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H-PT contracts with firm to hire Simila, Luoma

July 21, 2010

HOUGHTON - A month and a half after they announced their retirement, two former Houghton-Portage Township Schools principals are back in their old jobs.

The board approved contracting with Contract Ed Services to provide the services of High School Principal Kass Simila and Middle School Principal Jim Luoma.

"We contracted with a private company and hired our principals, and we're fortunate enough to have them," said Superintendent Bill Polkinghorne.

Leaving once she reached retirement age was always part of Simila's plan. Coming back as a private employee didn't enter the equation until her talks with Contract Ed.

Simila is back at work this week after spending a month visiting her grandchildren.

"Well, I do love my job," she said. "And this really would be a bad year for the school to have to get new administration. I've been here a long time, I know how things work, and I'm happy to be back."

It's also an exciting time to be at the district, Simila said; the Michigan Department of Education recently ranked Houghton as the 22nd-best district in the state.

"That's exciting, and we want to keep our momentum going," she said.

Luoma could not be reached for comment.

In other action, the board:

elected Buck Foltz as president, Nels Christopherson as vice-president, Mark Mohler as secretary and Dan Crane as treasurer.

approved a schedule for monthly meetings taking place on Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15, Dec. 20, Jan. 17, Feb. 21, March 21, April 18, May 16 and June 20. All meetings begin at 6 p.m.

designated Superior National Bank as the depository of general fund monies, federal tax deposits, the athletics and food service accounts; River Valley State Bank as the depository for the internal account; the Michigan School District Liquid Fund as the depository for general fund, state aid, debt retirement, and building and site funds; Michigan Tech Employees Federal Credit Union as the depository for the Gremlingdales account; and Wells Fargo Bank as the depository for the elementary trust and agency account.

approved organizational memberships in MASA, MASB, NASB, CCASB and the Legal Trust Fund.

approved annual retainer contracts with Vairo, Mechlin, Tomasi of Houghton and Ryan Law Offices of Iron Mountain as their counselors, LaPointe & Associates, P.C., as their attorney for special education matters, the firm of Thrun serving as school attorneys for school elections and matters related to school law, and Bruce Rukkila, C.P.A., P.C., as school auditor.

approved participation in the School Bond Loan Fund.

appointed Brad Baltensperger as representative for the CCASB and Crystal Verran as alternate.

designated elementary school principal Doreen Klingbeil as district representative in Polkinghorne's absence.

discussed the upcoming search to replace Polkinghorne, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Baltensperger requested that the board receive a list of superintendent search firms to aid with the search.

Garrett Neese can be reached at



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