During a special meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Milan School Corporation on Monday, March 18, it was announced that effective July 1, 2013, high school principal, Paul Ketcham, will replace Dr. Thomas Reale as the school's superintendent.
All board members, Superintendent Dr. Reale, and School Attorney Larry Eaton were present. Also present were school principals Paul Ketcham, Pat Murphy and Jane Rogers, and Decatur County Schools Superintendent Johnny Budd.
Following an executive session, board president Timothy Tuttle read a short statement:
"The Board of Trustees of the Milan Community School Corporation has agreed with Dr. Tom Reale to the following: Dr. Reale will move to the new position of assistant superintendent, effective July 1, 2013. Dr. Reale has a wealth of knowledge about all operations of the school system and will be instrumental in leading many efforts going forward, including transportation, finance and school safety, just to name a few. We appreciate all Dr. Reale has done for the corporation and look forward to working with him in his new position."
Dr. Reale, who has been with the corporation for two years and three months, presented a letter requesting reassignment from the position of superintendent to assistant superintendent, which the board approved unanimously. Prior to the announcement, the board approved to amend the superintendent's contract, eliminate the director of operations position, and create the position of assistant superintendent, along with a job description. There was no one currently serving as director of operations. The board created the position to enable Dr. Reale to remain with the school corporation once his contract expires in the next two to three years.
The assistant superintendent's position will absorb all responsibilities of the director of operations, but also serve some district-wide functions, such as test coordinator, being responsible for state reports, assistant of RISE evaluation of personnel and assisting the superintendent in the preparation of the budget.
During the regular meeting on Monday, March 11, Dr. Reale recommended changes to the technology support model, adding that technology director, Brian Sturgeon accepted another position at South Dearborn Community School Corporation and his last day will be June 30. He is taking Karen Hunter, technical assistant, with him.
One option being considered is outsourcing the technology. Nate Wolske of Five Star Technology spoke to board members about the many services they offer. Five Star is comprised primarily of former k12 educators, administrators and technology staff.
Decatur County Superintendent Budd talked to board members about the positive experiences they have had with Five Star, adding they have a program that allows them to access data with the click of a button, such as individual student assessments and other data. Principals from the elementary, middle and high schools individually expressed their support for Five Star. All agreed that this would be a great resource to benefit students, staff and the Milan community.
Discussion of policy no. 8210 regarding teacher work week, along with days per year, were discussed at the regular meeting. Dr. Reale explained the policy is a requirement of the State Board of Accounts and proposes adding two additional hours to the teacher's work week to enable them more time for team meetings, professional development and collaboration.
Board member Randy Kirk suggested they table the entire discussion permanently and discuss more important items. Dr. Reale attempted to explain to Kirk why this was necessary; however, Kirk interrupted by telling Dr. Reale that he would call the police and have him removed, as he was tired of arguing with him. The board decided to discuss policy amongst themselves as well as with principals before making a decision to adopt the policy as it was written.
School principals spoke out in favor of the policy during the special session, saying this would give their teachers better opportunities to collaborate with each other and get things done that they normally struggle finding time to do. The board will vote in April.
The board approved the settlement agreement with Don Swisher. The school had been involved in a lawsuit over an overpayment of insurance claims to Swisher following his retirement. Dr. Reale recommended approval, saying it was in both parties' best interest.
At a prior meeting, the board requested that Dr. Reale come up with a model for next year, where he would not have to teach a German class which would create an opportunity for Mrs. Hamlich to take back her German class and not have to teach an algebra class. Dr. Reale presented a recommendation from Ketcham to hire a retired math teacher for half-time, which would pay half the salary of a first-year full-time teacher, and asked the board for permission to create a position to enable him to pursue this route.
Dr. Reale added this would also allow for the addition of an algebra enrichment class designed for stuggling algebra students, potentially reducing the number of graduation waivers signed each year for those who cannot pass the class.
Jason Honeycutt, board member, expressed concerns over the cost and asked about other options. Following some discussion, a motion was made to pursue what's on paper, but agreed revisions could be made if a more cost-effective solution is found.
Other items discussed and/or approved:
• Policy 8330 regarding administrators and central staff hours was approved.
• Policy 8116 regarding procedures in dealing with bed bugs was unanimously adopted.
• The board approved to pay for mileage costs for both Trina Schutte to attend autism training at an approximate cost of $380.00 and for Alecia Holtkamp, speech therapist, to attend the Indiana Speech and Hearing Association (ISHA) for around $350.00.
• A modification to the band director's contract was made updating it to include playing at girls' varsity home games. The contract previously stated that the band only needed to play at all boys' varsity home games.
• The track at the high school is in such bad shape that teams from other schools refuse to run on it. The board unanimously voted to have the track repaired.
• The following ath letic extracurricular recommendations from John Prifogle, athletic director, were approved: Marty Layden as girls varsity track coach, Steve Stirn as reserve baseball coach, and Jennifer Wullenweber as middle school girls track coach.
• The board approved Becky Herrick's maternity leave as an instructional aide at the elementary school from approximately April 3 to the end of the school year. Approved to substitute in her place was Brenda Coleman.
Dr. Reale ended the regular meeting by saying on behalf of Milan schools, thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to the South Ripley School community on the tragedy that befell them recently.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Milan School Corporation will be at 7 p.m., on April 15 in the school administration building.