A crowd, estimated at 150 people, packed the Madison Consolidated Schools administrative offices to express their displeasure with decisions being made by the school board. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
A crowd, estimated at 150 people, packed the Madison Consolidated Schools administrative offices to express their displeasure with decisions being made by the school board. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
In an attempt to correct a perceived procedural error from the January Madison School Board meeting, board member Rob Kring asked for a revote on the transfer of high school Principal Kevin Yancey.

The request brought cheers from the crowd of about 150 residents attending the meeting. Many in the audience spoke directly to the board about the transfer and other decisions, including the closure of E.O. Muncie Elementary School, during a special session held before the meeting.

In January, board newcomer Jeanne Dugle had asked that the decision to reassign Yancey be tabled. As a new member of the board, she explained that she had not had time to review or discuss the issue prior to that meeting and wanted to postpone a vote so she could get more information.

Citing Robert’s Rules of Order, which outlines the rules of parliamentary procedure, used by most entities for public meetings – board President Joyce Imel denied Dugle’s request and the board voted 3-2 in favor of Yancey’s reassignment.

“I think we made a mistake in policy,” board member Rob Kring said last night. “Out of respect for the people here, let’s go back and do that again.”

With that, a motion was made to approve Yancey’s reassignment from principal to a newly created administrative position – alumni and community outreach coordinator.

Senior Casey Williams, the student representative to the board, implored the board members to “keep in mind all the actions of the students,” including two organized protests held in the past month supporting Yancey.

Once seconded, there was no further discussion, and by a 3-2 vote the board voted again to reassign Yancey. The result was the same as in January, with Imel, Carl Glesing and Linda laCour voting in favor, and Kring and Dugle voting against Yancey’s reassignment.

Prior to the vote, three people had signed in to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“I think the reason all of these people are here are in support of Mr. Yancey. Rob said you’ll revisit it,” said Mark Cheatham, a retiree who taught in the district for 34 years. “Hopefully it’s one you’ll reverse and do what most of these people are here saying.”

Kathy Auxier, who also signed in to speak, relinquished her time to Larry Henry and Warren Auxier.

Henry asked when the new position was created, and stated, “it was advertised on the school website before it looks like it was created. Was the creation, then, in the addenda of the personnel report, that you created a position and assigned him at the same time to that position? It was never voted on before. I’ve gone through every minute for three years. It was not voted on. It should have been voted on, and you can’t advertise something that doesn’t exist.”

Warren Auxier agreed. “I believe (the decision) moves beyond just (board) policy. My understanding of Indiana state statutes is that the board is required to create that level of a position and affix a salary for that position. That has not occurred,” he said. “Maybe there’s the argument that when you voted the transfer, you created the position, affixed a salary and did that all in one motion. What about the board member that may have wanted the position, but didn’t want Mr. Yancey in it? Maybe wanted the position, but didn’t want the salary where it was at? I believe, if your attorney will look a little closer, it’s not just a matter you did not follow policy, you did not follow state statutes.”

The last to speak to the board, Denise Boles expressed disappointment that while her children have attended Deputy Elementary School, she’s only seen Bolinger and laCour visit there and said she has never seen any other board members visit. Boles also said she was disappointed that, when she sees them in the community, none of the board members have acknowledged her as a parent of MCS students.

“The rapport you have with this community has taken a nosedive,” she said. “I understand the contract about removing Mrs. Bolinger, it’s a legal thing. It can’t be done by the public, so we have to go through the wall and have her removed. As much as we dislike some decisions that have been made, I don’t think she’s got the best interest of my four children at heart.”

Most of those in attendance stayed for the entire meeting, which also included an overview of the partnership with the Ivy Tech Madison Campus, presented by campus president and acting chancellor Katie Mote and Katie Jenner, MCS director of learning.

The women project that the district’s investment in the program, which uses district funds to pay for students to obtain college credit for advanced placement courses or programs will save families as much as $2 million in college expenses by the end of the 2018 school year.

The program allows high school students to become certified to enter good-paying manufacturing jobs right after graduation or to complete at least their first year of college requirements before graduation. Some students are on track to complete their associate’s degrees by graduation this spring.

Updates on improvement plans for Lydia Middleton and Rykers’ Ridge elementary schools also were presented to the board.

After the meeting, Glesing said he was glad that so many people stayed to hear the presentations of positive things happening within the district.

“I hope the presentations show that, without the leadership we’ve got now, these things wouldn’t be happening,” he said.

In other business, the board approved to hire Sherman, Barber & Mullikin to ensure the accurate distribution of 401(a) accounts forfeited when employees leave the corporation before they are fully vested. Cost will be $1,600 to $2,000 the first year and $800 to $1,000 in subsequent years.

Bolinger said the work can be done in-house, but explained it’s “a lengthy process” and going with an outside firm, reduces the risk of error.

The board approved a $9,167 change order for the renovation project at MCHS to include modifications to previously approved plans for the Learning Commons, formerly the media center. Those include modifications to lighting and floor issues and the deletion of some of the furnishings that had been included in the plans.

The board also approved expenditures for the Learning Commons: $169,000 for furniture; $99,194 for installation of a DIRTT Wall System; and $25,689 for the technology components, which include three 65-inch “smart” TVs, four 55-inch flat-screen TVs, and an audio system. The TVs will be used by students in the collaborative study spaces.