MCS board holds off on referendum
Thursday, May 09, 2013 11:00 AM
After receiving a feasibility study from Schmidt Associates, an engineering firm based in Indianapolis, the Madison School Board has decided to not pursue a special November referendum that would determine the fate of a new school building project.
Instead, the board decided to wait until the regular elections next May to consider a referendum.
"We had a pretty aggressive timeline to try to get to a referendum to see if we could get to what should be done to the high school and what should be done to the other buildings," Todd Bass, school board president said.
"We're not going to push for that this fall."
The feasibility study showed that Madison Consolidated High School and E. O. Muncie Elementary are the two buildings, most in need of repair or replacement.
Schmidt Associates inspected the high school, junior high school and all of the elementary schools in the school corporation before making a recommendation to the board Wednesday. Bass said that while most of the buildings could be repaired and updated through capital gains projects, both E. O. Muncie and the high school would probably require referendums.
A law passed in 2009 requires a referendum for any school construction project that would cause local property taxes to increase.
Representatives from Schmidt Associates recommended that the board put together a community group to gather as much input as possible before moving forward.
Carl Glesing, vice president of the school board, said during the meeting that the board probably needed to spend some money on the new school buildings "pretty quickly."
"We need the community involved in it. We need the community to get involved and not just sit and gripe about it," Glesing said.
In other business, the school board approved a partnership between the school corporation, the Madison police department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's department in acquiring a school resource officer.
The school board approved the decision a day after Gov. Mike Pence signed new legislation that sets aside $10 million in state funds for matching grants that will help schools hire police officers for schools that don't have them.
Jill Mires, safety specialist for Madison, said she's planning on pursuing a state grant.
"Having that officer in our buildings, I think will make a huge difference in the feeling of safety for our students," Mires said.
Mires is hoping for funding for two officers, one that would primarily be located at the high school and another that would rotate between the other school buildings.
Under the agreement, the police and sheriff's departments would help train and equip the officers.
Mires said she estimates needing $40,000 for the officer's annual income that would be split between the three partners.
Before any further steps can be taken, police department involvement needs to be approved by the City Council and the sheriff's department's involvement needs to be approved by the County Council. Mires said the issue is on the agenda for each group's next meeting.
Their involvement will need to be approved before a timetable or financial commitment can be recommended to the school board, though Mires is hoping to have the officers in place in August, before the start of the next school year.
The board also:
Approved the hiring of one principal and the resignation of another.
Tracy Ahlbrand, who was recommended to the board by Superintendent Ginger Studabaker-Bolinger last week, was approved as the new principal of Lydia Middleton Elementary School.
Ahlbrand is an English teacher at Madison Junior High School. She holds a teaching license, an administrator's license and a law degree.
Shelli Reetz is currently the interim principal at Lydia Middleton. She took that position in October.
James Hough is resigning as principal of E. O. Muncie. Hough was principal of the school for two years, and worked as an administrator for Madison Schools for the last six.
"Thousands of students have come across my path," Hough said. "And I've loved every one of them..."
Hough is moving to be closer to his family.
Approved the book rental fees for elementary students for the 2013-2014 school year.
Book rentals for kindergarten will be $157.63. Fees for first-grade will be $167.28; second-grade, $173.49; third-grade, $180.50; fourth-grade, $182.75 and fifth-grade, $186.20.
Bolinger said she wanted to let families know about the cost before the start of summer vacation.
"This allows parents to really think about what they might need over the summer before they register," Bolinger said.
Approved Madison's summer school program. Summer school will be from June 10-27 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Bolinger expects a grant from the Indiana Department of Education that should cover most summer school expenses.