Char-Em ISD State of the Community report – 2023

Each year, Char-Em ISD provides a “State of the Community” report upon request from the Petoskey Regional and Harbor Springs Chambers of Commerce. Following is the report for 2023. 

State of the Community Report – Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District 2023

Northern Michigan’s communities are fortunate to have teachers, administrators, and support staff in our schools who are committed to providing the very best education to students in caring and safe environments. Char-Em ISD is proud to provide crucial services that support the approx. 8,000 students and their families in Emmet, Charlevoix and northern Antrim counties. Following are some highlights within our ISD and some information about the ISD’s operations.

Educator hiring and retention

Like most businesses and organizations in our region, the ISD and local school districts are also struggling with the workforce shortage. Teachers, classroom assistants, behavior specialists, and transporters continue to be in high demand. To help find a solution to this challenge, Char-Em ISD has joined a consortium of 50 ISDs statewide in a new collaborative called Talent Together. This powerful group of education leaders is working to find solutions that attract and retain educators, while ensuring the highest standards of quality. This innovative model will also make use of apprenticeships, a way to develop educators that is newly recognized by the United States Department of Labor.

Career and Technical Education

Career and Technical Education offerings in our region continue to grow. In recent years, we have worked with district partners to begin PowerSports Technology, Public Safety, Unmanned Vehicles, and Audio Engineering and Video Editing classes at local high schools. Several districts have expanded their offerings to include already existing courses, such as Construction Technology and Health Occupations. Char-Em and our district partners are currently hiring School-to-Work coordinators who can assist students with gaining hands-on, working experience during school, for credit. Articulation agreements with colleges and universities around the state continue to increase, providing local students with college credits before they even graduate from high school. Momentum for vocational training is at an all-time high, and we continue to express gratitude to local voters who support the career tech millage request every four years.

Petoskey High School offers CTE programs in Culinary Arts, Business Administration, Marketing, Automotive, Construction Technology, Drafting, Agriscience and Natural Resources, and Health Occupations. In total, Char-Em and local districts offer 20 different programs in 52 classes throughout local high schools that are accessible to all students in all districts. By design, this allows local communities the ability to provide programs that are essential for their economies. Learn more at our new website,

Regional Enhancement Millage – 5-year update

In 2017, voters throughout Char-Em ISD’s 2.5 counties approved a 1.0 mill Regional Enhancement Millage, which is the only way schools can generate additional funding for operational purposes (as opposed to bricks-and-mortar, new facilities, and more traditional millage requests). The 10-year REM is now approaching the five-year mark, and to date it has infused approximately. $30 million into the 11 local districts in Char-Em. Each district receives the same amount per pupil each year, based on the current taxable value of the region. Local districts use the operational dollars in ways that meet the needs of their individual district, such as bolstering preschool and early childhood programs, additional career preparation activities, eliminating athletic fees, updating curriculum, and much more. While the REM appears on tax bills as a Char-Em ISD millage, 100 percent of the funds generated are dispersed back to the 11 local districts. Char-Em is working with all districts to prepare an article about the impact the millage has had across our districts; it will be found on the Char-Em ISD website in April 2023,

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Plus (PBIS+) is a program that was initiated by Char-Em ISD in several local school districts which continues to grow. PBIS+ is a multi-tiered approach to providing social, emotional and behavior support in schools in new, non-traditional ways. The broad purpose of PBIS is to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of schools for all populations and needs of students. As schools play more and more roles in the lives of our students, it has become essential that staff are equipped to support students’ social and emotional needs, as well as academic outcomes. Led by Char-Em ISD’s Director of Special Education and PBIS Coordinator, PBIS teams are operating in Petoskey, Pellston, Alanson, Central Lake, Charlevoix, Ellsworth and East Jordan. As the teams continue their work, meaningful data and anecdotes are emerging of fewer behavioral referrals, increased engagement, and an overall improved learning culture.

About Char-Em – an overview

Char-Em ISD is a regional education service agency that provides approx. $30 million in services to our local districts in an area covering more than 1,000 square miles. These services include special education, early childhood, career and technical education, professional learning trainings, IT, transportation, business office management, instructional services, communications, and more. Special education remains a core focus, as we serve approx. 1,100 students with varying special needs each day from birth through age 26. It accounts for the largest part of our budget at approximately $13.7 million, which is utilized to provide direct services to students in local districts and in Char-Em classrooms.

Early Childhood is another area where Char-Em shines. With a mission of “enriching the learning environment so that all children have the opportunity to reach their potential,” the Early Childhood Department includes Early On, Great Start Readiness Program, Early Childhood Special Education, and the Great Start Collaborative. GSC staff are among the most visible in the community as they work tirelessly to reach families with resources that strengthen families, from free laundromat events to guided trails, parent networking nights, and the popular FreeCycle book program, among numerous other initiatives.

Char-Em’s two alternative high school programs, Crooked Tree High School and Lakeview High School, continue to make huge strides with teens who haven’t found success in traditional high school settings. Each year we are filled with pride when we watch graduates of these programs cross the stage and receive their diplomas, knowing their journey to this finish line was not easy. Dedicated staff at each program ensure that students receive the education and tools they need to start on a fresh path into the next phase of life.

In summary

On July 1, 2022, I was appointed by the Char-Em ISD Board of Education as interim superintendent, upon the retirement of Jeff Crouse. In September, the title became official and I feel extremely grateful to take on the role of superintendent of this organization. Char-Em ISD’s approximately 200 staff members are among the most committed you’ll meet. They rise to the challenge every day to ensure that children and families receive kind, compassionate care and a quality education; that local educators are receiving the latest trainings and information; and that critical services to schools are delivered in a prompt and professional manner. Every facet of this organization is remarkable in its efforts, from the transporters carrying the most precious cargo we have each school day, to the behind-the-scenes services that keep school districts operating.

These highlights instill a sense of pride in all of us as we look ahead to what we can accomplish, together, in 2023 and beyond.

 – Scott Koziol, Char-Em ISD Superintendent

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