Textbook fees set for upcoming school year
By Shannon Q. Alexander
ELKHART -- Almost 25 students, teachers and parents converged on Tuesday's Elkhart Community School Board meeting to try to keep their principal.
Thomas Cripliver, former principal of Riverview Elementary School, has been transferred to Osolo Elementary School and many of his students and faculty are unhappy about it.
A third-grade teacher, a parent and a sixth-grade teacher gave heartfelt, prepared speeches to the school board about their beloved principal.
"I was disappointed and saddened to hear we would lose him," said a parent. "He was our principal for five years and he had the ability to show a lot of heart or take a lot of heat on the tough decisions," she said. "He has built strong relationships here."
One teacher voiced disapproval of the way she felt Cripliver's transfer was handled: "It was handled over the summer and the students did not get the chance to say goodbye." She asked that the board allow Cripliver to remain at Riverview, a decision that was ultimately turned down by Superintendent Fred Bechtold.
"I appreciate all of the kind words that have been said on behalf of your former principal," he said. "It is wonderful that he has had so much staff support. But your comments don't alter my recommendation," he said. "I know he will continue to do a good job at Osolo."
The crowd was surprised to learn from board member Jeri Stahr that Cripliver had applied for the transfer. "It's our understanding that he applied for the position," she said. "You are not considered for a position unless you apply for it."
Board member Paul Stemm told the crowd that a move to Osolo as principal was considered a step up. "It is a larger school with more students," he explained. "His ambition is to be superintendent one day and you don't get to that position by staying at a small school," he said.
Board members urged those who spoke to make copies of their speeches and give them to Cripliver.
In other action, the board approved a 2 percent increase for middle school textbooks over those charged in 1999-2000 and a 5 percent increase in book fees for the elementary schools.
Here are the textbook fees for the 2000-2001 school year:
* Kindergarten, $40, no increase from last year
* Grades one through six, $84, a $4 increase from last year
* Middle school, $98, a $2 increase from last year
* High school, rates are dependent upon subjects taken
"Increasing fees is never a popular decision; however, the higher rates are critical to ensure that Elkhart Community Schools is able to continue providing the materials necessary for a quality educational program," Bob Woods, director of business operations for ECS, told the board.
"The book rental fund has struggled over the years to remain self-supporting. With the continual uncertainty in the Legislature over 'new money' for school corporations, it appears that the book rental fund will be required to remain as self-supporting as possible in the foreseeable future," he said.
"The proposed book rental fee is a significant saving to parents as compared to purchasing the texts for their children. A sixth-grade student's textbooks and supplies would cost a parent $204.30 and a seventh-grade student's texts and supplies would cost $338.38. While the proposed fee reflects an increase in book rental to elementary and middle school parents, it is still less expensive as compared to requiring parents to purchase all texts and related supplies," Woods said.
Woods told the board that most other states have no textbook rental fees and that when parents call him to complain about the rising cost, he encourages them to contact their state Legislature.
You can contact Shannon Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.