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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

School board hears heated discussion

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Clay Community School Board of Trustees met Wednesday to discuss a wide range of topics, however the community had other plans.

"I understand that people don't always get the answers they want," Clay County resident John Brush said to the board and packed room. "But I want to know where the people are that complained, why are they not here?"

Brush was one of many speakers who voiced their opinion on the decision made by the school board during the Dec. 4, special session meeting. The 4-2-1 vote, in favor of the non-renewal contract of North Clay Middle School Principal John Allen and the resignation of Clay City Elementary Principal John Russell was accepted.

Supt. Dan Schroeder commented on the evaluation system for area principals.

"Some principals received either a two-year contract or a one-year contract," he said. "Those who only received a one-year contract are not on probation."

Teachers representing principals who did receive a one-year contract made comments on behalf of the affected principals.

"I was on the committee that recommended and selected Sheryl Jordan," Jacqueline Dalton said to the school board with members of Staunton Elementary staff standing behind her in support. "She has united to the staff and implemented a positive behavior initiative to teach our students on how to become respectful and productive citizens."

Steve Hoopingarner also remarked on behalf of the Van Buren Elementary staff.

"We stand behind Gail Williams as principal," he said. "With her guidance we have been united to provide and promote a positive environment for the students."

Board Member Terry Barr thanked everyone for coming and informed those in attendance that even though they are elected by the public, discussions concerning administration evaluations are not made public.

"I would like to encourage the principals to get with the board for discussion," she said.

Board Secretary Jennifer Kaelber commented on being at the receiving end of the negative and even some positive comments being made in a negative way.

"I've had difficulty sleeping and I don't take my responsibility lightly," she said. "We can't discuss personnel issues, but I want to reinforce that the students and their teachers weigh heavily on my heart.

The next regular school board meeting will be Jan. 8, 2009, at North Clay Middle School in the Media Center at 7:30 p.m.

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I would like to commend the community members and teachers that went to the School Board meeting and spoke up publicly in support of the four local principals that are being attacked by the administration and School Board members. Why are we as a county tolerating the administration going after several local, respected principals? This is exactly how the administration treats teachers and now it is in a public forum concerning principals.

-- Posted by 5longyears on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 2:54 AM

I believe that the people who have complained did it directly to administration or board members. Would Mr Brush I wonder really want accusations made public before they were verified? I have been at board meetings where this happened [not necesarilly these individuals however]. There is rule in place that now forbids this public accusation at the board meetings. Those who complain must go through proper channels to the supervisor and in many cases sit down with person accused and their supervisor so full documentation can be made and the individual can defend themself. I have complained about several individuals in the corporation. To rant at board meeting about an individual isn't effective and is a last resort only IF no one up the chain of command takes action [read: does their job either].


According to what was said last night, the one year contracts have been the standard and awarding a few two year contracts was only a way to reward exemplary performance. I am guessing due to lack of money to give monetary reward for exemplary service. Did no one else hear that statement? I think some are missing the point here. This is about performance, not about how nice the person has been. No one said the staff that got one year contracts did a bad job or weren't nice people. That one year contract is a statement that they did their job. The two year contract said that they went WAY beyond what was expected of them but there was no money to give them a merit raise. The non renewal seems to indicate that there was performance deficit. Not that the person wasn't nice. I do not know details as they are confidential but no one on board ever say anything about anyone not being a nice person or that these people weren't well respected.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 6:48 AM

I think Mr. Brush's statementwas was beautiful. These complainers had the chance to voice their opinions and WHERE WERE THEY????

If Mrs. Kaelber is having trouble sleeping then maybe she should do the right thing!!!

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 7:04 AM

Well as one of the complainers, I was at my child's christmas program. Kinda funny that things are planned this way???

-- Posted by smoke20fan on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 7:18 AM

Yes, I am sure the whole music department at all of the schools got togther and plotted that!

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 8:09 AM

LOL.........the music department plotted the scheduling of the school board meeting........LOL!

I missed the blasted thing myself, but it wasn't because I attended my granddaughter's program at Van Buren. I missed it because I didn't notice the change in the date that came out in the paper on the 8th, my own fault, I'll agree.

The school board meets on the second THURSDAY of the month, generally. Regular board meetings start at 7:30 PM. Special meetings usually start at 7:00 PM. LOL, I and several other people have showed up at the wrong place at the wrong time due to the difference. LOL, if not for reading the paper today, I would have been at NCMS at 7:30 today wondering where everyone was.......LOL! Could it be that the scheduling of meetings is intentionally confusing to reduce participation by the public?

