The second and final reading of a Batesville Community School Corp. bullying policy was approved by trustees after discussion Oct. 21. It aligns with Indiana’s revised bullying legislation, enacted July 1.
“We have already had some training with some certified staff members,” reported superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts. State legislators have broadened the scope so that “bullying issues that take place off the school grounds can now lead to discipline at school” if administrators learn of the incident.
The process is defined: “If a staff member observes bullying, it must be reported to administrators within one school day,” he explained. An administrator must conduct a full investigation and submit a report to director of student learning Melissa Burton.
Trustee Dr. Steve Stein asked about a bus driver’s responsibility. Roberts said it is similar to the responsibility a teacher faces. Training for classified staffers, including drivers, aides and cafeteria workers, was slated for Oct. 24. Stein wondered if employees are supposed to intervene while harassment is occurring. The superintendent answered that the problem should be reported, then the administrator would become the interventionist.
BCSC President Chris Lowery questioned, “What if someone witnesses physical harm?” Roberts said students would be separated. He reflected, “We’ve always been responsible for student behavior. Bullying .. is very specific … inappropriate behavior … We need to intervene and report to administrators to see if further discipline is required.” The school official must decide if an incident is categorized as bullying. If so, it must be reported to the Indiana Department of Education. “Hopefully, we’re just sharpening our skills …. We’re not asking our teachers to decide if it’s bullying or not.”
Stein reminded that the policy’s definition of bullying includes Internet messages.
Research is being done before BCSC leaders decide on a mandated anti-bullying curriculum for students in grades 1-12.
About 8 percent of BCSC students, 168, participated in intersessions held from 8-11:30 a.m. Oct. 14-16 during the first three days of the five-day fall break. According to Roberts, “We had 17 classes taking place,” 11 remediation and six enrichment. Students were invited by letters and phone calls. “Our goal is a little higher than that …. We still realize there are some opportunities for improvement.”
Lowery noted the ratio was one instructor for every 10 students. Roberts agreed, “The ratio was very positive.”
The president was dismayed about 500 were invited and only a third of that number took advantage of the classes. The superintendent pointed out some invitations may have come after families had made out-of-town plans. “It takes some time during the nine weeks to identify who is really struggling” and could use remediation in certain subjects.
BCSC and the Batesville Educators Association are contemplating the 2014-15 calendar. A proposed schedule: first student day, Aug. 6, 2014; fall break, Oct. 13-17; holiday break, Dec. 22-Jan. 2; spring break, March 16-27 (first week is a snow makeup week if needed); last student day, May 28; graduation, May 30. With more possible makeup days within the calendar, “we probably don’t need … a buffer at the end of the school year.”
Stein recalled he met an Indianapolis high school teacher who said that school takes a full week off at Thanksgiving “for people who want to travel.” Roberts said, “It’s becoming very commonplace for schools to at least take the Wednesday” before Thanksgiving off. “It’s something to consider.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
More topics • A master agreement for certified employees, such as administrators and teachers, formulated using a new state statute, was ratified with the Batesville Educators Association Oct. 10. According to Roberts, key components include a 4 percent raise to the current salary scale, 10 percent increase to BCSC's contribution for employee health insurance, flexibility in new employees' salaries, recognition of good attendance and highly effective evaluations, and accumulation of points, in addition to an effective evaluation, in order to earn an actual increase in dollars. • The process of Complaint 05-13-1245 against BCSC filed with a regional U.S. Office for Civil Rights was delayed because of the federal shutdown, the superintendent said. Trustees OK'd a resolution for Roberts to sign a report to pro-actively address the complaint after he consulted with attorneys. • A dinner and tour of Southeastern Career Center by administrators and trustees is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 16. Roberts noted the center is "obviously a part of Batesville schools" for high school students interested in career and technical education. The public board meeting is tentatively set for 5 p.m. at the Batesville Middle School commons, then the delegation will leave for Versailles. • A larger capacity special needs bus to replace Bus No. 19 will be leased for a couple of months, then purchased in early 2014, trustees decided after hearing transportation and safety director Ed Krause's recommendation. • Personnel decisions were approved. Certified - new: Becky Rauch, BPS intersessions first-grade remediation teacher; Laura Hicks, BPS intersessions art enrichment teacher; Kayla Bradley, BPS intersessions first-grade enrichment teacher; Eric Feller and Alex Davis, BMS intersessions remediation teachers; Lisa Gausman and Jan Haskamp, BHS intersessions math remediation teachers; Helena Benjamin, BHS intersessions English remediation teacher; Randi Stirn, BHS intersessions special education teacher; maternity leave replacement: Mary Miller, BPS first-grade teacher (for Amber Hofer). Classified - medical leave: Luettie Harrison, BPS cafeteria manager; medical leave replacement: Donna Doll, BPS cafeteria manager; resignation: Holly Jorgensen, BIS Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn Special Education Cooperative child-specific aide; maternity leave: BMS, LesLee Jones, BMS instructional aide; new: Shannon McBeath, BIS child-specific aide; Jay Pfeiffer, BIS/BMS maintenance worker and custodian.