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MSD board votes against revisiting CF study

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

The MSD of Wabash County Board of Education on Tuesday voted 3-2 against a motion that would have allowed the school corporation to revisit Phase II of the Community Foundation of Wabash County’s “Studies for Advancement.”

Board member Gary Fadil motioned to revisit the study, citing results from the recent public survey which the board commissioned to determine how to move forward after dropping out of the Community Foundation’s study last year.

“It’s a free (study),” Fadil said. “We’ve already spent $22,000 for the last opinion survey. I saw two items from that I think we need to be reviewing: More opportunities for the children and moving forward. We just did this study on moving forward and we haven’t discussed it.”

The motion was declined 3-2, with board members Kevin Bowman, Todd Dazey and Matthew Driscoll opposed.

Todd Topliff, who voted alongside Fadil to approach the Community Foundation, said he supported the idea because the board has not “taken a step in two years.”

“I think we need to continue to move forward from the study while it’s in everybody’s mind on the school board about what was blatantly given to us,” he said.

But Board President Kevin Bowman said he was blindsided by the motion, which was not included on the board’s agenda. He said he’d prefer to discuss results of the Yager Educational Services study in executive session rather than during Tuesday’s meeting.

“I’m hesitant to speak not knowing how it will be represented in the paper,” he said.

Dazey and Driscoll agreed with Bowman’s sentiment.

“We are within our rights by state statute to have an executive session as long as the topic is discussion,” Dazey said.

“There’s a certain amount of respect you should give the board president,” Driscoll added.

While the board declined Fadil’s suggestion, Community Foundation of Wabash County Executive Director Patty Grant said the foundation is still willing to fund a study for MSD and Wabash City Schools. The foundation previously outlined consolidation as the primary topic of such a study, but Grant said the school corporations may also explore topics related to district collaboration. She explained that the study would be conducted by a consultant, not the foundation.

Grant says she’s heard from community members on several occassions regarding the study and whether the foundation attached a deadline to its offer. She said there is no deadline for the school boards to submit a proposal.