BCSC school board to meet Monday to discuss a book complaint and more

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. board members will hear a request for a review of a library book, the first since new polices about library materials went into effect Jan. 2. The board meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the BCSC administration building.

The book to be reviewed is “People Kill People” by Ellen Hopkins, a New York Times Bestseller which publisher Simon and Schuster describes as “a compelling and complex novel about gun violence and white supremacy.”

The book review comes after lawmakers at the statehouse last legislative session passed House Enrolled Act 1447, which requires school districts to set up a process for a parent or community member to request removal of obscene or harmful materials.

Large swaths of board discussion over the past year has been centered around Policy 9130 – “Public Complaints and Concerns” which the board updated to include a section for school library materials. The section permits a parent or guardian of a student, or a community member residing within the corporation, to submit a request to remove material they believe to be obscene or harmful to minors, as defined by Indiana Code.

Indiana Code defines a matter or performance as obscene if:

(1) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the dominant theme of the matter or performance, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest in sex;

(2) the matter or performance depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct; and

(3) the matter or performance, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

On the other hand, material is harmful to minors if:

(1) it describes or represents, in any form, nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sado-masochistic abuse;

(2) considered as a whole, it appeals to the prurient interest in sex of minors;

(3) it is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable matter for or performance before minors; and

(4) considered as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

The policy operates like this — it begins when an individual presents a written request to the relevant building principal in writing. The principal then tells the assistant superintendent of human resources of the request. The assistant superintendent, upon the superintendent’s approval, appoints a review committee.

Next, the committee renders a decision on whether the book should remain. In this case, the committee has recommended the book stay. The requester is able to appeal via a written request within 30 days to the superintendent, which is what has happened in this instance. The board is not required to make a decision about whether to keep or remove the book at Monday’s meeting, but must inform the complainant of its decision within 60 days.

“They’ll read the committee report, and then they will discuss as a board what they would like to see done and then somebody will eventually make a recommendation,” said BCSC Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts.

In addition to the book item, the board will also learn about a new grant opportunity for school health clinics, receive an update on BCSC’s “Envision 2030” plan and review renovation bids at four BCSC Schools.

Grant opportunity

Windrose Health Network CEO and BCSC Director of Health Services Kelly Thompson will present information highlighting “School Based Health Clinic Grants,” which officials hope will enable them to provide high-quality health care to students who do not have access to it.

BCSC is partnering with Windrose Health Network through their work with Columbus Regional Health and Healthy Communities. Windrose would receive the grant funding for staffing and operations with BCSC as their partner in the grant. If the grants are approved in September, BCSC is responsible for providing the physical space, custodial services and utilities for the clinic. WindRose manages billing, budget, equipment, medical records, and staffing. Services in the clinic comprise of primary care, acute care, sports physicals, immunizations, and behavioral health.

There are plans for an onsite clinic to be located inside a BCSC building and a mobile unit that would be able to move to different areas of the community.

“Envision 2030” update, school renovations

The board approved issuance of $306 million in bonds for facility upgrades back in December as part of BCSC’s “Envision 2030” facilities upgrade plan.

BCSC officials have proposed the following projects as part of the plan:

  • A new westside elementary school.
  • Renovations to remaining elementary schools (excluding Parkside and Schmitt, where work is already underway).
  • Significant renovation at Northside Middle School and tech/equipment updates at Central Middle School.
  • Additions and renovations to both Columbus North and East high schools to meet career and technical education demands.
  • Physical education/extracurricular expansions at the two high schools to meet demands.
  • Relocation of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Center to the R.L. Johnson Building, relocation of Columbus Virtual Pathway to the McDowell Education Center, and relocation of C4 Cosmetology to expanded space at East.

Later in the meeting, board members will receive bids for roof replacement at CSA Lincoln and mechanical HVAC equipment at CSA Lincoln. They are also poised to accept bids for new field lighting at Columbus East and Columbus North high schools.

You can access the agenda for Monday’s meeting at bcscschools.org/schoolboard.