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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Coming soon: Remonstrance

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It is almost time for the residents in the Clay Community School Corporation to pick a side on the petition remonstrance.

CCSC Supt. Dan Schroeder and CCSC Director of Buildings and Grounds Tom Reberger sat down with The Brazil Times about the petition remonstrance.

The proceedings are simple. From Aug. 7-Sept. 8, residents will be asked to sign one of two papers, either yellow in favor of the building project or blue against it.

"Once the signatures are verified as registered voters or owners of property, then the results will be made known to the public sometime in November," Schroeder said. Because of the delicacy of the situation, the process is being handled with the utmost care to ensure that everything is done correctly.

"If the community moves to continue with the project, then the School Tax Board would put a document together and a written recommendation will be made to the Department of Local Government Finance," Schroeder told The Brazil Times.

However, Schroeder also said that if the community decides against the project then the school board would meet to decide their next course of action.

Upon approval, the architects and their teams will then bring information back to the School Board.

"If the ideas are approved, competitive bids will be set into play and the selling of bonds will begin," Reberger said. "At that time, more detailed drawings and plans from the architects would go to the school board and a decision will be voted on."

Schroeder added if all of the aforementioned components are approved, the bond rate would be at 3.8 percent. With this rate, the project itself would be paid off in 8-9 years.

If the process takes longer and goes into another year, then the inflation is expected to rise at least 5 percent in the construction industry and some sections could be higher Reberger told The Brazil Times.

"If everything is approved, then construction could start the summer of 2009 at the earliest," Schroeder said.

"The original proposal started at $53 million and was cut in half, it is now only going to cost $26,035,000."

Both were firm in saying that the equity and tax rate will not increase.

They also agreed if the elementary schools are completed, then nothing major will need to be done to them for at least 20 years.

"The process started in 2005 and the community has been involved every step of the way with open meetings, advertisement and being able to voice their concerns or questions," Schroeder said.

"What we have put together at this time is the best economical package for taxpayer money," Schroeder added.

Agreeing with him, Reberger said, "To provide equal facilities for the best possible education for our children."

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Neither the current plan nor the 53 million dollar plan that was proposed in August 2007 provide for long range planning of building replacement although all seven of our elementary schools are over forty years old. The planners of this project have planned to do nothing to improve education such as returning the sixth graders in the north part of the county or seriously reduce the student to teacher ratio by adding classrooms in addition to what is planned so that teachers have the opportunity to have more one-on-one time with students, especially in K thru 3rd grade. A vote for proceeding with this plan is a vote to continue the education process as it is, with the Clay City Schools having a graduation rate ten percent better than Northview. A vote for the remonstrance is a vote that will show the school corporation that the voter and the taxpayer wants change!

There are many parts of this plan where money can be saved. There is little reason to replace a toilet just because it is forty years old at a cost of over a hundred dollars per unit. There is no justifiable reason to replace a door because the handle is not ADA-compliant; change the handle in the door not the door. There is good reasoning in replacing the carpeting in our schools with hard floor coverings as advised by the American Association of School Administrators in June of 2003, that being less lost school days due to respiritory illness. The argument that carpet reduces noise in the classroom suffices only those who care little for the child who could not be at school because they couldn't breathe and those who do not realize the legal implications to our schools. The money that we save by pulling this plan back for a through re-work to eliminate the uneccessary items and make changes that will actually impact education would be money well spent.

Let's actually step into this new century instead of stepping back forty to fifty years.

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Thu, Jul 31, 2008, at 7:39 PM

Improving our graduation rate and updating our buildings are two separate issues. I do believe we need to look at the teacher to student ratio in the lower grades, the managing of the NCMS (especially 6th grade), and the graduation rate, but the school building themselves need updating and expansion to house our current student population. Let's face it, the population is much larger now than in 1950. And even if we had a perfect graduation rate, the fact is the schools would still need updating.

You are right, that these schools are older, but as I like to think, excessive age does not make you inadequate. Buildings in the 1950s and 1960s were built to last, but if you own a home built at that time I am sure you have updated and repaired it over the years. But, it does not mean you have to build a new home, or a new school. We can repair and update what we have.

Correct me if I am wrong, Leo, but I believe you would like the community to build a "superschool" to house the students from a few of the current elementeries. Wouldn't this be the same thing we did when we sent the 6th grade to NCMS? You are putting alot of students all in one building where they get lost in the system. Can you not see that in a larger elementary school, the younger students such as kindergarteners will be the ones lost and how will that help the graduation rate?!

As a parent of a middle school and an elementary school student, I want the schools updated. My children attend one of the schools in the city limits and I can see that it needs repairs and expansion, but the building itself is stable. I also like that it is still small enough that I know all the teachers and they know me and my child. I do not believe in a larger elementary that will be possible. Also, I feel the teachers are doing a great job educating my children, so the building and the type of education my children recieve are two different things.

