Tuesday, October 04, 2005

South Dearborn School Board Meeting - 10/03/05

1. Minutes Approved

2. Resolution unanimously approved to give Todd Bowers, South Dearborn Middle School Principal, power to act as an agent on behalf of South Dearborn Community School Corporation in small claims court for the purpose of suing parents who have not paid the book rental fees.

3. Resolution unanimously approved to give Tom Book, Superintendent of South Dearborn Community Schools, authority to reduce lines one and two of the budget at the Tax Board Hearing. (I believe lines one and two of the budget are Instruction Regular Programs and Instruction Special Programs...in other words they fund teacher salaries. In my opinion other areas of the budget should be trimmed...not any direct student services.)

4. Crystal Lewis was hired to a Drill Team position. Unanimously approved.

5. The proposal to hire Kristen Magic to a Drill Team position was unanimously tabled. The Board had concerns about her parents being listed as her only references. They also had concerns about her age. They wanted a more complete application and more information before approving her appointment.

6. It was proposed Seth Ketchum, the brother of current head football coach, be hired as the Freshman Basketball Coach, an assistant position to Coach Archer. Seth is currently serving as an assistant football coach.

Sue Cutter raised concerns that the same application used to hire him as a football assistant was presented for the Basketball Position. The board knows nothing of his basketball qualifications.

A motion was made to table the resolution to hire Seth Ketchum.

The point was made that conditioning for basketball has already started.

Terry Luhrsen pointed out that Head Coaches have been told to hire who they want.

The main problem with the hire was a matter of paperwork.

Gene Ferguson expressed his disapproval that Rob Morehead (SDHS Principal) and Foster Harris (SDHS Athletic Director) had sent a recommendation to hire this individual with incomplete paperwork.

Tom Book pointed out that practice in the past has been to use applications on file to assign lay coaches to other duties after their initial hire.

Karla Raab spoke in defense of the Principals stating they have been working under considerable hardship this year. They lost an assistant principal to an injury and they have also been dealing with the construction. (My opinion...short and long term disability insurance should be paying the injured principal. If the position is essential another individual should have been hired as an acting associate principal. This should not have had an impact on the corporation budget.)

Terry Luhrsen expressed his concern that failing to hire this individual would hurt the kids. He doesn’t want that to happen.

Daryl Cutter said the coach had previously been approved and it wasn’t necessary to approve him for this second position. (It is a different position. A different job. Since he has already been approved once perhaps he can also fill the position as a drill team instructor. The board knows even less about his basketball qualifications, than they knew about Ms. Magic’s Drill Team Qualifications. What they know is Mr. Archer wanted to hire Seth Ketchum and Mr. Reynolds wanted to hire Ms. Magic. Is this a double standard?)

Rodger Ullrich stated he didn’t recall ever bringing a coach back to the board to be re-approved. (I recall the board meeting they failed to extend the Basketball Coaching Contract of an individual with several boys on his team who wanted to speak in defense of their Coach. Wasn’t that bringing a coach back to the board to be re-approved?)

The motion to table failed and the board aloud the hire of Seth Ketchum as a Basketball Coach.

7. The motion to Pay vouchers was unanimously approved.

8. The Post Secondary Enrollment Policy recommended by the Indiana School Board’s Association was noted and board members were asked to review the policy for later approval. (This policy was not read aloud. Perhaps it should be. The public will be unaware of what policy the board has passed if they fail to share it with the public.)

9. Construction Report.

Pool was promised complete by October 1. There is water in the pool and it is being tested. The carpet and tile has been and is being cleaned. Construction work is still ongoing in the area. But it has been said the pool would be ready next week. (That is October 10.)

From the discussion regarding installation of glass it appears the Gymnasium will not be complete by the start of Basketball Season.

Verkler representative stated they have begun working with the Bonding Agency with regards to the Glazing Company. (Due to delays.)

Lurhsen insisted temporary glass be installed at no additional cost to the Corporation and the Gymnasium be ready by November 1st.

Lurhsen and Ferguson both expressed concern about Epoxy being applied in the building at this time. Individuals have told them it is making people sick.

Change Orders were briefly discussed, but costs were not shared with the public.

10. Drawings for Aurora Water Tower Easement with ingress and egress were supplied by Corporation Attorney Kim Smaltz. (Note she is also Aurora City Attorney.)

Resolution was unanimously passed to give Bob Rollins authority to execute the Mylar.

(This is the water tower that South Dearborn is contributing land and money to build. It will also raise Aurora Water Rates. This water tower will be in Hogan Township. Hogan has a water company too. What are the implications?)

