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Second meet and greet takes place

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Clay Community School Corporation At-Large school board candidates (from left) Leo Southworth, Amy Adams, Barbara Nicosin, Rob Miller and Ron Scherb met with community members at the First Financial Bank Community Room in Clay City Sunday. [Order this photo]
CLAY CITY -- Five of the six Clay Community School Corporation School Board candidates met with the public at the Clay City First Financial Bank Community Room Sunday.

The meeting was the second in a series put together was Clay County resident Walt Moore.

There are three At-Large positions open on the board this year. Board candidate Philip Greenwell was not in attendance.

Approximately 20 county residents attended the meeting, getting an opportunity to ask the prospective candidates a variety of questions.

Current board member Tina Heffner asked the candidates what their thoughts were on the corporation's possible need of a new bus garage, a hot topic in recent months.

Leo Southworth, one of the five candidates at Sunday's meeting, stated he believed after seeing an aerial view of the county, it was wise to place the prospective garage close to Northview or North Clay in addition to eventually tying it together with a new central office.

"Every foot it is away from one place the bus goes to every morning, it is going to cost you money," Southworth said.

Amy Adams, another candidate, added she was "impressed" with what bus garage employees have been working with, also saying she would like to know more about studies that have been conducted regarding the bus garage and the best options for a new placement.

In addition, candidate Barbara Nicosin said while the bus garage is small and employees are doing well with what they have, more thought needs to be added to the process.

"The need is there, there is no doubt," candidate Rob Miller added. "But it doesn't necessarily need to be by a school."

Miller added he didn't believe a new bus garage should cost an estimated $4.2 million.

"That raised a red flag," Miller, who also served on a building committee through the corporation at one time, said. "We don't need to use new ground. We need to look at the options, just like the school board has been doing."

Ron Scherb, another candidate, said he has asked for an evaluation of the process.

"Money is going to be tight," he said. "The bottom line is, do you want to build a bus garage or retain teachers?"

In regard to the corporation's current elementary building project, the candidates were asked if they believed cutting an elementary was a viable option.

The five in attendance, however, all agreed since the project is already underway, it would not make sense to cut one building.

"We need to keep what we have open," Adams said, "and look for other ways to cut costs."

"Nobody wants to close a school," Southworth added.

The potential board members were also asked of ways to keep the board focused regularly and not bickering.

"If we can't listen to each other, we might have problems," Scherb said.

Adams added teamwork would be a high priority.

"I don't have any history with (anyone on the board)," she said. "You will always have differences but you move on so you can get jobs done."

"The best thing to do when you're working in a committee setting is to hang your ego at the door," Southworth added.

Current board member Ted Jackson asked the five what they believed were pluses and minuses of the current board.

Southworth commended the performance of CCSC Assistant Superintendent Kim Tucker and her role with corporation curriculum, but added that "everything" needs improvement.

"There's always room for improvement," Scherb added.

Adams -- also remarking on curriculum -- said it should always change.

"It always needs tweaking," she said.

Nicosin said she was pleased with how things looked in the corporation regarding grades kindergarten, first and second.

"That's the place where, I think, we have to start," she said.

One resident asked it they would be in favor of changing the school board's current policy of patrons having only five minutes to discuss questions with the board and typically receiving no response.

Scherb said if elected, he would ask questions and added he believes the administration should do a better job of listening to the public.

All of the candidates agreed setting up community meetings in the future could be a good idea.

"It could be good for both sides," Miller said.

"(School board meetings) should be an open book setting," Adams added.

"The school board and administration need to answer questions," Southworth said. "A less than formal meeting with the public every quarter could be something."

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At the next meeting, someone needs to ask if any of the prospective members have ever chased and run a vehicle off of the road. The crime was a stolen pumpkin during halloween. One of the kids in the bed of the pickup truck was thrown into a cornfield due to the collision. Anger management might be advisable..........

-- Posted by ucantbserious on Mon, Mar 15, 2010, at 8:54 AM

ucantbserious: Your name says it all. Since I have no idea to what you are referring I can only say that riding in back of pick up truck is stupid and most likely illegal.

Whether a person running for school board was right or wrong the person stealing the pumpkin was definitely wrong. The item stolen or its value does not make the act any less wrong. Only in a court of law are crimes categorized due to value separating misdemeanors from felonies. A possible overreaction of person also does not change the fact that a theft occurred.

If you are going to make veiled accusations subtly aimed at candidates use your own name and stop being cowardly...Non confrontation has caused a lot of problems to continue way too long in Clay Community schools because various administrators did not want to openly discuss staff deficits and performance. Just glad that you aren't running [hopefully you aren't one of the candidates yourself] as cowardice has been one of the huge problems in our corporation as too many are afraid to address long existing problems.

