BOE hears facilities updates, approves contract non-renewal


TIPP CITY — The Tipp City Board of Education received an update from Superintendent Mark Stefanik regarding potential options for the district’s aging facilities from the first facilities project community meeting. The board also approved the non-renewal of Treasurer Melanie Fox’s position following an executive session.

During the meeting on Monday, Feb. 27, Stefanik updated the board on the progress of the district’s facilities project and the community meeting that was held recently to gain input from the parents and members of the Tipp City community.

Firstly, Stefanik was able to collect information at the meeting regarding who in the district is planning to participate and help the district form a master facilities plan — whether the participants are parents, Tipp City alumni or just community members invested in the progress of Tipp City and the school district.

During the meeting, multiple options were presented by architects from Garmann Miller. The first thing to be considered is the sentimental value of the Broadway Elementary site. Does the district and community believe the school should maintain a presence there for sentimental reasons. The use of the site is being questioned due to the inability to expand the school due to multiple constraints (i.e. roads and other buildings). The inability to expand the size of the site limits the district to only housing two grade levels in any school building, new or old, on the site. There is a potential to use the site for preschool and kindergarten grade levels as well as district offices, leaving the playground equipment for the school kids and community members to use while maintaining a school presence at the site.

Garmann Miller will be helping to narrow the options down by doing preliminary cost estimations for the previously mentioned option and the following. A second option would be for the district to house grades Kindergarten through first at the Broadway site, grades two through six at the Hyatt site and keep grades seven and eight at the Tippecanoe Middle School until the next phase of the project which would move grades seven and eight to the Tippecanoe High School campus. Another option is to put grades Kindergarten through first at Broadway, grades second through eighth in a new building at the Hyatt location and keep ninth through 12th grades at the Tippecanoe High School. Finally, Garmann Miller will also be looking in to an estimated cost for a new Kindergarten through sixth grade building at the Hyatt site and keeping grades seven and eight at TMS until they can be moved to the high school campus. This final option would maintain a presence at the Broadway site with a playground and potentially courts for extracurricular activities like tennis while renovating LT Ball Intermediate for school district offices.

Garmann Miller hopes to have these estimates completed by the next community meeting on March 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Stefanik also shared an update on the cautionary report for the most aging structures in the district like Nevin Coppock Elementary School. Some concerns are the Nevin Coppock roof repair or replacement. According to Stefanik’s report, repairing the roof would cost approximately $380,000 while replacing it would cost around $748,000. Another concern at the Nevin Coppock Elementary School building is the age of the boiler used to heat the building. The boiler is around 65 years old and if anything happens to it, the parts to repair it will most likely be very expensive and hard to obtain, according to Stefanik. The plumbing is also a concern, should anything happen. The Nevin Coppock plumbing is the original galvanized pipes with no crawl space to access the pipes for repairs. No crawl space means that should repairs need done, workers would have to access the pipes through the walls or floors of the building. A final concern brought to the board by Stefanik is the electric at Nevin Coppock. Currently, there is no more additional space on the building’s breakers, meaning the building cannot handle any more technology updates without an updated electrical system.

Similar concerns regarding the boiler and electrical system at Broadway Elementary were brought to the board’s attention by Stefanik.

Stefanik also informed the board of ongoing efficiency studies to find swing space in other buildings should something happen to the facilities at Broadway or Nevin Coppock that prevents the students from attending school for an extended period of time. This study also looks into the potential for modular classrooms and how much they would cost the district and where the modular classrooms would be located.

Following an executive session during the meeting on Monday evening, the board approved a motion, made by President Simon Patry, to add two additional item in the “new business” category of the agenda. The two items added to the agenda were the discussion of the non-renewal of Fox’s contract as treasurer and the authorization of Dr. Lisa Tuttle-Huff to post the position for the purpose of collecting applications.

The non-renewal of Fox’s contract was approved by the board in a 3-2 vote with board members Theresa Dunaway and Anne Zakkour voting against the non-renewal. Subsequently, the board approved the authorization of Tuttle-Huff to post the position. The motion to authorize passed with the same vote, with Dunaway and Zakkour voting against it.

Dunaway shared, in an email on Tuesday evening, why she voted against the non-renewal.

“My no vote was a reflection of the disparity in how the Superintendent and Treasurer non renewals were handled, it didn’t sit well with me,” she wrote in the email.

Dunaway was incredibly clear in the email that her vote against the non-renewal is due to her own personal opinion and is not indicative of any other board member’s thoughts.

“I am very disappointed, sad and hurt by this decision,” said Fox.

Fox shared her feelings surrounding the decisions and her wish to have had more time working with the district as she has been involved heavily in the district. She’s lived in Tipp City for a long time and her children have attended Tipp City Schools.

“I think the decision was made from some assumptions,” said Fox. “I was ready to face the storm.”

Fox felt like the decision came from some assumptions about her abilities to perform in the position of Treasurer through upcoming challenges facing the district such as getting new bonds and levies passed for the Facilities Project and getting former bonds and levies renewed. Fox stated that she feels as if she was not given enough time, only a year and a half, to learn and grow in her position.

While she is disappointed that her time with Tipp City Schools was cut shorter than she thought it would be, she believes she is leaving on good terms with the Board of Education and wishes the district and board nothing but the best.

Fox’s contract ends on July 31, 2023.

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