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MCS builds from climate audit

by MACKENZI KLEMANN - mklemann@wabashplaindealer.com

NORTH MANCHESTER — Manchester Community Schools’ interim superintendent on Tuesday presented a list of goals for the school corporation to begin implementing in the new school year.

Interim Superintendent Mike Pettibone’s list was derived from the district’s recent climate audit, which surveyed 100 parents, students, staff and other stakeholders regarding the future of MCS.

The findings were broken down into five categories, covering communication, safety, academic achievement, district alignment, the K-12 vision and professional development.

On safety, Pettibone highlighted exterior door security concerns and the need to limit travel between the junior and senior high buildings. Staff visibility, mental health support and possible drug testing of secondary students were other key points in Pettibone’s safety list.

But the most significant change Pettibone is pushing for would reintroduce the middle school concept at the junior high building.

Pettibone would like to see a greater administrative presence among seventh and eighth grade students, so he’s asking the board to consider hiring a middle school principal who would split time between the junior high building and Squire Academy. That would partially eliminate the position at Squire Academy, which is currently full-time. Pettibone estimates the change would cost MCS an additional $3,000 per year. The board agreed to advertise for the position.

Pettibone said middle school students often feel isolated, which is why he’s recommending a greater administrative presence so that the junior high is not simply an extension of the high school.

Pettibone is also asking for Manchester Intermediate School to reflect an elementary setting.

“This is just the beginning,” he said, noting that other ideas found in the district’s climate audit may be introduced at a later date.

The board also agreed to work with the Indiana School Boards Association (ISBA) in the district’s superintendent search, for $2,000. The ISBA is recommending that the board begin its search in November, with a goal of starting interviews by February 2019 and having a candidate selected by next April.