Duda said. “Theproblem is that there is no silver bullet coming. There is no relief coming for this whole recession. That’s the scary part about this.It’s difficult and all districts are in this scenario. It’s the worst for alldistricts and you will see school districts actually going bankrupt this year.”Last year the legislature cut $165 per student from district bud-gets; this year it is eliminating another $250 per student which trans-lates to about $2 million for the Haslett school district. A large fac-
by emma
Budget cuts.It’s a subject the school board addresses, teachers worry about and students as a whole tend not to know much about. What people may not be aware of is the severity of the deficit—$1.8-2million—and how it may affect all aspects of the high school.But the people who are aware are concerned.
Budget effects on student programs
 There have been rumors that student athletes will have to paymore to participate. Some students have also heard that they maybe responsible for funding their own sports.“I haven’t heard (about) sports getting cut, like ‘We’re not going to carry them anymore,’ but I have heard of budget cutsto the point where the sports are on their own to fundraise all themoney,” freshman Sam Wegenke said. “Their starting budget willbe zero and if they fund raise money and stuff, they can keep theirsport. But if not, they’re on their own to try and get money.”Math teacher and girls golf coach John Moore believes that the budget cuts will force his team to be more active in providing its own funds to play.“The girls are going to have to pick up some more of theirown costs or we’re going to have to do some fundraising or somemix of things in order to get things to go,” Moore said.One prominent issue the school board has to consider whenmaking cuts is how to deal with massive transportation expenses.Sophomore Tara Mahon feels that some of the parent survey re-sults could be used to incorporate less costly changes in athletictransportation.“It would cut down a lot of costs if you took only one bus foreach sport as opposed to two buses,” Mahon said. “For basketball,freshman and JV are on one bus and varsity is on another bus, soif you just took one bus, it would cut down on fuel costs and you wouldn’t have to pay for two bus drivers.” Another suggestion for cutting down on transportation includeshaving athletes find a ride home from away athletic events ratherthan providing two-way transportation. However, science teacherDan Kohler is uncertain that this would be the safest option.“Having people getting their own transportation back fromgames would concern me,” Kohler said. “Now you’ve got studentsgetting rides with other students late in the evening. That’s a reallybig concern.”
Tough cuts taketough decisionsTeachers andstudents react
by elizabeth
page 3
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tor in this hugedeficit is the lossof students in thedistrict.“The graduating class is probably some- where around 230-235. The birth rate is lowerthan it has been in yearsin past. The kindergartengroups of the last couple yearshave been somewhere around 165students, now you’re talking about a lossof nearly 80 students,” Duda said.In addition to a lower birth rate, Michigan communities arelosing families as they move out of state. “What we’re starting tosee and all school districts are experiencing it, is (we are) losing families because the parents are being forced to look for employ-ment outside of the state of Michigan,” Duda said. “I don’t knowif people recognize the fact we lost nearly 100,000 students in thestate just in the last four years. That’s a lot of students.” The lossof families across the state is a main factor in the state-wide schoolbudget crisis.Eliminating $2 million from the budget will be a difficult task todo seamlessly and unnoticed by a community.“We take this very, very seriously,” school board memberKristin Beltzer said. “These are not easy times for Haslett PublicSchools. It’s not easy times for the state of Michigan. We’re going to have to make some very tough decisions.” The school board must make these decisions fairly soon.“June thirtieth or July first of this year, all school districts haveto present a balanced budget to the (State) Board of Education,”Duda said. The magnitude of the situation has been under the radar of thecommunity in some ways. Many parents, students and teachersdo not understand the severity of what the district is facing at themoment.“I don’t think people understood the gravity of the budget prob-lem,” Duda said. “My sense is that most of us when we have thesekinds of issues sitting in front of us do not react one way or theother until the actual reductions come about.”