I called a board member to find out why the date was changed. I was told it was because the board president had another function to attend. Isn't that why there is a vice-president?

Attendence was high, but would it have been even higher if no school programs were scheduled to conflict? Aren't the schools aware of school board meetings?

Just some thoughts.

Leo L. Southworth

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 9:27 AM

Glad you appreciate my humor! I am full of vinegar today Leo ;>

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 10:20 AM

Once again we have a failure to communicate. I love how the few that are on the minority always have the loudest voice. I for one am glad to finally have a board who is willing to go over the performance of an individual and then make the appropriate decisions. I remember a time when everyone complained we needed change, but could never get the right people elected to make the change. Now that we have people elected to make change, we have a few whiners who can't handle change. Obviously a few principals did their job exceptionally well and where rewarded. A few did their jobs and got the normal one year extension. Just a side note, for those who can't handle only getting the normal extension, maybe you should resign, or complain even louder so next year you don't even get that. Then there were a few who could not handle their responsibilities and are not getting renewed contracts. Now lets all remember its not a popularity contest, this is our kids education. The principal is responsible for anything and everything that happens inside their school. So even if the principal wasn't involved in an incident, they are still responsible for fixing it. If they don't, they fail as a principal. Does everyone understand now? If you need another lesson on how it all works just let me know. I'm an unbiased person, but man some of you whine like 2 year olds.

-- Posted by former knight on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 11:59 AM

Former Knight

How very informative. Guess you can handle all questions from this point out!

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 12:17 PM

I happen to agree with Former Knight. I was at the meeting last night and the contract length issue was explained very clearly and was in no way a probation.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 12:59 PM

I have spent some time pouring over these comments. I have come to the conclusion that everyone would rather share their opinion, than provide a strategy for solving the problem. The saying if your aren't part of the solution, you are then part of the problem comes into play here. I helped on the Renovation vs. Remonstrance project and I have attended school board meetings. I have also volunteered with various school projects that has enabled me to be at every school in the county. During my involvement, I have never experienced one principal not willing to do what is best for their student's. I think we have assembled a group of fine people who put in countless hours beyond the call of duty. A comment was made last night during the meeting that all that seems to come from these meetings in negativity. I guess you can say we reap what we sow. If you breed negativity it will grow. We need to have trainings for these individuals and make sure that expectations are very plainly stated. Furthermore, I will go on record as saying that I think this is nothing more than a witch hunt. I think one board member in particular has an axe to grind with one principal. He is abusing his power and openly engaged in recruitment of new board members to assist in this vendeta. He no longer even has his child in this school corporation. I for one feel that he needs to step down immediately due to a conflict of interest. It is time folks for the majority to stand up and preserve the dignity of our schools. It is time for Clay Community Schools to be recognized for more than just having great bands. We have fine people employed in these schools, let them do their job.

-- Posted by cubbiefan on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 1:28 PM

Nicely worded Cubbie!

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 1:37 PM

cubbiefan brought up a point that has been raised by one member of the board several times, that of negative comments. This comment IS NOT aimed at cubbiefan for bringing up the subject. As Jenny Moore would put it, I'm not a "nice" person, I'm a person who, when I see a problem, does something about it. Forrest Buell has been trying to get the school board to hold "cracker-barrel" sessions so that the board can be informed by the public as to issues that the public feels needs to be addressed. To date, the board has not taken action.

When the school corporation stated in school board meetings last year that the Capitol Projects Fund was not for construction and I found out that that was not the case, I called them on it. I had to publicly challenge people to debate the issue in the pages of this newspaper before anyone bothered to check the facts. If you care to look at the school corporation's budget, you will find that they have earmarked part of the CPF next year for construction of a bus maintenance facility.

Now, with the current financial situation of the corporation, meaning the projection that it is going to lose about $200,000 in the 2010 budget, out of the bus replacement fund, the transportation fund, and the CPF collectively, construction of the bus maintenance facility should be under Debt Service and included in the planned project. The school board and the corporation appear to be woefully uninformed as to what we CAN do with our funding as far as the Repair and Replacement Fund for building repairs; we can transfer funds out of the emergency reserve held in the CPF if we do not need to use it so that we can keep our buildings repaired. The corporation cut bus replacement in half, which is going to cost more in maintenance as the buses exceed their warranties and require more repair. We need to replace the Central Office building, but not at the cost of the 2.8 million dollars that was asked for, before we face a federal lawsuit that requires that we do, no matter the cost to the taxpayers of the corporation. We have problems and work with people who don't even seem to be aware of them or solutions.