I want to see my children's school be safe and have adequate rooms and storage.

I also think as a community, we want to see our community continue to grow. We cannot attract future businesses with buildings that are inadequate. Potential businesses do look at the schools before coming to the area. So, I do think updating our schools would help the community as a whole thrive and grow.

-- Posted by HoNeyLove on Thu, Jul 31, 2008, at 10:06 PM

This plan does not promise or hint at what the graduation rate is. This plan is about fixing buildings that are not fit to be taught or teach in! The other issues are things thatneed to be addressed with the school board. Leave them out of this issue.

I do not think it is fair that Leo gets a blog to spout forth his side of this and the other side has to beg and borrow for coverage. I would love to see a debate happen but then wait... that should have been done when the public was asked for input months ago!

Step up Clay County! Let's get the schools in 2008 shape!!!

-- Posted by madmom61 on Fri, Aug 1, 2008, at 7:46 AM

All I have to say is this our opions dont count not with CCS. They will do what they want the thing I dont understand we have kids in building built in the 1950's but the kids at Northview need more repairs & always Get more than the rest. Also before every one gets uptight I have a child @ Northview & 1 @ Clay City High School

-- Posted by kd323 on Fri, Aug 1, 2008, at 10:32 AM

I think you might want to check and see what Eastside and Meridian are getting. Other school will benifit from this as well

-- Posted by madmom61 on Fri, Aug 1, 2008, at 12:03 PM

Thank you for the information on when and how to vote.

Could you please tell us where to vote and how to obtain the ballots.

-- Posted by ashes@iendeavor.com on Fri, Aug 1, 2008, at 12:37 PM

There are not ballots. People will be carrying petitions for and against. You have to decide how you wish to sign and then do so. If you wish to sign for the buildings, feel free to contact any school personel when they are not at work and they can help you. These petitions can not be on school property or talked about while on school grounds

-- Posted by madmom61 on Fri, Aug 1, 2008, at 1:12 PM

just cannot hold it in any more. Every time I hear a quote like "There is little reason to replace a toilet just because it is forty years old at a cost of over a hundred dollars per unit" it just drives me nuts.

First let me say that I was born in Brazil, went to grade school at the old Zellar school, and graduated from good old Brazil High. I went away to college then the military. I have lived in most of the states in the Mid West, and several Southern Cities.

I have returned to Brazil to live out the rest of my life because it is home and always will be. I sincerely love it here.

But I have to say that many of the people of Clay County are so D*** set in their ways it drives me crazy. Look around you, see your neighborhood, See your city, LOOK with open eyes. We have this ingrained attitude that why should we change anything? If it was good enough for my Parents and Grandparents why should we change anything. Because the world is changing people... What don't you understand about that?

Schools like Eastside are literally falling apart. By not spending the money to upgrade or rebuild we are sending a message to the children that we REALLY DON'T CARE. So guess what kind of attitude they will have. This is not about the Teachers, It is not about contracts, or any other subject. It is about giving the Children the very best we can possibly give them. It is about showing them we care about their future. If we do not care enough, and show it, just how bright a future will they have?

-- Posted by BackHomeAgain on Fri, Aug 1, 2008, at 6:30 PM

I cannot even to begin to fathom how people could say that our buildings have nothing to do with our graduation rate. Every dollar that is spent by the school corporation affects our graduation rate, either positively or negatively. Money spent to get education into our students' heads has a positive effect, money spent on everything else is a negative; however some of the negative spending is quite necessary, such as buses, drivers, buildings, building maintenance, etc. Every action taken by the school corporation affects our graduation rate and every action needs to be focused on improving that rate. As Northview has a graduation rate that is ten percent less than Clay City Junior -- Senior High, not only do we need to look at Northview for improvement, we need to improve its feeder system also with a hard look at North Clay and the elementary schools. If we can affect Northview's graduation rate in a positive manner by moving our sixth graders back into the elementary school setting , then we should take that step.

Our school buildings are near the middle of their serviceable life-span; however, Meridian and Eastside have been neglected because a choice was made to use Capital Projects Fund money for other needs. Now, to comply with changes in the law (ADA specifically) they require more than half of what Avon, IN built an elementary school for that opened in 2007 that would hold the current student bodies of both of these schools. In another fifty years, a generation of residents in Clay County will have to replace all of our elementary school buildings if we do not begin to replace them cyclically.

