2011-06-25 / Letters

Hopes To See Preservation Island School Should Find Creative Solutions

To the Editor:

While visiting Mackinac Island during Memorial Day weekend, I grabbed a Town Crier and the article “Island Prepares for Hearing on Districts: Purpose Differs From Guidelines” caught my eye. I perked up at the idea of Historic Districts on the Island and was stunned to see opposition to the proposal. While I am not an Island resident nor do I own a business on Mackinac Island, I have been frequenting the area for more than 20 years, exclusively due to its incomparable historic nature. As a child, I fell in love with Mackinac Island’s amazing historic buildings as well as the role of the Island in local and national history; this exposure to an area so saturated with history in turn generated my career in archaeology. Through the years serving as a Mackinac Island Governor’s Honor Guard and eventually as an archaeologist for the Mackinac Island State Historic Parks, what drew me back to the Island again and again was the ability to be surrounded by beautifully preserved buildings and living history. From the downtown businesses to Grand Hotel to the houses on the bluffs, everything is a slice of years gone by. I speak for myself, but I know I am not alone in that the unique history and atmosphere is an enormous reason I visit Mackinac Island repeatedly. It seems inconceivable and saddening to me that I could return in a few years to see the charming and captivating historic buildings replaced with modern, ordinary structures. It is certain that with the loss of beautifully preserved historic buildings will also occur the loss of what is essential to Mackinac Island. I applaud Nancy May’s efforts to establish Historic Districts and create guidelines for the preservation of these integral buildings that make Mackinac Island so distinctive and one of the biggest tourist destinations to Michigan. I sincerely hope to see Historic Districts on Mackinac Island during my next visit.

Katyn Adams Kalamazoo

To the Editor:

Did I read the school information correctly?

They pay $65,000 to 10 teachers with only 74 students in the building?

And about 25% of their pay to their pensions?

And another $20-some-thousand a year for their health insurance?

As a retired Ohio teacher, whose school paid me an ending salary of $56,000 after 30 years, with 30 different students every class period, I find that hard to believe. Our schools in Ohio pay 14% into the pensions. It would seem your donation is rather high in that regard, also.

I believe we were always expected to have back-up insurance on our own if our spouse worked elsewhere.

No wonder Michigan has money issues.

Have you thought of doing a country schoolhouse like the past, where Laura Ingalls Wilder taught half the students and her sister taught the other half? Physical education could be riding bikes around the Island, swimming, or playing in the school yard. And as a parent of a handicapped child, I can assure you that handicapped children do not have to have a special education teacher to learn. They need acceptance for who they are, period.

I hate to sound so critical, as I love the Island, but I wonder if you have looked into how other island communities in other states might be handling their smaller school set ups differently to be more creative with your spending. Some courses might be taught through online computer feeds with adult supervision to save money. I don’t like teachers out of jobs, but you need to have the best education for your youth with the amount of money you have at your disposal.

Marilyn Kraft

West Milton, Ohio

Editor’s Note: The Town Crier asked school superintendent David Waaso to respond to the writer’s questions. His response is printed below:

We do have 10 teachers whose salaries range from $34,000 to $66,000. Our rate for retirement is set by the state at around 24% for the upcoming year. We do not have a choice in that amount or percentage. Health insurance ranges from $10,000 to $24,000 for our staff depending on whether they are a single or full family coverage.

We have looked at our staffing levels and have made adjustments for the upcoming school year. We may have to visit our health insurance costs and compensation for all staff in the near future. We are required by law to provide certain core services to all students and some of those classes are through interactive TV or online.

I believe we provide a quality education to our community and will continue to look at cost saving areas in the future to make our school a sustaining institution for the Island students.

Dave Waaso Superintendent Mackinac Island Public School

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