BAINBRIDGE -- The North Putnam School Corporation board meeting on Tuesday night led to the hiring of a company to handle the school's technological needs for the next year. The board hired Five Star Technology Solutions, signing a one-year contract that will lock pricing in place and give the corporation a sense of how effective Five Star will be at keeping the corporation's technology up to date.
Jim Benson, CEO of Five Star, gave a presentation to the board regarding his company. A Five Star employee will be on school grounds during normal business hours to help with problems, and a set of engineers off-site will be able to assist, provide advice or travel to the different schools to fix larger problems. Five Star will also handle the school's website, provide access to programs that would help the corporation be more efficient, handle the telephone services and help the school purchase newer equipment.
Benson also claimed the members of his company, a total staff of about 30, had more than 100 years experience combined in the Indiana school system, with Benson himself having seven years experience.
"We work with several schools in Indiana and the majority of our staff is from Indiana," Benson said.
The board had the option of signing a longer contract, for either 18 months or two years, but opted to sign the one-year contract instead.
North Putnam Middle School principal Terry Tippin gave a presentation regarding the performance of his students this past year. He said he was happy with their performances and is looking to improve over time. Part of that improvement may relate to the purchasing of new science textbooks, which Roachdale Elementary principal Scott Spencer gave his own presentation on.
The books, part of the FOSS system, allow for more interactivity through experimentation and projects. Instead of reading about a project first, the experiment is done first instead, and students comment and fill out worksheets afterwards.
Experiments come with their own equipment for individual students, which can be replaced if necessary, and handbooks. Spencer said his classes have really enjoyed the test run of the program so far and he hopes to continue it.
"We want to replace antiquated skills that we don't need anymore," Spencer said. "They're not just going to look at science (in a textbook); they're going to be immersed in it."
The board elected to allow the program to purchase the books. Jacquelyn Simpson, board member, has a first-grader who has been working with the new material and she said her child really enjoys it.
"It's spilled into other things as well," Simpson said, mentioning that her child often comes home and takes the lessons learned at school and applies them elsewhere.
The board also approved the therapy dog pilot program to continue into the first semester of the next school year. The program, organized by Roachdale Elementary counselor Dan McMurtry, helps students read and learn better in classes through the presence of a dog. The program has been in place for roughly 10 school days and Spencer said it has been very successful so far. The board wants to collect more data on the program before fully approving it.
The board also approved revisions to the student handbooks pending more changes made at the meeting. Board member John Hays was not happy with the reworded section of the school code regarding drug testing, claiming that the school would paint itself in a corner using certain language. Hays' changes were eventually put into the handbook.
"I'm still not comfortable with it as it is," Hays said.
Finally, board president Charlie Boller addressed the issue of the rings promised to members of the North Putnam football team that reached the state playoffs. The rings were purchased and given to those who were promised them and the money to pay for them will be taken from the athletic department's funds, Boller said.
The school purchased 76 rings in all, costing a total of $14,440. 55 of these rings, at the cost of $10,450, went to the players. The other 21 rings went to the coaching staff of that team, other school officials and some parents. Boller read the list of 21 out loud during the meeting, noting that high school principal Alan Zerkel and assistant principal Jason Chew paid for their rings out of their own pockets, and former athletic director Jason Sims has donated his ring to be put on display.