WEST TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The Vigo County School Board adopted a resolution to waive “standard textbook rental fees” for families during the board meeting Monday night. 

The vote on the resolution was added to the agenda at the start of the meeting. Superintendent Chris Himsel said it came as a last-minute addition because they are still awaiting answers from the state on specifics with the law. 

“We apologize for the delay, we have been waiting for guidance throughout the summer, we are finally, as we get to the week before school, we can’t wait any longer for that guidance, we just made a decision, we’re going to go ahead and do our best guess,” he said. 

Those questions relate to optional things– like AP courses or dual-credit classes– and the fees related to those. 

“What we waived tonight are those normal, standard textbook rental fees, the things that come in that you normally pay at the beginning of the school year,” Himsel said. “As a general rule of thumb, if you’re in activities that are more optional, like marching band is optional, being on the soccer team is optional, being a part of robotics first team  is optional. Those kinds of things, there are probably going to be fees with it, but at this point, we are on hold because we don’t know where the guidance is.” 

He called it a “complex issue,” and said the corporation is unsure when they might hear back. 

“We’ve been awaiting this since April or May, when the legislative session ended, which was near the end of April, and we still don’t have the guidance. I think the reason we still don’t have the guidance speaks to how complex this issue happens to be,” he said. 

The full resolution can be found at the end of the story. 

Also discussed during Monday’s meeting was the implementation of Rachel’s Challenge, a program the corporation hopes can help combat increased student discipline rates since the start of the pandemic. 

The initiative was created in honor of Rachel Scott, a high school student killed during the Columbine shooting back in 1999. Assistant superintendent of student services, Dr. Tom Balitewicz, said it focuses on promoting kindness and respect amongst students. 

“I think it’s really honing in on those important skills that I had discussed with the board, which are really reinforcing kindness and helpfulness and those kinds of traits with our students, and we really want to impress upon them the importance of getting along with others,” he said. 

There will be meetings at all schools in the corporation over a two-week period, starting in late August, and that will include at least two meetings for parents to get information on what exactly the corporation will be doing. 

“I think it’s about setting the tone for the entire school corporation. We want to set that tone, in the sense of ‘hey, let’s all try to be mindful of showing kindness towards others,’ and showing respect, and being helpful,” he said. “That’s the tone we want to set.”

The corporation is also looking to schedule symposiums for staff on installing “restorative practices,” another effort related to student discipline, in the coming months. 

More information on Rachel’s Challenge can be found here. The resolution can be found below.