N. Putnam OKs construction money, mulls leaving NEOLA

Friday, September 19, 2014

BAINBRIDGE -- At its monthly meeting Thursday night, the North Putnam School Board heard construction project updates, addressed leaving NEOLA and approved changing financial advisory firms.

The board heard a construction project update from Johnson-Melloh and approved funding for the second phase of construction, which includes ongoing work at Bainbridge Elementary.

The Bainbridge remodel includes new ceilings, as well as heating and air conditioning units that have already been installed at Roachdale Elementary, creating a noticeable change in air quality and the feeling of the school there.

Meanwhile, the idea of leaving NEOLA was brought to the attention of those in attendance due to issues related with the costs and the time related to NEOLA.

"We're spending a lot of time and not accomplishing what we need to accomplish," North Putnam Superintendent Dan Noel said regarding the issue.

Noel has scheduled a meeting with a NEOLA representative for Sept. 29 to further investigate the matter.

Meanwhile, the board approved a contract with Umbaugh, making the company the new financial adviser for the North Putnam School Corp. The contract should ultimately save the school money.

The board meeting heard comments from audience member Mark Hessler who expressed his gratitude for the current administration in being willing to work with his ideas.

Hessler began by saying he believes he can use his expertise to help the school shave costs across a variety of areas that could ultimately save the school up to $300,000 over the course of several years. In addition to that, he cited the dangers and expenses of using chlorine in swimming pools and suggested a cheaper, safer copper colloidal alternative that might be an alternative to chlorine.

The board approved a grain engulfment simulator to be brought to North Putnam Middle and High School to help teach students about agricultural safety. Students under 17 years of age will need parental permission to sign up.

A conversation was held between NPHS Principal Jason Chew and the board regarding the school corporation's present policy on random drug testing of students.

Chew asked, and eventually got the board to approve, a temporary suspension of the current protocol of what happens after a student tests positive for drugs or tobacco.

The argument Chew made that the current policy was created in the '90s and is outdated, was seconded by board member Oliver Haste.

Haste added that upon prior conversation with Chew, he really wished that the punishment aspect of a tobacco-positive drug test would include resources to deter kids away from smoking and to educate them as opposed to merely punishing them and banning them from events.

Board member Jill Summerlot was unsure of this idea but admittedly said that the drug testing policy in schools was something that she was passionate about and was concerned about the fairness of altering a policy that has provided punishment to students more recently.

Neither side was pushing for dramatic leniency or for the removal of testing, but rather for a three-person committee to sit down and work out an updated approach that would incorporate learning and education into the punishment process.

In the end, Summerlot and Haste accepted Chew's invitation to work together in developing a newer drug testing protocol that was estimated to take them around one week to finalize.

In other business:

* No public comments were made when the board presented a public budget hearing for that included an estimated overall budget for the 2015 year at $8,516,232.

* NPSC will apply for a grant that could supply up to $30,000 to help teachers understand and utilize new technologies to aid in classroom learning.

* The board, given the responsibility to approve citizens to the Roachdale-Franklin Township Library some years ago, approved the appointment of Jana Brothers to the Library Board.

* To board accepted a Discovering the Outdoors Grant for Bainbridge Elementary for $250, approved permission to apply for a 2014 Innovation Planning grant through the Indiana Department of Education and approved a charity account through the website donorshoose.com at the request of Shannon Kinkead.

* The board approved Superintendent Noel and Niky Jordan as representatives to the West Central Indiana Insurance Consortium.

* The board approved the hiring of multiple staff in the athletics department, including Mick Buchanan as volunteer NPHS boys' assistant soccer coach; Justin Danaher as volunteer boys' assistant basketball coach at both NPHS and NPMS; Collin McCartt as NPHS boys' head basketball coach and Anna Sims as NPHS girls' assistant soccer coach volunteer.

* The board approved a number NPHS staff and faculty, including Chris Miller as media center instructional assistant; Lauren Alspaugh as guidance department head, SADD sponsor, National Honor Society sponsor and senior class sponsor; Brenda Anderson as FCA club sponsor; Craig Armitage as major production technical director; Megan Armitage as major production director; Linda Gjesvold as major production assistant director and art director; Dustin Bond as musical director; Monique Fields as newspaper and yearbook sponsor; Tony Freund as social studies academic coach; Chase Hiland as academic coach for spell bowl, academic coordinator and foreign language department head; Niky Jordan as DECA club sponsor and freshman class sponsor; Krysten Kingery as dance team instructor and junior class sponsor (half); Kristy Lippencott as academic coach for math as well as department head for math; Annette Maier as academic coach for science as well as the department head for science, physical education and health; Nathan Matindale as department head for social studies; Kristin Mindiola as fall/winter guard instructor at NPHS and cadet guard instructor at NPMS; Ashley Moeller as dance team instructor and Spanish club sponsor; Brittney Nees as academic coach of fine arts and as volunteer art club sponsor; Rachel Pierce as orchestra director for NPHS and assistant band director for both NPHS and NPMS; Rebecca Scotland as FCCLA sponsor; Kate Skirvin as department head for technology, practical arts and FFA club sponsor; Kathy Sykes as department head of special education; Kelly Thomas as department head of fine arts, NPHS and NPMS vocal director, thespian club sponsor, Key Club sponsor and junior class sponsor (half); Matt Wargel as music director and drum line instructor for both NPHS and NPMS; Jesse Winger as department head of frosh solutions, sophomore class sponsor and student council sponsor and Sheri Roach to NPHS alliance.

* The board also approved the hiring of Jana Brothers as NPMS spell bowl sponsor; Char Coffman as Roachdale spell bowl sponsor and Heather Conner as Roachdale math bowl sponsor.

* Additionally, the board approved the retirement of Don Anderson from his role as custodian at NPMS as well as the resignations of Debbie White as cafeteria aide at NPMS; Dan McMurty as Roachdale spell bowl coach and Beth Taylor as Roachdale academic math coach.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the North Putnam Community School Corporation, Board of School Trustees will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 in the administration office in Bainbridge.

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  • What is NEOLA and what does membership do to benefit the schools? A little background is needed.

    -- Posted by Geologist on Sat, Sep 20, 2014, at 7:21 AM
  • Yes, a little explanation would have helped. It's a group that helps schools with school board law by-laws, student handbooks, etc., to be sure that the policies and consequences are legally accemptable and enforcable.


    -- Posted by Moretothestory on Sat, Sep 20, 2014, at 6:13 PM
  • Highly suspect that concerns about drug testing happens during football and fall sports season.

    -- Posted by npcrazy on Sat, Sep 20, 2014, at 7:40 PM
  • NEOLA is a company they're paying tens of thousands of dollars to do nothing.

    Public pools are required to be disinfected and maintained with measurable levels of chemicals per Indiana Administrative Code.

    The drug testing/postive testing discussion is designed to protect student athletes from not being able to play. Half the school board is more concerned about micromanaging the athletic activities of the corporation than ensuring a high level of education.

    -- Posted by jorge on Sun, Sep 21, 2014, at 1:23 AM
  • We have used NEOLA in our school system, and anecdotally speaking, it has mostly produced impersonal, draconian policies. Some made sense (meaning our local board could have written them on their own at little cost), and others would never have been considered. Like North, our board is made up of people we live and laugh with. When you hand over critical policy dictactes to an obscure entity such as NEOLA, you get a lot of money spent and little love shown.

    I applaud North Putnam for embracing their leadership role AS community members who live among those they govern.

    -- Posted by thingsfallapart on Sat, Sep 27, 2014, at 2:09 PM
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