Community shows, Ironton School Board does not

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 14, 2006

What was supposed to have been a special Ironton School Board meeting Thursday was more of a wish than a reality.

The meeting was canceled for lack of a quorum because four board members did not attend. Robert Pleasant was the sole board member who did show up for the meeting.

Superintendent Dean Nance said he knew that board member Tim Johnson was on vacation but he was not sure why Kathy Kratzenberg, Jerry Rowe and Bob Vaughn were not there. He suspected it may have something to do with the special meeting notice. Board members are supposed to be notified of special meetings in writing at least 48 hours in advance. Nance said he had spoken with Kratzenberg

Email newsletter signup

and Pleasant in person and they had even discussed a meeting time.

He or his staff had left messages for Vaughn and Rowe. He said he had made contact 48 hours or more before the meeting date but did not send out notices in writing. The list of candidates for summer school graduation and candidates for assist coaching positions were not delivered to board members until Wednesday.

“It was my first opportunity. I had to get the athletic director’s approval on some of the recommendations,” he said. “They may feel like I violated board policy by not notifying in writing two days in advance. I take full responsibility for there not being a meeting and I am sorry.”

Attempts to reach Kratzenberg, Rowe and Vaughn by telephone after the meeting and this morning were unsuccessful.

While the four board members did not attend, approximately 20 concerned citizens did, many with questions about the band director’s position.

At its last meeting, the board voted to non-renew veteran band director Bill Rath’s contract.

Dru Pack is a band mom and she said since Rath has been non-renewed she thinks the board should elevate assistant director Jeff Sanders.

“I think they’re wanting to bypass Mr. Sanders and bring in someone from outside the district and I don’t understand why,” Pack said. “He would do a good job. He’s done a good job. He has a good rapport with the students. The kids don’t know what’s going on.”

Her daughter, Rebecca Pack, is the incoming drum major. Rebecca expressed concern that band camp is two weeks away and summer is half over and the band is in a kind of limbo.

“We don’t know who we’re going to work with,” Rebecca said. “We should have started music practice this week.”

Carla Marshall said she was also concerned. She wrote letters to all the board members, expressing her support for Rath, whom she said should be allowed to keep his job.

“Mr. Rath is fair to all band students no matter what kind of grades they receive, how much money they have, if they are a trouble student or not and many other things,” Marshall wrote in her letter.

She acknowledged that Rath has his detractors but the board should met with him in person to discuss any issues they had with him before taking the action they did.

“Having a student at Ironton High School, I can tell you there is not a teacher there you could not find a dozen or two dozen people with something negative to say.

That’s the way it is with everyone,” Marshall wrote.

Rath said recently that he had only been given a letter from school officials in May 23, telling him his supplemental contract would not likely be renewed.

Rath said he had been given a letter at the beginning of the school year listing 19 areas in which school officials believed he needed to make improvements. On the list were such things as keeping the band room tidy and making band fun and enjoyable.

Rath said he made an effort and thought things were going well until he got the May 23 letter.

Rath will continue to teach at the school but said he is not sure exactly what his duties will be if he is not the band director.

“I feel like I’ve done a good job,” he said. “I still want to be band director. I have a list of accomplishments such as band trips. We’ve been to two NCAA kickoffs, the Chicago Christmas Parade, the Peach Bowl, the Liberty Bowl. We’ve had some success in band competitions.”

Jolinda Heaberlin has family members who attend Ironton High School and are in the band. She said she understood why Rath’s contract was not renewed and thought it was time to make a fresh start and hopefull pull more kids into the band.

“Our band is so small we have to pull sevent and eighth graders in just to have a band,” she said. “ I feel like we need a young person with new ideas who can get the band back to what it used to be.”

The next board meeting is July 20 at 6 p.m. at the administration building. Nance said he did not know if a special meeting would be called before July 10 to address the issue of the band director’s position.

By law, school employees must notify their employers by July 10 if they plan to take another position in another district.

If Ironton would choose to replace Rath with someone from outside the district, they would only have a few days left to hire the person and allow them to make the notification.