Whitko district moves forward despite vote

PIERCETON — With the referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot for a tax levy increase unsuccessful for the Whitko Community School Corporation, superintendent Steve Clason commented on the outcome to board members Monday evening.“It was unsuccessful and it was soundly defeated,” Clason said. “We will move forward as we said (and the board said) with the reduction of $1.26 million and 27 staff members.”Clason does not foresee any further reductions for this year, with hopes that the Indiana Legislative Assembly will put their dollars to appropriate use.In new business, Clason recognized the technology department within the school system by reading a proclamation from Gov. Mitch Daniels announcing Nov. 19 as Technology Coordinator’s Day in the State of Indiana. Daniels stated that Hoosier students are one of the state’s top priorities as technology coordinators are key leaders in providing the technological tools and skills required.Certificates were presented to Pam Baker, WCSC web manager, and Nathan Myers, Whitko Middle School technology assistant. “Thank you for all the hard work you do and for all the hard work you do in technology ... thank-you,” Clason said.Jenny Lovette and Bill Stephen, representing the Bowen Center, provided a presentation on the Student Assistance Program which served 410 students last year.“Each student gets two free sessions. A lot of students are getting their foot in the door and seeing the benefit,” Lovette said. “After two sessions you see immediate relief (with students) and then they keep on going.”Last year alone, the program had 1,326 student visits, with hopes that this figure will decrease as the student moves on. Most students appreciate and seek the program when they are experiencing family changes, divorce of parents, moving to a new school district, anxiety and depression.“Eighteen different school systems from Fort Wayne to Plymouth are using the program and making an impact on the community,” Lovette said. “WCSC helps pave the way for other schools.”Stephen provided statistics on the program stating that 30 percent of the population could benefit from mental health services. “Healthy living affects all things. No real significant learning can happen until you have a healthy good mental health condition,” Stephen said.In school news, PES principal Barb Ihnen said family reading night was a huge success with lots of reading between parents and students. Ihnen also reported on a new Facebook page which was created last month to aid in the communication between the school and parents.“A lot of people look at their Facebook page every night, it’s a good way to get information across,” Ihnen said.South Whitley Elementary School (SWES) principal Bruce Hansen thanked the Columbia City Optimists Club for providing personal dictionaries to third-grade students, along with appreciation to the Whitley County Purdue Extension office for presenting six weeks of nutrition curriculum lessons.Whitko High School principal Parrish Kruger reported on the recognition assembly/pep session held in October which recognized students who achieved two A’s and those who had perfect attendance.“For the two A’s we had 284 names…..very difficult to read, but we learned from it and will do a different way the next time,” Kruger said. “We had two pages of perfect attendance, along with Patty Weybright (Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter sponsor) winning the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Junior Hope award.”In financial business, Director of Financial Operations Tom McFarland updated board members on the State Board of Accounts audit which is now in process.Board members approved the transfer of appropriations within accounts which allows McFarland the authority to move funds from one account to the other, as needed. Also approved, was the Indiana Bond Bank Resolution allowing McFarland to make temporary loans, when necessary.“We have been borrowing less to build up the cash balance,” McFarland said. “We are borrowing in three funds this year (2011) — transportation, capital projects and bus replacement. (In) 2010 it was transportation and capital projects with $245,000 borrowed for transportation in 2010 and $215,000 this year (2011) which is a little less.”In old business, board members rejected all fuel bids received and approved the purchase of fuel from the daily market.“We did not receive any firm bids which has been pretty typical of fuel bids in corporations that I‘m aware of in the past seven to 10 years, but it’s something we have to do by state statue,” Clason said. “We try to keep it (fuel bids) fairly local.”A contract with the Sylvan Learning Center was approved which provides tutoring and supplemental educational services to students of all ages and skill levels within the school system.In conclusion, Clason presented an update on goals anticipated by the board, which include updates to the school’s current Web site, student promotions, increased communication, corporate Facebook page and electronic communications for school delays.“Improving our Web presence is a key item we need to do and interactivity of our site needs to be updated to the 2010 version,” Clason said. “Secondly, student promotions to promote what the students are doing so people can see what is happening.”There have been numerous discussions regarding fourth- and fifth-grade levels moving to the middle school and keeping the elementary at kindergarten through third-grade.“There is no real educational benefit to this ... not a huge cost, but also not a huge savings,” Clason said. “Right now, I would tell you as superintendent that I would not recommend either one of these moves, they just don’t make sense. They’re not a logical business move and no educational benefit.”The next meeting is at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 20.