Sigworth named to Greencastle School Board

Thursday, June 28, 2012

When Greencastle City Council members called Thursday's decision on an appointment to the Greencastle School Board a difficult one, it was a lot more than lip service.

With a number of controversial issues before the school board recently, and the decision between an incumbent board president and three potential replacements, emotions have been running high regarding the decision.

"This is a very serious job that we do every two years,"17-year Councilman Mark Hammer said, "but none of the past eight appointments of which I have been associated have stirred up so much interest and contacts from the citizenry of Greencastle."

With less-veteran council members and Mayor Sue Murray echoing similar sentiments, the floor fell to Jinsie Bingham, who nominated Denise Sigworth to replace incumbent Bruce Stinebrickner.

Councilman T.J. Smith seconded the motion, and in a 5-0 decision, Sigworth became the newest member of the Greencastle School Board.

"I'm humbled. I'm very thankful I was selected," Sigworth told the Banner Graphic following the meeting. "I care very much about our schools. I care about our teachers. I care about our students. I care about morale."

After making the appointment, board members praised Stinebrickner for his four years of service. Hammer, noticing Stinebrickner's wife Kelsey Kauffman in the audience, asked that she extend the board's appreciation.

Sigworth joins a board that has undergone a serious makeover in the last year. She and Greencastle Township appointee Gary Haussin will take office after July 1.

Bill Tobin was selected by the school board in March to fill the remainder of the other City of Greencastle appointment.

Mike White is completing his first year as a Greencastle Township appointee.

Only Madison Township appointee Mike Dean, with more than a decade of experience, has been on the board longer than a full year.

The fledgling board members face some tough issues from the beginning, first and foremost the future of school Chief Financial Officer Clayton Slaughter.

More than $3 million in undeposited corporation checks were found in the CFO's office recently. The board is questioning why these were not deposited in a timely manner.

An executive session and public meeting are scheduled for Monday, July 2. These are speculated to be regarding Slaughter's future.

Following Sigworth's appointment, City Council President Adam Cohen made a statement in which he passed along to the school board a number of concerns citizens have expressed to council members during the selection process.

These included the school board's "excessive use of the executive session" and disclosing what goes on in these sessions, addressing publicly the state audit the district went through this spring, addressing morale in the school system and explaining why the issue of a 27-week pay period was not addressed earlier than last week.

Cohen also asked that specific legal questions raised by Slaughter in a letter to the city council be addressed. The CFO sent the letter to city council and school board members prior to the discovery of the checks in his office.

The council president reminded the school board and community how high emotions are running surrounding these issues.

"I've had people come to me in tears on all sides of this issue," Cohen said. "It concerns me. This is a community of friends.

"The answers will come as we as a community come together."

Cohen and Hammer made sure to say the council was not placing blame for the school's problems on Stinebrickner.

"Not all of these challenges can be laid at the feet of our local school board," Hammer said, "and most certainly not blamed on one board member."

Regardless of the challenges facing the school board in the coming months and years, Sigworth expressed her confidence.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge," she said.

As a Putnam County Community Foundation board member from 2005-2010 and board president at the end of her term, Sigworth said she has dealt with the inner workings of a board and with making controversial decisions.

"I am looking forward to working with the other guys," she said. "I respect them all."

Sigworth has worked for the U.S. government for the last 31 years. For more than 22 years she has worked as an information technology specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, International Technology Division.

The Greencastle High School graduate has been married to Jeff Sigworth for 17 years. Jeff is the technology director for Greencastle Schools.

Sigworth is the mother of 27-year-old Garett, also a GHS graduate.

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  • No surprise !!

    -- Posted by Rainbow6 on Thu, Jun 28, 2012, at 8:36 PM
  • Is there a conflict of interest in this appointment with Ms. Sigworth's husband already an employee of GCSC?

