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Sunday, May 1, 2016

School Board reviews goals

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Clay Community School Board of Trustees met Thursday in the Auditeria at Clay City Jr./Sr. High School for its regular session meeting.

Clay Community Schools Director of Curriculum and Grants Kathy Knust presented an update on the Goals, Strategies and Activities Report for the 2007-09 academic school years.

"I am happy to report the majority of our goals, strategies and activities have been achieved," she said.

The report was established with a consultant for the Indiana School Board Association and is posted on the corporation website to allow for review by the community.

The first goal for CCSC is, the school corporation, as a whole should meet national accountability requirements of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and state accountability requirements.

"Our first strategy was to provide meaningful/measurable remediation plans for students," she said. "This includes Summer Jump Start, before and after school remediation as well as during the school day, secondary computer based programs including Success Maker and NovaNet."

There has been a 0.9 percent corporation-wide improvement from 2007-09 in English, which is 2.6 percent below state average. There has been a 4.2 percent corporation-wide improvement from 2007-09 in Math, which is 0.4 percent above state average.

In the No Child Left Behind-AYP, the corporation has a green light passed, which Knust said is the first time in four years this has happened.

Student's attendance has increased in five of the seven elementary schools and they are at or above the state average for the 2007-08 school year. Attendance at Clay City High School has improved 0.7 percent from the previous year but 0.1 percent below state average. Student's attendance at North Clay Middle School has improved 0.2 percent from previous years but still below the state average 0.1 percent. Northview High School attendance has improved 0.8 percent from the previous year, but is still below average.

"I am very pleased to announce an improvement in our graduation rates," Knust said. "It isn't where we want to be, but it is better than we have been and we are still working to improve."

CCHS is 9.9 percent above the state average for the 2007-08 school year, which is a 0.7 percent increase from the previous year. NHS is 2.6 percent above the state average for the 2007-08 school year, which is a 6.7 percent increase from the previous year.

The second goal for CCSC is facility planning will continue until building/renovation projects are complete.

"Since the project is still in progress, I can tell you what we hope to gain from this," she said. "More technology in the classrooms, through the Access Indiana (State Grant) which allows for computers in all English classrooms at Northview and computers will be installed in all English classrooms by fall 2009 at Clay City."

A technology committee meets at least once each semester to determine training, hardware and software needs. Administrators continually monitor possible grants and a corporation-wide committee visited all school buildings and made recommendations for security technology to be included in the building projects.

CCSC's third goal includes financial benchmarks and standards for the corporation will be established and followed.

The General Fund cash balance is increased and a year-end cash balance of not less than 90 percent of the previous year is maintained in debt service, pension bond, capital projects, bus replacement and special education pre-school.

Additions will continue to be made to the rainy day fund on a year-to-year basis until it is at least 10 percent of the general fund appropriated amount from the current year.

Goal four for CCSC is the settling of contracts, which all past and current contracts have been settled.

The fifth goal for CCSC includes the re-culturing of schools, which will contribute to increased flexibility, innovation and adaptability to change by employees of Clay Community Schools.

"One of our strategies was to improve student motivation," Knust said. "We have educated students regarding standardized tests results and Indiana's Academic Standards are displayed in the classrooms."

Advanced placement audits are completed for courses being taught and incentives as well as rewards are provided at all schools for improvement of test scores, attendance and behavior she said.

"Peer mediation program implemented at Northview and positive behavior support (research based program) has been implemented at Eastside Elementary, Forest Park Elementary, Meridian Elementary, Staunton Elementary and Van Buren Elementary," she said.

An improvement in teacher motivation and enhancing the communities parent involvement in education as well as providing collaboration time for all teachers is key to all improvements made within the corporation and necessary for success.

"The goals, strategies and activities for 2009-11 are still being finalized and they will build from the 2007-09 plans," Knust said. "We are very proud of our accomplishments and we will continue to work together to accomplish our goals and improve education for our children."

The response to Knust's report was positive and well received by the board.

"This is great," board member Terry Barr said. "Everyone has really been working hard and this shows it."

Supt. Dan Schroeder wanted to reassure everyone that even with the building project, the educational needs of the students are not being neglected.

