After Chinese visitors toured Batesville High School and the area Nov. 11, Batesville Community School Corp. and Chinese administrators signed a memorandum of understanding between BHS and Pinghu Danghu (China) Senior High School at the Sherman House, superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts informed trustees Nov. 18. One side of the document was in English and the other in Chinese. According to him, “The Chinese visitors did say our town is a postcard.”
The Pinghu Danghu school day goes from 6:40 a.m.-5 p.m. with most staying until 9 p.m. for extended studies. Seniors go to school on Saturdays, too. He said, “99.9 percent” of the 2,000 students at that school go to college after passing a three-day test.
“They want to learn from us” how BHS teachers encourage creativity, innovation, problem solving and critical thinking. “They are interested in how we balance” school time with work and personal time. Next year Roberts hopes the schools can exchange students and faculty for two or three weeks. “They all do learn English there.”
Mandarin Chinese may be added to the BHS curriculum. Because of the two foreign languages currently offered, leaders also are pursuing sister relationships with South American and German cities.
Before purchasing iPads for Batesville Primary School and Batesville Intermediate School students to use starting in August, educators will tour two tech-savvy schools, Bluffton-Harrison Nov. 19 and Center Grove Dec. 5. He said, “We do find these visits to be extremely valuable” to learn how other schools implement 1:1 technology.
Trustees OK’d an overnight field trip to Orlando, Fla., March 19-23 for the BHS band and Batesville Singers, which will perform and attend workshops at Disney World. Roberts has attended similar trips in the past. “It is a great experience for them.”
On the proposed BCSC 2014-15 calendar, the Batesville Educators Association recommended taking the day off before Thanksgiving. To keep the correct state-mandated number of student days, trustees had five choices to add a day: a day prior to Aug. 6, during the holiday break, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day or after May 28. BEA was hesitant to start earlier than Aug. 6. Blessing asked, “Why not May 29?” Roberts noted a buffer day is needed after the last student day, May 28, for teachers to determine if a senior is indeed eligible to graduate before the May 30 graduation. The board approved taking the Wednesday off before Thanksgiving and going to school on Presidents Day.
In the meeting’s public comment portion, senior Sarah Call reported the BHS auditorium “is not fire safe. Do you think we’re ever going to get a new one?” Roberts recalled, “A few years ago, we attempted to raise dollars to renovate the auditorium and address many other needs of the corporation,” but the proposal was defeated in a November 2009 vote. A smaller dollar amount was approved later to expand and update BIS and renovate BHS. “The auditorium is still a need for us… as opposed to a want. I know the Rural Alliance for the Arts is actively working to support that project ... If there are safety issues, those need to be addressed immediately.”
Senior Mandy Lynch said, “I noticed that we have a lot of disaster and fire drills, but they only happen in the last period of the day.” She wishes a drill could occur at other times, especially lunch. “I feel like everybody in the lunchroom would panic and not know what to do.” Roberts noted administrators had discussed storm precautions that day after Nov. 17 high winds, and tornadoes elsewhere in Indiana.
After listening to trustees discuss more research on random drug testing, BHS parent Barb Crawford cautioned students in attendance, “Watch your social media” and don’t post illegal or questionable activities. “Colleges and businesses keep an eye on that. It’s not like a rumor in Batesville. It’s like a rumor across the whole world.” About drug testing, she said, “There are lots of schools that do it. What kinds of consequences are you going to give students” if it’s enacted?
Debbie Blank can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
• BHS senior Andrew Grossman was applauded at the meeting for receiving a National Merit Scholarship Program Commendation after scoring in the top 5 percent of over 1.5 million PSAT test takers, according to principal Andy Allen. President Chris Lowery said, "It's a tremendous honor. On behalf of the board, we could not be more proud of you." • Allen and assistant principal Brad Stoneking proposed a BHS handbook attendance policy change for the 2013-14 school year. Medical documentation for students who have attendance contracts must include the time and date(s) being excused by the physician and must be turned in within 24 hours of the absence. Allen explained medical appointments don't count against a student's allowance of absent days. If a student forgets the document at the appointment, "we've had a very good return rate from our local physicians," who electronically get the data to school. Trustees OK'd the revision, so administrators will get medical appointment information quicker. • Trustees voted to purchase a home at 16 N. 5th St. just west of BIS for $86,250 after buying the only other home on that block at 20 N. 5th St. in March 2012. Both homes will remain there and be rented for now. Buildings and grounds director Tim Hunter pointed out the lots "lend a lot of flexibility down the road" if BIS needs another expansion. • After a complaint, the superintendent said, "We are reviewing our sexual harassment policy to ensure Title IX compliance." The U.S. Office of Civil Rights will be informed that Melissa Burton, the director of student learning, was assigned as Title IX coordinator. • "We have been talking for several months about having a guaranteed energy contractor. Our shortest term need right now is to address heating and cooling issues at BPS and BHS," according to Roberts. BCSC recently received requests for qualifications from EMCOR, Fort Wayne, and Performance Services, Indianapolis. A committee (Roberts, Hunter and trustees Ray Call and Cindy Blessing) recommended EMCOR to the board, which was approved. According to Hunter, "It's a bigger company, a national footprint with more buying power" and offers spending transparency. EMCOR consultants will perform engineering work to find solutions and offer cost estimates, on which the board will vote. • With about 100 participants, the Oct. 12 Batesville K12 race, planned by the Batesville Community Education Foundation, netted over $3,500. A BCEF meet-and-greet will be held Thursday, Dec. 19, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Hillcrest Country Club as part of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce's After Hours events. • The board narrowly voted 3-2 to spend $3,900 to renew its Indiana School Board Association membership for 2014. Blessing, who has attended two ISBA meetings, said, "I think it's very beneficial." Lowery was opposed because he believes ISBA needs new leadership. Call also voted no because "I think they could do a whole lot more than they actually do." • The next meeting is Monday, Dec. 16, at 5 p.m. (one hour earlier than usual) at the BMS commons. • Personnel decisions were approved. Certified - medical leave request: Sandi Beier, Batesville Middle School seventh-grade science teacher; resignation: Cindy Julcarima, BHS Spanish teacher; new: Randi Stirn, Sarah Jaisle and Nanette Foster, BHS homebound instructors. Classified - new: Kyle Hunteman, BMS Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn Special Education Cooperative student-specific paraprofessional; maternity leave replacement: Amy Shaw, BMS Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn Special Education Cooperative paraprofessional.