Madison Consolidated Schools has reduced weekly hours and eliminated healthcare benefits for bus drivers, bus aides, most cafeteria employees and instructional assistants. Those employees are able to keep healthcare benefits provided by the school until the end of the year.

Also at the meeting, several new hires were announced.

Leslie May was named the new principal of E. O. Muncie Elementary School, effective July 1. Mike Frazier is the interim director of systems, operations and auxiliary services and Patric Morrison, a 2006 Madison Consolidated High School graduate, was named the new head football coach at the high school.

Hours for the affected part-time employees have been reduced to below 30 hours a week, because of a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires large businesses to provide healthcare to employees working 30 hours or more each week.

Superintendent Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger said many employees working within the three selected groups already worked less than 30 hours a week.

"Many school corporations and businesses have been working in anticipation of this law," Bolinger said. "We do need to make sure that we're able to meet the costs of those (benefit) options if we provide those. There are so many uncertainties as to how this will play out on the state and federal level."

Bolinger said she has met with each group affected by the cuts and has tried to answer their questions

The unanimous decision by the Madison School Board came with reluctance from its members. However, several members were swayed because the board will be able to revisit the issue after future implementations of the Affordable Care Act and possible legislation that could exclude school corporations from certain provisions in the act.

"I have a better understanding now that I know we can revisit the issue," said board secretary Linda laCour. "The only school systems not in same boat are ones that haven't been offering benefits to these people to begin with."

"We're trying to do our best and we're kind of backed into a corner, quite frankly, by laws," she said.

School board President Todd Bass said the decision was emotional for the board members. 

"We didn't go into any of this light hearted or without emotion," he said.

Also at the meeting, Katie Jenner, director of learning for Madison schools, announced several curriculum updates that will be implemented by the school system next year.

Beginning next year, Madison's elementary schools will offer an exploratory Spanish class for kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.

Jenner said 15 percent of public elementary schools offer similar immersion classes. She is also exploring the possibility of including second-grade classrooms.

Madison Junior High School will implement its first pre-advanced placement courses in English, math, social studies and science. Those pre-advanced placement courses will feed directly into Madison Consolidated High School's advanced placement classes.

The junior high also is expanding its Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. AVID is a college preparatory program aimed at refining the skills required of students to advance to high school and college.

Madison high school will begin offering students dual credit courses designed toward local and regional job market needs.

Jenner said the new curriculum additions are a step toward providing a seamless transition for students from K-12.

"We're really taking this very seriously. College readiness is essential," Jenner told the school board.

In other business:

• The school board approved $3,500 to install a long sought after crosswalk between the school and the McDonalds restaurant on Clifty Drive.

"I'm excited to announce that we were informed that the crosswalk we've been trying to get for years is moving forward," Bolinger said.

According to the superintendent, the city, county and Indiana Department of Transportation are all ready to move forward.

A ramp will be added to the sidewalks on both sides of Clifty Drive, with a crosswalk painted down the street.

"I think it's a long-time coming," said board Vice President Carl Glesing.

• The board heard the first reading of an amended policy regarding student food services and the free lunch program.

Under the proposed new policy, elementary school students with a negative balance of $25 will be served an alternative lunch consisting of either a peanut butter sandwich or cheese sandwich with juice until the balance is paid.

The student also won't be served breakfast until the balance is paid. Parents will be notified when the balance is negative.

At the junior high school, five school lunches can be charged to the school. After those five lunches, students can receive a peanut butter or cheese sandwich with juice for free until the charges are paid. Parents will be notified after the second charge.

No charges will be allowed at the high school, so students who can't afford the regular school lunch will receive a peanut butter or cheese sandwich and juice.

Positive meal balances will follow students and be forwarded form school to school each year.

Joyce Imel took some issue with the amendments to the program.

"This is very difficult. I understand the need, but it's not the child's fault. I have a very difficult time giving them a different lunch," she said. "I know we can't finance the entire community, however, this is very difficult to do."

Further question was raised as to why students with an outstanding balance would not be served breakfast at elementary schools.

Bolinger advised the board to have a discussion and to make changes for the second reading of the amendment.

• Three change orders were approved for the Madison Junior High School pool renovation. The first order is to repair lights and receptacles in the pool and replace power and add breakers for existing pumps. That order is $4,358.

The second order will repair electrical problems with outside lighting and will allow for roof drainage lines to be relocated. That order costs $10,282.

The final order is to fix an existing floor drain for $812.

Frazier said the changes could result in the pool area being delayed by a week. He said the rest of the project is progressing on schedule.