"We are not done, there is always room for improvement," he said. "Even with the building project and the bus garage situation, students are still improving."

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What they are STILL not addressing is whether or not the schools are operating at capacity.

The Boyd study addresses the fact that Brazil township student enrollment has decreased is documented in a previous study, indicating that some of the in city facilities may not be operating at full capacity any longer and a possible need to redistrict in order to balance school usage. IT showed a slight decline in birth rate and elementary enrollment which may then later reflect a lower enrollment at high school levels.

It also indicates that further declines in birthrates may coincide with economic downturns and it would be speculative to project that resident live births or enrollment will increase.

While Schmidt study focuses more on ways to fund facility improvements it does not address capacity issues but only those issues directly asked for based on board and administration's "wants and needs list".

The faculty study goes further than that even. Though both Eastside and Meridian have definite building site problems and were only given the grade of 45% by the Schmidt study, it indicated that Meridian's students should be relocated and central office and possibly the LEAAP center or Cumberland Academy be shifted to the Meridian building. Using the current Cumberland building for whichever doesn't move there. Thus being able to shed the Hooks building and the Knightsville facility. Though Eastside has more of the site problems, it could be that the asbestos problems at Meridian were thought to be more of a danger to young children? I really did not see why they chose one school over the other. If this is the case then, the older students should be the ones to be moved to the Meridian building. Granted, the Schmidt study and plans in improvement project DO address the asbestos problem.

So many are so against the larger schools but learning is done in small classrooms in large schools with no additional problems and a lot of money saved. The problems at the middle school in my opinion have been caused more by lack of communication, lack of compliance, lack of consistency, and lack of accountability. Don't get me wrong, lots of good faculty at that facility but it all has to be brought together under same set of rules for all with more effort at compliance as when it is not, rules that are ignored by some are looked upon as un necessary and are not taken seriously. Double standards bring on a lack of respect that later has to be reinforced via domination and that has never worked.

The present board does not like me to keep bringing up the need for an open capacity study as has been done recently in Vigo County, instead some claiming that the Schmidt study done in Clay was indeed the same thing. It was not. It was a feasibility study done to see how facility improvements could be implemented and paid for. While it demonstrated that some facilities were less suitable than others, it did not ask for a capacity portion nor have any numbers recently been published on township demographics compared to what they have done since 2000.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sat, Apr 11, 2009, at 2:07 PM

Sounds like Meridian, Eastside, and Forest Park are in danger. When studies are done by consultants who are university professors, they usually decide to propose findings that the superintendent and school board wants. These professors want the gravy money to continue and if they include things that the superintendent opposes, they are not invited back. I find these kind of studies worthless. Sounds like the superintendent and his people want to close schools in the city. This is something that needs opposition!! Don't be fooled!!!

-- Posted by scwh1974 on Sat, Apr 11, 2009, at 5:18 PM

Why isn't Clay City High School held up as an example of success? While Clay City IS smaller than Northview, their test scores remain higher overall as does attendance and graduation rates.

Students in large schools get lost. There is not the number of student involvement in a large school for those students who have the propensity toward anonymity do not engage in a larger setting. At a smaller school, MORE students participate because students are more engaged in their school. There is simply a larger percentage of pride when students attend a smaller school. That percentage of pride is lost at a larger school.

Some argue that in a smaller school students are not prepared for the next level, ie. college, jobs, etc., due to the lack of course offerings; however, students DO succeed and do so well. Talk to any number of students attending ISU, Purdue, IU, Rose-Hulman that graduated from example Clay City, and the percentage of positive feedback from students having attended a smaller school to those of a larger school is as great or greater.

It is the individualized help as well as camaraderie had in a small school that allows for success of students. Closing smaller elementary schools would have the same ill effect. Students would simply be lost at an earlier age.

Lets face it; education like any other thing in our society is cyclical. What is acceptable today will not be so in a few years. Do we REALLY want to close schools today based on what might be frowned upon in our future? Lets look long term and focus on the positive these schools are doing NOW. Private schools and charter schools are a fine example of what our system is trending to. They are smaller! Lets not be short-sighted.

