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Date set to vote on Batesville Schools’ building and grounds project

Article and photos by Madeline Pyle / Above: Dr. Michael Hester (left) visits with newest Batesville School Board Member Dr. Wesley Beal at last night’s meeting.

In his address to the school board at Monday night’s meeting, Batesville Superintendent Dr. Michael Hester shared the ten-month long master timeline for Batesville School District’s (BSD) building and grounds facility study, which has a deadline of March 12, 2020 to vote on a plan.

The goal of the 50-person committee is to find the needs of each Batesville campus and develop a buildings and grounds project to meet those needs. Hester said the committee will develop a comprehensive, moderate, and minimum option; and after further research the committee will make a “go or no go decision” in December 2019.

Leading up to the March 12 election, Hester said the committee will host several town hall meetings to share the plan and answer any questions for the public.

Hester said in one of the first committee meetings, “people did like the transparency,” but in a conversation he had with a citizen regarding the plan development for the Batesville Community Center, Hester said the citizen found that “when they weren’t as communicative with one part of town they actually got more votes, and that it was a risk, that if you go stir it up in some parts of town, you may get less votes.”

Board Director George Latus replied that a previous board decision that did not involve the public from several years ago “did not go over well,” but a few years later a plan that “involved everybody” was successful.

Hester replied, “That’s the style we’re going for. We’re going after transparency.”

“We want to put Batesville’s education systems first, and I think everybody agrees with that. Now they may not agree with how we get there, and the sections, and the parts of it; and that’s just what we got to find out and keep communicating…”

For the rest of the summer until Aug. 24, the committee will meet weekly to tour each facility and develop the three options.

In other board news, before starting the regular meeting, the board held an organizational meeting where it voted Director Scott Fredericks as president, Director George Latus as vice president, and Director Heather Fulbright as secretary.

In the regular meeting, Assistant Superintendent Drew Sandage reported updates on summer projects and plans for school facilities. He said starting July 28, the maintenance department will move the Batesville Preschool into its new location at Central Magnet.

“[The move] will be done before school starts… All hands are on deck,” said Sandage.

BSB check presentation

In other business, Batesville Tourism Director Kyle Christopher (center, holding check) presented a $620 check to the board on behalf of the Batesville Advertising and Promotion (A&P) Commission for hosting the state track tournament.

“We wanted to first thank you guys for bidding on these things,” said Christopher. “It’s a big process. It’s very political; it’s very competitive, so to be able to host these events in your town is a rarity. It’s huge for our kids… and it is massive for our local economy.”

Christopher said the one-day tournament brought in 31 hotel stays. As a result, the A&P Commission paid $20 for each hotel stay to BSD.

“This is just a very, very small token of appreciation that we give back to BSD for hosting that event,” he said. “We want to encourage BSD to continue to partner with us.”

The board also welcomed Dr. Wesley Beal as the board’s newest director, and it voted to present a plaque to Danielle Brown for her service to the school board.

All board members were present.

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