11. Dearborn Community Foundation awarded a $750,000 Lilly Grant to help the three school corporations improve attendance and reduce drop out rate.

12. The Career Center has a promotional CD showcasing their programs. Mr. Book offered to allow board members to borrow it.

13. Enrollment report is complete. The ADM (Average Daily Membership...Kindergarten children are counted as 1/2 a student) is down by 62 1/2 students. This is a 2% drop from last year. It was noted last year there was a 50 student increase in the ADM from the year before.

Drops in enrollment at Moorse Hill and Aurora were noted. Also the graduation of a large class.

Daryl Cutter looked at drops in enrollment from last years freshmen class to this years sophomore class and etc. These drops were not large, but they were significant.

Both Daryl Cutter and Pat Rahe were concerned with the Drop Out Rate. Rahe wanted to know what reasons were being given in the exit interviews for the drop outs. Tom Book assumed the interviews were happening and the question was being asked, but he didn’t know the answer. (Reducing the Drop Out Rate was voted the number one priority of the board. Shouldn’t Mr. Book be exploring this?)

Karla Raab wants the Trimester Schedule revisited. The principals of the Middle and High Schools have been asked to bring information to the board about the trimester schedule. (Trimesters are very unpopular with many parents and some teachers. High School ISTEP scores continue to hover below average and so do SAT scores.)

Pat Rahe said we can do better with quality.

Karla Raab thinks a Gifted and Talented Instructor could bring students back to our schools. She wants the school to be best for all of the students. (In my opinion, One Gifted and Talented Instructor for 1,500 elementary school students can not solve this problem. Class size needs to be decreased in some grades and schools, And for part of the day, everyday, in each elementary school students need to be grouped with students of like ability to be instructed in Language Arts and Math at the appropriate level.)

Rahe wants our graduates better prepared to write. She spoke of a former student who thought she was well prepared for college level writing but found she was not.

Raab would like to see the formation of a school improvement group including citizens, teachers, administrators and board members.

Book dismissed the idea...saying it had already been done with public law 221.

Raab’s concern seemed to be more community involvement.

Gene Ferguson stated that he thinks that “overwhelmingly the community is pleased” with the quality of education South Dearborn is providing. His communication indicated that in our community the children are not capable of reaching that higher level.

Rahe expressed concerns about getting parents motivated to help their children. (In my opinion it is the school’s responsibility to provide a first class education for every child regardless of the level of parent cooperation, socioeconomic status or involvement.)

Lurhsen wanted to know what all day kindergarten would cost. Book said five teachers would need to be hired. Administrators acted as if the money couldn’t be found. Daryl Cutter said class size would have to go up in other areas. (They ignored the fact that the state does provide grants for full day kindergarten.)

Raab (a certified Kindergarten Teacher) said all day kindergarten is difficult for the age. (Several years ago the kindergarten teachers recommended a 5 1/2 hour extended kindergarten program. That is what our children need. They don’t need all day. Parents may need it for Day Care purposes, but children do not.)

Heller (administrative assistant to Book) talked about all day kindergarten providing more Art, Music and Socialization. (That is exactly was Kindergarten Students need. They already have too much ABC and 123. If our students are to succeed, we must be age appropriate.)

Bob Rollins (administrative assistant) said we need a little of all of these things...full day kindergarten, nurses in every building, and guidance councilors. But there is a difference between what we need and our ability to pay for it.

(Please don’t forget they just issued Bonds that sold at over 40 million dollars for a building project that adds no new programs and no new building capacity. The board approved budget has a $3.147 million increase in capital project funding and a $1.215 million increase in debt service funding. Before this building project South Dearborn already had more debt than 90 percent of Indiana Schools and 11 cents of every dollar spent per pupil was going towards debt service. The $4.362 million dollar increase in this years budget related to this building project could have gone a VERY LONG WAY to improve direct student services.)

14. Mr. Book told the Board the Wilson Center is an education service center that does much more than rent films and videos. It helps the school buy certain equipment and supplies at a discount.

15. Next Board Meeting November 7 will be help at 7:30 at Aurora Elementary School.

The public will be invited to share with the board what they would like done with Aurora Elementary School when the building is vacated.

Board members indicated many organizations want the building, but don’t want to pay for it. One board member actually was approached by someone who wanted to buy it.

(At the Tax Board Meeting in Indianapolis where the building project was given funding approval. A member of that Board stated the building must be offered to the township at no cost if it was acquired from the township at the time schools were consolidated.)

The board wants to make it known, there are “no done deals.”

(Prepared by Karen Loveland)

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