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New board to solely direct Gerdon Alternative School

In a step toward eliminating what some officials view as a convoluted chain of command, the Gerdon Alternative School Steering Committee has formed a nonprofit corporation with its own board of directors.
The entity is intended to manage funds and administration for the school now located at the Gerdon Youth Center on East Chestnut Street in Corydon.
Monday night, the Harrison County Commissioners appointed the last member, First District Commissioner James Goldman, as their representative on the new board.
Also serving will be Doug Dodge, president of the steering committee; Alvin Brown, representing the Harrison County Council; Ronnie Wolfe, representing the public schools; and Liz Day, representing Harrison County Juvenile Probation.
Wolfe’s position will rotate, with the public school corporations making appointments in turn. Wolfe is a member of the Lanesville Community School Corp. School Board of Trustees.
‘Those are the five people who will make up the board that will make decisions for the alternative school,’ Dodge said.
One glaring absence is a representative of Furthering Youth Inc., the board which governs the Gerdon Youth Center.
Dodge said the relationship with the GYC may be reorganized so that ‘basically we are just renting space there.’
Currently, the GYC lists the alternative school as a GYC program. The GYC has represented the school and the youth center in fund-raising efforts. The center has also been directly involved with staffing the school.
David Dillman, president of the FYI board and a member of the alternative school steering committee said in a written statement to the council and commissioners that the alternative school concept dates back to GYC’s inception.
‘It has been (and continues to be) a collaboration of the sending schools, three superintendents, three school boards, the Alternative School staff and the Board of Directors of Furthering Youth Inc. The Board of Directors fully supports the Alternative School and contrary to some perceptions has put in significant efforts on its behalf. From space, to financing, to volunteer hours, the board has consistently backed this program,’ Dillman said.
Though she had no comment on the recently formed nonprofit corporation, GYC Executive Director Leigh Ann Loggins also sent her own statement and evaluation concerning the relationship between GYC and the school.
Loggins said that the missions of the two entities were clearly aligned, the center is geared toward youth on a variety of levels, the school is established at the center, and the center is under new leadership.
While some funding bodies have said that measures should be taken so that the school can remain at GYC, little has been said outside the boardroom about who should run the school.
Dodge, the assistant principal at North Harrison High School, discussed the stance of the public schools and juvenile probation.
‘We are going to be in direct control of the alternative school because we are the ones who are directly in control of placing the students there,’ Dodge said.
‘This is probably what we should’ve done in the beginning,’ he said of the nonprofit corporation, ‘And we were planning to do that, but everything was rolling real well until the wheels fell off in February.’
That month, personnel conflicts within the administration brought to the surface deep disagreements over the role of the school within the youth center.
As funding bodies, the Harrison County Council and county commissioners met with school superintendents to discuss the situation. During the meeting, several officials commented on what appeared to be a convoluted chain of command over the school.
Councilman Alvin Brown attributed the personnel shake-up within the GYC to a collision between the FYI board and the Gerdon Alternative School Steering Committee, saying there were ‘too many chiefs and not enough Indians.’
Apparently the steering committee agreed, and the new non-profit corporation will be able to receive and allocate funds directly, instead of funds being sent to FYI for use in operating the school.
Shortcomings of that funding mechanism were discussed extensively when some advocated relocating the school but there was no revenue to do that because the school’s finances had been allocated in advance to the coffers of FYI.
‘After we get everybody appointed, we are going to try to decide what the best case scenario is for the school,’ Dodge said Monday.
‘As far as a physical plant, obviously that (GYC) is probably the best location, but there have been a lot of things that have transpired that have put a lot of confusion into the matter,’ he said.