Tipp City Board of Education stalls on board training agreement

TIPP CITY — Discussion regarding board training with a consultant ended at a standstill at a Tipp City Board of Education work session held Tuesday evening.

The consultant, John Britton of Ennis Britton Co., L.P.A., attended the meeting via Zoom for the discussion and outlined what his role would be in the board training, as well as what the board training would look like. Britton said that the goal for the training would be to align the board — not to get everyone to agree and vote the same way, but that everyone on the board agrees on the process and the ground rules on how the board operates and functions.

“The key, in my estimation, in working with boards for this long, is alignment. Alignment is where the magic happens for schools, because when the organism itself is aligned, and the seven individuals who make up that organism are aligned, that’s when the magic can happen throughout the system,” Britton said.

With two board members, Corine Doll and Joellen Heatherly, not running for re-election, Britton said that he felt it would be more conducive to conduct board training in January with the new board — something he added should be done any time someone new is brought in to the school board. While he was open to consulting for training for the current board, he echoed many times that it was not something he was comfortable doing unless everyone was on board and actively wanted to follow through with the training.

While most members were on board with the idea, board member Simon Patry said that he felt that it would be better to do the board training with the new board of education in January.

“I don’t particularly feel that it would be a useful exercise to spend school district money and your time on something that could very well change, and if it doesn’t change, then fine, but at least we’re not having a redundant exercise where we’re having to re-evaluate what the lanes are, and what the issues are,” Patry said.

Doll, Board President Theresa Dunaway, and Vice President Anne Zakkour all felt the training would be beneficial to the current board for similar reasons, such as focusing back on the district and the students and clearing up misconceptions.

“I think that this group does need pre-work to get to that Jan. 1 date to start the real work with the new school board. I think that we do have strong opinions, and we need someone to break through that barrier,” Doll said. “This board has got to be successful or our students and our staff are going to be victims of an ineffective board.”

Patry emphasized that holding the board training ahead of the January organizational meeting with the new board would be counter-intuitive because any processes that the current board agrees on now may not be processes that the future board will agree on or be able to work with.

The board approved the following items Tuesday evening:

• Supplemental staff members Brian Gronski, Tippecanoe High School head varsity baseball coach; Hailey Dunn and Jason Salyer, Tippecanoe High School cross country program assistants; Braden Swank, Tippecanoe High School football volunteer assistant; Steve Parks, marching band; Stephen Monath, assistant marching band; as well as a contract correction for Tippecanoe Middle School department head Holly Thomas, in a 4-0-1 vote. Dunaway abstained from voting due to having a child on one of the sports teams listed above.

• Substitute teachers Dale Pittenger, Steve Hottle, Catherine Tayse, and substitute aides Christine Bathgate and Kevin Turner in a unanimous vote.

The next regular board of education meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27.