Differences in style, budget management, and interpretations of what is most important task/goal of the corporation are necessary part of a school board so long as the debaters can be concise with their ideas and good at getting their point across quoting valid sources and using examples in other school systems to prove their points as well as quoting educator specialists in other locations so we aren't always having to reinvent the wheel.

For example, we hung on to Saxon math text LONG after national educators [national president of elementary school math educators was questioned specifically about Saxon] abandoned them and long after local curriculum committees chose other texts, but board ignored advise from both and continued to purchase this text on lone opinion of one board member.

These mistakes prevent students from getting the best education. Just because local tradition and opinion are valued over experts in the field.

What difference does it make what building the student is sitting in if we can't make a course available for a student or can't lower ration so each student has more actual contact time with a teacher, not an aide, who are well meaning but sometimes cannot even correctly speak a grammatically correct sentence?

Clay Community Schools begins to handicap students from day one in favor of material items and out dated choices that just don't work for tomorrow's graduates.

While things have improved over the 15 years I have lived here, it continues to be outpaced compared to other locations.

A school board candidate has to demonstrate enough interest to already know alot of what is going on in the corporation already, Be knowledgeable as to what works outside the corporation and even the state to prepare the graduate for a changing world, and be willing to invest far more time than he/she will be credited or compensated for to be able to clearly document the needs while having a hard enough skin to live with the fact that they will have to be credible enough to convince the other board members as well as the community that academics ALWAYS needs to be the choice when there is not enough money to provide the bonus features of the past withe the current and future increased demands of education.

I compare it to the grocery list and the ever raising cost of groceries and being on a fixed income. Maybe last year we could buy chips, soda pop, and ice cream for our family in addition to the oatmeal, ground beef and p nut butter. Now there is not enough money for all of it so which does the smart shopper fore go? Our corporation has kept "feeding" our students the chips and pop on regular basis by continuing to allow them to attend neighborhood schools and taken away from them the "nutrition" of less student contact time with teachers, fewer class periods in high school than 90 of the counties in this state alone. Many other examples as well.

The person we elect has big shoes to fill. Which one one has demonstrated the courage to buck the system and break out of the mold while also having the knowledge to make the others realize the error of our ways.

The ONLY reason we are undergoing this huge building scheme is that the board and administration knew that the deadline was coming when all building projects had to be approved by the voters so they forged ahead while they still had the ultimate power to do it. Northview's enrollment has gone down about 200 students from what it was a decade ago. Some of the other schools have as well. What good is a building if we can't get the education to the students?

Which candidate realizes this? THAT is what we should be asking them? Which ones are running who have researched what is going on both inside and outside this county and state? Which ones have something else to compare our corporation to and which ones are just comparing what we have now to what they had as a child? That alone is no where near enough.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Mar 15, 2010, at 11:38 AM

ucantbeserious - your post makes me worry about people! First, as to when this occured as everyone in every vehicle is supposed to be seat-belted into their seat as was the law for some months prior to last Halloweeen and, as Jenny stated, no one at any age should be in the back of a moving pick-up.

Second, where where the parents and why would they allow their teenagers to run around at night to get into trouble, especially around Halloween? This is not the 1960's when we soaped windows and threw corn. We might even have stole a pumpkin or two. Any and all of these things were risky even then, I know as I got caught once and washed I don't know how many windows as punishment. But, that was then and this is now and the world has changed. We did not have the crime and drugs when I was growing up.

Third, was being ran off the road by another vehicle reported to law enforcement? I can guess the answer.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Mon, Mar 15, 2010, at 3:58 PM

As to your questions, Jenny, I don't have all of the answers. I tend not to believe "the experts" on everything because I know that a lot of "experts" tend to stress information that proves their own conclusions while downplaying any information that would contraindicate that conclusion. I do, however, hate asking questions that go unanswered. Even a poor or wrong answer is better than no answer at all because it lets you know how the person who gave it is thinking, what they do or do not know, or lets you figure out their agenda.

Second, I distrust any statement that contains reference to un-disclosed research. Without references that can be checked, you must rely solely on that person's word that said research even exists and you remain dependent on their interpretation of it. I would rather base an important decision on a discussion or debate by two knowledgeable people who can bring the benefits and drawbacks of either choice into clear view. I have a feeling that I might have to work on bring that about if I am elected by asking a lot of questions.

One thing that has bothered me about the past boards that I have observed is the lack of tabling decisions until they have received answers to their questions.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Mon, Mar 15, 2010, at 4:34 PM

To Jenny,

Blah, blah, blah... You had your chance to enter the feild to make a difference and you chose to remain a sideline heckler. What is the saying... "they think they will be heard because of their many words".... You have a right to says whatever you want, but come on, do something already and quit just bashing the people who are attempting to make a difference.

