News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 9, 2013

VCSC Board approves oil, Pepsi contracts, gets ‘beard fund’

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Board approved a six-year exclusive agreement with Refreshments Services Pepsi and an oil and gas license with Pioneer Oil during Monday’s School Board meeting.

During a spotlight, the district received a $1,000 donation from Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse for the VCSC backpack program. The funds were raised by allowing police officers to grow facial hair, which “costs” those officers $20 per month. Plasse called it the “beard fund.”

“I know your backpack program is amazing in what it does to support families, this time of year especially,” Plasse said.

Superintendent Dan Tanoos said the district plans to send “a lot more food” home with needy children to help cover the two-week holiday break. “This money will come in really, really handy,” he said.

The Pepsi agreement, a continuation of an existing one, provides Refreshment Services Pepsi with a six-year exclusive agreement to provide its products, including juices and flavored water, in schools.

In return, Refreshment Services Pepsi will provide sponsorship fees of $100,000 to the school district annually for a total of $600,000. Tanoos said last week that money will go to the district general fund.

“With decreased funding from the state, we need to find money any way we can to ensure we stay solvent,” he said last week.

 In addition, RSP will provide $6,000 of donated products each year of the agreement, and schools will benefit from $25,709 in commissions each year, an estimated figure based on sales this past year.

The total value of the agreement to the school district is $790,254.

The company also works with the district to include healthy beverage choices. The School Board approved the agreement as part of a “consent agenda,” with no discussion.

In other matters, the board approved an oil and gas license with Pioneer Oil.

The company would not be drilling under VCSC property, but near it. The company already has an agreement with ISU to put wellheads on ISU property. Pioneer will drill whether VCSC signs a license or not, Steve Unger, attorney with Bose, McKinney and Evans, said last week.

By signing a license agreement, if the wells produce oil, VCSC will receive a share of the royalties, based on its acreage as part of the total property pool involved. “We have a small percentage,” Unger said. The district also will receive a $1,000, one-time fee for signing.

On Monday, Tanoos told the board that if no oil is found, the lease ends after two years. If the company does find oil, the lease lasts as long as oil is produced. Once production ceases, the lease ends after five years.

“This is really Indiana State’s contract,” Tanoos said. Other downtown businesses also have signed an oil and gas license.

“You have to sign the lease to be able to get the money,” Tanoos said.

At the end of the meeting, during a public comment period, a Hoosier Prairie Elementary parent wanted to read a letter to the board related to the change of leadership at Hoosier Prairie Elementary. Dallas Kelsey is no longer principal and now serves as interim dean at Honey Creek Middle School.

The board does not allow discussion of personnel matters at meetings, so the parent distributed copies of the letter to the board.

As part of the personnel report, the board approved Jennifer Russell as interim principal at Hoosier Prairie, effective Monday (Dec. 9). She has been a dean at Terre Haute North Vigo High School.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.