Rushville Republican

January 16, 2013

RCS leaving CFR cooperative

Board discusses school safety and security

Marianne Scott
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — The Rush County Schools Board of Trustees met in a special called meeting Dec. 27, 2012.

Board members attending were Dr. Steve R. Sickbert, Paul W. Barada, Anita L. Jackson, Jeff Slaton, John D. Wilson, Jane Carter and Dr. John E. Williams.

The meeting was called to order by board president Dr. Sickbert and was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence. This moment of silence included the remembrance of teachers, families and friends at Sandy Hook Elementary.

The primary agenda item for this meeting was consideration of RCS’ continuing relationship with the CFR Joint Services Cooperative.

In the early years, Rush County Schools belonged to a large cooperative effort made up of several east-central Indiana school corporations called the East Central Joint Services Cooperative.

At the time, it made sense to have students with special needs be served in a centralized location. This meant better class sizes and was financially more affordable.

Over time, and with changes in program requirements, the large cooperative concept became difficult and unacceptable. When some hurdles became too great, Rush County Schools, Centerville-Abbington and Fayette County Schools formed the CFR Joint Services Cooperative.

Again, over time and with even more changes in the demographics of local Special Education students, it is time for another program change.

After a careful review of current personnel, programs and Special Education enrollment we are at a point where Rush County Schools can provide the same quality education with no change in RCS programs and no change in RCS personnel.

This would mean withdrawing from CFR as well as substantial savings to the corporation.

After extensive discussion it was again confirmed that such a change would mean there would be no change in the current Rush County Schools programs, services and personnel.

The board voted to provide CFR with official notification of the corporation’s intent to withdraw from the cooperative.

CFR Cooperative rules state that this notification must be given by Jan. 1 of the school year proceeding official withdrawal. This means that following the 2013-2014 school year, Rush County School will provide its own Special Education Services program (2014-2015 school year).

After further discussion, it was cited that periodic review and assessment of all cooperatives used by Rush County Schools would be beneficial.

The school board met Jan. 8 in regular session.

Board attorney John O. Worth swore in new board members Tammy Jackman and Ron Lienemann.

Reorganization of the board took place. A motion was made and seconded for the slate of officers to reflect Paul W. Barada Sr. for president, Anita Jackson for vice-president, and Jeff Slaton for secretary.

The slate was approved unanimously and the meeting continued under the leadership of the new board president Barada.

The Rush County Schools board was called to order as the Board of Finance. Information was presented on the investment income for the 2012 calendar year. The board reviewed and approved the Report of Investments for 2012 citing earned interest in the amount of $26,024.80.

The board adjourned at the Board of Finance and reconvened as the Rush County Schools Board of Trustees.

Dr. Williams gave a report on the Free and Reduced Lunch program. Participation in this program is based on the income and number per household.  Current statistics indicate participation levels at Arlington Elementary School, 49 percent; Mays Elementary School, 45 percent; Milroy Elementary School, 44 percent; Rushville Elementary School East, 60 percent; Rushville Elementary School West, 68 percent; Benjamin Rush Middle School, 50 percent; and Rushville Consolidated High School, 36%.  The participation average corporation-wide is 40 percent.

Kim Nicholson, Director of Differentiated Learning, reported on Exceptionalities as of Dec. 1, 2012.

The total number of students with disabilities served in the last three school years: 2010-2011 (321), 2011-2012 (342), and 2012-2013 (319).  Currently, this program addresses 13 different disabilities within the corporation. Funding for such is assigned by the state of Indiana. A specific dollar amount is designated per student. This would mean for the 2012-2013 school year a total of $1,064,021 for this student population, 12 certified staff members and 17 support staff.

A request for RCHS TV to participate in a contract with the city of Rushville for video-recording their board meetings was approved. The city will donate $1,000. Ed Small (RCHS Radio/TV) was authorized to sign this contract of behalf of the corporation.

Nicholson reported that the receipt of a High Ability Grant totaling $35,000. The grant will be used in the middle school and elementary schools for their Achieve programs. She further reported that RCS Special Education programs passed all seven indicators; therefore, compliance is 100 percent.

Dr. Williams gave a report concerning school safety. One School Resource Officer (SRO) would cost approximately $50,000 in salary, $22,000 for a squad car plus clothing allowance. The initial outlay per officer would be approximately $70,000 to $75,000. Based on how many SRO’s are considered the corporation would need to commit to between $70,000 (one officer) to $490,000 (seven officers) per year.

In terms of liability, the corporation would take responsibility for this. However, if a SRO was hired from an outside source liability would then be their responsibility.

In earlier board meeting conversations, the question arose concerning whether current staff/teachers should be allowed to carry weapons. Concern was expressed as to whether RCS would want teachers put in this situation. Under current insurance provisions (state), local school personnel would not have liability coverage.

Further conversation ensued concerning building security, securement of doors, and Intruder Alert drills.

Situational protocol is in place and teachers have been given the latitude they need to make the best call for all concerned (when needed). As schools and state governing bodies review school safety it may be that legislation will fund one SRO per school.

Safety will continue to be reviewed, accessed and updated as the board and administrators seek ways to keep our students and staff safe.

The next Rush County Schools Board of Trustees meeting is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 5, 2013 at the Rush County Schools Administrative Office, 330 West Eighth Street, Rushville.