    -- Posted by chaosagent86 on Thu, Jun 28, 2012, at 9:34 PM
  • Conflict of Interest? School Board member becomes corporations insurance agent, and then becomes athletic director? How many more can you name?

    This whole corporation is a conflict of interest! Can anyone say ELECTED school board?

    -- Posted by talkymom3 on Thu, Jun 28, 2012, at 9:42 PM
  • Is anyone on the board that would be there if we had open elections? It is way over due for the people to have a real say in the school decisions.

    -- Posted by Ed46135 on Fri, Jun 29, 2012, at 7:00 AM
  • We should be thrilled to have a person with the integrity and experience of Mrs. Sigworth. She loves this community and has served it in many capacities. As for conflict of interest, most of the decisions will not involve her spouse and is only a conflict if discussing his salary or position specifically. Then she can recuse herself. GREAT choice, no one will bring more common sense and ask the much needed questions when it comes to decision making by the board.

    -- Posted by gc1981 on Fri, Jun 29, 2012, at 8:07 AM
  • An elected school board is not the answer- it will take the public meetings of the city council and put them behind the closed doors of a political party's meeting. Then we can hear about the Republican's/Democrat's/Libertarian's position on bids for milk prices and we can be impressed by a pro forma endorsement from other state officials.

    As for the conflict, I see only a chilling effect coming from a conversation that might be overheard out of conflict and reported back to the Board... not a real morale builder.

    -- Posted by chaosagent86 on Fri, Jun 29, 2012, at 11:08 AM
  • Thanks Bruce for your 4 years of service and LEADERSHIP. At a time when the School Corp.

    sorely needs leadership, the City Council becomes

    more of the problem than the solution. Why was this such a difficult decision.... add a rookie or continue with a veteran board's a slam dunk. Not only do we have a 'good old boys' network but we now have a 'good old gals' network.

    -- Posted by howdytoyou on Fri, Jun 29, 2012, at 11:16 AM
  • Red Flag! Mr. Slaughter sent his letter to the School Board and City Council regarding legal issues (about the superintendent) before the superintendent "discovered" these checks in his office (after Mr. Slaughter was on vacation out of the country and unreachable). Sounds to me like a set-up by the superintendent to get the heat off of herself? Hopefully, Mrs. Sigworth and Mr. Haussin can help the School Board see the truth about the superintendent.

    -- Posted by sille11 on Fri, Jun 29, 2012, at 11:54 AM
  • Anyone know what the legal troubles were about? The article references a letter that was sent but doesn't state what issues were raised. I try to keep up on these things but have to admit this is the first I'm hearing about it.

    -- Posted by hometownboy on Fri, Jun 29, 2012, at 2:58 PM
  • How did they set him up? He had the checks. Your argument makes no sense sille11. I can only assume a family member.

    -- Posted by Ed46135 on Fri, Jun 29, 2012, at 3:10 PM
  • In response to Howdytoyou: Your quote "Not only do we have a 'good old boys' network but we now have a 'good old gals' network.", makes no sense. Denise Sigworth will become the only female on a 5 person board. That board needed a woman's perspective, after all, half of the students are female and over half of the employees are females. Good for City Council. Denise has a great track record in our community. She is a sincere, honest person who will ask hard questions. The school board is moving in the right direction with the three most recent appointments. They have some difficult tasks before them as they try to sort out this mess. I hope for our kids sake that they succeed.

    -- Posted by 3m50 on Fri, Jun 29, 2012, at 4:58 PM
  • know you are not a family member sille11 and neither are we- 1/2 the town knows the truth- so does the supt. and others involved

    -- Posted by talkymom3 on Sat, Jun 30, 2012, at 10:41 PM
  • WHY on earth are the school board members not elected at the polls by the corporation's tax payers????? Only sets it up for problems when buddies elect buddies to be on the board. I am SO thankful that the NP board is voted on by the public!!!

    -- Posted by John3:16 on Sun, Jul 1, 2012, at 9:20 PM
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