School boards gather jointly
It is something that hasn't happened since Area 30 Career Center was looking to expand. Representatives from three of the four county school boards came together in one meeting Thursday. The idea was to make all schools work better and be more efficiently.
David Archer with West Central Indiana Educational Service Center presented information to the group. With Archer were Valerie Buchanan and Tammy Archer. The trio showed board members what West Central offers such as student programs, media services, "big name" speakers and training for teachers.
West Central was created in 1985 with the plan to allow school districts to come together and provide educational opportunities, help with purchases and coordinate activities, among numerous other things.
Following West Central's presentation was Mike Adamson, director of board services with Indiana School Board Association. He facilitated the second half of the meeting.
Adamson asked each board member to write down a question on a small card. The cards were handed to Adamson who read them all out loud and allowed for discussion.
One question was in regards to Area 30 Career Center's current lease with F.B. Distro. More important was the issue of possibly constructing or purchasing a structure for the center.
Lora Wood, Area 30 executive director, said, "We are open to investigate (the idea)." She added that the topic has been discussed during its board meeting the past few months, but was not at the front of the agenda.
North Putnam school board member Andy Beck said constructing a new building or purchasing an existing building would raise property taxes. There is also the consideration of operating costs and maintenance.
Its lease with F.B. Distro, which ends in 2012, includes all maintenance and utilities such as air conditioning, electricity, heat, etc.
The building would also have to be big enough -- roughly 60,000 to 70,000 square feet -- to serve its needs.
Ivy Tech currently leases 9,000 square feet of the building, but will be leaving soon.
Wood said when Ivy Tech leaves it would not be noticed in the budget.
Another question was over the concern of a cost increase after Greencastle School Corporation pulls out of Old National Trail.
On hand to answer that question was Nancy Holsapple, director of ONT. She said the amount schools pay is based per pupil from the respective school district.
Carl Blau, a North Putnam school board member, questioned the cost effectiveness of Greencastle's decision to leave ONT.
Representatives from Greencastle school board said time would tell if the move was cost efficient. However, the board acted on a recommendation from its superintendent Robert Green following a report submitted by a consulting firm.
Additional questions dealt with ways to save money among the corporations, such as hiring a part-time grant writer.
Cloverdale's superintendent Carrie Milner, who was in the crowd, said hiring a grant writer would be very beneficial for all school corporations. The two main problems with grant writing is time and coming within the poverty level most grants require.
In the end, most school board members felt the meeting was useful and plan to meet again in the fall. The next meeting will incorporate all superintendents in an effort to move forward with ideas.
South Putnam superintendent Bruce Bernhardt briefly stated the meeting seemed to be a success. Milner made no response when asked about her feelings on the meeting.
Attendees included Kelly Lewis, Michael Dean and Bruce Stinebrickner of Greencastle; Blau, Mark Fordice and Beck from North PUtnam; and Steve Cash, Michael Rissler, Darwin Nelson, Nancy Wells and David Bohmer from South Putnam.
Cloverdale had no representatives from its school board.
SP board member Cash coordinated the event.