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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Concerns top board meeting

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Clay Community School Board met Thursday at Northview High School.

The board approved advertising of the 2009 budget, by a 6-0-1 vote, and its capital projects plan, school bus replacement plan and levy neutrality and a 6-0-1 approval vote by the board was made for the advertising of property tax shortfall levy appeal resolution, hearing information sheet and petition to appeal. Tina Heffener abstained during both votes.

Concern, however, was voiced by Clay County resident Jenny Moore about the graduation rate of students, how the Shurley Reading Method should be used at all schools and how Early Bird should be offered to a wider range of students.

"We should offer quality choices for our students education," Moore said.

"Students may need two classes for graduation or college that meet at the same time, and both classes are only offered at that one time. How is that fair to the student."

Later in the meeting, Tim Rayle, Principal of Northview High School, presented the NovaNet Program. He went on to explain how students can sign up for NovaNet and gain the credits that they need for graduation.

"We don't deny an education to anyone who wants an education," Rayle said.

"We know the graduation rate, we want to help and we are working hard on the future of the students," CCSB member Terry Barr said.

CCSB member Dottie King commended Rayle for his hard work and enthusiasm for the students and the Nova Program.

"People criticize and accuse other people through the newspaper and other media outlets. Yet people still work hard for the students. People should not forget the positive things that go on and try not to set a horrible example for our children," King said.

The tax revenue shortfalls were as follows: the General Fund, $153,160 and the Transportation Fund, $44,001 in the 2007 budget year

In addition, the Department of Local Government Finance believe that the corporation should estimate shortfalls because they may not be able to when they prepare the 2010 budget due to the change in how the corporation will change from a calendar year to a July-June year.

Also, a second reading was also made of the job descriptions, the Northview and North Clay coach's handbook of 2008-09, the Northview athletic handbook 2008-09 and the school board policy manual.


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And at what point is the graduation/drop out rate the responsibilty of the parenst and the students themselves? Why are we blaming the schools? Maybe the studenst parents don't care if they are in school. I think people need to look at all angles before blaming the schools!

-- Posted by sassypants on Fri, Aug 15, 2008, at 7:04 AM

Governor Daniels is buying your vote by decreasing property tax on your home, but the shortfall in tax revenue is already showing up in our schools. If he is re-elected, the problem will only get worse. The next task for Mitch is to break the teachers union, and it will start right here in Indiana. Ditch Mitch!

-- Posted by ucantbserious on Fri, Aug 15, 2008, at 7:41 AM

First of all, I'll address Dr. King's remark concerning negative remarks. Our schools work, our corporation works, and our employees work but each work only to a degree; none of them work perfectly. I spoke at the meeting concerning the public's perception of the school system and the complaint reporting and recording procedure to the corporate level to ensure that trends could be identified and corrective action taken if warranted. Members of the public were given a five minute time limit and even when writing there is a limit to how much a person will read before losing interest. Given those limitations, those of us who voice our opinions to the public are attempting to focus on the problem areas so that improvements can be made. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease!"

Several things that did not get included in the Brazil times story are that our building situation has became critical, our class sizes are still under their annual adjustment phase, and our curriculum is still being worked on along with the attempt to get students scheduled into the preferred class that fits the student's educational goals while meeting the state's requirement of education within our limited options and budget.

Our building situation is at a critical point, but it is not a school building that is the problem. The corporation is in the process of taking the Building and Grounds Maintenance Shop out of service as the insurance carrier will no longer insure it as a workspace. It is still being used, at this point, as storage but cannot be used to perform repairs on equipment. Our Bus Maintenance facility, although functionally obsolete, is still in operation and insured, but still in need of replacement. These two facilities were slated for replacement during the building proposal of August 2007 with a $4.2 million dollar building. Since that time, it has been discovered that an adequate facility can be either built or an existing structure purchased for about $800,000. However, there are currently plans neither to build or purchase a suitable structure to replace these buildings.

Administrators are in the process of adjusting class sizes and should be done by September 12, the date that we report on that issue to the state.

Our curriculum issues were discussed in some detail, however, some of our practices are, in my opinion, questionable. I have not looked into all of the details, however, according to the report given we are tasking teachers with teaching different courses within a classroom at the same time. To clarify, a teacher is teaching multiple classes in one classroom during the same period. There are several instances of this happening, not only where two related but separate courses are being taught, but also where several levels of a subject are being taught concurrently. This begs for a question to be asked. As a semester is about 90 days long and a course meets for an hour a day, are the students in these concurrent getting the benefit of 90 hours of instruction in the course that they are taking or less? Have these classes been reduced to "glorified" study hall periods? I would be interested to know how many of the students who enroll in these courses fail or drop them due to grades as I do not see how a person can teach two subjects to two classes at the same time effectively. There may be some overlap in the material, however, there must be differences or the two would be one class.

NovaNet is a bright spot. It appears to be a very cost-effective tool that I will be looking at more closely later.

Leo L. Southworth

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Fri, Aug 15, 2008, at 7:52 AM

Sassypants

I can understand your point....lol.

Perhaps we should go to a different method, one where the state takes the children under its wing, puts them in institutions, and doesn't let them out until the have a diploma. Nah, that's just plain un-American. It would solve the problem and eliminate our schools from having to deal with some parent's lack of concern or other shortcomings, but we just can't do it.