Budget cuts break bank 
graphic byandrew BEAUMAN
March 12, 2010
New athleticdirector to replaceGent for 2010
Promises broken: MMEscholarship gone and missed
Every March, juniors acrossthe state are required to takethe Michigan Merit Exam. Oneof the incentives to do well onthe test has been the MichiganPromise Scholarship. After thelast state budget was decidedin 2009, students no longer canreceive that scholarship. The Promise Scholarship was signed into law in Decem-ber 2006 by Gov. Jennifer Gra-nholm. The scholarship provid-ed up to $4,000 to students whopassed a certain grade level ontheir MMEs or by completing two years of post-secondaryeducation. The Promise wasawarded to approximately96,000 students statewide. The scholarship was put to an end in September 2009by the Senate AppropriationsSubcommittee on Higher Edu-cation in an attempt to cut theestimated $1.7 billion state bud-get deficit.
by jenny
“I feel really bad for thepeople who had the scholar-ship and got it taken away,” junior Lizzie Schab said. “Theymight have needed it to pay fortuition.” The removal of the PromiseScholarship is giving collegestudents a rough time finan-cially.“It’s disappointing,” saidCentral Michigan University ju-nior, Ashley Reisbig, an Ionia High School alum. “It’s making us come up with money that wedidn’t have to before. I know a lot of people who can’t comeback to Central because theydon’t have the money.”Students are in agreement that the scholarship was neces-sary.“There’s always someone who needs the money,” senior Anna Schlachter said. “Andthere’s always someone who will benefit from it.” The proposed 2011 budget includes a reformed versionof the Promise. Under the newbudget, students would receivea $4,000 tax credit for getting a degree from a state univer-sity, then working one year inMichigan.Until then, students haveto find other ways to get themoney.“I’ll have to push for morescholarships and I’m getting a  job this summer,” Schlachtersaid.Reisbig will have to resort to other methods for obtaining money.“I’ll have to take out otherloans or ask my parents formoney,” Reisbig said.Schab maintains hope forother scholarships.“I’ll try to do as well as I canon the ACT to try and get otherscholarships from the colleges I want,” Schab said.
 Juniors struggle to schedule
by bailey
Scheduling can always poseproblems and challenges forstudents. But when a personcan’t get into a class he or she wants, or if the school doesn’t offer a more advanced classentirely, scheduling can turninto a full-fledged nightmare. This year, many of the typical“senior” classes are filled withmore juniors and even sopho-mores. With all of the different graduation requirements for theclass of 2011, the juniors reallyhave to challenge themselves.Many juniors, including  Aaron Dimet, are not being offered the challenging classesthey need to fill their scheduleor graduation requirements. Di-met, who is currently enrolledin Spanish IV and AP calculus, will not be able to advance tothe next level. As many stu-dents are aware, calculus II andSpanish V will not be offered inthe 2010-2011 school year.“Two of the classes I washoping to take next year sim-ply aren’t being offered by theschool, mostly due to lack of eligible students,” Dimet said.One of the options for stu-dents in this kind of situation isto dual enroll and take classeseither at Michigan State Uni- versity or Lansing CommunityCollege. Students who attendLCC for dual enrollment willhave their classes paid for bythe school. Those who decideto dual enroll at MSU will haveto pay for half their tuition.“The worst part about this whole situation is that I canonly get high school credit forcalc II because the MichiganMerit curriculum requires (the junior class) to take a mathclass for high school credit theirsenior year,” Dimet said. “Ithink I could get college credit for Spanish V.” Junior Christie Hamilton, who is in a situation very simi-lar to Dimet’s, began taking Spanish in eighth grade. Shebelieves that the school district  wasn’t ready for an inpour of students who wanted to take anadvanced Spanish class.“The district didn’t expect us to go farther than this,”Hamilton said. “It was kind of disappointing because the ww- wdistrict set us up to take moreadvanced classes, but now theyaren’t offering them.”Dimet believes this problemcould have been fixed withsome planning.“It might help if [the schooldistrict] determined next year’sschedule as soon as possible sothey can let us know exactly what they’ll be able to offer,”Dimet said. With all the difficulties andfrustrations that come withscheduling, some studentsfeel the counselors are not in-creasing their efforts to matchthe challenging requirements. Junior Sarah Budde believesthat the counselors do not haveenough time to help her withher schedule.“They could work with usmore, and help us out so it’snot all on us,” Budde said.Dimet believes the counsel-ors are struggling to answersome of the student’s schedul-ing questions.“They didn’t seem to haveany definite answers,” Dimet said. The counselors are stretch-ing themselves thin running between the high school andmiddle school this year. Be-cause of the budget cuts, themiddle school no longer hasspecific counselors. They areshared throughout the district. That means the high schoolcounselors must help with new,much harder requirements andhave less time to spend helping the soon-to-be seniors“Scheduling is a frustrating time,” Dimet said. “But not offering classes makes it evenmore so. I’m just really disap-pointed that the merit curricu-lum ends up detracting frommy education, credit-wise. It should be helping students get (more) college credit beforethey graduate, not less.”
