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Letters Published in January 21, 2009 Issue
January 21, 2009 - Letter submitted by Carolyn Sue Ferguson
I, Carolyn Sue (Dicus) Ferguson, lived in the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home in Knightstown for seven years of my life, and became a productive citizen of the State of Indiana, a taxpayer and a person who is very concerned about what happens to the children who are in the Home now. The three-year study was to find reasons to close the Home, not find ways to keep it open. If they would please put the funds back in before this government session ends we would have at least two years to figure out a way to save the Home, "our Home".
I graduated in 1965 and next year will be my 45th anniversary Homecoming. I cannot sleep peacefully in my comfortable home not knowing what might happen to the 100-plus children who may be placed in foster homes, group homes, etc.
Governor Mitch Daniels talked today about students who are "disruptive in the public schools," saying they should "sit down and hush up." You do not get that from any of the students in the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home. They are good kids who are grateful to have a comfortable place to live, food and good instructions from caring adults. Please, listen to what we have to say, Mitch Daniels and Dr. Monroe!
My father, Clovis William Dicus, who died at the age of 36 in a tragic car accident near Fortville, was a Navy veteran of World War II. He was injured on his ship trying to help save his buddies when the planes hit. One of his buddies died in his arms. My father became commander and post commander of Post #391 in Fortville, where we lived before I was admitted to the Home. My father knew about the Home after attending many Legion Days there. He always said if anything every happened to him, he wanted all five of us kids to be together and go to the Home. And that is exactly what happened. My mother could not take care of us as she had a mental breakdown after my father died. We were given priority as my father was a veteran. I am the oldest and graduated from the Children's Home in 1965. I met my husband there.
The Home gave me many opportunities. I graduated from Morton Memorial High School, an accredited school in the State of Indiana. I learned so much and went on to graduate from Indiana Business College with a degree. At the Home, I learned to play piano and sang alto in the choir for five years. I even got to sing in the beautiful Lincoln Chapel on the grounds there with the historic stained glass windows.
You would need to see this place to believe what it has to offer. I took violin lessons, learned how to swim, learned how to sew in Home Ec. and 4-H. And I received grand champion, first place and group champion. I was in the art club, won many awards in contests I entered and designed our senior class yearbook cover. The Superintendent of the Home saw my talent and acquired funds for me to attend John Herron Art School my freshman through senior year in high school at Saturday classes. I took the bus from Knightstown to Indy. Because of that experience, I designed the logo that Methodist Hospital used for 27 years. To this day, I work at Methodist Hospital and have for the last 28 years plus. I am a coordinator in the Transitional Residency Program, at Clarian Methodist Hospital, Indiana University School of Medicine.
I have three sons with my husband, whom I met in the Home. Our oldest is in the military in Germany. I have a son who is a writer and the youngest was in the Air Force stationed in England. He is now a federal officer for the Transportation Security Administration, Homeland Security, at the Indianapolis International airport. My husband was a veteran of the Vietnam War and was in stationed in Japan while in the Air Force.
Living in the Children's Home, in Knightstown were some of the best years of my life. Thank God this facility was available to us. I don't know where I would be without it. I hope the children there now and in the future don't have to find out. They can be the best they can be with the help of the Home. The American Legion did not even know this cut was coming - neither did the Home’s advisory committee. The Indiana General Assembly could at least restore the school funding this session and give us two years to prepare and come up with some positive alternatives for this beautiful 53-building, 400-acre facility that means so much to the students, employees and alumni. The American Legion, D.A.V. and V.F.W. have donated thousands of dollars and lots of their time to the children and graduates of the Home. This is my Home. I cannot imagine taking my granddaughters to see where I was raised only to find it’s become a prison or has been destroyed. We need to think of positive ways to preserve and protect this 143-year-old facility we call home.
The Children's Home means a lot to me and many, many others. The children in the home need the structure, stability and love the Home is able to offer. Much is to be said for a beautiful campus such at the ISSCH provides away from the crazy stuff that can go on in a big city. You should take a drive (only 30 minutes east of Indy) and see for yourself what I'm talking about.
Thanks for your time. I wanted to give you some history about myself and how I came about entering the Home, but there are many more wonderful stories in addition to mine of some wonderful, wonderful people who graduated and left the Home.
January 21, 2009 - Letter submitted by Steve Dalton, Vice President, Charles A. Beard School Board
I felt it was time to give our taxpayers and voters a review of some of the things we’ve accomplished at CAB since our new board took office 6 months ago. 1. Yes, we gave our teachers and employees a raise, and they deserved it. They hadn’t received a pay raise in 3 years, and we gave them a 2.3% raise per year. Since they had to wait 3 years to get it, it was probably only worth 2%, and since inflation is 3% per year, they are worse off than they were 3 years ago. In other words, we’re being very thrifty with taxpayers money.
2. We tossed out the old “gag rule” and now you can speak at a board meeting without signing up days in advance. We moved the meetings from the old Administration Building on Adams Street to the new high school to make it make it better for guests.
3. Speaking of the Administration Building, we are in the process of selling it, which will save us over $24,000 per year in utilities alone. 4. We brought back CAB’s insurance to a local agent (Leakey Agency) because we felt it had been moved to a New Castle agency improperly. 5. We fired the lawyer that helped bring us the ‘Teddy Bear’ fiasco and hired a new one.
6. We settled the teacher’s contract that had been expired for 3 years.
7. We discovered that our previous administration hadn’t paid our Special Education bill. We were in debt to New Castle over 1 million dollars. We issued a bond, paid off the debt, and kept our kids in school, averting a disaster. We’re paying that off over 2 years.
8. We operated in the black (balanced our budget) for the first time in several years.
9. We eliminated 5 jobs and our employees took up the slack. That saves our taxpayers over $160,000 per year.
10. We’re instituting drug testing of our athletes and other extra curricular students to encourage a clean, drug free environment.
11. 2 years ago, CAB eliminated our social worker, choir program and our gifted and talented teacher due to budget constraints. We found grants to hire back a social worker and we’re reinvigorating the gifted and talented program at no expense to the local taxpayer. We hope to bring choir back next fall.
12. Our high school now has a school newspaper and a robotics team to help our students excel.
13. We installed a new ‘web grades’ program that allows parents to check on their students academic progress daily via the internet.
14. We conduct CAB business openly and professionally. We’re doing everything we can be good stewards of the money you entrust to us.
15. We’ve starting strategic long-term planning designed to make this one on the best school districts in the state. Our kids need and deserve the best education we can afford.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in 6 short months, but there is plenty of work to be done. If you have any questions or input, please attend our monthly board meetings. (These are my personal views and this is not an official board statement.)
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