Young Batesville Community School Corp. students will have more choices on how to use their free time after trustees approved two new teams and a fresh club July 15.

The Batesville Middle School tennis team will be a fall coed sport for students in grades 6-8 similar to cross country, noted BCSC athletic director Bryan Helvie.

Trustee Larry Merkel asked, "How many school districts have middle school teams?"

Helvie said there are teams at Shelbyville Middle School and Central and Northside middle schools, Columbus. "Right now our conference (schools in Franklin, Dearborn and Decatur counties) has summer travel teams, but not school teams." He is scheduling matches as close to BMS as possible with Waldron, Triton Central and Morristown, about 40-minute travel times.

Superintendent Paul Ketcham described team practices as more like a camp than a structured program and Helvie agreed.

During the six-week program, "we'll probably practice two to three days a week," using tennis courts behind Batesville High School when the BHS team has away games. Athletes will be transported by bus to the courts after school, then parents will pick them up after practices.

The superintendent asked about the anticipated cost. Helvie answered, "Very minimal." Expenses would include a case of tennis balls costing around $70 and stipends for coaches Emily Helvie, his daughter, and Carisa VanSickle.

"We're not going to have fancy uniforms." He envisioned T-shirts saying Batesville Tennis. Students without tennis rackets will have access to them.

Ketcham told Helvie, "I want to commend you for creating another option for students."

The board also OK'd two groups at Batesville Intermediate School, a dance team and robotics club. Parents must give approval for children to attend.

Principal Dana Cassidy reported these two possibilities join two already in place. Students belonging to a before school Walking Club stroll at least a mile once a week. Kiwanis K Kids, a service and leadership club sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Batesville, meets once a month during lunch and recess, then members have after school commitments.

"School-based telehealth is a way to connect students to medical care while they remain in school," explained Laura Greiwe, R.N., Margaret Mary Health school-based telehealth coordinator.

BCSC, in partnership with MMH and the Indiana Rural Schools Clinic Network, will offer this service to Batesville Primary School students starting next month.

BPS families may enroll before the beginning of the school year and parents may attend an informational meeting Wednesday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.

The school nurse will contact the parent before each visit to get specific consent for the child to be evaluated. The parent also can choose to be part of the visit. "A visit summary will be sent home with each child," she said.

According to Greiwe, "The school nurse uses a web-based platform to connect to one of our MMH providers." She will train BCSC health services director Gayla Vonderheide, R.N., and Laurie Krieg, L.P.N., who works full time at BPS.

The school nurse will act as the provider’s hands by using equipment – an otoscope, dermoscope, laryngoscope or stethoscope – and sending videos online to the provider, who can make a diagnosis and determine the treatment plan. The provider may even phone in a prescription that the parent can pick up on the way home from work.

The equipment is funded by an Indiana Rural Health Association grant to Margaret Mary Health.

MMH physician practice manager Kelly Poltrack pointed out, "We have both pediatricians and family practice providers who will be taking part in this." They will treat all students enrolled in telehealth, whether MMH patients or not.

Typical illnesses that can be diagnosed via telehealth include rashes, pink eye, coughs, colds, ear infections, strep throat, mononucleosis, flu and urinary tract infections. Couriers will pick up cultures at BPS and transport them to the MMH lab for analysis.

"Not all visits would be appropriate" for telehealth, according to Poltrack. "If the provider at any point feels like they need to see the child in the office, they will let them know that."

Certified family nurse practitioner Leah Hildebrand will handle a lot of the telehealth visits, Poltrack said. If the child already is a patient of a Margaret Mary Health physician, organizers will try to contact that professional.

Trustee Dr. Steve Stein questioned, "Each one of your doctors ... has the ability to do telehealth?"

Poltrack responded, "Correct." Initially one provider in each building will be trained and by the end of the first semester all should be.

Greiwe listed benefits: students get early diagnoses and treatments, students' absentee numbers should be reduced and parents do not have to take time off from work.

She observed, "It’s proven that kids who avoid missing school do better in school." The program's ultimate goal is to increase health care access for children.

A telehealth visit will be billed like a normal office visit, according to her. MMH will work with health insurance companies and has a financial assistance program. Employees also are able to help families sign up for insurance.

Greiwe emphasized, "No child will ever be turned away due to financial or insurance barriers."

With MMH offering telehealth at three county school systems, trustee Larry Merkel wondered, "Will there be a system overload?" The telehealth coordinator explained that BPS calls will go to Batesville providers, while South Ripley calls will be answered by Margaret Mary Health Center of Osgood and Milan calls by Margaret Mary Physician Partners of Milan staff.

Poltrack reported, "We will make sure they get seen as quickly as possible ... within half an hour." According to the coordinator, "the average telehealth visit takes less than 5 minutes."

Ketcham estimated six to 10 students a month will take advantage of the program. "It isn't an enormous amount of children, but it is another option."

He said while BPS is the only site now, eventually telehealth could be offered to students at more or all schools and maybe even to employees.

Joe Hartwell was approved as the new Batesville High School associate principal. The superintendent told him, "You come highly recommended and rose above everyone else in the interview process."

"Mr. Hartwell will begin his duties immediately with school scheduled to begin Wednesday, Aug. 7," said principal Andy Allen in a news release.

After graduating from Jennings County High School, the administrator received a bachelor’s degree through Indiana University and master’s degree in educational leadership through Western Governors University.

The North Vernon native has 14 years of experience in education, teaching seven years each at South Decatur Jr./Sr. High School and Jennings County High School. In his time at South Decatur, he coached basketball, baseball and football, while also serving as the social studies department chair and student council sponsor. At Jennings County, Hartwell taught social studies and served four seasons as the boys’ varsity basketball coach. In his final semester there, he was the interim athletic director.

Also on the agenda

• About 900 families have completed online registration so far, Ketcham said. He has received good feedback about the new process.

• A new football field scoreboard is scheduled to be installed July 24. "The main gym is looking great with fresh paint," reported trustee Becky Nobbe, who is the Athletic Council liaison.

• The board accepted the lowest of two bids for fuel. Premier Energy, Seymour, will provide diesel and unleaded gasoline during the 2019-20 school year at $2.57 and $2.16 per gallon, respectively. The superintendent said, "I was pleasantly surprised with the bids." The other bidder was Laughery Valley Ag, Versailles.

• The board OK'd a 2019-20 BMS Student Handbook revision. Friday school will take place between 3-5 p.m. Students will attend either one or two hours based on the number of demerits instead of the previous three, according to principal Dave Strouse.

• The next monthly board meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at a new location. It is Monday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m. at the Bulldog Center. Persons should enter BHS Door N on the school's north side

• Personnel recommendations were approved. Certified – extended leave: Hunter Blake, BMS eighth-grade language arts teacher; extended leave replacement: Wanetta Eisert, BMS eighth-grade language arts teacher; new: Claire Macyauski, BPS counselor; Joseph Hartwell, BHS associate principal.

Classified – new: Kristen Biltz, BPS media clerk; Misty Shroder, BHS emotional disabilities paraprofessional.

Athletics – new: Kim Bohman, BHS dance assistant coach; Jacob Speckman, Ted Henkle and Neal Ploeger, BHS football assistant coaches; Jack Bonelli, BHS football volunteer coach; Luke Lozier, BHS football volunteer assistant; Tom Borgemenke, BMS football assistant coach; re-appointed: Clint Pride, BHS girls basketball junior varsity coach; Lisa Gausman, BHS girls basketball ninth-grade coach; stipend: Bryan Helvie, girls basketball open gym supervisor.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.