Current athletic director Jamie Gent sits in the athletic office that will belong to associate principal DarinFerguson next year. Gent will step down from full-time duties, but continue to help with event scheduling.photo by keeton
by kerry
 As the budget declines, the rumors grow tre-mendously. From teachers and students therehave been whispers all over the school of associ-ate principal Darin Ferguson leaving his current position and replacing the athletic director JamieGent. Other rumors have Gent and Fergusonsplitting the job half and half. The truth is that at the end of this school year,Gent will retire from his full-time position at thehigh school. “I will still be scheduling all eventsand contests while working at home,” Gent said.Next fall, Gent’s job will be split into threepositions. Gent will organize sporting events, dis-trict director of finance Steven Cook will managefinancial aspects and Ferguson will take on themajority of Gent’s former duties.Superintendant Mike Duda came to Ferguson with the idea of him taking over Gent’s job. Withthe problem of the budget being so small, hiring a new person wasn’t an option.“Due to the budget issues, we can’t replace hisposition,” Ferguson said.Ferguson’s familiarity with directing sportsmade him a practical candidate for the job. Fer-guson was a head basketball coach for six yearsand a head football coach for 10 years at theschool district he worked for prior to Haslett. Without hesitation, Ferguson agreed to do the job. “I grew up here,” he said. “I like this com-munity.”In taking this job, Ferguson has hopes of find-ing more ways to save money. He respects the way the athletic program is run, but he sees anopportunity to alter a few things and he is look-ing forward to doing so. No major changes willbe made, however. He plans to pick right up where Gent left off and continue the job.Beginning next year with the new title of  APAD (associate principal and athletic director,)Ferguson sees that the biggest problem will bebalancing time between both jobs and his fam-ily. Although he has the full title, principal Bart  Wegenke and fellow associate principal Andrea Rumsey will help out with the task of athleticdirector. He expects this will make the balanceeasier.During the day, students will see him in hisnormal office and also doing his daily attendanceruns through the halls. After school, however, he will move into his new office down in the athleticportion of the cafeteria.Everyone in the school district is making ad- justments because of the budget restraints, andFerguson is more than happy to help out. “Wehave a little more with a little less,” Fergusonsaid.Gent knows this is not a job for just anybody.“You can’t do this job and not enjoy it,” Gent said. It includes many after school hours and weekends, as well as dealing with new parents,students, coaches and teachers.
March 12, 2010
Spring play will be a “tearjerker”
by bailey
of the story is in the Czech-ghetto, Terezin.”Ezzo, along with support-ing actors senior Noah Timmand junior Lyndsay Manson, will be starring as the play’slead role. The angle of theplay is very unique.“It’s a very serious subject matter,” Ezzo said. “It’s a verysmall, personal show.”Senior Meghan Anderson,a newcomer to the stage, be-lieves that the small cast’schemistry will make for a better performance.“It’s a small cast, whichmakes it a lot of fun at prac-tices,” Anderson said. The play, though depressing,is also inspirational.“Even though it’s sad, it’s up-lifting,” Ezzo said. Anderson believes that whilethe subject of the play is de-pressing, it’s a story that needsto be told.“It’s a really moving play andit’s a very important historicaltragedy,” she said, “It will make you cry. But it’s inspiring andit’s a really good story.”Ezzo, who agrees with Ander-son, believes that the play, run-ning from March 26 throughMarch 27, will be a tearjerker.“Make sure you bring the tis-sues,” Ezzo said. Taking place during World War II in the middle of theHolocaust, this year’s spring play, “I Never Saw AnotherButterfly,” lacks a convention-al setting.“The play is a Holocaust story told through the memo-ries of a survivor,” senior Lau-ren Ezzo said. “The majority
Tough Decisions
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In order to assist completing this arduous task,the school board administered a survey to allHaslett parents. The survey included questionsasking exactly how the district should reduce thebudget, whether that is adding a fee to all after-school activities or reducing transportation. Theschool board wanted to get a feel for the typesof programs that were important to the commu-nity. The main goal of the survey however wasto alert parents with the crisis facing the district at the moment.