2017-18 Annual Meeting summary

Posted September 25, 2017

The Plymouth Joint School District held its 2017-18 Annual Meeting and Budget Hearing at 7 p.m. Sept. 19, 2017 in the Plymouth High School Amphitheatre.

Tim St. Clair, Board of Education president, was elected chairperson for the meeting. Sixteen electors signed in and were eligible to vote.


Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Carrie Dassow gave her fifth annual report to the board and the community, highlighting work under each of the district’s four Pillars of Excellence:

  • Academic Excellence: All students and their parents work with school counselors to find their path, resulting in 85 percent of graduates being connected to a post-high-school placement. “This approach is unique and does not require that all students move on to a four-year college, but to ensure that each student is connected to a successful post-high school experience which matches their interest and goals,” Dr. Dassow explained. “This comprehensive approach of the Plymouth School District encourages all students to become their best.” PHS has seen recent graduates go to prestigious universities, as well as an increase in the number of students enrolling in technical colleges. Meanwhile, the K-8 curriculum helps younger students find their talents, increasingly exposing them to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. The district has developed a strong professional development program to ensure highly qualified teachers.
  • Extracurricular Opportunities: The district emphasizes extracurriculars because they are linked to higher academic achievement. New middle-school and elementary options are being developed, including intramurals at Riverview.
  • Community Engagement: This year, as the district evaluates its facilities, it needs community feedback more than ever. Analysis has shown that the structures are strong, but changes are needed to meet 21st century academic expectations. Dr. Dassow invited community members to help Fairview and Parkview celebrate their 60th anniversaries this year.
  • Financial Responsibility: The district has prioritized its facility needs, and next will conduct a community survey to get public feedback.

The district mill rate and tax levy are decreasing, Dr. Dassow noted. Plymouth continues to offer innovative programs and maintain its buildings despite having one of the lowest per pupil spending rates in the state.

Dr. Dassow said she is very proud of the leadership shown throughout the district: PHS students displayed capstone projects at the Plymouth Arts Center. Riverview students created mini-golf courses. Culinary arts, choir and band students earned state and national recognition.

“The comprehensive focus of our school district allows us to offer multiple paths for our students and opens the door to ingenuity and possibilities,” she said. “We are very proud of the opportunities we provide for our students and our strategic plan helps us to continue in this tradition.”

Dr. Dassow thanked the school board, administrators, and all staff for their dedication and service. “Finally, I thank you, the Plymouth community, for your support of this outstanding school district,” she said.

School Board President’s Address

Mr. St. Clair noted that the four Pillars of Excellence and their related strategic plans guide the district in providing the best education for all students, engaging the community, and continuing to be fiscally responsible with the resources provided by taxpayers.

“This district has done an excellent job providing a strong education with very limited resources,” he said.

However, Plymouth remains among the lowest 25 percent of districts in per-student funding, so the board has been working hard at the state level to secure a way for low-spending districts to catch up.

“We are hoping some of this work will pay off as we anticipate the new budget to allow for this catch up,” he said. “I do want to thank our legislators and our governor for hearing our concerns and helping to bring this equity back to our state.”

Mr. St. Clair also thanked district staff – “who are passionate and committed to our purpose” – and the community – “who has supported our schools through so many different endeavors.” 


Budget Hearing and Tax Levy

While the state budget was still being finalized at the time of the meeting, based on the governor’s proposals the district expects a general fund budget of about $28.3 million. The budget reflects an operating deficit of about $119,000, because expenses are increasing faster than revenues.

Electors approved a levy of $10,958,029 at the annual meeting, to be distributed as follows:

  • General Fund (the district’s main operating account): $9,328,452
  • Community Service (for Community Education & Recreation): $185,000
  • Debt Service (for payments on loans for past projects): $1,280,825
  • WRS Refinancing Levy (regarding past changes in pensions): $163,752

However, the final amount of the levy may change before the Board of Education certifies it in October, based on what happens at the state level.


Other business

Electors also:

  • Voted to keep the salaries of Board of Education members at $1,000. Board members also will continue to be paid $25 per meeting beyond the 12 monthly meetings, and a $50 stipend when conducting district business outside the district.
  • Authorized the Board of Education to engage legal counsel during the 2017-18 school year.
  • Set the time of the next Annual Meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018.