-- Posted by can't believe it on Sat, Apr 11, 2009, at 6:21 PM

I agree can't believe.....the moral of the story is that the current administration and school board is more concerned with buildings that have turned into money pits than education. We have classrooms with too many kids, teachers who have it too easy and aren't being effective and the entire corporation is running amuck. Who is taking responsibility for ANYTHING???? There is zero accountability. Patrons are only given a few minutes to voice concern, or even praise for that manner and receive no feedback???? These folks work for us, with today's economy we are all cutting back, are they? This school board needs to drop the "no communication" clause, roll up their sleeves, get out into the trenches and get a grip on reality. We are understaffed, do not have enough school nurses, the schools are atrocious, the kids are out of control. We don't want to become what the big city schools are. Can we try to hold on to the good things we have before they are gone. ACCOUNTABILITY folks. Clay City produces fine students, Northview could take a page from their books. If I were a constituent in the Clay City school district I would ask my representatives (I believe are Jackson, Heffner and Buell) to start taking a stand. Clay City people are doing it right, we aren't. Maybe they should take their tax money, voucher money....whatever it is and run their schools the way they see fit. We need to wake up and stop hiring all of these consultants. We are Clay County we know what's right and what we need.

-- Posted by __2--- on Sun, Apr 12, 2009, at 8:42 PM


Hold on there a bit though....Neither school is perfect nor are either of them without merit.

Both schools graduate students with POOR English skills who are not ready to interact with the rest of the world and both graduate students who are.

Let's not pit one against the other.

What we can do though is demand the accountability you speak about from the board on down.

While the "system" does not allow for more than 5 minutes per patron, it cannot limit the number of patrons who speak so long as it is about a slightly differently worded issue. Only when multiple people invest the time to go DEMAND a capacity and building use study, will we seriously look at which buildings are superfluous. Only when we seek out examples of other corporations in the country that have worked on lower operating cost will our school be a model to retain.

A lot of improvement can be done within all of our schools if only accountability would be taken seriously. I thought it was starting when contracts were not renewed of two principals who I knew had examples of not doing their jobs but I'll bet non documentation at central office administrative levels was not sufficient to make it stick. Accountability is not a quick fix. It's a process from the top down that develops over years. No building improvements are going to mean squat if we don't deal with accountability head on.

Larger elementary schools CAN work if accountability and true respect is at top of priority list. Instead we are paying for extra facilities at Elementary level and trying to use same lack of management style in the larger buildings which does not work. In essence we are throwing good money after bad with no real academic and social skill improvement.

All I can say at this point is MORE people need to get to the board meetings and speak up or nothing will change as I and a few others have been doing so for years now and just written off as a minority. Seems that in order of importance to many, the concerns are not at the top of list of importance for most in this community as actions speaks louder than words.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Apr 13, 2009, at 7:33 AM

I agree Ms. Moore. I am not "pitting" one school against the other, I am just pointing out that Clay City School seems to be the "good child" in our school scenarios. I do not have children who attend there, and I have spoken at school board meetings. I know that you have as well. Is it not infuriating to you that they don't reply? I email, I track the meetings in the Brazil Times and comment, I vote seriously for my school board reps, as do many people. So, what do you think the problem is? How can we tell them we aren't happy and that they need to answer to the public? They hire "consultants" for everything, but never ask the public. Never a session for questions and answers.....those surveys???? What were the results? I heard we were well below par on North Central Evaluations. Does the general public know how much our administrators are making to do absolutely the opposite of what the taxpayers want? Maybe you, Ms. Moore, could put together a group of concerned citizens, who are both for and against, and get a special session. What about a "corporation wide" school improvement study that involves patrons of differing ages (grandparents pay lots of taxes too) and from different aspects of the corporation. People are busy, people are tired of the bickering, tired of the lack of accountability....maybe that's the message we should send. Can we do that? I don't know I'm fairly new to this, but I am concerned and tired of the same old same old and nothing being done. Let's get it out that we are wasting a huge amount of money on this "stuff" and the waiting and consulting. What's the problem? Meanwhile, our kids aren't getting what they need. We are a mockery of what a school corporation should be. Just my opinion.....but I do appreciate any feedback!

