TERRE HAUTE —
A packed house watched Danny Tanoos, superintendent of Vigo County schools, receive the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash from two state lawmakers Monday evening.
More than 200 people were jammed into the school board meeting room in the basement of the School Corp. headquarters downtown. Many were there for presentations to students, such as winners of the Battle of the Books competition, the anti-bullying HERO program or to recognize student council representatives.
But the 90-minute meeting began with Rep. Clyde Kersey, D-43, and Sen. Tim Skinner, D-38, presenting Tanoos with the Sagamore of the Wabash, an honor given under the authority of the governor.
“I accept this honor on behalf of all of you,” Tanoos said receiving the award. His family, including his father, Tom, and mother, Mary Ann, were present for the occasion.
“It’s really special,” Tanoos said. “I’m really proud to work with the best students in the world.”
Kersey and Skinner said Tanoos has been a strong fighter on behalf of public schools and against recent attempts to increase the role of charter schools in the state.
“I’ve felt like Danny was always with us,” said Skinner, a former public school teacher in Vigo County. “He may have been the most vocal advocate” among administrators for public schools in Indiana, he said. “He had our backs, so to speak,” Skinner said.
Kersey, also a former public school teacher, likewise had high praise for the superintendent.
“Danny has been able to weather the storm,” Kersey said in presenting the award. “And thank God we have Danny Tanoos as our superintendent because he’s kept our academic standards high and the Vigo County School Corp. is still in the black. … That’s not true of for all corporations around the state.”
Members of the Indiana House and Senate are permitted by Gov. Mike Pence to nominate two individuals each year for a Sagamore. Since its inception in the 1940s, it is estimated more than 14,000 Sagamores have been awarded across the state by Hoosier governors. Some governors have awarded thousands. Gov. Mitch Daniels awarded just 245 and instituted the Sachem Award, given to just one person a year, as the highest state honor.
• Also Monday, the school board unanimously approved a declaration of emergency to use capital projects money to replace the fire system at Honey Creek Middle School at a cost not-to-exceed $55,000.
The old system is obsolete, Tanoos said, but is still functioning, meaning students and others at the school are in no danger. However, the system is in need of replacement because the school’s maintenance staff has had problems with the fire alarm panel, he said.
The new system should be in place in a month or so, Tanoos told the board.
• Finally, the board also approved a calendar for the 2015-16 school year, which includes a week-long break at Thanksgiving. The first school day that year would be Aug. 11, 2015 and the final day would be June 2, 2016.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@