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October 16, 2018

5/18/2017 2:53:00 PM
Family, board discuss honors for Higginbotham
Recognition planned for Hutsonville student who died in 2012, but family still upset.
Daily News

Remembrance and recognition were on the minds of a family whose son died in 2012.

The family of Gage Higginbotham asked the Hutsonville Unit 1 school board Monday to make arrangements for honoring the former Hutsonville student, who would've graduated this weekend if not for his death.

Higginbotham was honored by his class that spring during the eighth-grade graduation. Miscommunication between the family and school administration apparently led the family to appear before Superintendent Julie Kraemer and the school board. Gage's father, Randy Higginbotham, made the family's recommendations to honor their son at this Sunday's graduation.

"I'm asking for a chair with a cap and gown to be there for my son," Higginbotham said. "A moment of silence and a prayer I think would be the best thing."

Kraemer and high-school principal Guy Rumler told the family that at least two members of the senior class were approached by them about whether they wanted to honor Higginbotham with these requests, however the general consensus among their classmates was to leave things be. Arrangements had already been made to honor Higginbotham, with classmates expected to wear black armbands in his honor during the ceremony. The class slide show with the student's pictures and music chosen by the class, also contains Higginbotham's pictures and the music he would've wanted for the ceremony, Kraemer told the family.

The Higginbotham family said they were informed that the school declined their request without conferring with the students, but Kraemer and Rumler said that was untrue and very frustrating to hear.

"We always confer with the students about everything taking place at the ceremony, including the prayers. which are never made with the administration's enforcement," Kraemer said. "We like to see what the kids are comfortable with because some of them might not be."

With the family feeling that the board was ignoring them, board president Tina Callaway said the school would never do something like this intentionally.

"You can never forget things like that and Julie and Guy can say the same," Callaway said. "They are just as passionate as can be when it comes to this."

Rumler told the family that this Friday the seniors will be at the school for their senior dinner, and they can speak again on this matter and see if they want any more ways to honor Gage at the ceremony. The family will be contacted following that decision. They still plan on attending graduation, no matter what.

"We're just a little jealous because the kid's 14 and not getting older," Higginbotham said."We will be there Sunday, but it hurts thinking about it."

After approving the bills and the agenda, the board heard the superintendent's report.

Kraemer reminded the board that the final Teachers Institute would be May 19 with report cards being ready for pickup to K-12 by Wednesday, May 24. Most of that Institute will be dedicated to special education procedures, collecting data for RTI and using data for decisions. Board members were invited to attend dinner on Institute day as there will be further employee recognition at that time.

The district was informed that there will be about a 5 percent increase in the cost of employee health insurance rates for 2016-17. The rate increase along with some coverage changes will be shared with district employees.

One out of the four payments in the district's categorical funds from this year and last year have been received. Unfortunately the school has been owed three, which have been vouchered.

"Right now it's a holding pattern and the comptroller is playing a political game," Kraemer said.

The board agreed to look over the fees and Kraemer would contact other schools to see what their fee structure looks like before a decision is made.

Rumler reminded the board that two awards ceremonies are scheduled for Tuesda. At 1:30 p.m. the elementary awards day ceremony will take place, and at 6:30 p.m. that evening will be high school academic awards night. This Thursday will be the last day of attendance for students. Senior night is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, followed by high school graduation at 2 p.m. Sunday and grade school graduation at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The board directed Kraemer to prepare a tentative FY 2018 school budget. This budget must be available for public inspection for 30 days prior to being officially adopted by the board. The deadline for budget adoption is September 30.

The board also approved Crawford County Health Department for the school's nursing services.

Rumler also announced that Palestine sold the most car raffle tickets, 17,000, and now the drawing of the new car from Silverthorne will now come out of the Hutsonville-Palestine bin. Whichever school is listed on the raffle drawn from the drawn, the car will be given for free to the school.

Kraemer also told the board that the last committee of 10 meeting was enlightening, and the petition for consolidation could be ready for the committee next month.

After an executive session to discuss personnel, the board:

• Rehired Michael Ray as administrative assistant and athletic director.

* Hired Kendra Jones as JH ELA.

• Accepted Beth Eddy's resignation as yearbook sponsor.

• Accepted the resignation of James Sikorski.

• Hired Adam Torbeck as high school science teacher.

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, May 19, 2017
Article comment by: Machelle Higginbotham

In reguards to the Hutsonville school board meeting. I was present at the school board meeting with my husband to address our concerns about the graduation in our son's honor as with honoring his class too. There was alot more discussed at the school board about the graduation with one particular board member whom was very against having the chair. This member compared a chair at the graduation to a rememberance cross along the side of the road to a life lost. Lots of untruths were told at the school board meeting to cover the school boards rearend!! Our side of the story needs to be printed so the community will get the real truth about the Hutsonville school board!!

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