Pursuant to notice the Board met for a Special Meeting. President Wright called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. with the pledge of allegiance.
Members Present: Mr. Randy Wright, Mr. Jimmie Durnil, Ms. Debra Walcott, Mr. Larry Thrasher and Mr. Dana Kerr. Others Present: Mr. Steve Kain, Ms. Karla Frownfelter, Mr. Larry Sparks, Mr. Bill Buxton, Mr. David Ferguson, Mr. Don Graham, Mr. Dirk Ackerman, Ms. Melissa Pogue, Mr. Bill Atkinson, Ms. Donna Atkinson, Mr. Jack Neal, Mr. Marion Jacobs, Mr. Ron Goad, Mr. Victor Landfair, Ms. Barbara Davidson, Ms. Leslie Gooldy, Ms. Ruth Hays, and others.
INFORMATION REGARDING QUALIFIED SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BONDS
Mr. Kain explained that the Department of Education had not approved the applications for Stimulus Funding of the two proposed projects and that the Board would need to pursue conventional financing to continue the proposed projects.
Mr. Wright invited audience members to comment to the Board about the direction the Board should take.
Mr. Steven Douglas said he is a resident of Forest Park and has three kids in the RBB system. He supports borrowing the funds. He said that when we went through the referendum process last year, it was a disastrous mistake for the community to turn it down. He was anxious to get the stimulus money as he feels we need the upgrades now, not in the future. He said our school system has embraced technology and we need to move forward from now on. If not we will stagnate and nobody will move here if we donít make the changes now.
Mr. Don Graham said he was opposed to many of the building proposals in the past, however he must agree with what Mr. Douglas said as well. He agrees that we need upgrades at this time, but are lots of people in this community that canít afford a tax increase. He said with the economy this bad, he doesnít think this is a good time to borrow. It will cost us $30 million to borrow $20 million. He suggested we hold off on borrowing for now and wait for the interest free money to be offered again. Mr. Graham said we have lots of bright students and they will make it, but heís more concerned about the marginal student. He wishes the School Board would take a better look at the situation. He is not in favor of borrowing money and paying 5% interest on the loan.
Mrs. Angela OíMalley said there is a strong link between viability of the strength of communities and their educational facilities. She said she too is concerned for the marginal student but research shows a better environment is better for them in which to learn. These students recognize we have invested in them and are beholden to what is provided to them and do better. She asked the Board to look deep into their hearts and beliefs and why they serve on this Board.
Mr. Marion Jacobs said he has lived here close to seven decades, and he has seen a lot over change over the years. He always likes to refer to these things as ďthe best of times, the worst of times.Ē He said we would be lucky to get 3% bond and that interest rates are the lowest they have been in a long time. Last month there were 111 properties up for property tax saleóbut he didnít know how many of those were redeemed. He said bond debt is a long term situation, and he doesnít know how long until our economy recovers. Mr. Jacobs said that last year 62% of the voters said no to the referendum, and while this proposal is less money than what was proposed last year, the voters he talked to donít understand, donít get it, and they think the Board is not listening to them. He said it all depends on each personís perspective and economic well being.
October 26, 2009 Special Meeting
Mrs. Leslie Gooldy said doesnít know the answer, but she questions how you cannot support giving kids a competitive edge. She said we would have more high achieving kids and not just marginal ones with these improvements. She said schools give a community its value, and that someone paid for our education, and now it is our turn to pay.
Mrs. Ruth Hayes said 71% of her tax bill goes to the school system. She questioned, shouldnít other areas of society also have some of our funding? She asked if anyone is thinking about that. She said she is all for putting money to use wisely. She stated, you say letís just build a new one, but why not take care of what we have? She said the Board was making the problem worse.
Mr. Jack Neal said he was not here to criticize, just wanting to point out things. He said this community is not what it appears to newcomers. He has seen all the schools built, recalling when there was just Stinesville and Ellettsville Elementary, so the current situation is not a matter of upgrading. He said that he delivers meals to shut-ins through the Endwright Center, and he has 17 stops, 5 days a week. He said these folks he delivers to, built this community, and to look at it from their viewpoint. He said he was not able to attend the Board meeting a week ago, but he understood that it was said our students are scoring better on testingóso is that due to miracle teachers or what? He said this community will tighten their belts again and pay for the improvements, but is it a necessity? He asked that if next year the stimulus money is made available, can we go for it then. He stated to borrow without knowing the necessities is wrong. Lastly, he said that learning comes from teachers and the interest they create; not new buildings.