When I have a very limited time to make my point, I don't have a lot of time to praise the band, the sports team, the fact that we raised the graduation rates in our high schools, the work that the LEAAP Center does, and still get across the fact that we need to do something about something. If the comment was made by a member of the board, I'll bet you a dollar to a doughnut I know who said it……..LOL. I don't know what that person expects to hear in a meeting where people have a time limit, but in that person's place, I would want to hear about problems that need investigated and solved. It is, after all, a business meeting not a pep rally!

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 3:11 PM

Wow....this must be one of the reasons that alligators eat their own young! :0)

I do apologise for not being up to speed on this issue as I myself have no children. Hmmmmmm...maybe a good thing!

-- Posted by appaloosa queen on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 3:13 PM

While I understand your point Leo, we do need to hear a little positive every now and again. Humans need that stoking to make them want to go ahead. If it is only BAD BAD BAD then all you think is Bad. You get more flies with honey than vinegar.......

wait, did I say I was full of vinegar earlier ;>

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 3:28 PM

Karebabe where r u? You always have a good point to consider!

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 3:34 PM

sassypants........lol, you do realize that the only reason to attract flies is to kill them, don't you.......lol. I'm not interested in killing anyone anymore, I left that profession long ago....lol.

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 4:07 PM

I missed last night's meeting, so I'm curious. Were the principals at VBE and SE the only ones to receive a one-year contract? If so, that would mean the Title One schools and JTE (of course) would be the principals going WAY beyond what was expected of them? If that's the case, something just isn't right here. I'm pretty sure cubbiefan has a better, more logical thought process going on! One would have to be an idiot not to be aware of the board president's attitude towards two particular principals. I'm not sure whose toes the other two principals stepped on, but I can guarantee you they work much harder than some of those receiving 2-year contracts!

These principals should have been given the opportunity to sit down and hear the concerns BEFORE being given notice of a nonrenewal. Plus, the board and superintendent should redirect complaints to the building level so the administrators could be given the chance to rectify/clarify situations before they get out of hand. There may be only a handful of "whiners" determining the fate of individuals by relying on good old boy mentality to make rash decisions before researching to get the total picture.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 10:17 PM

Bigpappy.... You speaketh the truth!

-- Posted by sassypants on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 7:08 AM

Maybe the problem is when people do contact the school time after time, and never get a response or when there is a response the answer is the "we took care of it" then of course you find out nothing ever happened. Logically the next step is to contact the school board. Who cares if a particular school board member has a personal problem with a principal. Maybe thats why some members ran for the board, because obviously things needed changed. Just because a few people like someone doesn't mean that a person is doing their job. I remember a few times my mother called the school to ask for a meeting about some situations going on in the school, and never even got a phone call back. What kind of leadership is that? It's not leadership. It's done, so get over it.

-- Posted by former knight on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 9:11 AM

Former Knight... Do you have kids in school?

-- Posted by sassypants on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 9:36 AM

Sassy ~

Thanks for asking where I've been ~ I've been extremely busy lately ~ just been reading over all the comments ~ I have to agree with some ~ I think we have some great principals in place at some schools ~ wish I could've attended this board meeting ~ something is brewing & from what I am reading I don't look forward to the mess ~

Have a great weekend Sassy ~

-- Posted by karebabe on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 12:25 PM

Well sassypants, since you asked first, why don't you answer, and then give a few examples as to why certain people should keep their jobs?

-- Posted by former knight on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 3:04 PM


I believe the same child went to North Clay before leaving to go to Greencastle. Hm-m-m-m-m-m-m-m! (I think the daughter might be attending Meridian, where all is going well......2 year contract given, another Hm-m-m-m-m-m-m!)

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Sun, Dec 14, 2008, at 10:39 AM

F Knight

I have 2 children in school. Now your turn

-- Posted by sassypants on Mon, Dec 15, 2008, at 1:29 PM


-- Posted by knightmom on Wed, Dec 17, 2008, at 6:43 AM

Sorry, but I have had difficulty seeing the posted comments and THE TIMES isn't sure why either. Today was the first day I could read these comments and I am still amazed we have people in this community behaving this way. I hope that all who respond here are taking a legitimate interest in what is happening in the schools, and not just wanting to be on here in a "posting fight"!

