BOE discusses continual dismissal of policy

TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education discussed policy travel permit and reimbursement, policies regarding outside vendor camps on school grounds and conducted an executive session Monday evening during their regular session meeting.

In July of 2022, auditors brought attention to the fact the Tipp City Schools District does not have a cap on food and travel expenditures. However, according to Zakkour and research she did on her own, other nearby districts do not have limits on their expenditure policies either.

The discussion centered around how to cap expenditures in a way that is fair to both tax payers and staff members that are travelling and how often members of the school district actually travel. During the discussion, board member Richard Mains brought up government set per diems for travel reimbursement. As of 2022, per diems set by the government are $59.80/day for meals and $96.16 for lodging. After hearing what the current per diems are set at by the government, multiple members of the board including Theresa Dunaway and Amber Drum expressed their opinion that the per diems are too low, specifically the daily food allowance.

No action was taken Monday evening regarding the travel reimbursement policy, but Board President Simon Patry suggested that Superintendent Mark Stefanik meet with the policy board to discuss and set reimbursement per diems to present to the board.

Dunaway raised questions and issues of policy regarding outside vendor camps in the district. Dunaway has recently noticed that outside vendor camps and the district are not following policies laid out, there have been instances of outside vendor camps operating on school grounds without a facilities contract.

Dunaway pointed out that the board’s main job revolves around policy and making sure that everyone in the district works from the same framework. The biggest concern raised regarding outside vendor camps not following policy and not submitting a facilities contract was not knowing how many and which students are in the buildings or on school grounds either as participants or volunteers for the camps.

“As long as I’m on the board, and you know I try to follow policy, you’re not going to shame me into being quiet. As long as I sit in this seat I believe in my heart what I am saying and I will fiercely defend anybody who is trying to do the right thing, maybe made a mistake or something like that because none of us are perfect. That’s a different matter than continually rolling over a practice that was anchored to nothing in our policies,” said Zakkour.

“People vote for people to be on the school board because we are a reflection of the community values … the bottom line is the five of us, collectively we represent the values of our community and when we do things that are not following the policy, not following the procedure, we’re setting the example for the children that you only have to follow the policy and procedure if you get caught. Then if you get caught you might get lucky and the person that catches you, likes you … I’m asking that we follow the policy and the procedures as written,” said Dunaway. “We are very reasonable humans… we will work with you but you don’t get the option of breaking the policy and thinking you’re going to get away with it. That is what has to stop.”

The board adjourned to executive session at 8:58 p.m. to consider employment, compensation or complaint against a public employee or official. The board returned to regular session at 11:03 p.m. and no action was taken following the executive session.

In other business:

• The board discussed the community’s frustration with school fees and PowerSchool software. Stefanik stated he was looking into other systems to help streamline processes.

• Dunaway pressed for plans or action regarding the roof at Nevin Coppock Elementary School. The board is expecting a plan proposal in the next week.

• The board approved the acceptance of STEM Education Inc. grants. $522.50 for science lab equipment at LT Ball Intermediate School, $240 for the MathCounts team competition registration fee at Tippecanoe Middle School and a $5000 grant from Emerson Climate Technologies in Sidney for a UAS (Drone) Soccer Kit at the Tippecanoe Middle School.

• The board discussed an update on the technology upgrade in the district. Stefanik noted it was too soon to predict what the district will be financially responsible for.

• Mains was appointed to be the board’s MVCTC representative for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years.

• The potential to move the board’s work sessions to Tuesday instead of Monday during the January organization meeting was brought up.

• Board members were invited to sit in on the interview of a potential new Library Trustee on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m.

• The board moved their next regular session meeting from Nov. 14 to Nov. 7 due to a conflict with the OSBA Conference.