-- Posted by seventyx7 on Mon, Mar 15, 2010, at 11:13 PM


-- Posted by GO HOOSIERS on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 12:23 AM

It is rather strange when people get on the Internet and say things about people that they do not know without giving the person that are talking about a chance to even know who is speaking about them. I find it rather cowardly.

It is very easy to say that Jenny is all talk and no action when you do not walk in her shoes or travel life in circles that does not intersect her circle. Those that know Jenny and cross her path know better.

And, so, I ask the question. What have those who hide and speak judgementally done to improve our education system and our community? But be careful with your reply, you may just identify yourself if you've done as much as Jenny has.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 12:40 AM

seventyx7 and cat811:

Consider this a personal invitation to attend Academic booster club meeting at Northview on April 6th at 6 PM....or sign up for the next workshop to talk about what Northview did and didn't prepare you for so you can help the students who are there now make better choices of what to do during and after high school, or come to courthouse and become a CASA volunteer....or what about school improvement commitee...How about baking cookies for the next blood drive? What about collecting items needed by the St Ann Clinic in Terre Haute. How about helping a foreign student adjust to American life in college town by taking them to Walmart to buy things they need to settle in.

Or even just have the courage to sign your own name when trying to insult another. I am not a Hoosier. I am an American. I am a member of the human race. It's this petty us and them attitude that is part of the problem in this world.

I chose not to run for school board because of this exact attitude. I would never get elected because too many can't get past this attitude so I do what I can and that includes being a "gadfly".

Have a good day

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 7:40 AM

I look at Jenny and Leo in different lights. Jenny is a more revolutionary person. Revolutionary is defined as "a person who advocates or actively participates in a sudden major impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor". Leo tries to exert leadership by running for school board. Leadership is defined as "the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and the support of others in the accomplishment of a common task". I prefer the latter when it comes to public policy!

-- Posted by Mrs. Positive on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 2:34 PM

Well, I don't know if I would call Jenny a revolutionary except that she is definitely a strong advocate of education. I know that she reads a good deal on the subject and is involved in the schools. She also has more formal education than do I and a wide range of personal experience. She and her husband have, reluctantly, "backed off" from trying to influence the school corporation by presenting facts, figures, and ideas that they have discovered because, quite frankly, their input has been ignored for over a decade. Also, a former school board member referred to them as "transients" during a school board meeting which may well be one reason that Jenny does not run for school board as she may, mistakenly, believe that the general public would view her as a "temporary" resident who is passing through because she has only been here fifteen years.

I, for one, view the people of the corporation as stakeholders. If you are a student, an employee, or a taxpayer, you are a stakeholder in this corporation no matter where you live or how long you have been associated with the corporation. That former school board member may well refer to most of the current candidates as transients as most of us were not born into this corporation.

As to my leadership, you can do a web-search for the Marine Corps Leadership traits and principles or my name as I included them on my website. You can set strategic goals "in the rear with the fear" but tactical and immediate operational goal decisions should be made by the leader in the front with his boots on the ground and his eyes on what is going on. This is apparent in leadership of every group from the family up to the United Nations. The plan made yesterday for the children to play out-of-doors is often modified when Mom looks out the window at the pouring rain! In the combat arms of both the Army and Marine Corps, the sentence that I am familiar with is "No plan survives first contact (with the enemy force.) The leader of the operation must be near the front to assess the situation constantly and adapt in a timely manner by improvising a solution to overcome both previously known and new obstacles to prevent failure of accomplishing of the objective.

I had an informal talk with Superintendent Schroeder after the last school board meeting during which he stated that he had "seven bosses". I've also had talks with other administrators where it was stated that people "who do not know my job should not be telling me how to do my job". I have to disagree with both sentiments. The Superintendant does have more than one boss, as the corporation has mandates to follow other than the decisions of the board, but his local boss is the school board as a collective entity and not as individuals. The second employee assumes that only he knows his job and that knowledge in no other field of endeavor can be applied to his field of expertise. That, to me, is unfathomable as there has been many times in my life that I have been given tasks that I knew little about and had to adapt what knowledge I had to getting the task accomplished. Sometimes the results were not pretty, sometimes the results were either more or less than expected, but I always gave the task my best effort.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Mar 17, 2010, at 4:55 AM

Okay, Jenny, I'm going to disagree with you....LOL!

The student's are not the Superintendant's bosses! If that were the case, elementary school would have no need for classrooms, as it would be Eternal Recess; the middle school and the high schools would take attendance and go on lunch break until time for dismissal.

I can agree that the sole reason for the existence of the school corporation is education. It does need things with which to accomplish, but the trappings of what most people call education today have overwhelmed education and now the corporation expends a lot of money beyond what is required to educate a student on non-educational things. Now, some of that can be curtailed or funded more directly by the public, if they so wish, to free more funding to go into the classrooms.

