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St Thomas School Board Busy In Its First Year

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Education Group Scans Minutes

Officers of the year-old St. Thomas Board of Education scanning the minutes of a previous meeting are from left, Eugene Kelly vice president, Mrs. Walter Niemann, secretary, Bernard Ryan, treasurer, and George Simon, president.

St, Thomas School Board Busy In Its First Year

The St. Thomas Board of Education Constitution was passed at the board’s last meeting.

It was somewhat like cementing the floor of a swimming pool after it has been filled with water. In the year since they were appointed, the nine board members have done more than define their purpose.

The accomplishments include raising of teachers’ salaries commensurate with those offered by the Ann Arbor public schools in ’66-67. This necessitated a change in the parish subsidy and tuition.

In addition, the board brought about a revamping of the cafeteria system and changes in the school curriculum, including an expanded music and physical education program, and additional personnel.

They made an agreement with the City Recreation Department for the latter’s use of the St. Thomas basketball facilities. Community-occupational schooling, similar to on-the-job-training, has been formally established in the parish.

The board also sponsored a fund-raising drive and several social events. The drive financed renovation of classrooms, equipment and student facilities, such as lockers.

These changes would have come about, according to St. St. Thomas High School principal Sister M. Deodata, but not at such a volume within one year.

She, with St. Thomas Grade School Principal Sister Marie Patrice, Msgr. Warren Peek, pastor of St. Thomas and the Rev. Frank Srebernak, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish, are permanent ex-officio members of the board.

George Simon is president of the 1966-67 board, with Eugene Kelly, vice president; Mrs. Walter Niemann, secretary, and Bernard Ryan, treasurer. The other members are Mrs. Maurice Carr, Ronald Gallagher, John Hamilton, John Reidy and John Shipps.

Organizationally, they relied at first upon the bylaws and constitution prepared for school boards within the Archdiocese of Detroit. But in defining and carrying out its function the group set not only a pace but a precedent.

The Catholic school’s administration has historically been left to the religious orders. Lay school boards are evolving with the increased lay participation in the parish authority and with the growing complexity of education.

Sister Deodata traces the stimulation of lay school boards in Michigan to the influence of Father Olin Murdick, a superintendent of schools 10 years ago in the Saginaw Diocese. “Msgr. Warren Peek mentioned his intention of establishing a board in 1965 when I became principal,” she added.

Nominations for the original members were requested last November and 90 were received. From these Msgr. Peek appointed three to serve three years, three to serve two years and three for one year, thus setting the framework for yearly elections of three members to three-year terms.

They are responsible not only for determining but implementing the programs and policies of St. Thomas High School and Grade School, as well as all organized educational programs of the parish such as adult education and religious instruction for children attending public schools.

In these areas they are aided by high school and grade school committees of about 10 members each which meet regularly and provide liaison between; the schools and the school board.

Currently, one of the board's aims is to establish a working relationship with the public school board.

Elections are also on the immediate agenda. Nomination petitions with 16 signatures must be submitted by Sunday to Mrs. Niemann by persons who wish to run for one of the three seats. Any parent or guardian of a child enrolled at St. Thomas Schools, or member of the parish is eligible. Balloting will take place Dec. 10.