-- Posted by __2--- on Mon, Apr 13, 2009, at 8:59 AM

Pros and cons of both Clay City HS and Northview but BOTH are deficient compared to standards today. You ask a lot of good questions. I think the main thing is that so many are not engaged in the education process and are not aware that it can be and is being done so much better outside of clay county;whether in Indiana or in another state. When the subject is brought up however that compares what we do here to what is being done to remain competitive in work place in other locations, I am named elitist and an outsider. Which is truth maybe I am as I want for students in Clay county what other students get in more affluent counties in Indiana. HOWEVER [and this is big however]methods must be changed drastically in order to both afford this as well as to conform to today's standards both academically and culturally.

We must give up some of the feel good nostalgia associated with school buildings. It really doesn't matter a flip whether our child goes to the same elementary school that the parent or older sibling did. It really doesn't matter if you personally know the teachers and administrators but ONLY if they have accountability and mutual respect for their students as they [rightfully] warrant themselves.

Class room size. Not building size is what matters and what goes on in that classroom. Both Leo Southworth and I have tried to bring these facts to light for a while now and my husband also was quite active up until a few years ago when he threw his hands up at the unwillingness to look at how things work in other locations before wasting time here reinventing the wheel over and over again.

Getting more people engaged and not just worrying about their own pocketbook and looking to make a real investment in time to help things inprove academically is the answer.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Apr 13, 2009, at 11:35 AM

It doesnt matter what people want the school board will do as they please. As far as pitting one school against the other thank your school board. This has always been done and always will. Dont you think the students at Clay City would like new stuff not just equipment etc. thats not good enough for Northview .

-- Posted by kd323 on Tue, Apr 14, 2009, at 7:40 AM

We live in an ever-changing world, yet many are so resistant to change in this locality that education here is constantly a decade behind.

Right now, there is a nation-wide trend moving toward larger elementary schools with more but smaller classrooms and class sizes and smaller high schools with more courses and more demanding courses in smaller classes. This is actually a trade-off that requires the elementary schools be made larger but better to save money that is then targeted into the high schools by corporations concerned with improving their educational output, both in quantity and quality.

Very few people in this corporation want to do the research necessary to find out what is our optimum course of action at this point in time and, certainly, no one in power wants the facts revealed to the public. Otherwise, the research would have been accomplished prior to the building project being proposed and any objections to the project would have been squelched with facts instead of opinions that were not supported by fact. Many of the public were led to support the project using hyperbole and "spin" concerning security and safety, which the current project is not going to improve. I challenge anyone who wishes to do so to tell the public how our changes at the front entrance of our buildings or more cameras would prevent a bullet from striking the building or prevent someone from entering the building through an open rear door! Also, while much "hype and spin" was given to the replacement of the modular classrooms to protect the students in case of a tornado or security on school grounds, the fact is that people can die just as well in a brick building hit by a tornado and the children are safer on school property than they are waiting for the bus along the roads of walking to the school. The public "bought a bill of goods" for things that are being promised but cannot be delivered.

Nostalgia is a way of saying that "I want the good old days" yet the past was not that good and times have changed. I enjoyed the Brazil Times article concerning how the current Meridian and Eastside schools came into being back in 1958. It illustrated that all of our schools are consolidations and replacements of former schools in the area. They are steps forward, out of our past, but, at present, the building project the corporation has decided to pursue has us standing in the past, in the 1960's. Times have changed, the needs of the students have changed, technology has changed, education has progressed beyond the 1960's; yet our building program is stagnated. We need to cut operating costs; yet, we do not take the steps of reducing the number of schools reducing duplication of services, reducing the very need to move people or equipment to so many small locations, and improving education at the elementary level by providing smaller classrooms with more teachers.

I could go on and on, however, what good does it do? Unless enough people make a stand, nothing will change. I have had board members tell me that the "people" approve their actions. I do not think that an informed public would, however, getting information out of our corporation is almost as hard as pulling teeth out of a chicken. I've had more luck in getting information from other school corporations than by asking simple questions within our own.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Apr 15, 2009, at 11:13 AM

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