White reappointed to Greencastle School Board

Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Mike White

Having already whittled the number of candidates from five down to three, on Monday night Greencastle Township Trustee Steve Butts and the township advisory board chose to retain Mike White on the Greencastle School Board.

In a split vote of the advisory board, White was chosen from among three finalists that also included Russell Harvey and Ed Wilson.

Unfortunately, the selection process was beset with questions over procedure and whether the decision had already been made in advance of Monday’s meeting.

Contacted by the Banner Graphic on Tuesday, Butts expressed his regrets over missteps that had been made during Monday’s meeting.

“I didn’t do the procedure right,” Butts said. “Hopefully we got it corrected during the meeting.”

The procedural problem came about when, following the interviews and with no action from the advisory board, Butts announced that the advisory board had ranked White their top choice.

This prompted questions both from audience members and advisory board member Russ Evans.

Asked when the board had ranked the candidates, Butts said it had happened during the executive session in which they had narrowed it to three candidates.

Audience member Leslie Hanson pointed out to Butts that all that can be done during such an executive session is the narrowing to three candidates for public interviews. Evans also said that he had not submitted final rankings.

Butts asked what he should do to make it right and was advised that a board member should make a motion, wait for a second and then have a vote.

At this, Evans made the motion to appoint Harvey, but this died for a lack of a second.

Board member Karen Ambler then moved to reappoint White, which Marilyn Clearwaters seconded.

Butts then declared the decision to be unanimous. However, Evans spoke up that he was voting against White’s nomination.

While the events of Monday evening make it seem like a decision was already made, Butts said he knew the procedure but made a mistake.

“The board picks three out of the five in the executive session and then the interview is to determine out of those three,” Butts said. “We heard their interviews but I misstepped on the procedure vote. That’s how I read it in my preparations.”

Evans also shared his perspective on the meeting, saying that things certainly looked bad with Butts’ premature announcement that the board had made a selection.

“He made it sound like the decision was already made in executive session,” Evans said. “It got really foggy to me toward the end on the process.”

What was supposed to happen on Monday was that the three finalists were to return to be asked the same questions by each board member.

Evans asked each candidate what they would do if the knew another board member had a class schedule changed to benefit a friend.

Clearwaters asked about the financial stability of the school.

Butts asked what the school board could do to be more transparent.

Ambler, however, had a different question for each member. Her questions for Harvey — an Ohio native — centered around where he was from and when he moved to Greencastle. She asked Wilson, a veteran Greencastle Police officer, what he thought of the leadership of the department.

Only her question for White pertained to Greencastle Schools, asking what can be done to improve the school’s finances.

In his answers, Harvey emphasized the need to keep the focus on students.

“We need to make sure we are not wasting money and need to make sure we are benefiting the students,” Harvey said, also noting the need to be “communicating with the community at large” on topics and issues being discussed by the school board.

Saying he considers “Greencastle home and is part of his family” Wilson emphasized what he called a “boots- on-the-ground mentality” regarding transparency. He stressed the need to Wilson talk with members of the community to hear what is going on and what issues and topics need to be addressed.

White noted the “strong” financial position of the school with money now split into separate funds of education, operations and rainy day.

Noting that it is the “school corporation’s responsibility to improve the school grade,” White said the corporation is in the process of hiring a curriculum director to help standardized thelearning process across all buildings.

When Butts asked about potential improvements to the board, White said the board is “strong”, but in an “unusual position” where there could be a potential “loss of institutional knowledge in the next two years as every (current board) member has the potential to be replaced or not run again, so you would lose a lot of institutional knowledge.”

Greencastle Superintendent Jeff Hubble was also in attendance, noting that he “liked Mike’s answer to the stability of the board and his eight years of experience on the board and as many terms as president. I’m very appreciative of the number of candidates and shows a good diversity among the candidates and their answers, too.”

Butts also expressed his appreciation for the other candidates, which initially also included Kim Fidler and David English.

“It didn’t go right and that’s what upset me bad,” Butts said. Everybody needs to be treated equally and that’s what really upset me on the thing. They are all good folks.”

As for how to avoid future problems of this nature, Hanson noted that the League of Women Voters brings Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt to the community each year to help local officials with their understanding of the Open Door Law and Access to Public Record Act.

“It is your responsibility as elected officials to know the open door law,” Hanson said. “That was how I first learned about the law was I was on the park board and I learned the law.”

No longer a public official, Hanson likely remains the community’s foremost expert on and defender of the Open Door Law.

“Elected and appointed officials have a responsibility to understand the law,” she said. “And it was clear (Monday) night that they did not.”

View 16 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.
  • After this debacle, it highlights one reason the

    Greencastle School Board should be elected and not appointed ! Let the people vote !

    -- Posted by Lookout on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 11:39 AM
  • *

    I agree that the School Board should be elected and not appointed - by ANYONE.

    Balloting of the school board would be an interesting process b/c you would have both Greencastle (town) and Greencastle (township) that would need representation. So how do you apportion/ballot?

    As for the meeting and what happened - I know Steve Butts well enough. And while he may have mis-stepped a time or two in this process, I can assure you that he did not do anything with ill intent. He is good people.

    I do not hold the same opinion of Leslie Hanson, who I have come to regard as a stealth leftist partisan masquerading as someone claiming the mantle of non-partisan.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 12:38 PM
  • Who is "Clearwaters"? Not identified in the story.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 1:29 PM
  • *

    Marilyn Clearwaters:

    Member of the Greencastle Township Advisory Board.

    Longtime Putnam County Republican party member.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 2:03 PM
  • Don't forget Madison Township sends their children to Greencastle schools too. If the positions were elected, they would undoubtedly have to appear on all ballots of residents of both Greencastle and Madison Townships regardless of where the candidate lived. Alternatively, people could run in districts and then the residents of certain districts would vote for people that would serve that district and would have to be residents of that district.

