VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Students are already back to the books for the new year, and that's no different for the Vigo County School Corporation.
Monday night was the Board of Trustees' first meeting for 2018, adding new names to new roles in the process.
School board members named Jackie Lower as board president, followed by Tammy Pearson as vice-president and Alpa Patel as secretary.
Leading her first meeting as president, Lower is already showing residents she plans to advocate for their children in her new role.
At the end of Monday night's meeting, Lower addressed the board and audience about a situation that happened Friday. That's when she said someone from a professional organization referred to students at Terre Haute South Vigo High School as "thugs" on social media.
"I think it referred to the game, the girls' basketball game, and I think it was a rough game," Lower said, "but to get to name calling, by what I consider a professional person, is not acceptable."
Pearson, Patel, and Superintendent Danny Tanoos were among those commenting on the situation at the conclusion of Monday night's meeting. Lower says the situation is one to be considered a learning curve for not only students, but adults as well.
"You don't name call students and expect that there's not going to be any feedback from that or criticism," she added.
A former teacher and Terre Haute native, now president, Lower says the year is already looking to be a tremendous challenge. One of the main priorities on Lower's agenda is addressing the future of Vigo County's three high schools.
"It's something that's got to be addressed one way or the other," she said, "We'll have to work with that."
After disappointing attendance numbers following several openhouses for Terre Haute South, North and West Vigo High School, Lower says she's calling for more community input and involvement, as well as providing residents with the proper education they need to make their decision when the time comes for their vote.
"We had very few, we had very few. I don't think we ever had more than 15 (people) at any one of the schools," she said, "and that does not share the input that I want from the community."
"There needs to be conversation," she added, "and we're going to have to have lots of opportunities for that conversation other than the school board meetings."
Lower says more concerns will be brought up as the year goes on, but for now, her focus remains doing what's best for not only Vigo County and its school system, but the kids.
"I have no strings and so I have, in the past, spoken out, will continue to do that," Lower said, "I have a lot of pride in the community. I was a teacher before coming on the board, so education, public education, is a priority on my list of things to support, and I will continue to do that. I have the greatest respect for kids. They carry a lot of baggage, and they have to deal with a lot of stuff that they shouldn't have to. I'm just a big supporter of kids, so I will always speak out on their behalf."
Other items of business on Monday's agenda was the approval of a 4.5% raise for different employee groups. Superintendent Danny Tanoos says teachers received theirs at the beginning of the school year.
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