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School board approves hiring 'interventionist'

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

KNIGHTSTOWN —While the ABCs will always be a key component of education, Charles A. Beard School Board members took action Tuesday night on an “I” that’s becoming an important need in the ever-changing classrooms of today.

Board members approved Supt. Jediah Behny’s recommendation to change the current vacant position of behavior specialist to “interventionist.” Behny said this would become a bargaining unit position within the master contract and require a valid Indiana teaching license.

“Over the years, this role has evolved from being part of the New Castle Special Education cooperative,” Behny explained. “Really our needs have changed to more of a whole social need than just a behavior specialist.” 

According to the job description for the new position, “the primary responsibility is to help students with issues that affect their school performance and behavior.” 

Behny said this position would be “significantly easier to fill” than a behavior specialist and that there were qualified employees already at the Knightstown-based school who had expressed interest in the position. 

“In a small rural school corporation, we have a high level of social need, but we also need well-rounded, licensed staff to be able to fill a lot of different holes for us,” Behny explained. “So I’m not really interested in adding an additional administrator to the elementary school, but we need someone to be able to fill that gap almost like an elite teacher position to be able to work on some of the social and behavior components.

“We’ve got an incredible staff at the elementary school but it’s very difficult for a teacher to deal with an ongoing behavioral issue because they’ve got 22 other kids they are worried about,” Behny continued. “So we need somebody who doesn’t have that level of constant responsibility to other students who is able to intervene in those kinds of situations.”

The position, which would pay about $10,000 more annually than the previous behavior specialist was making, would also require working with food pantry, summer school program and school safety certifications. 

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, a financial report showed the school corporation’s running cash balance in the general fund was down about $200,000 from the same time period a year ago. It stood at $1,460,834.28 last June but was reported at $1,218,965.04 this June. 

Meanwhile, the school corporation has a debt of more than $9.5 million – $770,000 in school bonds, more than $2.5 million in a holding company, public and private, $5.4 million in Common School Fund loans and more than $837,000 in qualified zone academy bonds. That will change soon, Behny said.

“We’re a district that finished the last three years with around a 9 percent year-end cash balance so we’ve worked so hard to create fiscal stability so that when we do see needs to be able to improve our services, we’re able to respond,” Behny said. 

Stability, not big ups and downs, is the goal, according to Behny.

“We always want to keep our debt service low enough so that we’re not seeing a big circuit breaker impact in those funds,” Behny said. “We don’t issue new debt lightly. We issued some new debt two years ago as we put a new roof on and did a baseball field. We’ve got quite a bit of debt coming off in the next few years. In 2024, this campus will be paid off.” 

The new Knightstown High School first opened in 2003. 

Reports showed the average salary of six Charles A. Beard School Corp. administrators stood at $79,881. Administrator salaries here currently range from a low of $61,800 to a high of $110,000.

A list of full-time bus drivers was approved. The list includes Mark Bertram, Bill Garris, Mike Hall, Nora Maxwell, Shawn Poindexter, Charlie Riggs, Melodie Smith, Deanna Sparks, Sam Sparks, Joyce Stevens, JoAnn Stoten, Darlene Swallers, Shelly Tarr, Trent Shupperd, Jessica Vaughn and Larry White.

A list of substitute drivers was also approved. That list includes: Ron Beavers, Bruce Brown, Louise Crawford, Jeff Haase, Debbie McCoy, Don Scheumman, Eugene Meek, Russell Spiker and Allison Conway.

In another bus driver-related item, the board approved a recommendation from Supt. Behny to change the special route rate to $40 per route. Currently, drivers are paid half their daily route rate.