By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — Late Tuesday afternoon, May 12, the Wawasee School Board held a quick emergency meeting in the conference room of the school corporation’s central office in Syracuse. Only three people were present including board president Rebecca Linnemeier, superintendent Dr. Tom Edington and Tammy Hutchinson, Edington’s secretary.
Board members Rob Fisher, Mary Lou Dixon, Don Bokhart and Mike Wilson were teleconferenced in.
Only two items were on the agenda for the meeting. The board gave approval for obtaining funding through the Indiana Bond Bank’s 2020 midyear funding program. Edington said the funding will be needed since Gov. Eric Holcomb allowed property taxes to be paid later.
“We want to make sure we are covered with our expenses,” he said. “We usually don’t use it but this year is an exception.”
Also in conjunction with property taxes, the board granted permission for investigating a school tax levy operating referendum to provide additional funding. Edington said the state’s Title I funding will not be enough this year. He noted the referendum will be looked into this summer and a recommendation made to the board in late summer or early fall.
Wawasee’s tax rate is 55 cents this year and is typically in the 50 to 60 cent range from year to year, he said. A referendum would affect the school corporation’s tax rate but how much is not yet known, he added.
He noted the funding would be needed to allow Wawasee to keep staffing levels, class sizes and programs offered.
Other items the board would have considered at a normal monthly meeting and will approve when next meeting in person, possibly in June, include hiring Chris Gerbers as the new principal at Milford School, Holly Fancil as an applied skills teacher at Wawasee Middle School and Kathryn Spears as a language arts teacher at WMS.
Lori Hickman, kindergarten teacher at North Webster Elementary, will retire. Thomas Conner, choir instructor at Wawasee High School, resigned.
New teachers have tentatively accepted positions for band, choir and chemistry at the high school and are completing the hiring process.
The auxiliary gym floor at the high school was damaged recently when an overnight rain entered the facility. The roof was being replaced and was not properly covered. Insurance will be involved with needed repairs.
Some lessons from Wawasee’s eLearning were sent to WNIT-TV for notice on its “Education Counts” TV show.
Wawasee Building Trades’ house is moving toward expected completion by the end of May. Open house information will be announced later.
WHS graduation is tentatively set for Saturday, July 18, with July 19 as an alternate date. It may be held on the football field. More details will be announced, but planning is dependent on conditions with COVID-19.
Fine tuning is being done on the geothermal loop at Syracuse Elementary School while no one is in the building. Testing had been needed.
A task force is being organized to prepare the school corporation for student learning and growth during the 2020-21 school year.
The next school board meeting is tentatively planned for Tuesday, June 9, and will likely occur in a larger space such as the high school auditorium to allow for proper social distancing.