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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

North Putnam School Board struggles over handbook

Friday, April 22, 2011

BAINBRIDGE -- The North Putnam School Corporation board meeting tabled several issues to save for a future meeting on Thursday night. The most discussed of these issues was the recommendation to accept revisions to the school corporation's student handbook.

Dr. Mary Sugg Lovejoy, school superintendent, said she had met with teachers and other school officials throughout the course of the current school year to perfect and achieve the corrected version for each school.

Several issues came up during the discussion despite that. The first was in regard to missing school due to funerals. The board could not decide how it wanted to word the section in regard to whose funeral it would be acceptable for students to leave for and whom would excuse them.

Board member Oliver Haste also brought up the issue of the new drug testing criteria in the guidebook. The intent was to make the section clearer and allow the school to test a student if he or she was suspected of being under the influence of a substance. Haste argued that what those substances were, what tests would be used and how they would address the issue of parental discretion were not addressed.

"I'm not comfortable with the way it is now," Haste said. "I'm not questioning anyone's intent, but they're not putting their seal of approval on it."

The issue was tabled for an extra meeting to be scheduled at a later date.

Roachdale Elementary School counselor Dan McMurtry talked to the board about an initiative he has been attempting to head up called the Therapy Dog Program. McMurtry's dog, as well as another counselor's dog, are trained to be in rooms with students, and McMurtry said their presence can put those with learning or emotional disabilities at ease and make it easier for them to learn to read and write.

"Dogs are one of the best ways to do this," McMurtry said, citing research that has shown that 33 percent of students who read to dogs show more improvement in their fluency and reading abilities as opposed to those who do not.

This issue was also tabled when the board voted on it. Board members said they wanted to learn more about the project and how it would be run, especially since, if enacted now, it would only last for a month and likely not collect the data necessary to determine whether it was worth continuing.

"I think the school lunches would taste better with dogs next to you," Haste said of some of the research he was reading.

North Putnam High School principal Alan Zerkel gave a presentation to the board regarding the school's performance on standardized testing, as well as mentioning some of the successful moments of the past year at the school. Zerkel said that though there is improvement in some areas, the school is not where it wants to be yet.

"It does give us an idea of what we have to look for in math and reading classes," Zerkel said. "We're pleased with the growth we've had but we're nowhere near where we want to be at this point."

The board recognized the efforts of several students and groups at the beginning of their meeting. Two students, Cody Beck and Jared Fordice, placed first and second respectively in the FFA Beef Entrepreneurship Efficiency contest. North Putnam Middle School's choir and cadet guard programs also received gold rating from the state for their performances.

Lovejoy also gave a progress report regarding impending construction projects at the different schools. The corporation is still collecting bids and data regarding the roof at Roachdale Elementary. During the heavy rains on Sunday and Monday, some small leaks were detected in the new sections of the roof on the high school. They caused no permanent water damage and were immediately fixed by the construction company.

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Note to NP Board: Be very careful not to micro-manage. It is a fine line between supporting your administrators and dealing with personnal issues and beliefs. Good Luck! Your support is critical.

-- Posted by cvilleguy on Sat, Apr 23, 2011, at 9:07 AM

The "School Dog" idea is a GREAT one. It works and is a great motivator for kids. You will need a dedicated person to take care of the dog.

-- Posted by cvilleguy on Sat, Apr 23, 2011, at 9:09 AM

I am in school food service in another school corporation in the county and I think the comment that Mr. Haste made about the food tasting better if the dog was next to you was a very uncalled for and very rude comment and I think he owes the cafeteria staff an apology! He may have thought the comment was funny, but it was not, it was very demeaning to a group of people who work very hard.

-- Posted by interested party on Mon, Apr 25, 2011, at 10:10 AM

It is not the school's decision to decide whether it should be an excused absence to attend someone's funeral. If the parents write them a note it should be excused. They are kids. The kids will have to worry about excused funearl absences once they join the workforce. This is micromanagement at its finest. Use your energy on more important things.

-- Posted by nobody important on Fri, May 6, 2011, at 9:02 AM

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