“Part of the (survey) was to put some of thoseissues on the table so that people had an under-standing of how difficult some of these issues aregoing to be,” Duda said. “Hopefully, the com-munity has a better sense for some of the issuesthat we’re struggling with right now and the chal-lenges.”Overall, the school board is pleased with thecommunity concern over the budget issue “Wehad 63 percent of our people complete thesurvey,” Duda said. “We were hoping for 30-35 percent return on that and the fact that somany people took the time to get involved andexpress their opinion about some of these thingstruly says a lot about the community. They’reinvolved, they want to be involved, they haveownership for this district. They want to makesure the things they have come to enjoy here arecontinue.”Diverse opinions and values of the communitymake the budget reductions more complicatedfor the school board.“It’s not that black and white to be able to cut programs,” Beltzter said. “Some things like mu-sic are going to be important to (some) parents,some things like athletics are going to be impor-tant to parents, and some things like technologyare going to be important to parents. That’s re-ally very difficult for us sometimes to make thosecuts because all those things are important topeople.” The survey addressed the six main areas of district funding; technology, transportation, ath-letics, counseling, library/media and music. Par-ents voted on the areas they believed the district should make their highest priority. Completelyeliminating one area of funding is not an option.“Even if we were to examine each one of thoseareas in that survey, we still wouldn’t come up with enough dollars to be able to balance ourbudget,” Duda said. “As we work through this we are going to be seeking other avenues to lookat where we can make reductions and having dis-cussions with our employees to find out how wecan make this work.”Solutions to the budget reduction are in theprocess right now. The school board is currentlyexamining one of the district’s biggest money vacuums: transportation.“Transportation costs us well over a milliondollars a year. The school district does not haveto provide transportation but the fact is we knowit is very important to some families,” Duda said.“To say that we’re just going to cut transportationaltogether would not be accurate. We know wecan’t do that, but we’re going to have to makesome modifications in what we’re doing. Someexamples of that might be reduce the numberof bus stops that we presently have set up forstudents.” While the parent survey indicated the commu-nity supported making reductions in transporta-tion, it opposed eliminating it altogether.Surprisingly, the survey showed large parent support for an increase in athletic fees, as well asa fee put on all after-school programs including music.“Those are things that we will probably belooking very closely at,” Duda said. All Michigan school districts are feeling theburn of the recession. Partnering with other dis-tricts to split costs on services is another optionbeing looked at. “There is always going to betalk between districts in order to find some com-mon ground.” Beltzer said. “We did that withthe bus maintenance and transportation so may-be there’s some opportunities to do some otherthings too.” As decisions about the budget are made, theschool board’s main focus is still to do what isbest for Haslett students. “I will tell you this: Ithink we have as a school district by and largedone a great job over the years of keeping thecuts away from students. I think school districtsin general have done that,” Duda said. “When-ever we have had to make reductions in areas Ithink we’ve tried to make it as seamless and easya transition as we possibly can for students”Elimating $2 million cannot be expected to gounnoticed, but the school board wants it to seemthat way for the students at least. “We are alwaysgoing to put kids first,” Beltzer said. “We want a quality education for kids but when it comes todollars we have to figure out the best way that  we can provide that and sometimes making thosedecisions is not going to be very easy. Everybodyin our district needs to take a look at that and weneed to start saying ‘Okay, how are we all going to work together to make this work?’” The future of the musicand art programs is just asuncertain. Sophomore bandmember Monica Walker be-lieves band and choir have a strong impact on students’ livesand hopes they will not be af-fected too severely.“Both of the music pro-grams we have are really im-portant because statistics showthat more people who are in- volved in music programs goto better colleges and get bet-ter grades,” Walker said. “Andthey make a lot more friendstoo because there’s a social as-pect of it.”Science teacher MichellePifer also supports keeping both the music and art pro-grams in school. While Piferunderstands that cuts will haveto be made, she hopes that en-tire programs won’t be elimi-nated completely.“That’s the reason a lot of kids stay here…we have such a good music and art program,including photography andthe TV station,” Pifer said. “I would hate to see those go. They really produce someamazing results for kids anda lot of kids go on to that incollege.”
