"After much thought, deliberation and prayer, I have decided to retire on June 30, 2009," Pride read from his letter addressed to the board. "I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to serve the North Putnam Community School Corporation for the last 15 years."
However, Pride isn't the only staff member who will be calling it quits at year's end. The board also accepted the retirements Bainbridge Elementary teacher Judith Blaydes, effective at the end of the school year, and that of Roachdale Elementary principal Helen Blubaum, effective June 30.
"I am so grateful to have been able to work with the outstanding professional faculty and staff of Roachdale Elementary," read Blubaum's letter. "I had a vision for the school and the staff and I have worked through that vision to strengthen and educate our young people."
"The three individuals retiring will be greatly missed by our school corporation," Board President Debbie Sillery said.
While Pride will be leaving the active service of the school system, he and wife Sara have plans to continue to help college-bound graduates of North Putnam High School.
"Upon my retirement, Sara and I will establish a scholarship in our names administered through the Putnam County Community Foundation. The scholarship will be awarded each year to one of our graduating seniors and will serve as our way of giving back to the students of this community."
With the need to find a new superintendent for the 2009-10 school year, the board will be meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 5 to begin the search.
With the school system having reported some disappointing ISTEP scores for this school year, much of the rather lengthy meeting Thursday was spent with the individual school administrators reporting their scores and some of the trends and possible causes they see for the scores.
A major question raised by board member Carl Blau was whether or not block scheduling is part of the cause for the lower scores. A number of administrators addressed the issue, saying it is possible to have success in block scheduling, in trimesters or in traditional schedules.
"It's a curriculum issue. It's an instructional issue. Schedule probably plays some part," high school principal Alan Zerkel said.
Across the board, all the principals expressed that their staffs are working hard and that the classroom standards seem to coincide with state standards, as there is a strong correlation between ISTEP pass/fail rates and classroom grades.
Dan Sulkoske of Kramer Companies spoke to the board regarding quotes on the costs of various repairs to the corporation's building. Among these concerns are heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as plumbing and roof issues.
Sulkoske brought a number of recommendations to the board on how they should proceed with building and repair plans if they want to get anything started by summer. The board, however, is leery of any moves forward until they have a better grasp of the availability of finances for the projects.
"Before we get any financing figures in, it seems useless to meet with contractors or engineers," board member Dale McGaughey said.
The board is also unsure about retaining Kramer's services as they move forward with the project. Neither a designer nor a contractor, the company's role would be as owner's representative, making sure the architects and contractors remain accountable.
The board members, though, are questioning how they make sure Kramer is accountable.
With this in mind, the board asked the Sulkoske work with corporation attorney Gene Hostetter to establish a contract with guidelines for what Kramer would be expected to provide.
When board members had their opportunity to bring up issues, Blau also expressed his concern about Greencastle School Corporation leaving the Old National Trail cooperative.
"Do they know something we don't know?" Blau asked. "And is that going to affect our cost?"
In response to his questions, Pride said North Putnam reviews its relationship with Old National Trail on a yearly basis, and he believes it is in their best interest to remain a part of the group.
"I don't know what information Dr. (Robert) Green or Greencastle is privy to, but I don't think we could better ourselves by dropping out of ONT," Pride said.
With two fuel bids before the board, Pride recommended that the board reject both, as neither company was willing to give the corporation a one-year bid.
Instead, the corporation will buy fuel as needed from Co-Alliance, which is currently selling them diesel fuel for $1.99 a gallon.
Besides the three retirements, the board also accepted the transfer of Denna DeLaCruz at Bainbridge Elementary as instructional assistant to secretary/health aide and the employment of six individuals as middle school coaches.
At the start of the meeting, three senior football players were honored by the board. Josh Keyt, Seth Vondersaar and Griffen Dahlstrom were all presented with certificates of recognition for earning all-state honors for the 2008 season.
"We appreciate your efforts. It's been a joy to watch you perform," Pride said. "We wish you continued success."
The North Putnam School Board meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the administration office.