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By VINCE LUECKE
TELL CITY – Four support positions within Tell City-Troy Township Schools will be funded during the coming school year even though the grant that had been covering the salaries ended this month.
The four positions, two licensed social workers, a school counselor and a family-outreach coordinator, were paid through a multi-year Safe Schools-Healthy Students grant awarded in 2009 to Tell City and Perry Central. Grant funding expired this spring.
Board members voted at their May 13 meeting to find the funding to retain the positions, saying the jobs they carried out were important to recent academic growth and shouldn’t be lost.
“As a board member I think they are vital to our success,” board member Sherri Flynn said. She and other board members said the support staff helped lessen the workload on elementary and high-school teachers. Another board member, Mack Cail, said the grant-funded positions likely helped to ensure some students who might otherwise have quit or left school were able to graduate.
“Some of them may not have graduated if it weren’t for these (staff members’ work),” he said.
The four positions’ salaries, including fringe benefits, total nearly $193,000. However, the school-outreach position’s salary has been covered through other funding, at least for the coming year.
Some of that funding will come from a federal McKinney–Vento grant designed to help students who face issues related to housing stability.
With the school year nearly over and employees concerned about the future of their positions, the board voiced concern that staff might seek other jobs if they did not act soon. School counselor Sally Wolfe, one of several staff members in the audience, said as much.
“My concern is with these positions, people who know our building and kids are going to try and find other jobs. That would be tragic,” she said.
The board voted to commit funding for all four positions. Board President Larry Kleeman voted no. He said the nay vote didn’t reflect his opposition to keeping the staff members. He said the board should have taken more time to gather information on what he said was an important corporation-wide issue.
He said the vote violated board policy. That prompted a response from Flynn, who asked Kleeman to name the policy violated.
Board member Dr. Gene Ress abstained from the vote.
Schools Superintendent Lynn Blinzinger said the board’s directive will mean eyeing savings that can be made elsewhere so the three salaries can be paid from the general fund, He said he will work to do that before he retires next month and will work with new Superintendent John Scioldo.
The board tabled an agenda item titled “Administrative Contract” at the start of the meeting May 13. Flynn asked about the item’s removal and Kleeman responded that the administrator whose contract it involved had asked for it to be removed.
Flynn asked if the item would be placed on the June agenda and was told by Kleeman that it would, after a possible executive session meeting. Flynn said she would not take part in an executive session meeting to discuss a contract if the person whose contract is being discussed is present. She said that would be “inappropriate.”
Flynn also said she would also not support any “side deals or special deals” made on the side for any school.
The News received notice Friday afternoon of a special meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday. “Administrative contract” is the second of two items on the agenda. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the junior-senior high school library. An executive session meeting is scheduled for 6 the same evening.