NPCSC board votes against solar farm

Friday, June 19, 2015

After several months of discussion, the North Putnam Community School Corporation board voted against implementing a solar farm at the middle/high school.

Andy Cooper with Johnson-Melloh first presented the idea for the roughly $4 million solar farm in February to create a solar farm in order to become the first "net-zero" school in Indiana through the use of solar panels in a five-acre area. The topic had been vaguely discussed for months before.

During Wednesday's meeting, board president John Hayes asked for more information regarding the project's return in investment.

Cooper began by explaining that in 2014, the school paid just shy of $200,000 in utility costs in the middle/high school, with an anticipated 4 percent increase in utility costs each year. Based on the bond payment and rebate over the course of the first seven years, the school would basically be paying out the same in the bonds as they would be paying to the utility company. After the first 20 years is when the school would really see the biggest cost savings.

Despite initial requests to table the project to await more information, the board decided to take a vote on the project.

The board decided against the project with a 4-3 vote. Board members Darrell Wiatt, Jim Bowling and Mark Hoke voted in favor of the project, with remaining members voting against.

In other business, the board voted to approve the job description for the new Director of Operations position, which would be in charge of transportation, grounds work and maintenance. This description requires the person to be a certified bus driver trainer. This position would eliminate the Director of Transportation position.

In a subsequent item that recommended hiring Terry Tippin, current Director of Transportation, to fill the Director of Operation position, the board voted to table the decision.

Board member Jill Summerlot asked if Tippin was a certified bus driver trainer.

Superintendent Dan Noel noted he was not yet, but in the past found a way to ensure drivers were properly trained by outsourcing the training. Noel noted this certification was not a quick process and could take a couple of years.

Hayes noted there were a "couple of housekeeping things" to consider before Tippin could be hired to fill the capacity.

The board approved tabling the item with a 4-3 vote, with Bowling, Hoke and Wiatt opposing the motion.

The board voted to table the approval of the TALKS mentoring program,which pairs adults with youth in grades six to eight, according to middle school assistant principal Beth Waterman.

"With the little bit we were able to implement it at the end of the school year, it really was an effective program. It helped some of our students out. It gives them some leadership skills, some life skills that are lacking with some of our kids," Waterman explained.

Hayes noted his concern with the language of the program, which states the students must agree to develop plans for college.

"It seems like that is singling out a certain group of students that this is going to help," Hayes said. "It's going to narrow the group down to college bound students."

Waterman said she will discuss the possible change in language, noting she would not mind it saying college and careers.

The board voted to table the approval of the program until the change was discussed with the program coordinators.

The board approved a field trip next year with a 5-2 vote. Seventh-grade social studies teacher Bucky Kramer wants to schedule a field trip to Washington, D.C., during the Spring Break of 2016 for current seventh-grade students.

The trip is at no cost to the school, but each student interested in the trip will have to pay about $624. The trip would be organized through WorldStrides, a company that specializes in student travels.

The school board's attorney, Gene Hostetter, said with the insurance being through a private organization and the parents, the board should not take a vote. Field trips are normally approved through the board for insurance purposes.

Kramer noted he came to the board for approval because he is trying to take the proper channels for approval. Board member Ron Spencer noted he would not feel comfortable sending a child on a trip that was not approved through the school.

The motion was made to approve the trip, as long as there were no additional insurance liabilities to the school. Jim Bowling and Jill Summerlot cast the dissenting votes.

"I'm not opposed to the trip. I just don't think it needs board approval," Summerlot noted.

In other business, the board:

* Approved a one-time stipend out of the General Fund for assistant principals at the "A" schools to match the one given to teachers. The teachers' stipends were paid out of a grant and the principals in each building were also granted the stipend out of the General Fund.

While the vote passed unanimously, Summerlot noted she did not think administrators should be allowed the stipend because teachers are the ones "in the trenches with the kids."

Noel added the administrators had not received a raise in a few years and it was their leadership skills that help the schools receive the high school grades.

* Approved professional leave for Holly Richardson to attend the Teacher Leadership Academy in September and November.

* Approved the internship of Brody Perrine during the 2015-16 school year.

* Approved the facility use request for North Putnam Alumni Association to use the high school cafeteria Sept. 19.

* Voted to table a contract with Pepsi until a clarification was made in the contract.

* Approved the recommendation for Jamie Tennis to work up to 10 additional hours per week during the summer.

* Approved the hire of Christopher Gross as a special education teacher.

* Approved Chelsey Smith as the girls' assistant golf coach.

* Approved the following hires for summer band: Colton Cox, Mark Kays, Kirstin Mindiola, David Perkins, Rachel Pierce, Adam Rice and Matthew Wargel.

* Approved the resignations of Jamie Treash as high school English teacher and Julie Parris from Bainbridge cafeteria.

* Approved the following volleyball assistant coaches: Christy Black, Laura Blaydes, Amy Davies, Beth McBride, Alyssa Ward, Katie Welch and Mecca Willis.

View 2 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • This article is a well thought out, concise and informative description of a School Board meeting.

    The only question I have is why were the names of the board members who voted against the solar farm not named individually?

    -- Posted by Lookout on Sat, Jun 20, 2015, at 10:23 AM
  • Stop the madness. Terry Tippin doesn't even have a CDL. He can't drive a school bus let alone supervise or train one. This is another attempt to ram through a pay increase for "additional responsibilities" with little to no gained value.

    -- Posted by jorge on Sat, Jun 20, 2015, at 11:13 AM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: