At-large representatives Terry Barr and Ted Jackson said goodbye to school board members, administrative staff as well as teachers and the community they have represented for their two terms in office. Board member Brian Atkinson, who will not be returning to the board in July, was not in attendance at the meeting.
"You represent the public and it is a difficult task," Supt. Dan Schroeder said. "It is a tough job. It is a thankless job sometimes, but on the other hand, it is a gratifying job. You are serving the community and setting the policy in the general direction on where the school corporation is headed."
Schroeder presented both Barr and Jackson with their plaques and at the conclusion of the meeting, during board member comments, others expressed their appreciation for the commitment of both individuals.
"We have served together for six years," board member Dottie King said. "Sometimes it felt like six long years and other times it went really quickly."
King commented on everything they have over come, such as the five years of not settling a teacher contract and the financial problems with the general fund.
"I find them both to be open-minded on the issues, they didn't come in with a set agenda," she said. "I find them both to be dedicated people and they are both people of high integrity."
It was when King addressed Jackson and Barr individually, that she became emotional.
"Ted, I have found you to be a person with an immense amount of grace under pressure," she said. "I have come to admire it for six years, I recognize it and I appreciate it."
"Terry, I just admire her real heart and compassion for kids and she is dedicated to every kid in this county deserving equal opportunity and equal facilities," King added. "I thank them for their service and I consider both of them very good friends."
As the minutes ticked away toward the end, both Jackson and Barr reflected on their time on the board.
"I remember when I first got on the board we did RIF (reduction in force) teachers and fortunately we were able to call them all back. Finances were horrible. ISTEP+ (Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress-Plus) was still new, dropout rates have always been an issue and so much has improved over the years. It wasn't done by the board, it was done by employees in the corporation," Barr said.
She remarked on the original reason she ran for school board, which stemmed from volunteering at her child's elementary school. It was to help the child that no one else wanted to help.
"What is on my heart is early intervention," she said. "If we can reach them when they are young, be there for them and support them and not let them get that far behind, then they will be ready for middle school and high school. That takes a community."
Her final words of advice were not only for future board members, but also for the current members and the community.
"Our teachers need our support, our administrators need our support," she said. "I want to leave you with a thought, to keep those kids in mind. I've always seen my job as to give the employees of the corporation what they need to do their job within the best of my ability."
Jackson thanked his family, Schroeder and the board. For future board members, he offered suggestions.
"It is mostly positive, you do get negative stuff," he said. "Two pieces of advice I would like to give you. The first is when you receive mail, you open the mail and you look for a signature first. If there is no signature, then it goes in file 13, which is the trash. If there is a signature, then you read it. If it is not signed then, in my opinion, it isn't worth reading."
His second suggestion stemmed on the workings of the board as a group.
"You are part of a board, you are responsible to work with the board and do that," he said. "Work with six other people and get things accomplished."