At a time when school job cuts are the norm and wage increases are all but nonexistent, Greencastle Community Schools must be doing something right.
After approving the 2011-12 teacher contract with a 1-percent base salary increase at Wednesday night's meeting, the Greencastle School Board approved 1-percent increases for all hourly employees and administrators who work with students.
Superintendent Lori Richmond emphasized that while the economic situation remains tight, the corporation was able to find a way to give this small raise to its student staff.
"Though we are cautiously optimistic during these uncertain economic times, the operational budget for student staff for programs is stable at present," Richmond said.
The teachers association ratified the contract on Oct. 24. Richmond presented the contract to the board with one change recommended.
As approved by the teachers, spouses and adult dependents are excluded from a teacher's health insurance coverage if they have a job that offers insurance. The change keeps the exclusion the same unless the spouse's insurance coverage will cost 25 percent or more of their yearly salary.
"We're trying to be sensitive to the needs of our employees, to the needs of our families," Richmond said.
A change to the contract means it will again need to be voted on by the teachers.
With the contract approved, the board took the step of approving 1-percent increases for all student staff. Among hourly employees such as secretaries, custodians, transportation, instructional assistants and food service will receive increases to their hourly wages.
Likewise, all administrators will receive a 1-percent yearly salary increase. The item was originally presented without an increase for Richmond, but board member Kelly Lewis asked that the superintendent also be included.
All increases passed unanimously.
The board also moved to make an investment in moving the corporation's computer technology forward, approving a $75,000 proposal from Five-Star Technology for virtual infrastructure.
The approval did not come without some dissent, though, as Lewis and Mike White voted against the expenditure.
The chief objection was that there was no actual proposal presented from Five-Star, just that it would cost approximately $70,000-$75,000.
Additionally, Lewis wanted to make sure the plan, which would include three new servers and infrastructure for possible future wireless projects, will serve the school for the future, not simply provide a sort of band-aid.
Administrators emphasized that the current servers are overworked and outdated, and moving forward is a necessity.
"We're very fortunate the system has stayed running up to this point," Richmond said.
"What we have is outdated -- it's dying," assistant to the superintendent Dawn Puckett said. "This is a way to address that with foresight."
Ultimately, the measure passed so the school can get moving on installing the new hardware. The changeover will require the school's computer systems to be down for two days, so it will likely take place during Christmas break.
In her monthly financial report, Richmond told board members the school is in the black on all funds for now. No money needs to be borrowed during November, and December will be dependent upon when and how much money is received from the state.
"It looks like it's close for December," she said.
In other business:
* The board approved an amended version of the district sex offender policy discussed at the October meeting. The amendments are mostly matters of word choice.
With the new policy in place, convicted sex offenders are barred from school grounds unless exceptions are granted in special circumstances such as attending a child's or grandchild's school function.
Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be requested via the school's Individual Access Child Protection Plan application form.
* School attorney Bob Rund told the board the contract release and settlement regarding the Deer Meadow roof have been finalized.
Work on the roof was slated to begin Tuesday, but high winds delayed the start.
Rund and maintenance director Dan Green are still trying to resolve an issue regarding the warranty with the shingle manufacturer.
* Richmond presented information regarding the need for a building use policy. Currently, there is no systematic plan for building use for either internal or community groups.
The superintendent said she would like the issue examined by all parties over several months.
* Richmond also asked the board to begin considering the 2012-13 school calendar. Currently, there is a movement around the Indianapolis area to go toward a "balanced calendar."
In this type of system, the school year would begin around Aug. 1 and end in early June. It would potentially include three two-week breaks, coming in October, at the holiday break and in March.
The issue is under consideration, but the board does not generally set the calendar until around February.
* The board approved a $3,000 annual pay increase for the assistant to the superintendent. In discussing the increase, the board expressed thanks to Puckett for the work she did in acting as the superintendent between the tenure of Bob Green and Richmond.
* They also accepted 14 other personnel items:
Resignations: Susan Miner as teacher of the blind and low vision; Teona Byrd as GMS noon aide, Allen Gilbert as full time bus driver and approval as substitute driver, David Brooks as GMS instructional assitant; Joy Mackey as GMS cafeteria assistant.
Appointments: Mike Schimpf re-appointed as energy manager; Becky Greenlee as Deer Meadow home-school liaison.
Leave of absence: Pam Mishler, Deer Meadow cafeteria manager, through end of school year.
Hires: Betty Chandler as GMS noon aide; Ginny Hinton as GHS instructional assistant.
Transfer: Keith Flick from GHS third-shift custodian to Ridpath second shift.
Extra-curriculars: Nathan Lewis hired as lay diving coach; Nolan Costin hired as seventh-grade boys' basketball lay coach; Jesse Vermillion approved as GHS volunteer lay wrestling coach.