THREE OAKS — The River Valley Board of Education was given an update on special education programs in the district during its June 24 regular meeting.

Superintendent Will Kearney detailed a special education report from Michelle Sykora (who was unable to attend on June 24 due to a family matter).

He said 23 percent of the district’s students qualify for some sort of special education services (the state-wide rate is 13 percent), with many of them qualifying for speech therapy services.

Kearney noted that more budget money has been allocated for speech therapy due to the upward trending number of students qualifying for such services.

Theories discussed on why more students are in speech therapy were discussed, including less parents reading to their kids and the influence of cell phones, texting and television.

Later in the meeting, Kearney said there are “a handful” of applicants” for a speech therapy position.

Also on June 24, Business Manager Brian Brown reported the revised fourth-quarter budget figures for the district as follows: revenues of $9,866,007 and expenditures of $10,706,698, leaving a fund equity of $2,521,796 (or 24 percent of the budget).

At its previous regular meeting on May 20 the Board of Education approved projected 2019-2010 budget including the following figures:

• Total revenue anticipated - $9,585,353;

• Total estimated expenditures - $9,708,376;

• Beginning total fund balance - $2,309,185

• Estimated fund balance on June 30, 2020 - $2,186,162.

Board member Vickie Wagner later noted on June 24 that the River Valley Blessings in a Backpack program (which sent food home on weekends with about 70 students in grades K-12 during the school year, including holidays) had completed its sixth year thanks to The Pokagon Fund and community volunteers, with the seventh one set to begin in September.

In other June 24 River Valley Board of Education business:

• Kearney reported that 11 students have signed up for a culinary class that will be offered in the next school year while nine are slated to take calculus.

• It was announced that Summer’s Cool and Day Camp programs are scheduled to begin July 8 at the Chikaming Campus.

• The cost of meals was raised 10 cents for students and 25 cents for adults.

• Tyler Haske was approved as boys junior varsity basketball coach; MacKenzie Bronson was OK’d as a high school varsity cheerleading coach; and Colby Caid was hired as strength coach.

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