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After contentious year, RCSI hopes recent reset moves school in right direction


After dealing with a tumultuous leadership change and questions about the future of the seventh- and eighth-grade classes at Rural Community Academy, it’s governing board appears to still have the support of its community.

The current slate of Rural Community School Inc. directors was retained after a single nomination was made for current member Meleah Sullivan, who was returned to her seat without needing an election of the organization’s general membership.

“I feel like my experience allows me to bring a lot of knowledge and history to make myself an asset …” she told those members during the meeting Tuesday night. “I just want to thank everyone for coming out tonight, supporting us, the board, supporting me and having faith in me.”

That meeting comes after a rollercoaster year at the Graysville-base charter school that included the resignation of the former school leader Tanna Jo Nichols, as well as discussion of eliminating the middle school classes as more students transferred to larger schools in Sullivan County.

In addition, current school leader and RCA Chief Operations Officer Derek Grant said, during his state of the school address, that he and other administrators hope that next year will be back on track after course-correcting this year.

“This year hasn’t been easy for anyone and I don’t think anyone can pretend it has been,” he said. “However, good is happening and has happened.”

He listed accomplishments with recognition of the school’s special education program by Washington University and the Gates Foundation; general education teachers persevering through training while teaching at the same time; and high scores on standardized testing outcomes.

However, after the general membership meeting closed one crowd member shouted something concerning Grant being unfit to lead the school.

This was quickly shouted down by an RCA staff member, who defended Grant.

“The administration is not perfect. I am certainly not perfect,” Grant said during his state of the school address, which occurred before the outburst. “I didn’t take this job because I thought I had all the answers. I do know that I want nothing more than for this school to succeed.”

In other business:

• During a general business meeting that took place prior to the membership meeting that night, the RCSI board approved a lease agreement with the Turman Township Youth Foundation, allowing continued use of the building that currently houses RCA.

While RCSI operates the charter school, TTYF owns the building itself, an arrangement that was set up when Southwest School Corp. closed the building, which was the former site of Graysville Elementary, and subsequently sold the facility.

• The board also approved its intent to rehire current RCA teachers.

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