Mrs. Donna Atkinson said she had a list of what was needed. She said she knows the difference between needs and wants, having had four kids of her own, and that if you want kids to soar, we need more to work with. She said we are just going in circles at these meetings and these are age-old arguments. Mrs. Atkinson said we are not shooting for mansions here, but the building that needs the most, has not been touched. She said the junior high used to be departmentalized, but now weíre doing team concepts. The passing periods have been staggered at the junior high so all the students are not out in the hallways at the same time. She said we have done what we can with what we have, but hereís what we need. We need 10 more classrooms and 3 science classrooms. The entire electrical system needs upgrading. I know where all the breaker boxes are in the building because we are constantly blowing a fuse and I have to go flip them to get power again. She said there is no hot water in the front of the building. The duct works need cleaning so they donít blow dirt everywhere. The HVAC runs good, but the duct system collected a lot of crud over the years. She said the lighting is okay but it could be better. The only large gathering areas are the library and cafeteria; you canít take the gym for classroom/meeting space. She said we need more space; we need a family resource area. We need a confidential area to hold meetings from all the social service agencies that come to assist with our kids. She said with the present front office, you canít see who is coming in the building from the outside. She said there is no conference area, so they hung curtains in the bookstore and put in a table and chairs to make an area. She reiterated the middle school kids have the greatest needs. She said we need doors replaced; they are rusting from the bottom up. The floor is settling and there are 1Ē gaps between the floor and the walls. Bathroom fixtures need replaced. Elementary kids come from the new buildings where the restrooms have toilets that flush and water the sprays automatically, and come to the junior high and literally have to learn how to use the facilities. She said signage is needed everywhere, and while it can be considered cosmetic, it would be nice if people knew where they were going in the building. She said many teachers have a lot of their own furniture; they bring it in trying to save the school money. She agreed there are miracle teachers in their building; they do a lot with what they have.
Mr. Jerry Pittsford said he was here as a dad, miracle teacher and a taxpayer. And yes, he does sit in a chair he brought in himself. His desk is really a table, and he has a credenza and file cabinet to store things. He said parents come in and want to have a meeting, but there is nowhere for them to go. He said he is very concerned about the lighting. Mr. Pittsford said that when they switch over to heat, you can run your foot over the area on his floor where the ductwork is located and pick up a bunch of gray fuzz on your feet. He is concerned as a father of 6th and 2nd grade students and wants his kids to have the best learning areas. He said he canít say with confidence that the junior high will be able to provide what the state mandates in the science classrooms. He stressed, that these were not his wants, but state standards. But, he stated, kids today need interactive education. He said you wonít find blackboards at college, and professors are using electronics and videos for demonstration and class instruction. He stated that you all have been elected to make good decisions for our students. Let our kids know we believe in them. We tell them that daily at the
October 26, 2009 Special Meeting
junior high, now it is your turn. He said it is difficult to tell them you believe in their success when current opportunities donít exist for them to achieve it.
Mr. Chuck Litten said he believes ďif you need it, go for it, if you want it, sleep on it.Ē He said Mrs. Atkinson stated the needs well. He questioned, if we donítí take care of the kids now, we will the rest of our lives.
Mr. Jake Steinmetz said he is a graduate of Edgewood High School, and a former teacher of an administrator at RBB schools, but is now working for Spencer-Owen schools. He said he has a two year old and a four year old. He has lived here his entire life, but now he is at a crossroads, because he doesnít want his kids to go to junior high as it does not have what his kids need. He said we donít want to pay more taxes, but he wants more for his children. He said we should quit putting off to the future what needs to be done now.
Mr. Shawn Spencer said it is disheartening to hear folks who donít want the schools better for the next generation than we had for ourselves. It seems minds are made up, I see membersí heads nodding with things that are said. I have a 3 and 7 year old in the system now. You are right. We leave because we donít see progress. We see it stifled. People put their own interest ahead of the kids. The only solution that Iíve heard is to borrow money and fix things. I hear complaints, but no solutions. You were elected to provide the best for our children.
Debra Walcott said that she had seen all of the necessities Mrs. Atkinson had spoken of, and we indeed need that. She said she did not vote on $10 million for each building. Mrs. Walcott said she did not believe things are looking good in the community or the Monroe County job market. Just this morning a friend of hers employed at Cook told her that her job is leaving the state. She said people have been employed for a long time in this area and they still lose their jobs. She does not want to see increases in taxes but she thinks we have to. We need a plan on how to improve education, starting at the junior high.
Larry Thrasher said he agreed with what Debbie said; we have spent on both the junior high and high school, just look at the new roofs. Lastly, he said, we need to work on the junior high.
Dana Kerr expressed his appreciation to everyone who came out tonight and all of their comments. He said he initially was discouraged by the number of people in attendance, but he had heard very good comments from those present. He said the Board is open to this commentary/feedback, and that the purpose of this meeting is to learn what we need to improve, whether the funding is interest free or not. He said the Board takes the public comments to heart, and while they have many priorities, number one is the childrenís needs. Also in their priorities is what is good for the community. Mr. Kerr stated that no matter what decision the Boards makes, they cannot make everyone happy.
Randy Wright echoed Mr. Kerr in his appreciate everyone coming out tonight. He said the last 3 1⁄2 years has been very stressful on his thoughts. He said that his taxes had gone up, and then came down, but his only agenda is our children. He said he has been here almost 20 years now. He said we have gotten a lot done around here. After 3 1⁄2 years he can say that he finally believes we need a new junior high school. He stated that you have to have a good foundation for a good building or family. When you stand in it you feel pride, and see your hard work, and know success is coming. He said heís putting himself out there, and making the best decisions he can for our children. If the next election means he wonít be around anymore, so be it.
October 26, 2009 Special Meeting
President Wright adjourned the meeting at 8:19 p.m.
_________________________________ Mr. Randall C. Wright, President
_________________________________ Mr. Jimmie D. Durnil, Vice President
_________________________________ Mr. Dana R. Kerr, Secretary
___________________________________ Mr. Larry Thrasher, Member
___________________________________ Ms. Debra L. Walcott, Member
October 26, 2009 Special Meeting