WHITKO SCHOOLS: Whitko OKs changes to personnel

PIERCETON — The Whitko Community School Corporation school board met Monday night to hear a host of requests to approve various personnel changes. Included in those requests was the motion to approve the resignation of Rob Irwin as the athletic director effective July 1, which the board did grant.In other personnel changes, the board approved the transfer of Stephanie Campbell from Pierceton Elementary School, where she was previously an office assistant, to the position of art assistant for both Pierceton and South Whitley Elementary Schools. Brad Clark was approved as the varsity softball coach for Whitko High School (WHS). The board approved summer school driver contracts and leave of absences.The school board also updated WHS’s discipline plan. David Parker, who will take the role of principal for the 2012-13 school year starting July 1, presented an overview of how the discipline plan for WHS has taken shape. He said that the plan had been put together by a committee, and instead of planning for several years, the committee has approached the discipline plan one school year at a time.“I think the way we’ve done it is better because it’s given us the chance to go back and sort of rehash what we’ve done last year. Then we can make changes for this year. There weren’t any significant changes. A lot of it has to do with proactive things. We set up some meetings with probation and the prosecutor. This has allowed us to make some positive changes on when we are supposed to legally contact these people. They’ve helped provide some clarity,“ said Parker. “We have some discipline issues, but compared to the concerns of the state, we are still ahead of things.”An issue on the board’s agenda was the schools’ budgets and grants that help provide some of the funding for various school programs. The budget schedule was approved with unanimous support. Grant information is still being received; however, the board seemed to think that the forecasted grant monies would change very little with the exception of one.Superintendent Steve Clason said, “This is the time of the year when we get federal grant information in. The Title 1 grant is going to be almost the same as it was this year. There’s only about a $300 difference. That is exceptionally good news for us. Title 1 D, however, is cut by more than half. That is going to significantly impact our programs. We don’t know about the other title amounts yet.“Parker presented updated data on the school testing results and the overall goals for education at the high school in regards to the PL221 plan. The state’s plan is for 90 percent of students to pass the ISTEP, 25 percent to receive a 3, 4 or 5 on AP testing and for the high school to have a 90 percent graduation rate. Parker reported that his plan is to match the state’s plan and see the percentages continue to grow to meet the state’s goal.Preliminary ISTEP results are in. In English and Language Arts, test scores showed 76-77 percent passing with 72-73 percent passing in math.After presenting the test scores, Parker said, “Neither of those is as high as I would like them to be, but the good news it is higher than last year’s. We’re moving in the right direction.”Parker also took time to share with the board his appreciation of former Principal Parrish Kruger in his help to transition Parker into the principal position.“Thank you to Mr. Kruger. I want the board to know how fortunate I feel to have worked with him for my first three years of administration. I feel like I am in a luxury position. He’s made the transition very easy,” said Parker.Summer programs are experiencing a positive turn out. The summer reading program has had an average of 50 students on most days while the summer lunch program feeds, on average, 90 kids each day. Thirty-two students have been utilizing summer school which ends Thursday.In other motions, the board approved the annual field trip list, wage scale, testing dates and parent/teacher conference dates for the upcoming school year.One request did raise some questions. It was presented to the board the expansion of Clean World Association’s (CWA) current greenhouse. The CWA is a club that operates at Whitko Middle School and teaches students the nature and business of horticulture. Currently, the greenhouse used is smaller than necessary to keep up with the demands of the ever growing club.However, board member Jorell Tucker, wanted to make clear that the funding for the expansion was coming from outside the school corporation. Clason confirmed that sentiment.“This is a program that has just grown and grown and grown. We’ve out grown the greenhouse we have. That greenhouse was bought with grant funding. All of the expansion has been planned out using grant funds. CWA does need a bigger greenhouse. By expanding it’s going to be better for supervision, maintenance, heating and cooling. The club is really taking off, and it’s a really neat program that just has grown. The kids learn so much more than just planting seeds. They run the business behind the greenhouse. It’s exciting for the kids,” said Clason.In conclusion, the board announced a goal setting session set for Aug. 1 at 6:30 p.m.