I do not know who began the use of the term "super-school" in Clay County in the discussion of our buildings; however, combining Meridian and Eastside into one building would create, using enrollment figures reported in the Winter Edition of the Clay Communicator, a school with a current enrollment of 547 students; a school that, according to School Planning and Management's 2007 Construction Report, Table 5, would be seven students over the lower quartile number of students and well below the high quartile planned enrollment of 800 students and the national median of 700 students. This enrollment of 547 students would also be well below Linton -- Stockdale Elementary in Greene County (760 students), Spencer Elementary in Owen County (693 students), and Sullivan Elementary in Sullivan County (691 students), these figures coming from the Indiana department of Education website. The schools that I have mentioned have performance indicators such as the ISTEP scores and demographics that are comparable with our smaller schools. The data does not indicate that merging Eastside and Meridian would be detrimental to education within the county, in fact, if we can save money by doing so that we can target towards education the data indicates that we should merge the schools.

I would welcome the opportunity to debate the issue and get all of the facts out in the open, once and for all. As to why there was no public debate on this, ask the school corporation and the people who were on the school board at the time. I was there at the school board meetings and addressed the issues that I could in the time I was allowed. I write a blog, reaching a few people who care to read what I have to say and I write many Letters to the Editor, some of which appear in print; school corporation officials get interviewed and a write-up in the paper. I answer questions asked of me and address points in comments in a public forum on my blog with my identity known to any who read it. To this day I do not know if any school corporation and I have engaged in debate on the blog, if so, they did not identify themselves. If you ask a question of a school corporation official, you may get an answer, but you may not. The public will never hear of it unless it suits the purposes of the official or you spread the word. That is how I got involved; I didn't get answers to three questions, I got a copy of what was planned that did not answer three simple questions.

I have stood up at the school board meetings and stated, repeatedly, that we need to do the right thing the right way. The right thing is to educate as many students as possible, to the point of earning a diploma, in the most cost-effective manner. As I do not see that happening or even beginning, I will do whatever it takes to change the direction of the school corporation. When I see "hype" or spin coming from people within the corporation or when I see errors in facts, I will call public attention to it.

This is my community and it is important to me. I will work to improve it and the remonstrance is one of the ways to improve the school corporation!

Semper Fidelis!

Leo L. Southworth

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Fri, Aug 1, 2008, at 7:07 PM

Backhome again;

The problem is that the facts accessable to you and I were not looked at or ignored. While there has been time and money spent, people are worried more about the looks of the building than the education process that goes on within it. There has been more discussion in the "official" meeting about the square footage of the buildings than the number of classrooms needed or if we could add even more classrooms to improve education by lowering the student to teacher ratio if we do not "replace servicable toilets at a cost of a hundred dollars each", a point that I brought up in meetings, but the corporation has ignored. There are many points that have not been brought out that need to be discussed but never were. The process reminded me of being in elementary school, the corporation (teacher) said "this is what we want to do" and, no matter how absurd the item was, no matter what the data said, and no matter what questions the item raised, the public was expected to reply "Yes, ma'am or sir". The corporation had its collective mind in set on ramming this project through and the remonstrance process was the only way to stop it. Hopefully, the remonstrance will succeed and we can get this done right and quickly. We will never come up with a "perfect" plan nor a "perfect" school, but we can do a lot better for education than what has been planned!


-- Posted by FlyinLion on Fri, Aug 1, 2008, at 7:30 PM

I am probably going to open a can of worms, but here goes. For a person who does not like confrontation and wanted to stay in the background of this fight, I am going to change now.

I believe the community had an election and the MAJORITY spoke and elected school board officials. Some people were not elected. I think we as a community should voice our opinions and get the facts, but the majority of the people in this community voted these people into office, so they speak for the MAJORITY. I guess this is what we will see with the petitions that are being passed around. It is just a shame that it is slowing the whole process down!

Sounds like some people have a problem with authority. I was taught that when an elder, teacher, or law official says "do it", you do it. You might ask why, but they have the ultimate say.

-- Posted by HoNeyLove on Sun, Aug 3, 2008, at 9:31 AM

The MAJORITY and our elected officials can and do make bad choices at times. Two glaring examples of this, in the history of this nation, would be that the existence of slavery was allowed in the Constitution and the passing of Prohibition. Slavery led to the Civil War and Prohibition gave organized crime an opportunity to grow. Both, legal slavery and the prohibition of alcohol on the national level, no longer exist. If neither had been allowed in the beginning, we would, today, still have problems within our society; but they would be different ones.

Our democratic republic, the United States, was formed in dissent with the rulers of Britain. We have the right and responsibility to disagree with the decisions of our elected or appointed leaders when we disagree with choices that they make for us.

The petition and remonstrance process is not "slowing the process down" of deciding what the community wants to do on the issue of our schools. It is, in fact, part of the process, one that was not planned for by the school corporation but one that has existed for decades and should have been allowed for in the corporation's timetable. It could have been avoided by more public discussion and public consideration, by the ones that formed the plan, of facts brought out during meetings.