This whole "witch hunt" thing is ridiculous. Just because a board member removed one of his children from this school system does not mean he is not able to assist in the direction of the school board. That would be like saying anyone without a child in school should not be on the school board or have any opinions. I have spoke with this board member and believe he only did what he needed to do for his child to get an education. Not saying he couldn't get it here, but there were mitigating circumstances that are none of our business. Can any of you who post on here say you wouldn't do the same if your child needed it?

I do believe there is one (or two) commentor on here that has their child at JTE when they live in ME district. Why is that? Is it because you feel JTE offered something better? What is the difference in changing schools in the school system and changing to an outside school? Aren't all of the schools in Clay County suppose to be equal and run by the principals the same way? Don't you think the principal at ME is just as "nice" as the one at JTE? I am not trying to be rude or start a fight, I am simply stating you did what was best for your child, can't you respect someone who did the same thing?

I am tired of hearing so much whining on here and no solutions.

Let's stop pointing fingers and let the board do their job. Remember, there are only a handful of people on here, there are many opinions in the community. This isn't the only way the board or anyone else get their information.

By the way, according to people on here, this board member has alot of power. He controls all the board members votes and controls all of the registered voters and forces them into electing who he wants. Maybe he should run for PRESIDENT of the United States!

Sorry sometimes a little sarcasm can help make a point!

-- Posted by knightmom on Wed, Dec 17, 2008, at 7:26 AM

-- Posted by knightmom on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 6:45 AM

I do not transfer my children but have to respond to this statement. There is a huge difference between transferring schools within a corporation and being an elected official and taking your child to a school OUT of the corporation you represent. You are not comparing the samething.

Being nice has nothing to do with your job pereformance. It is a HUGE bonus but you shouldn't loose your job because you have made the wrong people mad.

If the reasons are so personal as to why he took his child to another school corporation,then maybe YOU shouldnt be on here posting!

He is an elected official. GET TOUGH SKIN!!!

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 7:58 AM

Sorry for the typos. I was angry and didnt proof read

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 8:28 AM

Not to kep beating a dead horse... if I did transfer my kids it might be like UNOIT said... babysitting, closer to work or a host of other reasons. I think if your on the school board and you do not send your child to the corporation you are elected to represnt, then that is a vote of no confidense and you should step down.

The days of the good ole boy board here in Clay County are coming to a close. Just becasue your dad or past members behaved in a certain way does not mean that is acceptable behavior today!

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 10:52 AM

I am tired of every school-related blog on here, which there are alot of, that eventually if it something controversial, which it usually is, that someone always gets around to asking if someone else has kids in school!

It DOES NOT matter if you have kids in school or not!

If you are a taxpayer supporting this tax-supported entity, then how it functions is your business, kids or not! I am offended everytime this is asked, whether it is asked of me or not.

Let's face it, its just another way to say..."my opinion is more valid than yours"...get over it!

-- Posted by ClayCountyGuy on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 1:25 PM

wow, that was kind of my point by not answering that question. I really don't see how transferring of any kind for any reaseon is different. I can't believe some of you think your so special that you can spew your opinion about someone, like your someone special. Just because you don't agree with the boards decision, you think you can talk about them the way you do.

And as for a conflict of interest and he needs to step down. That is ridiculous. Thats like saying that if the principal doesn't agree with how a teacher handles a situation, that he shouldn't correct it, but he should step down due to conflict of interest.

-- Posted by former knight on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 1:43 PM

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't you ask first if I had kids in school?

-- Posted by sassypants on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 2:44 PM

God bless our soldiers for protecting our right to have freedom of speech!

Sending a child to a school outside one's district due to extenuating circumstances (child care) is indeed a valid point. I must say I did that myself a few moons ago! I know this issue is too close for some to see the difference of transferring within the corporation with transferring outside the county. It's easier to bury one's head in the sand and operate on the premise of "if I don't see it, then it's not real." I remember about 3 or so years ago when a certain someone attempted to get a principal ousted because of personal reasons by using his "clout" with former board members. So, the latest board action does seem to be fueled by an old grudge. Now, before I get blasted by a couple of particular BIG board fans, I must add that having a 4 majority is nothing new....the previous board ran the show that way, as well as the board before that, and the one before that, etc. Anyway, at the sake of being called a whiner, I'll just say I'm glad to be able to have the freedom to voice my opinion and enjoy reading others' running at the mouth as well.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Thu, Dec 18, 2008, at 10:26 PM

Couldn't agree with you more BP! If people step back and look at the big picture, it is a whole different ball game.

