Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune
---- — Batesville Community School Corp. trustee Mike Bettice considers his tenure “an opportunity for me to serve a community I love very much.”
Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts and others said goodbye to the 16-year trustee at his last monthly meeting June 24. Bettice chose not to run for re-election last November.
Roberts called him “a constant companion of mine for many, many board meetings.” When Bettice started his first term, Roberts was the Batesville Middle School assistant principal, he pointed out. “I’ve grown with Mike. I have certainly come to appreciate his wisdom and knowledge in serving on our board. He brings a lot of great information and insight from the community’s perspective.”
The four fellow trustees complimented Bettice on his sound advice. Ray Call noted, “It’s been a pleasure to see how it’s done.”
According to Wanita Linkel, “If you have any questions, he’s willing to try and answer them.” Dr. Steve Stein added, “We know Mike is the bastion of knowledge …. He’s right most of the time.”
The fifth trustee, BCSC board President Chris Lowery, who succeeded Bettice in that role, explained he always was “trying to do the right things for our students and community … he brings just a really keen sense of business to the board,” which oversees a $20 million annual budget and 200 faculty.
“Mr. Bettice has been as responsible if not more responsible than anyone in driving the process of continuous improvement.” Lowery recalled that when important issues needed to be hashed out, sometimes the duo would take opposite sides “just to get some discussion going.”
Of his service, Bettice admitted, “I have enjoyed it nonstop.” In future years, he challenged board members when they change policies “to not go too far” on the pendulum.
Sounding like an Academy Award honoree, the Batesville resident began a litany of thank-yous, first to “the people of Batesville and Oldenburg for putting their trust in me. Since I was a high school senior, I wanted to be on the school board.”
Among 12 current and past board members he has sat with at the table, Bettice said he was grateful for two, now deceased, who helped early on. Lowell Yorn encouraged Bettice to run for the position and Chuck Luce provided campaign advice. Once he was elected, former trustees Ron Green and Dick Placke “both had to show me … how to be a good board member,” such as learning to come to meetings prepared. They urged him to serve “to the best of your abilities.”
Former Batesville High School teacher Chris Campbell was the Batesville Educators Association president when Bettice was BCSC president. He said, “Chris and I talked on a number of occasions and I appreciated his counsel ... We were able to share things with each other” so a good working relationship could be fostered.
He praised Lowery’s “magnificent job of running this board .... You are a true professional and our schools have benefited from your leadership and I commend you for it.”
The trustee said their job of setting policy is easy, noting current and former superintendents Roberts and Dr. Jim Freeland have done “the heavy lifting” of implementation. “We are where we are today because the two of you are great leaders.”
Bettice was in awe of volunteer Dave Raver’s “countless hours helping the school corporation behind the scenes” trying to build a consensus for recent building projects and also the Ivy Tech Community College expansion. “He is a steady hand and a level-headed man. I think the world of him.”
Then it was time to thank his family. Mother Mary Bettice encouraged her son to run. “She’s the one who reminded me many years ago, ‘To those who have been given much, much is expected.’” Oldest daughter Holly was his sounding board during elections and youngest daughter Kristen, a rookie teacher, “got to teach me” about educational issues, especially the new RISE teacher evaluation process “and how teachers are affected by state laws and school board policies.”
He reflected, “It takes a lot of time and effort to do this.” Of wife Lorie, he said, “I’m a very lucky man … I could not have done this for 16 years without her love and support.”
He saluted not only teachers and staff members who surround students 180 days each year, but also “those people who work in the buildings,” from bus drivers and custodians to cafeteria workers and nurses.
“We have a lot of really good people who are all pulling in the right direction and that is what makes us strong and that is what makes us great.”
The superintendent concluded, “You have been a great asset for us and helped our school corporation get better.” Campbell added, “It has been a pleasure working with you. I will miss my friend on the board.”
At the July 15 meeting, Cindy Blessing, who was present that night, will be sworn in as Bettice’s successor. Roberts said, “We know she will fit in well with this particular group.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.