Building trade class on RIF status at AC

Authored by Jim Langham on Jun 12, 2013

Members of the Adams Central Board of Education voted at Tuesday’s board meeting by a 4-0 vote to give the popular building trades class an RIF (Reduction in Force) status, due to concern over lack of enrollment numbers.
Instructor Andy Hackenjos insisted that his enrollment check indicates the possibility of 21 students in next fall’s class, but school board president Wes Kuntzman said that his sources have indicated that 15 students are the current solid number of enrollees.
The problem arises because Area 18 policy for such trade classes requires that at least 17 student be enrolled in the class.
Over the past several years, the class has become popular for its construction and sale of houses and taking on other projects such as the installation of restrooms at the Berne Chamber of Commerce building.
“I have 20 people enrolled in the class,” Hackenjos told board members. “That number is actually up at this point over past years. I personally spoke to 14 out of 20 students who assured me that they are going to be part of the class. I couldn’t access phone numbers for the other six.”
Kuntzman asked junior high principal Aaron McClure how firm he felt those numbers to be.
“If these numbers are of now, I consider them to be hard numbers,” said McClure.
School Board Member John Sipe said that on numerous occasions in the past, classes were placed on an RIF status and then were brought back when enrollment proved to be otherwise.
“I think we really consider this to be temporary,” said Sipe. “I think that we should plan as though the class will be back in spite of this action.”
At that, Attorney Adam Miller told board members that if they voted to put the class on RIF status, it would take another vote to bring the class back.
“If you vote to give the class a Reduction in Force status, then that is what it is,” said Miller. “You can’t just decide to bring it back. It would take another vote to bring the class back.”
Citizen Jeff Sprunger said that he was present at the meeting to affirm his support for the class.
“I am a firm believer in trades,” observed Sprunger. “I am here in support of this program. A lot of kids go from here and earn an honest living from what they learned in this class.”
Kuntzman said that he had received a lot of letters in support of Hackenjos and the class.
Hackenjos said that even if the class is brought back in the fall after being given RIF status at this point, it would interrupt next year’s mission because through summer months he works on house plans and starts laying groundwork for the following year’s project with the advisory board.
Following discussion, board members issued the RIF status based on what Sipe referred to as a “protection for the school system.”
Obviously disappointed by the decision, Hackenjos said, “We don’t allow more than 24 in a class; when I have 20 names in front of me, that is a very strong class.”
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board reached an agreement with Ian Gilbert concerning the implementation of RISQ to assist with students in class work during the time they are expelled from school.
“We see so many positives with kids that don’t want to be in school,” said Gilbert. “We are the last step between school and that.”
Gilbert said that 470 students have come through the program since it started in 2008. Board members voted to utilize the program in the Adams Central school system.
Board members also voted to renew their association with, Life Matters, an in-school counseling program that deals with academics, family issues, ADHD, self-esteem, behavior, abuse, depression, anxiety, grief and substance abuse.
“It is the opportunity for professional, confidential counseling at school,” said Greg Isch, who is associated with the program.
In other matters, board members approved the hiring of Brittany McCullough and Katie Neuenschwander in the cafeteria, Harry Anderson as middle school/high school boys cross country coach, Robin Anderson as middle school/high school girls cross country coach and Haley Byerly as high school football cheer coach.
Board members also approved the maternity leave of Kristi Homan, Title I teacher; gave its blessing on a wage hike to high school principal Jason Witzigreuter and accepted a quote from Bixler Insurance for liability and workman compensation insurance.

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