Peace -- for now -- over Curtis' memo

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Peace and compromise prevailed at the school board's February meeting last week. Concerned parents and teachers nearly filled the board room, ready to go to battle for continuing to allow extracurricular practices to be held during the school day, but the school board voted to keep scheduling the way it is until director of schools Stan Curtis can present a more detailed plan.

"That will ease everybody's mind," said board member Curt Denton, pointing out that principals are already working on the 2009-2010 schedule.

"I'm not opposed to change," said board member Craig Michael. "Dr. Curtis no doubt has some interesting ideas, but I don't think we have the clarity we need on this."

"Let Curtis bring us a plan that he thinks is better," exclaimed Denton.

"Sports is part of academics," Denton continued. "Look at the scholarships the kids get based on their extracurricular activities."

"I would wager the grade point average of our athletes is higher than the average," said Michael.

Kristen Gold, vice chairman of the board, was the lone dissenting vote when the board agreed to keep the scheduling of extracurricular practices and the number of assemblies the same as in the past until they were presented with a viable alternative.

Curtis' "Expectations" memo to principals, dated Jan. 7, said, "No more extracurricular practices during the school day" and "Principals must limit parties, assemblies, pep rallies, six times per year." This sounded as if he meant it to be implemented at once, but, in fact, he assured the Tribune, these measures were intended to start in the 2009-2010 school year.

In another peace-making move, Michael said, "The minutes of our January meeting dictate that the board review points three and four of my 'Timeline of Director's Inappropriate Actions.' After our work session Monday night, I move to delete number four, and take a roll call vote on number three."

Item three in Michael's timeline said, "Curtis has also illustrated unprofessional conduct in issuing in writing to principals a threatening statement...'I have observed for eight months. If you cannot abide by these requirements, then please resign or retire and do not force me to reassign you.' Intimidation is not condoned by the Marshall County Board of Education."

"The terminology concerns me greatly," said Michael. "I want the minutes to note the increased liability such a written statement exposes the board and the taxpayers to."

"We have to vote how we think," said Denton. "I think Curtis has learned his lesson."

After some discussion, the vote was five to three (board member Todd Tietgens was absent from the meeting) to place item three in Curtis' file.

The board was also more generously disposed towards Lewisburg Water and Wastewater's request for an easement for a water line across the Cornersville Elementary School property.

At January's meeting they had turned down the department's request to site a water tank on that property.

Kenneth Carr, head of Water & Wastewater, made the proposal to the board. He explained that they had just opened bids for the installation of approximately 32,000 feet of water pipe along Hwy 129 from Cornersville to I-65 and beyond, supplying Marshall County residents in that area, and also providing an alternative water source for Lynnville.

"We have an agreement with Fairview Water District that they will buy 25,000 gallons of water a day from us," Carr explained. "Selling this amount of water to the city of Lynnville will save us from having to flush the line."

"Will we run out of water supplying Fairview?" asked Denton.

"No, definitely not," Carr replied. "There's enough water in Normandy and the Duck River to supply projected water needs until 2025. There are plans to increase (the capacity) of Normandy, and an engineer has been hired to prepare a long-range plan."

The board unanimously voted to grant the easement Carr requested.