School board seeks payback for fiber project
By LISA MEYER TRIGG
Almost five years ago, the Greencastle school district took a big step forward technologically by entering an agreement to install a fiber optic backbone connecting its schools.
The agreement signed with Cinergy Telecommuni-cations at the time called for an investment of $150,000 by the school corporation, that would be paid back if the company got the bid to run a fiber optic network in the city.
On Wednesday, the Greencastle School Board heard that the claim is being denied by Cinergy Telecom-munications.
Supt. Robert Green told board members Mark Kannowski, Barry Fisher, Jack Berry, Barbara Bryan and Mike Dean that he sent a letter requesting the reimbursement after Cinergy MetroNet received approval to run its fiber optic network throughout Greencastle. The citywide network connects into the school system's fiber.
"If they connected their fiber into our fiber, I think we have a strong argument," school board attorney Bob Rund said Wednesday. He said he will check into the issue to see if Cinergy is avoiding the obligation to repay the school district.
Rund pointed out that the contract with Cinergy includes an arbitration clause that can be pursued if necessary.
Meanwhile, the Greencastle Youth Football League has received permission to erect a permanent press box and storage facility at the middle school football field.
The school board approved a request from the league and high school athletic director Scott Weltz to allow the new building, which will be donated to the school system once constructed.
The youth league has played its games at the middle school field in past years, and plans to use the facility from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays from Aug. 1 to Nov. 25. The league now uses two fields at Deer Meadow school as a practice facility.
The new building will be able to accommodate a concession stand on its lower level, but the league has also been granted permission to use the existing concession stand and bathrooms next to the middle school during its games.
Kelly Lewis of the youth league presented building plans to the school board to show the layout of the new building, and the design of the structure. The youth league will fund the construction.
Also during Wednesday's monthly school board meeting, the board approved 13 personnel items, including hiring:
-- Carrie Hamilton as high school/middle school music teacher.
-- Lindsey Miller as middle school language arts teacher.
-- Denise Miller, Jarrod Duff and Amy Weliever as Jump Start teachers for the middle school.
-- Judy Birt and Dena Kelly as instructional assistants for Jump Start at the middle school.
-- Megan McKee as art teacher for Tzouanakis School.
-- Lisa Fredrickson on a temporary teacher contract for the first semester.
-- Jan Eberle as substitute teacher during the fall.
-- Angie Weeks as instructional assistant at Ridpath.
The board also approved the resignation of Henry Wallen as middle school custodian, and an unpaid leave of absence in November for teacher Amy Berry.
In other business, the board:
-- Approved new evaluation forms to be used for head coaches and assistant coaches by athletic director Scott Weltz. The forms were first presented to the board in March, and have been reviewed by the teachers association.
-- Voted in favor of Wes Wilson as the school board's appointment to the Putnam County Library Board.
-- Presented plaques of recognition to retiring staff members Geoff Price and Dan Layton, and to outgoing board member Barbara Bryan. Price has served 27 years with the school district, and Layton has 35 years of service. Bryan has been on the board for eight years. Also retiring, but not able to attend the recognition ceremony were Bob Berry with 24 years in the school system, and Judy Idle with 38 years.
-- Approved additional appropriations totalling $200,000 from the Rainy Day Fund. The amounts are $25,000 for parking lot improvements, $125,000 for the corn boilers and $50,000 for the retirement fund.
-- Approved a $5,100 donation from Deer Meadow PTO for the purchase of benches for the new campfire area at the school.
-- Accepted a $1,000 donation from Wal-Mart in recognition of Mike VanRensselaer as Teacher of the Year.
-- Approved bids received for milk and food commodities for the next school year.
-- Approved the student/parent guide for the next school year.
-- Saw in the monthly financial report that two funds were in the red at the end of May.
The General Fund showed a negative balance of $96,712, but has since moved back into the positive with the receipt of a monthly state reimbursement. A property tax disbursement is also expected by the end of June, which will add to that fund.
The Capital Projects Fund also showed a deficit of $449,860.36 at the end of May.
Supt. Green said he anticipates receiving the property tax draws on time at the end of June.
-- Declared some items from Ridpath School to be of no value, as well as some equipment from other schools. The items were either obsolete or broken.
-- Granted a request for early graduation for student Ashley Dunning to graduate in December of the next school year.
-- Learned that a decrease of $43,000 will occur in the district's Title I grant. That hurts the funding of salaries for Title I teachers and staff. Deer Meadow Principal Gwen Morris said next year the grant will be reduced even more, and the program might go away. The lost funding is equivalent to two teacher salaries. The board voted to approve the Title I grant.
-- Heard a presentation of revised and policies dealing with students and finances. The policies are available for review in the administration office, and will be considered for approval in July.
-- Learned that GHS has been awarded the Career Majors Competitive Grant from Indiana Workforce Development for Project Lead The Way. The funding will go toward equipment and supplies.
-- Heard that Tzouanakis Intermediate has received accreditation from the North Central Association without warning.
The school board regularly meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Miller Education Center, 522 Anderson St., Greencastle. The meetings are open to the public.