Board approves academy's name change; upgrades to baseball field

BALDWIN — Nearing its first year in existence, officials from Mosaica’s online Michigan charter school, authorized by Baldwin Community Schools, met with the BCS Board of Education to discuss the school’s marketing.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting of the BCS Board of Education, Mark Weinberg, the online academy’s head of school, gave a presentation to the board outlining the school’s marketing plan. The online school’s board also was in the audience.

Last year, BCS entered into a three-year contract with Mosaica Education to act as the authorizer and fiduciary agent for the latter’s newest online charter school. Under the contract, BCS has minimal responsibilities and oversees of the academy’s board, but receives 3 percent of the academy’s per pupil funding, which is approximately $7,000 from the State of Michigan.

Weinberg began by stating the school started enrolling students late in the season. By the time the contract was fully authorized in August, a new school year had started and Weinberg was in the midst of making the online school functional while trying to attract and enroll students.

“This year we are certainly going to be able to improve on that,” Weinberg said. “What we have done at our national office is increased our capacity. We’ve got people specially assigned in marketing just for the online group.”

The school began with 26 students, but has since lost most of the students, Weinberg said. The few that do remain, however, are re-enrolling, he added. The school’s original goal was to have 200 students enroll this year, but its new goal is to have 100 enroll.

“We feel that what we are doing is working,” Weinberg said. “We are getting inquires, we are getting Facebook hits, expanding greatly. I don’t have any hard numbers to share with you today, but by the next time we meet — July, August — I will have some good numbers for you.”

Weinberg explained the school’s marketing is largely online, on social media sites, their blog and through keyword searches. He explained the marketing plan is to interact with those who make inquires as soon as possible to attract them and enroll them in the school. Mosaica also is working to figure out the reason why students to increase retention rates, he added.

The BCS Board of Education also approved an amendment to Mosaica’s contract to change the school’s name from Mosaica Online Academy of Michigan to Mackinac Preparatory Academy. The change better reflects the curriculum of the academy, said BCS Superintendent Stiles Simmons.

Also during the meeting, the BCS board approved a request to repair the secondary baseball field.

“The baseball field is in pretty bad shape and it has been, I would suspect, since ‘99,” Simmons said.

The board approved the repair request at a cost not to exceed $6,500. Simmons said H & H Excavating agreed to provide the labor free of charge and the district would pay for the materials. The lake County Community Foundation also approved the district’s grant request for funding for a new scoreboard, he added.

“The plan is to have the field repaired over the summer, a scoreboard installed and then by next season, we will have a new infield as well as the new scoreboard,” Simmons said.

In other news, the board also approved the 2014 Senior Class Trip to Chicago and the hiring of a new secondary administrative assistant.

The BCS Board of Education will meet again at 6 p.m. on June 17 at the Baldwin Elementary School media center, located at 525 Fourth St. in Baldwin.