The city of Three Rivers and Three Rivers Community Schools both landed a handsome windfall Tuesday from St. Joseph County’s largest employer.
During a ceremonial check presentation at Three Rivers-based American Axle & Manufacturing, Mayor Tom Lowry was given $400,000 from American Axle officials. The city will retain $300,000 of the amount, while the $100,000 balance was earmarked for the school district.
Company officials said the donation was made based on a strong improvement in the auto industry, which has greatly benefitted American Axle.
Municipal officials said the gift will allow it to purchase new police cars while an exact target for the school district’s portion will be determined by its officials.
The Three Rivers American Axle plant has a payroll of about 900 employees.
Members of the Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education are in the early stages of planning to find a new superintendent after Roger Rathburn retires at the end of the 2013-14 academic year.
During their twice-a-month meeting this week, board members agreed to designate a Nov. 19 work session as a time to include presentations from firms that specialize in superintendent searches.
Next month’s session starts at 8 a.m.
The Three Rivers Police Department responded Wednesday morning to Three Rivers High School after being made aware of a threatening message posted on a social-media website.
Officers said the message was found to be left by a 17-year-old student at the high school. Though the exact content of the message was not indicated in a department press release, it did state that the student made references to use of a weapon at school.
The student was interviewed at school and he confirmed that the statement he made online was exaggerated. The student also stated that he posted the comment due to having anxiety and trouble adjusting to the new school year, according to police.
The incident remains under investigation and could be forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office for a potential charge of malicious use of a computer.
Today is the first day of school in St. Joseph County and public school districts across the state.
Locally, students in Colon Community Schools will see fully refurbished elementary and jr./sr. high buildings after a $15 million, district-wide building and technology upgrade was completed over the summer.
In Three Rivers, new principals at Park and Norton elementary schools are in place. Also, the district this year is introducing a 71-minute early dismissal every Monday so teachers may focus on Professional Learning Communities.
Sturgis Public Schools, the largest district in the county, will delay its start by an hour every Thursday for the same purpose. The district this year also has issued iPads to every high school student to help transform their academics, Superintendent Tom Langdon said.
Meanwhile, teacher contracts are settled in only four districts in the county: Sturgis, Three Rivers, Constantine and White Pigeon.
Burr Oak’s Terry Conklin returns as the dean of St. Joseph County’s superintendents, as he is starting his 20th year in that position in Burr Oak.
In addition, Rob Kuhlman is beginning his third year as the only two-district superintendent in Southwest Michigan. He was hired in May 2010 to oversee Mendon and Centreville school districts.
St. Joseph County Clerk Pattie Bender is advising the public that petitions for candidates to area school boards of education, Glen Oaks Community College Board of Trustees and village councils are due by 4 p.m. Aug. 14.
All positions will be elected in the Nov. 6 general election.
Bender said candidates wishing to run for school board in Burr Oak, Centreville, Colon, Constantine, Mendon, Nottawa and White Pigeon and all village council candidates need to file a minimum of six signatures and a maximum of 20.
Board candidates for Sturgis, Three Rivers and Glen Oaks need a minimum of 40 signatures and a maximum of 100 signatures.
All petitions are to be filed in the county clerk’s office.
Members of the Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education have expressed an interest in looking at consolidating business-office duties with other districts in the county.
The concept is not unprecedented, as Mendon and Centreville school districts currently operate under a joint business office.
Three Rivers Superintendent Roger Rathburn said potential retirements within the district in the next few years present an opportunity to consider the proposal.
Other districts within St. Joseph County have also indicated an interest in exploring the potential concept.