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Board, teachers’ group play cat, mouse with NH super’s contract

With the school superintendent’s contract set to expire in about 17 months, the president of the North Harrison Classroom Teachers Association urged the school board to renew Monty Schneider’s contract.
Schneider, who has been superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp. about 13 years, had indicated at the board’s December meeting that his lack of a contract extension was partly because he had not asked that it be extended beyond June 2007. Since that meeting, on Dec. 14, another year has been tacked on because, by state law, school boards must notify superintendents by Jan. 1 if they don’t intend to renew their contract.
Schneider, who also has served as swim and cross country coach at North Harrison High School, was not notified by the end of the year that his contract would not be renewed.
Greg Rupp, the NHCTA president who also teaches fourth grade at North Harrison Elementary School, said he doesn’t believe that Schneider is considering retirement without pressure from at least some of the board members.
‘I truly believe that is not the case,’ Rupp told the five-member board on Jan. 11. ‘I believe that this board is forcing Mr. Schneider to retire. He is being used as a scapegoat. This board and their incompetent lawyer have gutted our staff and increased our class sizes. Programs have been cut back. You have put education at risk in this corporation … ‘
Rupp contends there were other ways for the school corporation to save money besides a reduction in force, or laying off teachers. The teachers association had outlined 19 alternatives, with a savings of $823,000.
Instead, the board voted in April 2005 to lay off eight teachers, effective the end of the 2004-05 school year. Since that time, some of the teachers have been rehired or new teachers have filled the eliminated positions as they could be added back.
Rupp urged the board to take action to extend Schneider’s contract.
‘(Schneider) needs to write his own ending to his story,’ Rupp told the board. ‘His job is not yet completed. When a man is as dedicated and committed to a job as Monty is, he should be able to leave on his terms and not be forced out.
‘This board was elected to do what was right for the corporation, for the community, the staff and our students,’ he said. ‘You must put aside your agenda ‘ whatever it is ‘ and do what’s best for this corporation. Do what’s best for kids. Extend Mr. Schneider’s contract.’
Former school board members Jerry Atkins, Robert (Bob) Morris, Leslie Robertson and Mike Schmidt attended the January board meeting, and some of them talked privately one-on-one with current school trustees to express their support for retaining Schneider.
School board members have not publicly commented on Rupp’s allegations that they are trying to force Schneider to retire, but Bobby Chinn, who was board president last year, said yesterday that he thinks the issue will be resolved soon.
‘Due to the fact that over the last three years the CTA leadership has consistently tried to, in public, humiliate our superintendent at board meetings, it seems as if they want a change,’ he said. ‘Obviously, the administration has been accused of not working in concert with the CTA leadership.
‘I don’t know what will come of this, as the CTA leadership once again brought it to the attention of the board a few meetings back that we had not renewed the superintendent’s contract even though he has a contract through June ’08 … ,’ he said. ‘I have personally met with Monty and expressed my concerns. I think the issue will be resolved in the near future whatever that may bring.’
Chinn said he isn’t prepared to deal now with hiring a new superintendent, as the board already is in the process of hiring North Harrison Middle School Principal Jon Howerton’s successor. Howerton is retiring at the end of this school year.
An executive session of the North Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees scheduled for Thursday night was postponed until today (Wednesday) at 5:30 p.m. The reason stated for the meeting is ‘to receive information regarding employees, prospective employees, collective bargaining and pending litigation.’
In other matters Jan. 11, the school trustees:
‘ Learned that the time table for the North Harrison Elementary School project has been adjusted to give potential bidders more time to prepare. Bids are now due Tuesday, Jan. 30, by 1 p.m. in the Central Office. Bids will be opened that day at 1:30 p.m.; the board will consider bids at its February meeting.
‘ Changed the February meeting from the second Thursday of the month to Monday, Feb. 12. The meeting will be held at Morgan Elementary School beginning at 7:30 p.m.
‘ Agreed to accept a $14,434 grant from the Indiana Dept. of Education. North Harrison Elementary School principal Lisa Jones wrote the grant for the school corporation’s Gifted and Talented program.
‘ Accepted Southern Indiana Hardwood’s bid, in the amount of $48,251, for the harvest of trees, mostly cherry, which are located to the north and east of the bus compound. Seven other bids were received, ranging from $45,525 to $31,200.
‘ Approved the appointments of Jason Mullis as weight-room coordinator at the high school; Greg Oppel and Shawn Miller, both as assistant baseball lay coaches; Stewart Wenning and Mark Bezy, both as volunteer assistant baseball lay coaches; and Tonya Caffee, as director of school health services.