The start of a new school year is just weeks away, and Madison Consolidated Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeffery Studebaker said at Wednesday’s school board meeting that the school corporation once again will be taking precautions for COVID-19.
“We’re hopeful that we have the bulk of it behind us, but I anticipate we will have issues. It’s still here,” he said.
“We reserve the right to fully mask if we need to,” he said, especially if there begins to be an increase in COVID-19 cases locally. Studebaker also said that a high rate of flu cases might also trigger the use of face masks based on the corporations experience wearing the masks last year.
Studebaker pointed out that during the 2020-2021 school year, Madison’s “flu cases were next to zero,” and he thinks safety precautions related to COVID-19 helped make that possible. “If there is a flu outbreak in the county, we may ask to go back to masks,” he said.
The school corporation will also continue its efforts to thoroughly surface clean throughout all school buildings.
Due to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, face masks will be required on school buses. “We have no choice,” Studebaker noted. “If they ride a school bus, they must mask the entire the time,” which includes not just getting to and from school, but athletic events and all other activities in which students will be riding a bus.
Studebaker said masks will be available on buses and be provided to students who may not have one when getting on. “We have a huge supply of masks and will continue to do that,” Studebaker said. “We will not leave a kid on the curb.”
In other business, the board:
• Approved the appropriation of $126,405 for correcting drainage issues at Gary O’Neal Field by Turfdogs Lawn and Landscape of Indianapolis.
Studebaker said there are issues of standing water between second and third base on the inflield, along with rightfield that are making it impossible to practice on the baseball field.
Madison head baseball coach Tim Armstrong said nothing has been done to the field’s irrigation system since 2004, and that there are severe drainage issues.
Studebaker said he had reviewed the situation earlier in the week, and he characterized the area as a “swamp” that he “almost lost a shoe.” He said the process of correcting the drainage problems will involve removing all of the sod and playing surface to then more effectively direct where water goes.
Studebaker said there is also a drainage issue due to erosion on Lady Cub Softball Field which will cost $14,000 to correct and also be done by Turfdogs, but noted that expenditure did not require board approval.
• Heard a report from Jill Mires, principal of Rykers’ Ridge Elementary School in which she announced the school has received a Family Friendly School Designation, which is given to schools that excel in the involvement of families and communities in the education of their children.
Mires also gave an update on Rykers’ continued status as a Lighthouse school in the Leader in Me program. Rykers’ Ridge began participating in the Leader in Me program in 2013 and achieved Lighthouse status in 2018. The Leader in Me utilizes Franklin Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and emphasizes community partnerships and strong relationships with families.
Amana Bingham and Jordan White are the co-coordinators of the Leader in Me program at Rykers’ Ridge. Bingham noted they are continually looking for ways to improve over what they did the year before. “We’re doing new programs every year,” which involves contributing to organizations in the community. White said it’s exciting what’s happening at Rykers’ Ridge as students do service while also learning. “We invite visitors into our building to see what Rykers’ Ridge is all about,” she said.
• Authorized Studebaker to hire employees if the need arises before the next meeting with the board’s official approval at the next meeting in August.
Studebaker said there remain positions to be filled for the upcoming school year. “We’re not adding positions. We’re replacing folks who have resigned,” he said, citing one position at the high school, two at the junior high, and two preschool positions. Studebaker said it’s difficult to find teachers in July, and that by allowing him to hire teachers, it allows new hires “to resign positions and for us to have them in time for school to start.”
• Accepted a donation from Johnson-Melloh Solutions of three solar wagons (valued at $2,100 each) to help students better learn about solar energy. Craig Martin, vice president of business development for Johnson-Melloh, said laptops can be plugged into the solar wagons and receive power to operate directly off of them. “They provide instant learning and generate a lot of discussion,” Martin said.
Board member David Storie said the solar wagons could also be great for adults to better comprehend what solar energy does.
“Solar is a misunderstood technology,” said Martin, and the solar wagons “bring it to a grassroots level, making them a great learning tool.”
• Approved a contract agreement with Indiana School of the Blind and Vision Impaired to meet student needs for evaluation and services, and to maintain compliance with Indiana Education Plans. “These are very important for us to be involved,” said board member Larry Henry, who has observed the need for it.
• Approved acceptance of the Carl D. Perkins Title V Grant for $61,737 to be used to continue to upgrade Career and Technology Education programs including Culinary, Engineering, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Graphics and Business.