Budget effects on teach-ers and academics
One of the biggest dilem-mas is the future availability of academic classes. Junior PaigeGrettenberger worries that she won’t be able to challenge her-self and complete her gradua-tion requirements next year if certain classes are cut.“I’m kind of upset about the classes ‘cause there arereally no options for math,”Grettenberger said. “It’s not like I’m going to take busi-ness accounting when I really want to be getting ahead. Andthere’s no time to do a col-lege course that’s an hour, twohours long when I’ve got sportsand…other classes to study andpay attention to.”Cutting classes also meanscutting teachers. While layoffsare likely to be made beforethe start of next year, Pifer be-lieves that her position is safefor now.“I am a newer teacher hereso I am certainly concerned if there is going to be any layoffsas far as teachers go,” Pifersaid. “However, earth scienceis a class that is very muchneeded because it is part of theMME and I am one of the few who can teach (it). So I’m not as worried as some of the oth-ers who are in the same posi-tion as me.” As teaching positions areeliminated, class sizes will in-crease as well, which couldcreate problems for teach-ers. Kohler worries that largerchemistry classes could leadto safety issues when conduct-ing labs. Moore, on the otherhand, is concerned about howchanges in class size will affect students’ learning.“Classes will be bigger thanthey are now,” Moore said.“That means less personalizedattention and more lecture-for-mat with very little follow-up.It means the availability of teachers will be less becausenow if you’ve an extra fivekids per class, then that means you’ve got an extra 25 kids a day. That’s 25 more quizzes, 25more tests, 25 whatever you’redoing.”Moore also feels that the in-creased number of students willtake a toll on teachers.“It does affect individualteachers…how much stress theyhave during the day,” Mooresaid. “I think you’re going tohave teacher illness go up be-cause they’re just going to be worn out.” As far as students go,Moore isn’t worried about some of them. He knows that the top students will still suc-ceed because they are “aggres-sive” and active in improving their education and preparing for the future.But Moore is worried about the average students.“Your middle students, theones that need a little bit more,shall we say, prodding, they’rethe ones that are going to beaffected,” Moore said. “There’s just not going to be the time toget around to those middle-of-the-roaders that, with a little bit of nudging and a little bit of help, would do better.”
Opinions on the onlinesurvey
 While the parent budget survey was considered a suc-cess and will help the schoolboard as they begin making de-cisions, many students feel that they should have a chance to voice their opinions as well.“I think students should bepolled because it affects theirlives more than it affects theirparents’ lives,” Mahon said.“They’re the ones that will haveless classes and that will haveteachers cut from their school.” Wegenke feels that stu-dents, particularly high schoolstudents, have a better idea of  what they need in their school.“The parents don’t go hereevery day. They don’t have toexperience the things that wedo,” Wegenke said. “Most par-ents know what’s best for theirkids, but most of the kids at this age now know what’s best for them.”However, polling studentscould lead to skewed resultsbecause people may not beaware of the budget situation. There is also the potential that people would treat a student survey too lightly. But Mahonbelieves that students couldgive effective opinions if they were knowledgeable about theissue.“I think that students would take it seriously if they were more informed, like if we were to have a class meeting about the school budget andabout what we have to cut,”Mahon said. “Then they canconduct an opinion based on what they learned and (have)been told.” Wegenke, on the otherhand, feels that surveying stu-dents could have gone one of two ways, the first being lessthan productive.“The teachers could havebeen like, ‘Here’s a survey. Take it. Do the best you can,’and that way would not havegone by even moderately well,” Wegenke said. “Kids just  would have screwed it up just to make fun of it and just be-cause, if they got done with it sooner, they’d have more freetime to do what they wanted.”However, if teachers wereto emphasize the gravity of po-tential budget cuts, the resultsof a student survey could bedifferent.“If the teacher said,‘They’re thinking of cutting choir or football or the playand the musical,’ then that  would get the kids’ attention,” Wegenke said, “and then they would be like, ‘Well, if I messup on this survey, (it) might saythat I want those things to becut when in reality, I don’t…be-cause I really love and enjoythose things.’” The next three-and-a-half months will be filled with long discussions and debates as theschool board decides on thefates of the different schoolprograms. It’s not going to beeasy and sacrifices will have tobe made.“It’s just going to be a hard decision to find out whichthings to cut and which not tocut because there’s so manythings that are valuable here,” Wegenke said. “If you cut one,it might look like a small thing,but then there’s always theripple effect…When it’s all saidand done, it never goes downlike you think it goes down.”
Lauren Ezzo playslead in productionabout WWII andthe Holocaust

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