Crothersville set for new school year, approves personnel matters



Whether students have chosen to be at school or learn from home, Crothersville Community School Corp. Superintendent Terry Goodin said everyone is ready to go.

With the 2020-21 school year starting Tuesday, the school board met three times in July to address personnel matters, while teachers and staff have been working to have everything set to go despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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During the most recent meeting Thursday night, Goodin shared reopening plans with the board and a few residents attending the special session.

Crothersville was supposed to start school today, but it was pushed back a day so staff could train on new tools for eLearning and social distancing guidelines. Teachers’ first day was Friday.

Goodin said today will be an eLearning day for students, and that will be made up at a later date.

As of Thursday night, the elementary had 34 students choosing the virtual option of instruction out of nearly 250 students in the school, while that number is 14 out of about 240 total students in the junior-senior high school.

“eLearning this time around is not going to look like it did last semester,” Goodin said, referring to when all students did eLearning from mid-March to early May. “The state of Indiana has been very, very diligent about what they said the requirements are for eLearning.”

Virtual instruction will be five hours a day for elementary kids and six hours per day for junior-senior high students. A teacher has been assigned for each grade to assist and monitor the virtual learners, and each teacher will receive compensation for that added responsibility.

Goodin said parents have been notified it’s their responsibility to ensure their child meets the requirements.

“We will provide the curriculum, we will provide all of the support help, but the parents are responsible for making sure that child gets their five (or six) hours,” he said. “There will be communication between the teacher and student on a periodic basis. That communication will be live face to face with a computer. There will be communication with parents and the teacher, as well, via computer.”

Students returning to the classroom will have to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state guidelines, including wearing face masks while riding on school buses and other occasions when they can’t be 6 feet apart.

The regulations and rules were sent to parents, posted on the school’s Facebook page and website and published in newspapers, Goodin said.

Parents dropping their child off at school can do so after 7:45 a.m. so students will have time to eat breakfast before class.

“We’re going to ask the parents to follow these guidelines very strictly, and we’re going to try to be patient,” Goodin said. “Teachers, principals and everybody are going to try to be patient with folks. We know there’s going to be a lot of questions, but in return, we’re going to ask for patience, as well, because you remember that you’re dealing with your one child, and the teacher in that classroom is dealing with 22, 23 parents.”

Goodin said there will be ongoing communication and everyone will do their best to make sure people stay safe.

“We want students to be safe, but we also need our employees and those folks to be safe, as well, because if our employees aren’t safe, then we have no teachers. Then there won’t be school, so we’ve got to make sure everybody is a part of that,” he said.

Board President Dale Schmelzle asked about the protocol if a staff member was to test positive for COVID-19. Goodin said the first move would be to contact the Jackson County Health Department and follow its procedures.

“It has been one situation we all know is the more things change, the more they stay the same, but the more they stay the same, the more they change,” Goodin said. “On this virus every day, we’re getting new protocol and guidelines and finding out new things about it, so I don’t want to set a procedure and process that we have to go back and change because I think that just confuses everybody.”

Trustee Linda Luedeman asked if the corporation is stable with substitute teachers. Goodin said a recent workshop had a similar number of people wanting to participate as previous years.

If it came down to the school needing to have all students do eLearning, Goodin said they will be ready.

“We may be in (school) a day, we may be in a month, we may be in a whole semester, but everybody just needs to be ready to make that change to eLearning,” he said. “Once we go to eLearning, students will be having curriculum that’s already set up. Everything will just transition over to the eLearning side.”

Resident Brad Barron asked about students participating in sports. The Indiana High School Athletic Association recently announced the fall season is a go. That, however, could change at any time or restrictions could be put in place, Goodin said.

Barron said he’s afraid state officials may shut the doors and only allow athletes to participate with no support from fans in the stands.

“We’re going to make sure we support our kids, and we’re going to try to make sure we do the right thing,” Goodin said.

Personnel matters

Several personnel matters also were on Thursday’s board agenda.

Goodin said he recently received a letter of retirement effective immediately from Eunice Lacey, who worked for the school corporation for 41 years and most recently served as cafeteria cashier. That was unanimously approved along with the hiring of her replacement, Kathie Rose.

With certified personnel, Goodin received a letter from Penny Mack saying she had a family emergency and could not take the junior-senior high school special education teaching position she accepted earlier this summer. The board approved rescinding the job offer to her and voted to have Mark Monroe fill that spot and also continue to teach English.

Goodin said Monroe will receive training for that position and is being hired on an emergency permit to teach special education.

The board also approved hiring Tracy Karnes as a special education aide for the junior-senior high school, replacing Jean Stark, who retired from the corporation in May after 41 years of service.

Karnes had been a music teacher in the elementary school, and Luedeman asked if that position will be filled.

“We’ll have to replace her on the music side,” Goodin said. “I’m not sure what that will look like yet, but we’ve got feelers out.”

Finally, Goodin asked for a two-year contract extension for elementary Principal Drew Markel. Schmelzle entertained a motion to approve the contract, but no motion was made, so the matter was tabled until the next meeting.

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