After months of uncertainty plagued the South Putnam School Board over how to finance its gym wall repair project in the high school, the board finally got some good news.
The entire project was estimated to cost nearly $500,000. However, the board previously decided to only do as much as it could at this time, which was reduced to $300,000.
The corporation's attorney, John Zeiner, again came before the board to give them positive answers as to how they can finance such a project.
"We found out that we have the bond issue on the high school building corporation, which is going to expire Jan. 1, 2014," explained Zeiner. "So, if we can manage to put this financing together and for the same price that we could finance $200,000-$400,000, we could finance $2 million and that should take care of all of the repair projects that we have scheduled on the high school and the facilities that belong to the corporation."
The extra funding will also help the corporation take care of many other issues including fixing the exterior walls of the building, which have had several bricks popping off due to moisture getting behind the bricks and freezing. Also, the board will look into repainting the gym walls and refurbishing the bleachers.
"The good part about this is that the interest rate is low enough we should have an even lower rate then we had when refinanced this last summer," Zeiner said. "At this particular point this will not cause an increase on the tax rates because we are putting off the taxes and the payment of this until the high school corporation is paid for."
At this time, the corporation is only committed to fixing the structural bracing of the gym walls. The project is scheduled to begin in March to have as less of a disruption as possible to the students.
The construction will be done at the end of basketball season until the time of graduation.
The board will host a public hearing regarding the financing for the project on Tuesday, Jan. 22 before the regularly scheduled board meeting at 7 p.m.
Along with the public hearing, the corporation must collect 50 signed petitions by any patrons of the school age 18 and over. There must also be a common wage construction committee, which will be led by both Zeiner and Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt. The committee will include a taxpayer from the district as well as someone representing the industry.
Also discussed during Monday evening's board meeting was the 2013-14 school calendar. Although, there are not many changes there is one major one, a week off for fall break.
"This calendar is somewhat similar to the one that we had this year," said Bernhardt. "The only real difference would be going from two days to five days over fall break. The county is all going to a week break."
The first teacher day will be August 9 with the students starting on August 12. Fall break will occur Oct. 14-18, during the Covered Bridge Festival.
Other important dates include Christmas break from Dec. 23-Jan. 3, Spring Break from March 24-28 and the last student day on May 30. There will be a total of 87 student days in the first semester and 93 in the second semester for a total of 180 student days.
This calendar, which was unanimously approved by the board, is similar to many other area schools.
The board also approved year-end inter and intra fund transfers. This is done each year in order to make sure all appropriate funds are in all accounts. The board will receive a full report during the January meeting.
As the year comes to a close, Bernhardt and the rest of the board recognized board president Mike Rissler with a plaque for his many years of service.
"On behalf of the board we just think the world of you. You've been a super person, great board member and a great representative of the township," Bernhardt said. "We wish you all the best in your retirement from the board."
Rissler, who has been on the board for a total of nearly 18 years, decided not to run again in this year's election. Angie Nichols will be taking his place starting in January.
After last week's events in Connecticut, Bernhardt spoke to the board on the issue of student security not only at South Putnam, but at all county schools.
"Words cannot express how we feel about these things," explained Bernhardt. "It really hits home when it's children and I know a lot of people were going home and hugging their children."
Bernhadrt stressed that the South Putnam School Corporation holds student safety at its highest priority.
"It does hit you personally when those kind of things can happen at school. I want to stress to families that we do take security at South Putnam, as well as all of the schools in this county, we take security very serious," Bernhardt said.
"We work hard to continually updating and reviewing and changing our procedures as best as we can. While no one can plan for every conceivable event, we want everyone to know that we work as hard as we can to make the school a secure place where the children can come and feel safe and where the parents feel safe with having their children here."
Security has become an issue on everyone's minds after the events, which took place on Friday. Although, the parents and community do not see what goes on behind closed doors, Bernhardt and the board assured the community that South Putnam continues to change its security practices to ensure the highest quality.
"We take very seriously our call to keep our children safe, that's our number one priority. We'll continue to work together not only as a school but county wide," explained Bernhardt. "Once again, our hearts go out to those families and our thoughts and prayers are with them. We just want to assure our parents that our number one priority is safety with your children. They're our children and our family here at school too. We work hard to keep them safe."
It was also noted that each school does in fact have its own security directors, which meet together once a month to discuss the security of all school buildings.
The board also approved the following personnel items:
* The resignations of study hall instructional assistant Marty Scott and middle school wrestling coach Josh Hendrickson.
* The hiring of study hall instructional assistant Lisa Schroer and the hiring of Pat Pistelli as the middle school wrestling coach.