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MCS hires architect for Anderson renovation

April 13, 2017 GMT

In a 3-2 vote, the Madison Consolidated school board approved the hiring of architects to move forward with plans to renovate and expand Anderson Elementary School. The board hired Nomi of Louisville. The vote was split along a familiar line, with board president Joyce Imel, vice president Carl Glesing and Linda LaCour voting in favor. Rob Kring and Jeanne Dugle voted against the measure. “In my opinion, we need to stop everything we’re doing,” Kring said prior to the vote. Kring said he believes the board should first review accusations of malfeasance submitted during public comments by local attorney Merritt Alcorn, who also is a former MCS board member. Alcorn declined to provide additional copies of the affidavits to The Madison Courier, citing privacy concerns. Alcorn told the board that the affidavits from maintenance employees and former school employees outline accusations of corrupt or unethical practices, primarily by Director of Operations Mike Frazier and Superintendent Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger. Alcorn said the affidavits point to “an administrative policy to sabotage the E.O. Muncie Elementary School,” which the board voted to close in 2018. Those students will be transferred to the to-be renovated Anderson school. Alcorn claims the administration colluded to allow E.O. Muncie to fall into such a state of disrepair that the only option would be to close the building. “The decision, I believe, to move forward with the Anderson (project) is based upon dishonesty and it should not move forward,” he said. Alcorn said he doesn’t blame the board for the situation. Rather, “it was the intended scheme that was carried out by this administration. ... The maintenance at Madison School Corporation has been mired in controversy for a long time. It is a systemic problem. ... Your superintendent is responsible for accommodating the guidelines for this maintenance.” Other issues raised cite a chiller that was replaced last year at Madison Junior High School, which, he said he has been told has not been operational most of the time since it was installed. “I don’t know the status of your chiller,” Alcorn said. “My question to you tonight is, do you know the status of your chiller? Is it operational tonight? Have you been told by your administration what the status of your chiller is, and if you have not been told, why have you not been told?” Additionally, Alcorn said be believes a project in which five rooftop air-condition units were purchased for the high school was artificially divided into two parts - one for $35, 775 and the other for $23,728 - to avoid a state requirement to seek quotes from interested contractors for projects costing more than $50,000. “I do not see how you can move forward with the Anderson project, with this information that has been given to you,” Alcorn said. “You need to withdraw the Anderson project, and the people that are responsible for this system that is in place that is not working, that is filled with dishonesty, corruption and schemes - they need to go. And some of you need to search your own hearts as to whether or not you should continue in your present position with the board.” During a presentation on the state of facilities at the end of the meeting, Frazier outlined current and future remodeling and repair projects being planned at the district’s buildings. “Our goal is to have these buildings in really good shape,” he said, adding that in three years, every building in the system will have been updated. “I don’t think the community really understands how well this corporation has done. We’re better off right now financially - we have new vehicles, we have new buses, our employees are making more money, noncertified as well as certified, than we’ve ever made. Our facilities are good. We’ve got a lot of really good things here that people seem to overlook. I’ve been here for 41 years; we work hard to save this community money, to save the taxpayers money, and we appreciate all that anybody does,” he said. Frazier also reported that the chiller at MJHS has been operational since installation, with the exception of a couple of days. In a prepared statement, Bolinger directly addressed the accusations made against her administration over the past few months. “In recent weeks, some members of our community have continued to make false accusations about members of Madison Consolidated Schools’ administrative team. These statements are potentially (libelous) and slanderous to individuals who are serving the children of this community every day,” she said. “This group’s earlier statements about our district being under investigation by the Indiana Department of Education were proven false. This same group continues to make false statements about our building projects. The Madison Consolidated Schools administrative team has worked with financial advisers and attorneys who specialize in building projects and, to my knowledge, we have followed all Indiana codes and state laws.” Further, Bolinger disputed claims that she has refused to meet with members of the community, particularly those who have been critical of the corporation. “That is simply not true,” she said. “I welcome a meeting with any member of our community.” Bolinger acknowledged that the board has made unpopular decisions - in particular, the closing of E.O. Muncie and the reassignment of MCHS Principal Kevin Yancey to a central office position. “It is time for our community to move forward and to tackle the real issues that are facing our students: poverty, mental health problems and drug abuse,” she said. “I ask those of you who want to be part of the solution to join the MCS teachers, staff and administrators and double our efforts to have a positive impact on our students and our community.” In other business, the board voted to purchase a Ricoh copier for the new fifth-grade office at MJHS for $183 per month; 80 “active panels” for classrooms across the district for $446,000 as part of a replacement process, as well as 22 new Dell desktops for the fifth-grade for $12,465 and 44 Dell desktops to replace those used in the Project Lead the Way classrooms at MJHS and MCHS for $35,285; and a new microphone and speaker system for the board room, $2,842. The board also approved renewal of a contract with King’s Daughters’ Hospital, which provides athletic trainers for student athletes for the 2017-18 school year. While the cost remains the same as the current year - $35 per hour - it doubles the number of hours scheduled to 1,026, Bolinger said.