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At tonight’s regular meeting of the Salem Community School Corporation Board of Trustees, the board voted 5-2 to move forward with a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to pay 75 percent of a project to add two new safe rooms at Salem High School and Salem Middle School.

Members Mark “Bubba” Abbott and Ron Haendiges voted no.

Board members Ericka Garloch, Becky White, Board President Rodney Brough, Richard Trueblood, and Dustin Davidson all voted for the grant to move forward. 

“I made a list of pros and cons and the only con was raising the taxes,” said Davidson. 

According to information presented at a previous special meeting, the money amounts to a 75 percent match of federal dollars to build two safe rooms with a total size of just under 20,000 square feet.

The board would have to issue a bond to generate the remaining 25 percent – which totals $2,609,994.06 as a local match for an 11,072 square foot addition to the high school.

The 7,100 square foot addition to the middle school would require a local match of $2,403.587.88. 

The project could cost the average homeowner less than $20 a year for seven years and a farmer with 100 acres of agricultural land approximately $65.79 per year.

Hawkins said the two buildings would be able to hold about 1200 people in each (he said about 5 square feet per person)  and would be open to anyone who lived within a five-minute radius of the schools. 

“The building code actually allows you to cram a higher capacity in there,” said Hawkins, because the number of people isn’t expected to be there for extended periods of time. 

White, who is also a member of the Washington County Emergency Management Agency, said at a previous meeting the buildings would be very useful if and when severe weather hits the community.

“Already this spring, the Bradie Shrum safe room had been prepared to be utilized as a shelter in case of inclement weather.  Because the Washington County Detention Center has been closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and that was being used as an emergency shelter during tornado warnings, the board approved using the safe room as the new tornado shelter. We had everything planned out – including being able to take temperatures of everyone who came in, following the CDC guidelines, etc all which was a very involved process for the local EMA.”

White presented letters of support on the project from Salem Mayor Justin Green and EMA Director Desi Alexander. 

Also, a petition with several names was turned in at the last meeting in support of the project. 

Haendiges said he found the safe room “to have merit on what we’re trying to accomplish. My concern continues to be the timing and the uncertainty of what we look like moving forward.”

Abbott said he was worried about the future. 

“I’m 100 percent for the project in a perfect world,” he said. “If we weren’t dealing with the Covid [crisis]…dealing with worrying about whether or not we’re going to be going back to school in the fall. Issues with the funding — the state could deviate from what we normally could get…and I’m worried about putting us in a financial situation. Adding more debt at the current condition…that’s why I’m a little hesitant…the the projects themselves…all for it. The timing has not been good. We can’t control that. Just a little worried about the taxpayer’s money.”

Acton said the middle school safe room could be used as a STEM and/or STEAM center for the schools and they are working on a “substantial” grant that would help with the project. “Don’t want to jinx it by talking too much about it.”

The high school safe room will house a new band and choir facility as well as other space needed at the school. 

LINK TO LIVE VIDEO OF MEETING https://www.facebook.com/wslmradio/videos/3331065783610655

For more on the safe room project, read here – http://wslmradio.com/2020/05/20/salem-schools-to-decide-if-they-accept-7-4-million-for-two-safe-rooms/

COACH MIKE BROWN

Abbott brought a vote near the end of the meeting under New Board Business to not renew the Extra-Curricular Activity contract for Boys Varsity Basketball Coach Mike Brown. 

Brown just finished his second year as head coach with a 24-23 record with the Lions and ended this season just short of his 500th career win (498-281 in 34th years). 

Garloch seconded the motion and the board voted 7-0. 

The Lion’s last sectional win was in 2009 and went to the state finals in 1913 and 1930. 

The board gave no reason for the non-renewal and did not name a replacement. 

OTHER BUSINESS

The board approved one new hire and several personnel changes and retirements.

Due to the retirement of Choir Director William Spencer-Pierce, a position opened up and the board approved hiring Verda Slinkard.

Acton said she was a “rock star” in the world of high school choir.

She has been at Lafayette Jefferson in Jeffersonville for the past few years and has taught at Edgewood High School in Ellettsville.

Other personnel actions were: 

  • Lisa Nice and Jamie Malloy were hired as high-ability summer school teachers. 
  • Frank Myszak was hired as a high school summer school teacher. 
  • Juli Rowe was transferred from the elementary school to the middle school as a math teacher. 
  • Cheryl Johna Voyles resigned from the high school cafeteria. 
  • Bonnie Floyd resigned from the high school cafeteria. 
  • Sunny Jones, resigned from the high school cafeteria. 
  • Jennifer Nicks, maternity leave 

The board approved the following donations:

  • $100 to Bradie Shrum Elementary School from Roseanne Quatroke
  • $50 donation to SHS Art Club from Roseanne Quatroke
  • Cindy Ribelin donated $300 to be used for students that need lunch assistance. 
  • First Harrison Bank donated $1000 and $300 to the SHS Athletic Department. 
  • CMCS Indianapolis donated $300,000 in tech and office equipment to the school corporation. 

The board approved the appointment of Eric Zink to the Washington County Community Foundation, based on the recommendation of Judy Johnson. 

The board approved the renewal of property and casual insurance through Shepherd Insurance of Seymour, who has held the school corporation’s insurance for the past two years. 

Jason Bukowski, of Shepherd, told the board that the policy had gone up about $5000 over last year but some of that was the increase in worker’s comp due to an increase in teacher salary. 

The insurance package is $74,773, the auto policy is included in that price, a $5 million umbrella policy is also included. 

Worker’s comp is another $74,760 with tank pollution an additional $1,146, a 1 million cyber liability for just under $6500 and an agency fee of $12,000 for a total of $169,096.50.

The board also approved a waiver to not raise school lunch prices for the next school year. This is the third year the school has not raised lunch prices. 

The board also approved issuing a $381,000 bond for needed technology for the coming school year to make sure the school has everything they need in order to effectively handle virtual classrooms in case they need to utilize that more than for a few weeks.