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October 22, 2015 • Headline News
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Cliff Hill Cemetery Overlook - Versailles Cliff Hill Cemetery - VersaillesFall colors at Cliff Hill Cemetery

Pictured left are some of the beautiful fall colors at Cliff Hill Cemetery overlooking the lake at Versailles State Park, as well as the canopy of colors at the entrance.

All four schools collaborate on new program
An alternative to suspension

Mary Mattingly

Being suspended from school will no longer seem like a vacation to a student and parents won’t have to worry about their child being home unsupervised. Beginning January 1, middle and high school students suspended from Milan, Batesville, South Ripley and Jac-Cen-Del schools will be placed in a supervised setting at the Tyson Activity Center. While the schools had discussed this Ripley County Alternative to Suspension program (R-CATS) at various school board meetings over the past few months, it was officially announced Wednesday morning with all four school superintendents in attendance at the annex building, along with other key players including a court judge, probation department and grant benefactors. The program is a collaborative effort between the four schools, the probation department and courts. As Ripley County Circuit Court Judge Ryan King said, “We hear it’s a win-win. Well this is a win-win-win-win. Win for the parent, a win for the student, a win for the school and a win for the community.” He added, “From my perspective in the judicial system, I can’t recall any other situation like this. It’s unique for the criminal justice system, but it’s not a criminal justice issue but an education one.”

New suspension programMARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
The people involved in establishing the new alternative suspension program gathered for the official announcement Wednesday. Front row, left: Aimee Cornett with Tyson Activity Center, Judge Ryan King, Director of Court Services Shannon Schmaltz and Natalie Gilpin with Tyson Fund; back row, school supts. Dr. Jim Roberts of Batesville, Paul Ketcham of Milan, Tim Taylor of JCD, Rob Moorhead of South Ripley and Jeff French, board member of Rising Sun Regional Foundation.

The new program is for those students placed on short term, 1-10 days, out of school suspension. R-CATS will be housed in the Tyson Activity Center, with students attending from 8:30 to 2:30 p.m. weekly. The program is modeled after one in Dearborn County, but there are several others in the works throughout the state. South Ripley Supt. Rob Moorhead facilitated the meeting Wednesday. In announcing it, he commented, “The reason this is needed is, as all of us were former principals we often dealt with parents of suspended students who would ask what to do with their child while they are at work, and unsupervised, or we’d hear that being suspended is viewed as a ‘vacation.’ Also, most students don’t get credit for school work missed while suspended. Through the creation of this program we can eliminate those concerns.” Students will not fall behind in classes during suspension. It was noted that suspensions are necessary to send a message to all students that certain behaviors are not tolerated and those students will be removed from the setting. The four schools will share the cost of a full-time salaried person, and any needed supplies for the classroom setup. Parents will be responsible for getting the child to the Tyson Activity Center, and if the student is of driving age, can drive there, but without any passengers.

Dr. Jim Roberts, superintendent at Batesville, said their biggest challenge may be the distance. Forty-five percent of their students live in Franklin County; so, getting there may be an issue, but like Paul Ketcham, superintendent at Milan said, they’ll help with transportation if there is a true hardship. All of the superintendents see it as a beneficial and worthwhile program If the student fails to show up, truancy charges will be filed, and the student may be summoned to appear before court and a judge. If they misbehave or cause disruptions the student will be required to serve another day. Judge King doesn’t think it will be time-consuming on his part. He spoke with the court leaders in Dearborn County and they’ve only had one or two issues that came to court. Administrators believe the involvement of probation and the judge will add credibility to the suspension program. And schools can still separate students from their building when severe behavioral problems occurred.

Between the four schools, they figure they’ll average six to eight students a day, Moorhead said. If more than 10, another person will be called to help supervise. Class time will be held in the morning, and then after eating their sacked lunch brought from home, they will be transported (by use of the county probation vehicles) to conduct community service projects. These projects will continue to be supervised by the R-CATS staff person. To keep personnel costs down, the probation dept. was awarded a grant from the Versailles Tyson Fund to pay for video surveillance at TAC. The probation department will pay for the $300 a month rent to TAC. School resource officers and administrators will have access daily to view the surveillance footage. Rising Sun Regional Foundation also awarded a $30,000 grant to pay for start up costs. The stage will be used for the classroom.

Shannon Schmaltz, director of court services/probation, will coordinate the community service projects. He said Wednesday that he wants it to be “project based with substance, not just menial work.” He’s contacted churches, the humane society, recycling and the reuse center, and all were very receptive to the idea. He welcomes other non-profit groups to contact him if they would like the students for various project work. “This is truly community based. It’s what our constituents expect of us, to roll something like this out, in a cooperative effort,” Schmaltz said.

The superintendents credited Moorhead for much of the groundwork, but he deferred and said it was a collaborative effort, and that one school couldn’t afford to do it on their own. The superintendents were also pleased they were all working together. They mentioned their good rapport with one another, something they said that is not common among other school districts in the state. Tim Taylor, who became superintendent. at Jac-Cen-Del in January, has noticed and commented, “For four schools to work cooperatively, I think it speaks a lot to our contemporaries. We are doing something good.” Paul Ketcham commented that the combined county’s test scores are well above state average, despite some socioeconomic factors. “And one reason is we don’t hoard information or programs. It benefits us all to educate all of our kids to the best of our ability.” Moorhead said the next thing they have to do is hire someone. The position does not have to be a certified teacher, but preferably have a college degree. It has been posted at the school districts and State Dept of Education.

‘Angels’ underway for needy at holidays

Ripley County Angels of Giving program is gearing up for the Christmas season. The donation program helps provide gifts for needy families or individuals in the area. Last year through this program the community helped 379 families. Shanna Joseph, coordinator, said one thing different this year is they do not have storage for items. And, because of a job change on her part, she can no longer be available for deliveries; so, she is encouraging monetary donations. She has a crew that will shop for the families. Joseph has already contacted Hill-Rom, Batesville Casket, Forethought and a few other big corporate donors, and they all have indicated they wanted to continue with the Christmas charity. Businesses, clubs, churches, individuals adopt and provide for the needy families or persons. Angels of Giving will provide a list of needs and wants, ages of children, sizes, etc. “We’ll do fine as long as we all pull together,” she commented.

The program works in partnership with the churches, the American Legion, schools and other organizations for holiday gift-giving. Joseph said they share and exchange names to avoid any overlap on charity lists. They provide for those in need in Ripley County. Applications can be picked up at the Purdue Extension Office at the Osgood fairgrounds. The deadline is Nov. 6. The office is open from 8 to 4 p.m., but closes at noon for lunch. All monetary donations should be made out to Angels of Giving, PO Box 54, Osgood, IN, 47037, A bank account under Angels of Giving has been established again at the Napoleon State Bank. For information contact Joseph at 812-756-2235 or by email at

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