If I could get a base figure as to what a minimal adequate education costs, some proof that we are spending our funding as prudently as possible, and we still need money to adequately educate all of our students, I would be suggesting that the school corporation ask the taxpayer to pass a referendum tax to augment our education budget and "by-pass" the tax caps, i.e. the "circuit-breaker".

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Fri, Aug 15, 2008, at 8:08 AM

Oh, yeah, another thing that was mentioned in passing during the report on building and grounds but didn't make the Brazil times story. Clay Community Schools Corporation controls and performs lawn maintenance on over two hundred (200) acres of ground.

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Fri, Aug 15, 2008, at 8:15 AM

Actually I thought it was a very informative meeting. I just wish that more of the community were there. Both those who have concerns and those who want to give those who work for the schools a pat on the back.

Novanet is going to really help a lot of students but still can't totally replace our missing 7th period as many classes with labs cannot be taught via the computer. Makes it all that more important to continue to work towards either a 7 period day or trimester system so students can get that competitive edge they need today. I don't think anyone there last night disagreed with this, but I think it comes down to lack of funding to get the teacher's contract up to a point where they will accept the extra class of instruction into their work day. This is not a slam to anyone. Not saying they should work more for same money. Just a fact and the reason I will continue to state that we need to be be very cognizant of how we spend each penny in the tight economy we have. What Ms. Gleason reported about my statement about the Shurley method was not totally accurate however [I happen to have the benefit of having my notes in front of me and Times reporters are always welcome to a copy of them after I've spoken as are the board members]. What I said was that IF it was a more effective tool, it needs to be accepted at all the schools but if it is not, it needs to be discontinued as we need to be teaching by the BEST method throughout the corporation and not leaving that decision to the individual building.

Mr. Reberger indicated that the summer's wind and rain had caused them to have to repeat some of the summer maintenance after performing it. From one who has had to bail out my own basement this summer, I had expected this to be the case. Needed to be done but costly none the less.

Dr. Buell wanted the patrons to have more of an opportunity to speak longer and have more interaction with the board members. I hesitate to support this view. While I admittedly am a little "longwinded" myself, if I can't get my point across in 5 minutes, it's going to put people to sleep. If enough people care about a subject, there will be multiple 5 minute presentations given. If one person is committed enough to the subject they can come back month after month. Interaction I've seen with previous boards... It's usually non productive and gets to be an opinion poll as to back up an opinion with the needed facts, you usually need to go to the employee who works in that area. I get a lot more useful information on maybe WHY a decision is made by going and asking that employee and THEN going to a board meeting with the facts to ask for justification. I don't expect it to be given to me at that time as it wouldn't give the board member opportunity to do same research for his reply.

I don't think anyone was blaming the schools for the graduation rate directly. Ultimately it is the parents who need to get the kids ready to survive...but that is in an ideal world. Many of our parents aren't equipped to know what their kids need in today's changing world. That's why it falls onto every one of us to help the taxpayers of tomorrow be solvent enough to maintain our "system" so it can continue. Board member, Ted Jackson, made a statement that related to a sort of giving back and being active in various groups and committees that had meant a lot to him when growing up and now can see how they effect today's youth. He encouraged others to do the same. This is basically similar to the message that I've been trying to get across. Be involved to try to make things better.

As Leo says above, we have a lot of good people working hard to make things work in the schools, and they are appreciated. When we think that we are on the top of the heap however and don't need to look around for ways to improve, we are destined for a fall. It is up to all of us to be part of the process. This board and administration is working hard but its reputation is still looked upon, right or wrong, by the history of some irresponsible decisions by past board members and administrators. Admittedly it would be wrong to judge them by those past deeds but I think it has resulted in individuals in the community wanting to make sure that they know all the facts and are a part of the process. They want to MAKE SURE that these mistakes aren't going to repeated for any reason. I do want to point out that I really appreciated new board member Mrs Hefner abstaining from voting on a few items due to the fact that she had not yet learned all the details of the procedures. It demonstrates that she realizes that she has more to learn and that she takes her decision on items seriously enough not to simply put a rubber stamp on things that others do. That is a delightful turnaround from the board of ten years ago that is more the norm now than at that time. Various members of the board credited the work the school employees accomplished over the summer months but it also needs to be noted that whether I agree or disagree with how the board votes and what they decide upon, I realize that a lot of what they are having to deal with now is fallout from past decisions of other people of previous administrations. A huge task in itself without taking into account the reduction in funds and increase in educational needs. They do a great service to the community...Will that stop me from discussing problems? No, of course not but I want to make it clear that I do not discount the work they do or their efforts. Now, what non academic program can be cut from the budget to get that extra class time in for all of the students, since by cutting classes with low enrollment is not something we used to trim so closely, we have in fact reduced the availability of academic offerings to students. I listened to all those EC positions being assigned. I love it that my kids are involved in EC and they will be upset that I even mention it but I just don't see from where else to get the money to keep up with our more important needs. We "seem" to have made the decision to keep them over maintaining academic offerings. Anyone else with any better ideas, please step forward with it...and to those of you who have gotten this far in my commentary, congratulations as it shows mental fortitude [grin].

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Fri, Aug 15, 2008, at 11:37 AM


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