    As for Ms. Hanson, your characterization of her is unfair and unfounded. She has her own political beliefs, just like anyone else, but she does not let those beliefs influence her when it comes to enforcing Open Door rules/laws. Just because you may not agree with someone politically, or in any other sense, shouldn't allow you to attack someone, especially a private citizen, that is trying to make our local government better and more responsible to the public. By the way, I am not of the same political persuasion as she is, but I do know her well enough to know that your statements are unfair and inaccurate.

    -- Posted by gustave&zelma on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 3:56 PM
  • Your assessment of Mr. Butts' character may well be accurate but it is immaterial. Greencastle deserves transparent and competent representation and failure to provide that - even without corrupt intent - should be disqualifying for a trustee.

    -- Posted by bruce+banner_graphic on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 4:45 PM
  • *

    Yes, any political subdivision that would send kids to Greencastle Community Schools by way of "jurisdiction" (as compared to open enrollment) would likely require some type of representation or at least a vote on the school board membership.

    I stand by my characterization of Ms Hanson by way of her "League of Women Voters" that professes itself to be "non-partisan" but is in actuality very partisan. I don't know her well personally... maybe she is a nice person, reads to the blind, feeds the poor, and makes a wonderful tuna casserole.

    But in all of my experiences with her (directly and indirectly) - I have seen just what I have stated. That is neither "unfair" nor "unfounded" nor "inaccurate". That is my experience.

    Nor is this "an attack" - its a characterization of what I know from my experiences. I clearly stated it was "my opinion". Your opinion may (and apparently does) vary.

    Curious: why would you dismiss my opinion in such a way; calling it "unfair", "unfounded", "inaccurate", and an "attack", instead of simply saying that in your experiences you have found the opposite? Is it necessary for you to attack me (and my experiences) to defend her?

    I wonder how far off you two really are in your political persuasion...

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 4:47 PM
  • *

    Bruce - then by all means, run against him in the next election.

    Show Greencastle Township, the readership of the Banner Graphic, and the whole world just how infallible of a person you are and how much better you can run things.

    Steve was called out on his mistake, owned it, and made it right...which is more than I can say for most politicians. Or even a lot of people.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 4:53 PM
  • Greencastle making Cloverdale look like the land of reason.....

    -- Posted by taylortwp on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 8:03 PM
  • Typical Greencastle; fakes and liars.

    -- Posted by Queen53 on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 8:30 PM
  • It's pretty apparent from the events of Monday evening that a decision was made prior to the interviews. I understand that this isn't a new thing in politics or business, so it's not surprising. But what should be a clear signal to the public is that our Township Officials do not have full understanding of appointment process or the open door laws policies in regards to their meetings. Even how the meeting was conducted lacked professionalism. However, when most meetings consist of the Officials in a room by themselves it doesn't promote much growth in these areas. It was evident that not only do they not see much community involvement in their meetings, they typically don't see many candidates for appointments. So, while they have a responsibility to do better, the community has a responsibility to hold them to it. We need better participation, more candidates to fill these appointments and more importantly more people running for local office in general. A politician once said, "Don't mope, Vote!" in this case, I say "Don't mope, get involved!" Lord knows, it ain't gonna fix itself...

    -- Posted by rharvey75 on Wed, Jun 12, 2019, at 10:22 PM
  • This entire thing from the failure to follow procedure to the "reappointment" shows that GCCS is satisfied. They are satisfied to continue to have the worst grades from both the State and Federal. Some years back a State official [ i don't recall who] came to Putnam County and made a suggestion to combine all 4 schools into one creating benefits for all, and yet this was brushed aside. Second I continue to hear the people of Greencastle wanting a elected School Board and yet their voices are brushed aside. Greencastle is well overdue for a wholesale change but they want to continue the " good ole boy" system and they are satisfied to be mediocre. Hats off to North Putnam for getting grade A both State and Federal and salutes to Cloverdale and South Putnam for their grades.

    -- Posted by Alfred E. on Thu, Jun 13, 2019, at 8:08 AM
  • Why would North Put, South Put, or Cloverdale have any interest in consolidating? They seem to be doing fine. Don’t dumb down the rest of the county trying to elevate the weak link. Greencastle needs to get their act together.

    -- Posted by 3m50 on Thu, Jun 13, 2019, at 8:21 AM
  • BHS: Did the "State official" take into account the enormous financial, emotional, and logistical cost of consolidating the 4 schools? Any flip idea such as that deserves to be brushed aside. I do agree however that the era of appointed school board officials needs to end sooner than later.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Thu, Jun 13, 2019, at 8:50 AM
  • keithlondon,

    I've been saying this for years. Even just combining the central offices for each of the 4 county schools would be a significant savings even without merging any schools. Lets be honest here, at some point this WILL happen. I predict it to start with South / Cloverdale merger first (which should have happened with the first round of consolidations). If Clay (2 HS) and Vigo (3 HS) can make this work WHY are we still stuck with 4 HS in this county? Everyone said the same things about consolidation the first time around and it seems to be a moot point now. It's going to happen, I'd rather it happen now when the community can work through it on our own than later when one of the districts is in financial trouble and it's being forced by the state. But seeing as how no one in this county can agree (see city vs. county gov) it will probably be forced by the state when it does happen.

    -- Posted by hometownboy on Fri, Jun 14, 2019, at 12:16 PM
  • I agree that Putnam County should only have one School Superintendent. Think of the financial savings on this. Of course that also means there is only one central office and again a hugh savings. Actually the foodservice office could be county wide. That way they have more buying power and could have a central warehouse. And the beat goes on!!

    -- Posted by interested party on Fri, Jun 14, 2019, at 5:43 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: