Most HCCSC students are achieving at or above grade level, school board learns

Seventy-five percent of the students in the Huntington County Community Schools are accomplishing grades at or above their grade level, Assistant Superintendent Chuck Grable reported during the Dec. 17 school board meeting.

Grable presented the quarterly report card to the board, summarizing the progress the corporation is making in meeting benchmark goals that have been set by the board.
The goals cover areas such as the percent of students that should pass their ISTEP+ tests; average scores on tests such as the SAT; and percentage of students enrolled in internships and dual credit courses at the high school.

School Board President Kevin Patrick stated that the benchmark goals set by the board are outdated and need to be revised before next school year.

"We need to re-evaluate and make sure what we are doing is realistic," Patrick added.

The board also approved a motion to increase the wages of substitute teachers. Previously substitutes working for HCCSC were paid $70 per day worked. Now, substitutes that hold a substitute certification will be paid $75 per day, while substitutes that are licensed teachers will be paid $80 per day.

Superintendent Tracey Shafer reported that a wage of $75 per day is the regional average, and he feels the upgrade in pay "keeps us competitive."

Jon Bennett, assistant superintendent for business and classified staff, reported a $4.1 million cash balance in the general fund; a $263,000 balance in the capital projects fund; and a $607,000 unencumbered cash balance in the transportation fund.

He explained the increase in cash balance in the general fund was due to a state grant to fund full-day kindergarten in the amount of $1,000,077. Also, the school's income from property taxes was deposited into the account.

Bennett added as of the end of November 2012, 89.3 percent of the general fund has been spent, 90.5 percent of the capital projects fund has been spent and 82.72 percent of the transportation fund has been spent.

The board elected Rex Baxter, District 7, to serve on the board of Huntington County United Economic Development. Previously, Patrick had served on the board, but due to Patrick's term expiring in two years, he nominated Baxter, who, with his recent re-election, will serve on the school board for at least four more years.

Shafer reported that seven applicants applied for the vacancy in the District 4 position, currently held by Dr. Jennifer Goff. Goff did not seek re-election and her term ends at the end of the year.

A special public meeting of the board was set for Jan. 9, 2013, at 5:30 p.m., where the board will publicly interview each applicant and at evening's end announce its choice to succeed Goff on the board.

Also that evening, Baxter and Scott Hoffman, District 1, will renew their oath of office, while the newly-elected Sarah E. Kyle will take her oath to serve District 6.

In other business:

• Goff and Vice President Troy Smart were recognized for their years of dedication to the school board by Shafer and Patrick. Goff and Smart have completed their service to the school board as of the Dec. 17 meeting.

• Patrick proposed a call to action for safer school buildings in the wake of the New Town, CT, school shooting. Patrick says he would like to establish a community task force to explore ways to create a "more secure environment than what we currently have."