Board hears wrap-up on religious trailer, discusses HNHS renovations

Huntington County Community School Corporation attorney Joe Wiley offered a conclusion to the recent court decision for the "By the Book" religious release time at the beginning of the Monday, Sept. 14 HCCSC Board of Trustees meeting.

In a handout given to members, Wiley said many aspects were considered prior to settling the case.

He talked with the Associated Churches of Huntington County, the parents of third and fourth grade students in the corporation and HCCSC's liability insurance carrier.

Also discussed were the timetables involved in appealing the case any further and the costs related to that.

"In the totality of the circumstances, it is the conclusion of this board that the consent decree is a fair and just resolution for this individual case, our current third and fourth grade students, their parents, our administration and staff, HCCSC patrons and the taxpayers of Huntington County, Indiana," reads the last item on the handout.

Another topic Monday evening was the planning committee for the Phase II renovation of Huntington North High School.

Superintendent of Schools Tracey Shafer presented a possible facilitator for the proposed committee. The committee will look at the needs and wants atthe school as well as thinking about curriculum needs.

As Shafer presented, the facilitator would be Dr. Emmett Lippe, a current superintendent in Michigan.
Shafer said he has conferred with him about how to go about the process of getting community input before renovating HNHS.

The board decided Monday that Lippe's general process is acceptable, but hiring him to head the meetings of the committee is not the route the board wants to take.
Concerns members had with Lippe's approach include the number of representatives on the committee (upwards of 100), which was brought to the board's attention by member Scott Hoffman. He said 15 should be enough members.

"I don't see how they could have a constructive meeting with 75 to 100 people voicing their opinions," Hoffman said.

Shafer said the many people will be able to process the separate parts of information presented to them.

Another concern is the meeting arrangements (one evening meeting to introduce purpose, and one full day of discussion with the possibility of an additional evening session), which was brought up by member Dr. Jennifer Goff.

She cited people might be unable to rearrange their schedules to participate in one full day.

Shafer said he shares the concern, but people might not have the ability to commit to, for example, five two-hour sessions in place of one full day.

"I know we need to do something, I just don't know what that something is ... I'm not sure if this is what I had in mind, but I'm not sure if it isn't," said President Kevin Patrick.

Members decided pieces of Lippe's approach would work and should be looked into, including in other processes.

Shafer said he will continue to look into more options.