I take it that when HoNeyLove brings up the recent election and the fact that candidates were defeated yet are still active, she is speaking of me personally. I will address her comment in that light. I know that I advocate a radical change within the school corporation, including the replacement of two of our schools with one that would be near the national average for a newly-built small elementary school, something many in the county believes to be a large school. I have facts and figures, available to anyone with Internet access and definitely to the school corporation, that indicate that we need to change to improve education within the corporation that the school corporation and the public have been made aware of, yet have disregarded or ignored. I put my name on the ballot knowing that I was not going to be elected, but giving the voter a choice to elect me if they so desired. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised that I got sixteen percent of the vote, I had expected around five. I did not spend a dime trying to get elected in a district where very few people will listen to facts because the opposition told them that they were losing something. Corporation-wide, people are more open-minded to the facts affecting my district than those in my district. This is the same problem that the planners of the project have, they looked within the corporation for facts on which to base their decision and did not gather all of the facts that they could have. That is the root problem of the plan, that far too many facts that were available with a few keystrokes on a computer keyboard do not appear to be considered; facts that make the current plan absurd and indicate that we can and should modify our buildings and school corporation in other ways to positively affect education within the corporation with the assets at our disposal.

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Sun, Aug 3, 2008, at 11:48 AM

But Leo with all due respect.... What is it that makes you right and almost everyone else wrong?

What is it in your mind that makes anyone on the board or in authority in the school system THEM.

As in a US versus THEM mentality? It really seems obvious when reading your blogs and letters.

As an American I respect your right to voice any disagreement you have. That is one of our most precious rights.

-- Posted by BackHomeAgain on Sun, Aug 3, 2008, at 5:04 PM


1. While you might gat the impression that I have an US v. Them mentality, that's not quite the way I see it. We, the citizens who support this corporation and who send our children, are all in this boat that I see filling up with water. You would have to see all of the items that I have seen over the past year to see the same picture all of the parts paint to understand. Right now, briefly, we are in a budget bind where the projection is that we will only be able to hire new teachers in about twenty months if they are willing to teach for insurance as their contribution will match their salary. We are using CPF money to pay for operating expenses so we cannot use it to maintain the buildings properly. That will cease in 2010 and the utilities will have to be paid out of the General fund. If we go into the red, the state steps in and tells us what we ARE going to do. The last time that happened, so I am told, the high schools around Brazil got consolidated into Northview. As the elementary schools are so small up here, there is a good chance that the state will tell us to merge two or even three of them. We are better off doing it now, on our own, and not being stuck paying on renovations on buildings that we can no longer use.

2. There are members of the board and employees of the school corporation who agree with me. They have not "went public" as of yet. There are quite a few citizens who I am in contact who agree with me who are waiting to sign the remonstrance.

3. I do not "think that I am right", I think that all of the facts about our situation, what we can do, and what has worked for education in other places,or even a preponderance of them were never considered in deciding what to do in this instance. That I'll lay at the feet of our former superintendant who started this process by asking a question of "What can we do to our buildings?" The question should have been "What do we need to do to our buildings to save money and improve education?" Dr. Schoeder is supporting a plan that was formed under someone eles's guidence and I am not sure that he would do it the same way. The remonstrance would give him the opportunity, but, in his position, can he really come out and tell people that this project should be scrapped?

4. Indiana law lays this decision at the feet of the citizen. The building committees have had their say, the unidentified corporation-wide committee has had their input, the school board, sitting at the time, allowed minimum public input at required public meetings and took their vote on the issue. Now is the time that the citizen has the opportunity to lay out the facts as are known to him or her and call the question of his or her peers.

5. The purpose of our education system is to mold the student into a citizen who can live, work, and succeed in our society and the world. There are many factors in that molding process; many of which determine the success or failure of the process. It is a process that takes a span of years to accomplish, yet it can fail in a crucial moment. Our buildings house that process and affect it somewhat. We do need to improve them, but some people think that, by doing that, we are going to greatly impact the current students positively immediately. I do not see that happening. Education can turn on a sentence from a teacher, but the building has minimal effect. What we do with the buildings will have the most positive impact on the next class of students and succeeding classes; yet many people want to do something quickly without deliberating instead of gathering as much knoledge as we can and then deciding what is best. If we do that, are we not spending money but receiving little value to education?

On a personal note, please do not read emotion or personal judgements into my writing style. I try to pass along a lot of information without emotion. Everyone is trying to do their best for the community, but I seem to have become aware of facts that just don't appear to have been considered but should have. I just do not know that they have been looked at, but the current plan does not take them into account or it would not be the plan.

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Mon, Aug 4, 2008, at 10:10 AM

I feel rather than rushing things lets make sure what were gonna do is right. Not rush to a deciesion then have to spend millionsof dollars to fix it.

-- Posted by kd323 on Wed, Aug 6, 2008, at 10:29 PM

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