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MCC board listens to public comments on proposed contract

April 12, 2018 GMT

Two members of the public offered opinions last night to the the board of Madison Consolidated Schools about the proposed three-year contract for Jeffrey T. Studebaker, the interim superintendent who has been chosen by the board to become the fulltime superintendent. Studebaker, a Lafayette resident, resigned from Merillville Schools in the fall of 2017 before the end of his contract in June 2019. He was hired as interim superintendent in Madison in mid-December 2017 under an arrangement that allowed him to keep his residency in Lafayette and be in Madison when considered necessary. Studebaker is not related to Ginger Studebaker-Bolinger, who resigned as superintendent last year. Jeffrey Studebaker started working with then-interim superintendent William “Bill” Narwold Dec. 1, 2017 and transitioned into the interim position officially Jan. 1, 2018. The corporation said at the time that Studebaker “intends to be in the district a few days per week as needed but plans to utilize technology and virtual office capabilities.” If the proposed contract with Jeffrey Studebaker is accepted by both parties, this would be the first permanent superintendent for the system since May 2017. Madison resident Larry Henry told the board at the hearing last night that he would like to remove the part of the contract that states Studebaker would be in a perpetual three-year contract. Instead, Henry proposed that the board negotiate with Studebaker a three-year contract that specifies the last year will be used to decide if the board will or will not renew the contract. Henry also said he does not believe sick leave days from Studebaker’s former school employers should be transferred in the new contract. The contract includes an option for five sick leave days from Studebaker’s employment with Merrillville to be placed in a “catastrophic sick leave bank” for his use if necessary. The days are not considered in the contract to be deferred compensation and would have no value at the end of his employment. Carol Poling, the second community member who spoke, said the new superintendent should be focused on and interacting with the community. Poling said she does not see a commitment from the board that will have the future superintendent participate more in the community. “I do believe it is important for our leaders in our school corporations to be a part of the community,” Poling said. “It’s nice to see our teachers, principals and our leaders down at Bicentennial Park in the summer, buying ice cream at the Dairy Queen, whatever. But, being a part of our community is very important.” Studebaker said at the end of March when the board announced that wanted to hire him permanently that it was his family’s goal to move to Madison. “I look at attending student events as a perk of the job,” said Studebaker listing sporting events, student productions and concerts as examples. His wife is a professor at Purdue University. Studebaker said he made the choice to not move his family to Merrillville. “After working together for a little over a year, it was clear the board’s vision of how Merrillville Schools needed to move forward was totally different than mine, and I was not going to move my family up there,” said Studebaker. The Madison board did not take action last night on the permanent contract. The proposed contract between the board and Studebaker is available online at http://www.madison.k12.in.us/school-board/contract-information After the hearing, during the board’s regular meeting, archery team members were recognized for their participation in state competition. Deputy Elementary, Madison Junior High and Madison Consolidated High School Archery Teams attended the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) 2018 Indiana State Tournament. Deputy Elementary School Archery team ranked 4 out of the 28 schools with four students ranking among the top 20 students. Madison Junior High School ranked 6th in state with one student winning 5th Place Middle School Male Shooter. Madison Consolidated High School ranked 4th in State with one student winning 3rd Place Female Bullseye Shooter and one student winning 1st Place IBO Shooter.This year, six of the high school seniors won $500 NASP Scholarships and each archery participant received a certificate from the school board for their accomplishments. “I was just reflecting on the number of students we have recognized and remember that it was not too long ago when this program started and they only had 10 or 15,” said board member Joyce Imel. “I’m glad to see that more have become involved.” In other business: • The board approved installation of two new light fixtures - one in the high school parking lot and the other in the junior high parking lot. • Summer school programs were discussed and approved. Summer School is expected to be June 4-June 15 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Courier staff writer Elisabeth Moore can be reached at 812-265-3641 ext. 247 or at emoore@madisoncourier.com.