All human experience is educational, but what we term as formal education and measure is the task of the school corporation to deliver to the students. Looking at it that way, I have observed education taking place in grass-thatched huts with students writing with pointed sticks on the dirt floor and 10-12 learning to read from one or two books being taught by the one person in the village who could read and write.

One of the reasons that I decided to run for school board is that, collectively, the school corporation does not listen to the general public unless there is a great uproar and I see little evidence that the powers that be thinks about what is needed or will be needed in the future. That is why I feel that some long-term plans for the corporation should be developed with the full awareness of the general public and the other government bodies that impact or are impacted by the corporation's activities.

I stated during the Meet & Greet that every aspect of education and the school corporation can be improved. It should be in a constant state of being improved, but there is a time that improvement means abandoning the old and doing something different. This corporation, and every other one, needs to identify those aspects. One of CCSC's aspects that is in critical need of improvement, in my opinion, is communication with the public. Another is collective and collaborative critical thinking.

This is why I see the work of Asst. Superintendant Tucker in a positive light, as an investment was made in a computer program that not only collects local data as to whether or not teachers are meeting target goals within the curriculum (which can be done with any spreadsheet) but also allows teachers to see how other teachers are faring and allows them to interact with peers anywhere in the world to improve the teaching of the subject to the local students. It is why I also feel that the school board's vote to pursue the current building should have been at least 5 to 2, if not 6 to 1, after I presented facts and figures contraindicating what was planned. As I see it, the board abdicated its responsibility to do what was in the best interest of all of the stakeholders and chose to concede to the desires of special interest groups. That action only delayed progress by guaranteeing that the community will be paying higher than necessary for less education for the next four decades when every elementary school will be ninty years old and a future generation will demand their replacement, even if they have to change the plant design of the entire corporation to accomplish that at great expense.

I find it odd that when speaking to people involved in the daily operations of the corporation and the members of the general public, I find a lot of agreement as to what can and should be done but only a small handful will take even the action of speaking at a school board meeting to get anything done. I'm totally surprised at the lack of attendance by even school corporation employees.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Mar 17, 2010, at 1:19 PM


Fine to disagree. We have before but someone must REALLY have to have my post removed....or could have been too long-I admit to verbosity.

When I stated that the school is there for the student and they are the bosses, maybe what I should have said was that the educational NEEDS of the students should be what drives the superintendent, not solely the wishes of the board members. The superintendent has the training to know what's best for the students. It's his job[along with curriculum director] to convince the board of steps that need to be taken and to make sure correct choices are being made.

It's sort of like the care one gives his pet. Like a pet's welfare, it's the responsibility of those educated in education to look after the needs of the student, not their wants, nor the wants of those with some personal gain or misunderstood idea of what educational needs are.

A student doesn't commonly know what their needs are but those in educational field do know..and should be passionate about delivering them. Past history of the school board has ignored those needs time and time again in favor of things individuals on the school board wanted. Buildings, weighted grades, weight rooms times 3, building independence, have all been wants that have taken precedence over academic needs of the students. I think this is what Dr Buell has been trying to say for years. It has even turned into a north /south feud at times, duplicating at either end of the county in order for one person or a small group of people to accomplish their wants at sacrifice of others' needs.

Even this last survey done by ISU stated that the individual schools can only improve to a limited extent without better central management/support of assetts, both monetary and personnel. Seems that too was ignored.

Another example is the 7 period day[or trimester that will accomplish same]It is do able but isn't free. If we put enough importance on keeping our high school grads competitive, it can be done. Just no one willing to pay the price....giving up something that is NOT related to academics. Same with lowering class size in elementaries. We can put more teachers out there if we eliminate a building. So some students will be in a different building BUT they will have better access to a teacher. Which is more important? the geographical location of the school or what goes on inside the classroom? Maybe time for people in community to encourage those choices and stop voting for a candidate that promises blindly and ignorantly that they will never close a school. How can anyone make this statement when as you say education presentation is constantly needing to be improved upon to keep up with changes?

I will NOT vote for a candidate that makes that statement about refusing to close a school. Especially when some of the candidates have little or no history of even attending school board meetings before running for the office so have no idea what is going on themselves yet.

Hard choices need to be made and the person elected needs to have the courage to make the right choices. So far it has been rare for that to happen.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Mar 17, 2010, at 3:05 PM

In education, the current and future needs of the student's education should be the driving force.

One point that Asst. Superintendent Tucker made in her presentation on curriculum is that testing will be standardized shortly, by discipline, textbook, unit and chapter, across the corporation shortly in the future. This means that a student in one elementary will take the same test as the student in another when being tested. (I do wonder about test security with the communication improvements that have been made. I could talk to my classmate on the phone, but I couldn't scan a document and send them a copy!)

Every decision of the school board is a difficult one and should be considered with due diligence. Every decision impacts some student's education and money that has been taken from the taxpayer to fund that education!

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Mar 17, 2010, at 11:11 PM

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