Proposed weekly early release fails at Tipp BOE meeting

By Blythe Alspaugh

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TIPP CITY — The proposed schedule change for Tippecanoe Middle School and Tippecanoe High School that was discussed at the April 11 work session failed at Monday’s board meeting.

The proposed schedule change originally failed due to a lack of a motion to open discussion on the proposed changes. Following executive session, Board Member Theresa Dunaway moved to open discussion on the proposed changes under old business, with Board Member Amber Drum seconding the motion. The proposed schedule change unanimously failed.

The proposed schedule change would have included a weekly early release for TMS and THS students every Wednesday, with TMS students being dismissed at 1:30 p.m. and THS students dismissed at 1:40 p.m., giving staff members an hour of common planning time each week on Wednesdays. Additionally, building principals would be able to create a monthly schedule with structured meetings and expectations for staff members during the common planning time.

Drum stated that while she wasn’t opposed to the idea of an early release and loved the idea of collaboration among teachers, she felt that having it for an hour once a week wasn’t as conducive to the collaboration efforts as other options, such as having a monthly early release and giving teachers two hours to collaborate and work.

“The teacher part of me can get a lot more done in two hours than I can in one hour when collaborating. By the time you get there, you sit down, you think of ideas, you get into the groove, you’re talking, you’re figuring things out — that hour goes really, really fast,” Drum said. “I feel like if it was a two hour, once a month, or even twice a month, it would be more productive.”

Superintendent Mark Stefanik said that he would bring up the board’s thoughts and ideas to TMS Principal Diane Voress and THS Principal Daniel Barnes.

“I want what’s best for staff and students. It’s not that I don’t want this, because I threw a lot of crazy ideas out there, and the administrators jump through hoops. I don’t want them to feel like they’re beat up and we’re micromanaging — we’re trying to process what parents are saying, and we did this relatively quickly,” Dunaway said. “I completely believe in the current leadership (…) we’re just trying to see all sides, and we want this to be a forever decision.”

The Tipp City School Board also tabled admitting students on a tuition basis for the upcoming school year at Monday’s meeting.

The motion to table the decision to March of 2023 was made by Dunaway, after Stefanik pointed out that the deadline to approve admission of students on a tuition basis was March 31. The board voted unanimously to table the decision until March of 2023.

“In the board policy, the board is supposed to act on this on or before March 31. We will make sure we revise that back into the March board meeting for future years. I believe at the March board meeting, we were addressing the open enrollment policy, and I think in the past, the two decisions came a month apart,” Stefanik said.

Board President Simon Patry added that he felt that because the board had missed the March 31 deadline, that prevented the board from approving the item for the 2022-2023 school year. Several board members were in agreement with Patry.

The Tipp City School Board also approved the following items at Monday’s meeting:

• The 199 graduates for the graduation class of 2022 was unanimously approved, with the senior’s last day set for May 20.

• A donation of $4290.91 in grant dollars from Tipp Foundation was unanimously approved;

• A donation of $13,000, dedicated to the Tippecanoe High School gym flag project, was unanimously approved;

• Paid supplemental staff and unpaid student volunteers for Stagecrafters 2021-2022 was unanimously approved;

• The Art, Music, Drama, Physical Education and Health, and World Languages and Cultures curriculum materials, to be implemented in the 2022-2023 school year for grades K-12, was unanimously approved; and,

• The renewal of an agreement with EPC/Bonnie Berkemeyer-Muckenthaler, SNS Foodservice Consultant continuing on July 1, 2022 for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years with no increase in cost from 2021-2022 at $17,100 annually, was unanimously approved.

The next regular board meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 24 at the Board of Education offices.