NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education elected officers for 2021 during its Jan. 11 meeting.

Charles Heit remains as board president; Heather Black was chosen for another term as vice president; Lisa Werner was elected secretary; and John Haskins was named treasurer. All were chosen by 7-0 tallies.

Earlier in the meeting board member John Haskins was sworn in for a new term.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie reported that elementary, middle and high school students resumed in-person classes on Jan. 4.

Heit later said he’s happy to see in-person education happening again and applauded “our entire organization for the work that’s been done.”

Leslie also said winter high school and middle school athletics are slated to begin practices on Jan. 16 with games expected to begin Jan. 22 (although he said the status of spectators at contests has yet to be determined).

On Jan. 13 following the announcement of new COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan the dates were moved to — contact-free practices for basketball and wrestling on Jan. 16 with contact practices starting Feb. 1 and first competitions on Feb. 4.

In other Jan. 11 business the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education:

Discussed a proposed Recreational Authority that would consist of the city and township of New Buffalo along with the school district. Leslie said an authority would open up more opportunities to receive grants to bolster facilities such as the baseball and softball fields (which are located on city property) and potentially help establish a nature center and a disc golf course along with many other potential projects.

Were told that estimated costs for a STEAM facility planned to be constructed across Clay Street from the middle/high school (originally about $3.2 million for the main building) have not risen as much as had been feared with residential prices skyrocketing. Leslie said he expects the facility to benefit many aspects of education beyond performing arts, robotics, and other directly impacted programs.

Tabled action on a proposed $143,446 bid/purchase agreement for the installation of skylights in the middle/high school building to the Jan. 25 meeting. Board members wanted more information and clarification on how long workmanship on the project will be under warranty.

Accepted a quote of $11,010 from Universal Sign, Inc., for middle/high school courtyard art and signage.

Approved an Extended COVID-19 Plan Method of Instruction for New Buffalo Area Schools of in-person and virtual education. Middle School Principal Bradley Brunner noted that about 20 percent more students have switched from remote to in-person learning for the second trimester.

Following a closed session the board authorized Leslie to offer an amount not to exceed $235,000 for a property on Lubke Road in New Buffalo Township.

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