School board addresses principal issues at Monday night meeting

Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees, fresh from meeting in an earlier executive session, accepted the retirement of Riverview Middle School Principal Curt Crago, the resignation of Riverview Middle School Assistant Principal Michael Parsons and the hiring of a new principal for the middle school during its regular meeting on Monday, June 12.

All three action items were part of a long list of consent agenda items and were not separated from the grouping for individual consideration or discussion by board members.

Superintendent Randy Harris would not comment on the circumstances leading up to Crago’s departure, but he said no children were put in any harm by any incidents at the school and nothing illegal occurred.

Crago’s last day will be June 30. Parsons’ employment will continue through July 31. However, Harris said those dates are based on the individual administrators’ contracts and both have already departed from HCCSC. Harris added that Parsons is leaving to take a position as a principal at a Columbus elementary school.

Riverview’s new principal will be James Bragg, who is currently serving as the assistant principal at Huntington North High School. Bragg’s first day at the middle school will be July 17.

In other action by the board, textbook rental fees for the 2017-18 school year were approved 5-2, with board members Reed Christiansen and Kevin Yarger voting against the motion.

Elementary book rental fees for kindergarten through fifth grade increased by $25 to $155.06 per year, which includes iPad rental of $75.

Sixth, seventh and eighth grade fees stayed the same, fluctuating from $282.81 to a maximum of $313.73. Those fees include an Apple MacBook rental fee of $175.

High school textbook rental fees also did not increase and will vary depending on the classes taken by each student, said Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Chad Daugherty.

The board also considered a Career & Technical Education Area 18 Agreement presented on its first reading. Harris explained the new agreement, between nine area school corporations including Southern Wells Community Schools, agrees to refrain from sending buses into the cooperative schools’ districts to add students to their schools.

Harris said the nine districts receive federal funding that allow them to purchase equipment and supplies for career and technical education, such as heavy duty machinery. The schools can also offer classes to students in the cooperative districts that they may not have at their home schools.

However, Harris says Southern Wells has decided to send buses into other districts, making stops in Warren, Montpelier and Pennville, to pick up students.

“As a cooperative, we don’t believe that’s appropriate,” Harris said. “In the amended agreement, we are seeking to add a line that essentially says we will not do that, and if a member school district chooses to cross school boundaries, then they could be removed from Area 18 and from being part of the cooperative.”

If that were the case, any items purchased by that district using Perkins funds would have to be returned to the Area 18 Cooperative.

The Southern Wells Community Schools’ attorney sent the Area 18 school superintendents a letter requesting they not pass the new agreement and send the matter instead to the Indiana State Department of Education. However, Harris said HCCSC’s attorney, Joe Wiley, sent a letter back to Southern Wells suggesting they rescind their motion to send buses into the adjoining county school districts until at least the 2018-19 school year, to give the cooperative time to work on the issue.

“I felt that it was appropriate, that if they wanted us to slow down, then they should back off and they should also slow down,” Harris added.

In other business:

• Contracts to replace carpeting at Flint Springs and Lincoln elementary schools were approved 7-0. Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Jon Bennett said the contract was awarded to Everything Flooring in Roanoke for $131,085.10.

• Bids from Felger Hart to replace a chiller and office air conditioner at Crestview Middle School were also approved unanimously. The chiller will cost $82,950 and the air conditioner unit will cost $24,999, Bennett said.

• The board unanimously OK’d the 2017-18 budget adoption calendar. Bennett explained the school district is mandated to advertise its capital projects fund and bus replacement plan in the newspaper, and the rest of the budget on the Gateway website as part of the budget process.

A public hearing on the budget will be held Oct. 9, Bennett added.

• The board unanimously approved the school board meeting schedule for 2017-18, with some changes. The July 2017 meeting will be held on July 24, and the March 26, 2018 meeting, which falls during spring break, was removed from the schedule.

The meeting dates for the remainder of 2017 will be: July 24, Aug. 14, Aug. 28, Sept. 11, Sept. 25, Oct. 9, Oct. 23, Nov. 13, Nov. 27, Dec. 18. Meeting dates for 2018 are: Jan. 8, Jan. 22, Feb. 12, Feb. 26, March 12, April 9, April 23, May 14, May 29, June 11 and June 25.

• Board President Matt Roth announced the next public work session, which will take place Monday, July 10, at 7 p.m. at the Horace Mann Education Center. Roth said the primary objective of the session will be to answer questions posed by the public during comments made at the last work session on June 5.