• Approved the hiring of Lee Strassell as a math teacher at Madison Consolidated High School for the 2021-2022 school year, Christopher Fisher as a CARES team social worker at Madison Junior High School, and Rebecca Thorpe as a preschool teacher at Anderson Elementary School, both effective Aug. 1. Resignations were accepted by Adam Stotts as MCHS English teacher and Rachel Otto as CARES team social worker.
Two major projects for Madison Consolidated Schools took another step forward Wednesday night with approval of lease and bond agreements by the Building Corporation and Madison school board.
In May, the school board unanimously approved a resolution to build an addition onto the west side of Anderson Elementary School and another to develop solar efficiencies throughout the school corporation, mostly at Madison Conslidated High School. The two projects are being financed by a single $8 million bond.
On Wednesday, Building Corporation members John Schutte, Rhonda Sauley and Lindsay Hunt-Greves adopted a resolution approving the form of lease agreement, and another resolution approving issuance of bonds.
The school board then adopted resolutions authorizing the execution of the lease, the additional appropriation of $8 million and the approval of contracts after bids are received. The board also approved a disclosure requirement that is necessary any time the school corporation takes on new debt.
Bonnie Hensler, director of Finance and Human Resources, expects the closing of the bonds to occur Sept. 1 when the school corporation should receive the money for the projects.
An investigation into 1-1/2-year-old child who was treated for injuries consistent with abuse at King’s Daughters’ Hospital recently, led to the arrest of a Madison man on Wednesday.
Madison Police Detectives responded after suspicious injuries were observed at the hospital emergency room on July 9. The child was treated for serious bodily injuries, although not life threatening, and the police investigation determined the case involved abuse.
Madison Police Detective Jeremey Perkins, the lead investigator, arrested Dalton L. Duncil, 28, of Madison, on preliminary charges of Neglect of a Dependent-Child Violations, a Level 3 felony; Battery-Serious Bodily Injury, a Level 5 felony; and Possession of a Syringe, a Level 6 felony
Detectives executed a search warrant at a West Fourth Street address where it is alleged that the injuries occurred. The investigation determined that Duncil is the stepfather of the child and the injuries occurred while the child was in his care.
Duncil is being held without bond at the Jefferson County jail .
On Wednesday, Eddie T. Gray, 47, Madison, and Rebecca R. Rice, 43, Madison, were arrested on narcotic-related charges following execution of a search warrant in the 1800 block of Meridian Street in which Madison Police located methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and dozens of “loaded” syringes believed to contain methamphetamine.
Additionally, Gray was charged with theft after Madison Police investigated the theft of a U-Haul car dolly from the 300 block of East Main Street. The stolen trailer, which had already been spray painted, was located adjacent to a Meridian Street residence frequented by Gray, Madison City Police said.
The investigation into the drug activity was led by Patrolmen Jared Sweet, Cameron Blankenship and Trent Smith.
Also on Wednesday, Alexander Nicholas Barnes, 29, Madison, was charged with theft, a Class A misdemeanor; unlawful entry into a vehicle, a Class B misdemeanor; and residential entry, a Level 6 felony.
Officers Josh Nolan and Curtis Shelpman responded to a report of theft from a vehicle in the 600 block of West Main Street. After obtaining a description of the subject, Barnes was located in the basement of a residence in the 700 block of West Main Street. Barnes did not live at the address in which he was located, resulting in the residential entry charge.
The property stolen from the vehicle was recovered by officers.
The vacant site of a former bowling alley on Madison’s hilltop will be developed into a 5,800-square-foot strip mall under a proposal approved by the Madison Plan Commission this week.
The applicants, property owners Vivian McIntosh-Gregory and Ron Gregory, asked for and received Plan Commission approval to proceed with construction of a mixed-use retail center that will serve up to five businesses on a footprint somewhat smaller than the site formerly occupied by Ten Pin Alley, 192 Clifty Drive.
The bowling center, heavily damaged by a tornado in May 2017, was demolished and the site cleared in August 2018. The property has sat vacant since then until the Gregorys opted to develop the site, zoned for general business, into retail space. Based on plans for the strip mall, all five storefronts will face Clifty Drive and parking will be at the front of the buildings. The Plan Commission also approved a Handicapped Parking Plan that will include three ADA accessible spaces along with 58 standard parking spaces at the site.
In other applications, the Plan Commission:
• Approved requested setback changes to allow construction of a pole barn storage structure at Cruisin Inc., 2720 Clifty Drive.
• Approved a petition by Kevin and Miranda McBride to amend a final plat to combine 645 and 651 Twin Falls Drive, zoned Low Density Residential.