As I said before, it is time for the good old boy mentality to stop in this county!

-- Posted by sassypants on Fri, Dec 19, 2008, at 7:38 AM

Let me say first, Sassypants, I am very tough skinned. The only reason I do not identify myself is for the sake of my children. According to people on here, many people in this community cannot have an opinion without holding grudges and "taking it out on others", so I do not want my children having it "taken out" on them for my opinion.

People are basing their opinion on "the board member had a conflict of interest or a grudge against the principal". Where is the proof? How do you know he feels this way? Alot of opinions are based on heresay. Have any of you really spoke to this person and asked why instead of listening to all the people on this site and the gossips in the community? The reasons he moved his child could have nothing to do with the principal.

As for me "calling people out". I was only trying to make the point that there are 2 sides to every story. I really don't care if your child goes to a school not in your district. Everyone can say it isn't the same, but the point was you did what was best for you and your family and he did for his. Simply that.

About the whining. This is what I am saying. This site would be nice if simple facts were stated and people voiced their opinions without getting nasty. Everyone needs to at least RESPECT that other people have different opinions and ways of looking at things. That is why God made us all different.

-- Posted by knightmom on Sun, Dec 21, 2008, at 6:47 AM

Since my opinion was actually asked for...let's hope knightmom's statement about flaming will be heeded. Debate the opinions, don't put down the person as they are worthless just because the opinion differs from your own.

1] I don't think the board's actions were due to personal grudges even though they might have something to do with a personal experience in addition to performance in the area of personnel management. [again this is MY opinion based only on MY personal experience, actual reason is confidential of course]

2] Yes ALL should be concerned about school issues, not only those who pay taxes but all those who have a vested interest in the success of future tax payers so we Americans can continue our way of life. We are in the middle of a crisis now and it will only get worse if we don't improve education on continual basis.

3] As to moving one's child out of a district. In general I am against it for any reason as it sets precidents that make it more difficult to predict enrollment numbers and is often used to avoid a problem or staff member's performance instead of dealing with it to improve things for ALL students. One can use the excuse of childcare availability but usually it is because a family member is the desired caregiver and there are childcare options in each area. as to a board member not wanting a child in his represented district....At one time I too would have thought that this was a "cop out" but I know of a board member whose tires have been slit and whose teenager was ridiculed by both teachers and other students so I would think this could be quite damaging to a younger child to have to withstand. Though I do not agree with Brian Atkinson's view 100% of the time, I have not seen myself a personal grudge decision made by him.

4] As for good ole boy...I can say that this board spends a lot of time researching the issues and are not immediately accepting of the opinion given by others, even others on the board. This is a huge improvement over how the board worked when I first moved to Clay County. Used to be that several members would look to another to see how he voted and then they would raise their hands, not even really knowing what the issue was about. The school board will never be perfect but it is a LOT better than some of them have been in the recent past. I can respect each member at least. Even if I disagree with one of them.

5] For a long time the corporation ignored the problem of not improving performance in a few really poor performing teachers. It has been well known and we all can name a few of them ourselves I'm sure. This rippled out to the administration as when they don't correct staff working under them, THEY TOO aren't doing their job...This went right up to Central office.

Now finally this is being addressed and I feel some of the patrons and staff are still stuck in the good ole boy mode and are taking these actions as personal attacks against the staff involved as if they had been called evil or something. MAYBE they just weren't doing their jobs?? No one said they weren't good people. Just unable or unwilling to do their jobs. We are paying these people. All of them from school bd members on down. Let them do the job they were hired to do which is making sure the people they supervise are doing theirs.

Now flame away as like Knightmom, my skin is pretty tough...and getting tougher the longer I am on this forum [lol].

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sun, Dec 21, 2008, at 7:58 AM

I don't think I said anything to you about being tough skinned, but I am glad to hear that you are. Helps if you live here. My skin grew a few inches when I moved here LOL

-- Posted by sassypants on Mon, Dec 22, 2008, at 2:17 PM

No Sassy. I don't remember who said it...So many comments on this article....

Y'all have a good holiday whether Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanza [or whatever other one I might have missed]. In any case time for family, friends, and keeping traditions alive.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Dec 22, 2008, at 4:14 PM

Thank you, Jenny. Your comments are always thought out and not argumentative. This is what the community needs. Level headed, open mindedness.

A wonderful Holiday Season to all!

-- Posted by knightmom on Mon, Dec 22, 2008, at 4:48 PM

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