Whitko chief updates board

PIERCETON — The Whitko Community School Corporation board of school trustees held its monthly meeting Monday evening with superintendent Steve Clason providing several updates.“The legislative session is going to pick up after Jan. 1 and the biggest item they will have on their plate is the budget. There is a lot of discussion about how they will balance the budget when the income has not re-couped yet from the recession we are in,” Clason said. “We continue to hear that we will be receiving like amounts of funding that we had last year and there will not be any reductions.”As far as grants, Clason said the school system continues to work with Parkview Whitley Hospital for the possibility of receiving more grant money for the Project Lead the Way which is a partnership of three Whitley County schools with the hospital.This particular grant is for equipment and staff development in order to provide training in the medical field to high school students in Whitley County. Clason also reported on the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for 2010 and the Public Law (PL 221) which is Indiana’s K-12 accountability system where school corporations are assessed based on students’ academic progress in the course of assessments for algebra and biology. “The state changed some rules on the PL 221,” Clason said. “We used to get based on Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) results, now in the course of assessments, it’s algebra and biology right now.”Under the accountability provisions in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, all public school campuses, school districts, and the state are evaluated for AYP districts, campuses, and the state is required to meet AYP criteria on three measures: reading/language arts, mathematics, and either graduation rate (for high schools and districts) or attendance rate (for elementary and middle/junior high schools).“I was more concerned that what we did was right for the kids. Surprisingly enough, doing what is right for the kids does well for AYP,” Clason said. “We made AYP consistently with South Whitley Elementary School. SWES and North Manchester are the only two schools in the area making AYP since 2003.”Graduation rates continue to increase with 80 percent in 2008 and more than 90 percent in 2010 bringing WCSC in the top one-third of the state.“We are doing well and the high school continues with their leadership to move us forward. We continue to see academic progress made by our schools, (which) are doing wonderful things,” Clason said. “We got good things going on, the principals and teachers out there are rockin’-n-rollin’ and doing what is right for the kids and it is showing up, we are very proud of them all.”In financial business, Director of Financial Operations Tom McFarland updated board members on the State Board of Accounts audit. I’m very pleased to report that our audit report turned out to be very good,” McFarland said. In other business, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mileage rate for faculty and staff will increase from 50 cents per mile to 51 cents per mile, effective Jan. 1.The 2011 budget was presented by MaFarland with the school system now having an assessed value of $416,000,000, which will drop to $402,000,000 in 2011, which is a decrease of three percent.“We are just now paying for the Whitko High School (WHS) project,” MaFarland said. “Transportation had a slight increase with 21 cents in Whitley County and 17 cents in Kosciusko.”McFarland reported on the general fund having a cash balance of approximately $600,000 which is an increase of $200,000 from 2009.“This is due to a one time transfer allowed for 2010 and we will not get those one time transfers in 2011,” McFarland said. “I’m very pleased where our cash balances are going to end up.”Director of Maintenance, Dirk Felger, presented up-to-date service/maintenance contracts which the board approved.Felger discussed annual summer projects at each facility, which includes asphalt repair at Whitko Middle School (WMS), and roof repair at SWES and Pierceton Elementary School (PES).“$100,000 asphalt work at WMS, $309,000 roof work in three areas at PES, and $163,000 at SWES front office area and a storage area,” Felger said. “Work will be completed during the summer months, with the first day of work to begin the day after school is out.”The board approved all necessary repairs.Transportation Director, Mike Sands, requested board approval for two school bus purchases. An 84-passenger bus needs to be purchased, with a trade-in value of $12,500. The second bus required is an 14-passenger mini-bus.“We had quite a bit of issues with our current 84-passenger bus,” Sands said. “It’s in the garage about every other day and cost-wise just costing us way too much money.”The board agreed with the purchases from the appropriate fund.