School board reviews individual schools’ plans for improvement

Huntington County Community Schools has submitted its school improvement plans to the school board for review and approval.

The plans were introduced to the board during the biweekly meeting on Monday, Sept. 10.

The plans are part of Public Law 221 - Indiana's comprehensive accountability system for K -12 education.
Assistant Superintendent Chuck Grable explained each plan, describing differences between each school's one-year and three-year action plans.

The plans, required by every school in Indiana by the Department of Education, are designed to establish major educational reform and accountability statewide.

To measure progress, the Department of Education places Indiana schools, both public and accredited non-public schools, into one of five categories based upon student performance and improvement data from the state's ISTEP and End of Course Assessments (ECA). This is commonly referred to as the school's letter grade.

Based on these grades, and the overall district letter grade, the schools must come up with improvement plans with goals that stay in-line with those required for other schools in their ranking, and with the district's goals.

The submitted plans must be approved by Sept. 28.

Grable says the plans are similar to the plans that have been submitted in previous years.

School Board President Kevin Patrick had some concerns about the HNHS improvement plan, citing some issues with clarity based on "who and how" - who will carry out the goals and how will they be achieved. He also asked for work toward the goal to be monitored.

Patrick asked for more information in several other areas, including a three-year goal for the iPad technology; reported data comparing progress between Viking New Tech students and students in traditional classrooms; and more information about dual-credit and advanced placement courses.

Superintendent Tracey Shafer stated there are two reasons for the lack of clarity in the report, citing the 180-day time constraint based on the amount of days teachers work each year, and the assumption that those within each building know "who and how" and may not have considered the third-party reader.

The board also discussed the future of the former Instructional Service Center, which was previously served as the Huntington Public Library building, located on East Park Drive and Warren Street.

The building has been empty since spring of 2011, when the school board closed Horace Mann Elementary School and used that building for administrative purposes. The ISC employees moved to the Horace Mann building.

Jon Bennett, assistant superintendent for business and classified staff, said two appraisals of the building have been done. He asked the board's guidance on the next step to dispose of the building.
The board agreed to advertise for a 60-day period that the building is for sale. This opens the building up for bidding, and the board will review any bids that come in within the next two months.

Bennett also reported that he will attend a meeting of Huntington's Historic Review Board on Sept. 24 to discuss the future of the ISC building.

In financial matters, Lincoln Elementary received a donation from Time, Inc. in the amount of $1,400. These funds were approved by the board, and will be used to fund Lincoln's after-school program.

Bennett reported a $1.4 million balance in the general fund, and $618,000 in the capital projects fund (CPF).
He says there will be no more major purchases this year, and the capital projects fund will see a revenue of roughly $1.4 million from taxes.

Bennett says the transportation fund has a balance of $1.5 million, and should remain steadily around that number. He expects the only transportation costs will be for the purchase of new radios for the buses, which will update old radios to new narrow banding requirements.
The 2013 budget has been advertised, and Bennett says some grant amounts will increase next year, including the foundation grant (money received per student) and the full-day kindergarten grant.

He noted that Friday, Sept. 14, is the "most critical day for school funding," as student enrollment will be counted on that day. He says enrollment numbers are expected to drop, which he estimates will result in a $250,000 net loss to the general fund in 2013.

The board also approved the personnel report, which includes:

Classified resignations include Brittany Childs, technology lab assistant, Lancaster; Chris Hoke, energy specialist, ASC; and Heather Wilson, special services paraprofessional, Northwest.

Long-term substitute resignation, Boyd Leichty, Read 180 Instructor, Riverview.

New classified employee, Denise Brauchla, technology lab assistant, Lancaster.

New ECA Staff, Brett Boxell, fifth grade girls intramural basketball, Lancaster; John Fisher, seventh grade boys basketball coach, Crestview; and Breanne Hoffman, sixth grade girls basketball, Crestview.

Long-term substitute Janet Stull, Read 180 for Melanie Park, Riverview.

Leave of Absence requests, Kristina Brown, special education paraprofessional, Lancaster; and Cassie Havens, kindergarten, Lancaster.

Also, HNHS traffic hired Dale Osborn as an officer.

In other business:

• Shafer congratulated Tiffanney Drummond, health services instructor at HNHS on a nomination for an excellence award from the Department of Education.

• The transportation handbook was approved, with a change to the requirement for drug testing after a transportation accident. The board moved to allow itself the right to test any driver in the event of an accident, regardless of fault.

• Shafer reported nine residents earned their GED in August.

• Visitor Brian Wohlgemuth, IT professional and student parent, addressed the board. He cited known problems with the new iPads in the areas of iPad usage, unprepared teachers and the paid application approval process.

He called upon the board, saying, "You either now have to take the steps of becoming cybercops, or you have to start unplugging things."